GREATEST NCAA BASEBALL MOMENTS COUNTDOWN – #5: Steve Arlin’s rubber arm and 20 strikeouts

Much like our last two moments on our Top-7 NCAA Baseball moments countdown, this one is all about pitching. After reliving Ron Darling and Frank Viola’s epic 12-inning duel, and the ridiculous accomplishments of the 2006 Oregon State’s pitching staff during their title run, we turn our attention to another superhuman feat on the mound – bringing us back to 1965. 

Steve Arlin was a sophomore and the ace of the Ohio State pitching staff in 1965. The Buckeyes were relevant in the college baseball world for the first time in a long time, and Arlin was their ace up their sleeve. He posted a 13-2 record and had 165 strikeouts that season, which is still a program record, but it was one particular postseason performance that made Steve Arlin a household name. 

After a 3-0 run through their regional, Ohio State advanced to their second ever College World Series, winning their first two games in Omaha, with Arlin pitching both and giving up just two runs combined. However, Arlin needed a breather, and without him on the mound, the Buckeyes did not fare well, dropping a 9-4 decision to Arizona State.

Facing elimination, Ohio State manager Marty Karow called on Arlin for his third start in four days. The sophomore took the ball and spun an absolute dandy. Arlin took on Washington State, who had finished the year 31-6. He had held the Huskies to a single run two days earlier, when the Buckeyes triumphed 14-1, but this game was an entirely different tale. Arlin was even more dominant, but Ohio State could not scratch together even one run to back up their ace. 

Arlin racked up a bevy of strikeouts, but the game would go to extra innings at 0-0. Washington State’s bullpen continued to match zeroes with Arlin, and the game rattled on into the fifteenth inning. Arlin notched his nineteenth and twentieth strikeouts in the fifteenth, setting the stage for a Buckeyes’ walk-off in the bottom half of the inning. When it was all said and done, Arlin had pitched a 15-inning complete game victory, with his 20 strikeouts still setting an individual College World Series game victory, pushing Ohio State into the championship.

The Aftermath
Ohio State beat Arizona State without Arlin in the first game, forcing a winners-take-all contest. Having pitched over 30 innings in four days, Arlin was not able to start, but he did pitch the final two innings. It wasn’t enough as the Buckeyes fell 2-1 to the Sun Devils, settling for a 2nd-place finish. 

The following year, Arlin went 11-1 and pitched in five of six college world series games, leading the Buckeyes to their first and, to this date, only national championship. He’s the best pitcher to ever wear an Ohio State jersey, and his #22 was the first number to be retired by the Buckeyes. He had a six-year career in the MLB after being the thirteenth overall pick. He pitched five years for the Padres and a year for the Indians, retiring with 34 career wins and a 4.33 ERA.