UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Ohio State battled to the last out but dropped a 10-9 decision to Penn State in a back-and-forth game Sunday afternoon at Medlar Field. With the loss, Ohio State drops to 16-18 on the season, 6-6 in the Big Ten, while Penn State improves to 24-13, 7-5 in conference play.
The seesaw game featured three ties and five lead changes before the Nittany Lions took the rubber game of the three-game set.
Penn State jumped out to the early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first off Ohio State starter Greg Greve. Sean Deegan walked with one down and scored on an RBI double to right-center by Joey DeBernardis. Jordan Steranka then followed with an RBI single to score DeBernardis for the second run of the game.
Ohio State then was able to tie it up with a pair in the top of the fourth. Josh Dezse singled to lead off the inning and Matt Streng doubled down the left field line to put runners on second and third with nobody out. Brad Hallberg then drove in Dezse with an RBI ground out and Streng scored on a sacrifice fly by Greg Solomon, barely beating the throw home by Penn State right fielder Luis Montesinos.
The Buckeyes then took the lead with a three-run fifth, using a pair of hits and three walks. Tyler Engle walked to lead off the inning and advanced to third on an errant pickoff throw by Penn State starter Mike Franklin. After a walk by Brian DeLucia, Tim Wetzel singled through the right side to drive in Engle and knock Franklin out of the game. Neal Herring entered and gave up an RBI infield single to Ryan Cypret to score DeLucia. Dezse then struck out with runners on first and second but Wetzel advanced to third on a passed ball on the swinging third strike and scored on an RBI groundout by Streng to make it 5-2 Ohio State.
However, the Nittany Lions answered right back to tie it with three of their own in the bottom of the frame. After Greve retired the first two batters, DeBernardis singled, Steranka walked and Bobby Jacobs and Alex Farkes each followed with RBI singles as Greve was pulled in favor of Jared Strayer. The senior reliever came on and hit Montesinos to load the bases and then brushed Michael Glantz on the front of the jersey to bring home Jacobs and tie the game.
Ohio State took the lead right back with one in the sixth but it could have been much worse for Penn State. Solomon doubled down the left field line to lead off the inning, Engle drew his third walk of the day and DeLucia reached safely when Herring was unable to field his sacrifice bunt attempt as the Buckeyes loaded the bases. Wetzel then plated Solomon on a sacrifice fly to center off Penn State reliever Greg Welsh but with runners on first and second and one out, the left-hander was able to strike out Cypret and Dezse to end the Buckeye threat.
Penn State then continued the seesaw battle, taking the lead the three runs on four hits in the sixth. Theron Minium came on to relieve Strayer and gave up back-to-back-singles to Blake Lynd and Deegan before DeBernardis doubled home Lynd to tie the game. With runners on second and third and nobody out, Minium was able to get Steranka to ground out to first while holding the runners for the first out of the inning. David Fathalikhani then relieved Minium and gave up a sacrifice fly to Jacobs and an RBI single to pinch-hitter Mario Eramo to give the Nittany Lions an 8-6 lead after six frames.
The Buckeyes knotted the score back up at eight in the seventh. Streng doubled to deep center to lead off the inning and advanced to third on a groundout by Hallberg. Corna then drove in Streng with a single and, after a fly out to right by Solomon, Engle laced a two-out double down the left field line and Corna came all the way around from first to tie the game.
Penn State tacked on two more in the bottom of the frame to take a 10-8 lead, using an error, a walk and a pair of singles. Montesinos singled to lead off the inning, Glantz reached on an error by Streng and Ryan Clark singled on a bunt to load the bases. Andrew Armstrong then came on in relief and hit Lynd to plate Montesinos for the go-ahead run. After a strikeout of Deegan, DeBernardis looped a sacrifice fly to center to score Glantz for a two-run cushion.
Ohio State was able to cut the Penn State lead to 10-9 in the eighth when Hallberg drove in Wetzel with a two-out infield single. Corna then came to the plate with runners on first and second and drilled the first pitch deep to center but Deegan was able to make the catch just in front of the wall.
DeLucia reached on an error with two outs in the ninth but Penn State reliever Geoff Boylston was able to get pinch-hitter Brad Hutton to pick up his second win of the season.
Streng went 3-for-5 with a double while Wetzel and Cypret had two hits apiece. Fathalikhani suffered the loss, dropping to 2-1 on the season.
The Buckeyes will be back at Bill Davis Stadium for a 6:35 p.m. Tuesday matchup with Marshall.
– It was good to see former OSU assistant Greg Cypret at the game Sunday. The father of Buckeye second baseman Ryan Cypret is currently an assistant at Akron and decided to make the trip on a rare day off.
– PSU provided a nice Easter spread before the game in the press box. Turkey, ham, rice, broccoli and potatoes were all available to members of the media.
– Another special thanks to many of the mothers of the Buckeyes, who had Easter baskets full of goodies waiting for the team Sunday morning.
– Every Buckeye reached base in Sunday’s game.
– After Wetzel had his 12-game hitting streak snapped Saturday, going 0-for-8 in the two games, the freshman bounced back, going 2-for-2 with two RBI and two runs scored.
– Evidently the Slinky song equals reaching base for Engle. After going 5-for-8 Saturday, Engle reached base four times with three walks and an RBI double in the eighth Sunday.