TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Ohio State had high hopes entering the opening game of the Tallahassee Regional. However, the Buckeyes fell behind early and trailed 10-2 going into the bottom of the fifth. The game has been suspended by rain since 1:48 p.m., and we have been in a recurring lightning delay since with a restart time finally coming at 7:00 p.m.
Sophomore righthander Alex Wimmers and Ohio State are the No. 3 seed in the regional, coming off of a regular season Big Ten Title. Georgia is the No. 2 seed, but the Bulldogs have struggled down the stretch, going 4-13 and losing their final four weekend series of the regular season.
Wimmers had posted a 9-1, 2.68 record in 15 starts for Ohio State and was stellar in his final three starts of the regular season, posting a 2.25 ERA. Every sign pointed to the Buckeyes having an excellent shot at pulling off the upset.
But Wimmers ran into a Bulldog offense ready to break out of its slump. Georgia jumped on Wimmers in the bottom of the first for eight runs. The first run came on an error from shortstop Tyler Engle, who threw wide of first on a slow chopper from UGa. right fielder Peter Verdin. Ohio State first baseman Matt Streng then tried to tag Verdin and flung the ball into right field. Verdin went all the way to third as Streng jogged in with the ball. The Bulldog dugout then came to life urging Verdin to come in from third as Ohio State catcher Dan Burkhart had backed up the throw and was in right field with Streng and the Buckeyes had no one covering the plate. Verdin did so, scoring the first run of the game.
It was downhill from there for the Buckeyes. Wimmers would give up a pair of home runs in the inning to centerfielder Matt Cerione and catcher Joey Lewis. The ball was flying out over the short porch here at Dick Howser Stadium.
Wimmers settled down and managed to allow no further runs until the fourth inning. In the fourth Georgia first baseman Rich Poythress hit a no-doubt homer, his 22nd on the season, to center field. Later in the inning, Lewis came to the plate and hit his second of the day, a towering bomb over the scoreboard in left-center that went deep into the parking lot.
Wimmers came into game having allowed just five homers all season, but gave up four in his first-ever regional start.
Wimmers’ final line on the day: four innings, eight earned runs, 10 hits, and seven walks.
Georgia tied the school’s 22-year-old single-season home run record (102), with Lewis’ homer in the fourth.