UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Ohio State split a doubleheader with Penn State, winning game one 5-1 and dropping the second game 5-2, Saturday afternoon at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. With the split, Ohio State moves to 16-17 on the season while Penn State is 23-13. Both teams are 6-5 in the Big Ten and sit in a tie for second in the conference.
The Buckeyes first chance came in the top of the third when Ohio State had runners on first and second with two down but Penn State right fielder Luis Montesinos made a nice sliding catch on a sinking liner by Ryan Cypret to end the threat.
The Nittany Lions then were able to get to Ohio State starter Drew Rucinski for a run in the second when leadoff man Sean Deegan doubled to right to lead off the inning and Montesinos singled up the middle to give Penn State the lead.
Ohio State threatened again in the fourth when David Corna doubled down the left field line to put runners on second and third with two outs but Greg Solomon lined a shot right at left fielder Blake Lynd to end the inning.
The Buckeyes were able to take the lead in the fifth, taking advantage of four hits off Penn State starter Steven Hill. Tyler Engle and Brian DeLucia singled to lead off the inning and advanced to second and third after a sacrifice bunt by Tim Wetzel. After a strikeout of Cypret, Josh Dezse stepped up and laced a two-out, two-run single up the middle to plate Engle and DeLucia and give the Buckeyes the 2-1 lead.
In the meantime, Rucinski cruised through the middle innings, retiring 12-straight after a leadoff walk in the fourth.
Ohio State then added another run in the top of the seventh when Cypret drove home DeLucia to make it 3-1 Buckeyes.
The Buckeyes capped the scoring with two more in the eighth when Solomon doubled to right-center and an error by Montesinos allowed Corna to score on the play. Engle then singled through the right side to drive home Solomon for the Buckeyes’ fifth run of the game.
Andrew Armstrong and Dezse each tossed a scoreless inning to close it out as Ohio State took game one.
DeLucia, Brad Hallberg, Solomon and Engle each had a pair of hits for the Buckeyes while Rucinski went seven innings, giving up one earned run on five hits while striking out four to improve his record to 4-1 on the season.
Ohio State jumped out to the early lead in game two. With two out, Cypret was hit by a pitch, Dezse walked and Penn State starter John Walter dropped a pop up by Streng as Cypret came around to score for the 1-0 lead. A walk to Hallberg followed to load the bases but Corna struck out looking to end the Buckeyes’ threat.
The Nittany Lions responded with three runs on five singles against Ohio State starter Brett McKinney in the bottom of the first to take a 3-1 lead. Penn State added two more in the second, using a pair of walks, two stolen bases and an RBI single by Jordan Steranka to make it 5-1 after two innings.
Things stayed quiet until the sixth when Engle singled up the middle with two down, stole second and scored when DeLucia singled up the middle to cut the Penn State lead to 5-2.
The Buckeyes threatened again, putting runners on first and second in the eighth but DeLucia flied out to deep center as Walter was able to keep the Penn State lead at three on the last batter he would face. The sophomore went eight innings, giving up one earned while striking out five to pick up the win.
Heath Johnson came on in the ninth to close it out and pick up his first save of the season.
The Buckeyes recorded eight hits in game two but had trouble finding the big hit, leaving 12 runners on base.
The teams will play the rubber game of the three-game set at 1:05 p.m. Sunday in University Park.
– It was good to see some remotely dry weather in University Park after a rain-soaked day Friday.
– It also was good to have heat in the press box after it was never even turned on before the postponed game Friday.
– It was even better to look up and see a signed photo of Archie Griffin with his two Heisman trophies in the restaurant inside the hotel where the team ate breakfast Saturday morning.
– There was some quality classic rock being played on the bus on the way to the game. Solid music choice by assistant coach Josh Newman.
– Some odd dimensions at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. It’s a short porch down the right field line at 320 feet while the left field line is 325. It’s a fairly normal 375 feet in the gap in right-center but the gap in left-center juts out to 410 feet while straight-away center is 399 feet.
– The double by Corna in the 4th inning of game one marked the fifth game in the last six that the junior has recorded a double.
– Rucinski and Hill, the starters in game one, entered the game tied atop the Big Ten with a 2.38 ERA.
– Eight of nine Buckeye starters had a hit in game one. The lone OSU starter without one? Wetzel…snapping a 12-game hitting streak despite a very, very close call at first when the freshman center fielder hustled and almost beat out a grounder in the eighth. Wetzel did lay down two perfectly-executed sacrifice bunts, which both led to Ohio State runs in the fifth and seventh innings.
– Engle has started to heat up with two or more hits in four of the last five games. In fact, with his five-hit day today, it might be time for a song change. The Penn State marketing department had some odd walk-up songs for the Buckeyes and Engle’s was the song from the Slinky commercials everybody heard when they were younger. It doesn’t seem like it bothered the Ohio State senior shortstop.