Baseball Buckeyes win Big Ten, head to NCAA tournament

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – Troy Kuhn hit an RBI double in the top of the ninth inning to earn Ohio State the Big Ten Conference Tournament championship with an 8-7 win over Iowa on Sunday.

The tournament title is the first for the fourth-seeded Buckeyes (43-18-1) since 2007, and they earned their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2009 with the league championship.

Ohio State led 7-4 entering the bottom of the eighth inning before the Hawkeyes (30-26) tied the game with three runs. However, Ronnie Dawson singled with two outs in the top of the ninth and Kuhn drove him home for the eventual game-winning run for the Buckeyes.

Yianni Pavlopoulos (3-4) earned the win with 1 1/3 scoreless innings of relief, while Josh Martsching (2-1) took the loss.

The tournament title is the ninth overall for Ohio State, its fifth since 2002.

“I’m just so proud of our team,” Kuhn said. “We took the long route to get here, but this makes it all worth it in the end.”

Ohio State reached the championship game with a 7-3 victory over Michigan State earlier on Sunday. The Buckeyes struggled in the early innings against Iowa following the earlier win, falling behind 4-0 after three innings – with three runs coming in the bottom of the third for the eighth-seeded Hawkeyes.

Joel Booker had one of the RBIs in the third inning and finished 4-for-5 for Iowa, which had 12 hits in the loss.

The Buckeyes responded to the early deficit with a five-run fourth inning, with Dawson and Jalen Washington each hitting RBI doubles.

Ohio State then extended its lead to 7-4 after a two-run single by Kuhn in the seventh inning, but Iowa tied the game with three runs of its own in the bottom of the eighth. Tyler Peyton started the Hawkeyes rally with a two-run single, and Booker added an RBI single that tied the game at 7-7.

With two outs in the top of the ninth, Dawson – who finished 3-for-5 – singled to set the stage for Kuhn’s eventual game-winning hit. The double sailed into the left field corner, allowing Dawson to race around from first base for the go-ahead and game-winning run.

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