The Ohio State Buckeyes edged out a hard fought victory over the Spartans in the Big Ten Opener on Saturday 1-0. It turned into a pitchers duel with both pitchers playing exceedingly well, but the Buckeyes were able to get to the Spartans relief pitching late for the win.
Spartans starter Tony Bucciferro tossed eight scoreless innings while fanning nine and ultimately allowing just two hits. The Buckeyes broke up Bucciferro's no-hit bid in the seventh. But that performance wasn't good enough to beat Buckeye's starter Jaron Long who threw a complete-game, allowing only five hits.
Bucciferro had to be given the hook after the eighth inning as his pitch count was at 122, Head Coach Jake Boss, Jr. turned to David Garner in the ninth to keep things knotted at zero. Ohio State had other ideas however and scored the game-winning run in the top of the ninth.
Garner walked the first two batters he faced and was lifted for reliever Trey Popp. Popp lasted just one batter after Kirby Pellant sacrificed the runners to second and third. Coach Boss then turned to his closer to get his team out of the jam. Tony Wieber faced off against David Corna, and Corna won. Corna drove a 2-1 pitch to right field that brought home the game-winning run.
Wieber was able to stop the bleeding to just one run and strand Buckeyes on first and third, but the one run was all Ohio State would need to top the Spartans on Saturday.
Michigan State still had a chance in the bottom of the ninth when Andrew Cheky drew a leadoff walk - the only walk allowed by Long all game. However, Cheky got greedy and was thrown out attempting to steal second base for the first out of the inning. With the bases clear Ryan Jones hit a single but Jordan Keur ended the game by hitting into a double play.
Saturday's game was a classic pitchers duel with the Buckeyes collecting just three hits on the day and the Spartans only amassing five. Bucciferro has yet to allow a runner to score in his two outings at McLane Baseball Stadium, but has yet to earn a decision at home. No earned runs have been scored against Bucciferro since the first inning of the Spartans game against Cincinnati on March 16th.