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COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State took a half-game lead in the Big Ten Conference race by defeating Penn State, 3-1, Friday at Bill Davis Stadium behind a record-tying pitching performance by All-American ace Alex Wimmers. The Buckeyes are now 7-3 in the Big Ten and 22-11 overall. Penn State is 2-8 and 15-22. Michigan, which is hosting Iowa this weekend, dropped both games of its Friday doubleheader and is in second-place with a 6-5 mark.

Wimmers, the terrific junior from Cincinnati’s Archbishop Moeller High School, improved his record to 9-0 this season with a complete-game four-hitter that included 11 strikeouts. With the win, he ties the school record for the best start to a season that has been done only twice in 127 years of baseball at Ohio State. Doug Swearingen started 9-0 for Ohio State in 1982 and Scott Lewis opened 9-0 in 2003.

Wimmers, who is 18-2 the past two seasons, gave up two of the hits in the third inning – a double and a single – and they staked the Nittany Lions to a 1-0 lead. He also gave up a pair of two-out singles in the ninth. Wimmers did walk a season-high five batters, but his 10 strikeouts and scarce number of hits rendered that stat moot. The 10 Ks represented the 10th time in his career that he has struck out 10-or-more.  

The Buckeyes came back to tie the score at 1-all with a run in the third. Zach Hurley led off with a double and he scored on Michael Stephens’ two-out single.

Ohio State took the lead in the fourth on a Cory Rupert single and Matt Streng’s RBI double.  

Streng, a junior from Columbus and Upper Arlington High School, gave the Buckeyes some breathing room with a two-out home run to left field to increase a slim, 2-1, Ohio State lead in the sixth inning. It was the switch-hitting Streng’s first home run of the season after hitting eight in his breakout 2009 season.

Penn State received a nice pitching effort from Steven Hill, who lasted 7.0 innings and gave up just three runs on eight hits. Hill walked three and struck out five. His record drops to 2-4.

A Few More Game Notes and Good Stuff…

  • Two exceptional plays by catcher Dan Burkhart aren’t apparent in the stats, so here they are: twice on balls in the dirt he kept it in front of him, pounced on the ball and threw perfect strikes to Cory Kovanda at second base to nail the runner attempting to advance from first base. Both runners took off after the ball was in the dirt, so Burkhart doesn’t get credited with a caught stealing.
  • Even without those erasures, Burkhart is still rubbing out potential base stealers at an unreal 54 percent (he’s caught 14 of 26).
  • Zach Hurley made some noise defensively as well. He threw out Steve Snyder at second base in the third inning trying to stretch an RBI single into a double. And he made a diving catch in deep left center field in the ninth inning.
  • An exceptionally noisy, raucous and boisterous crowd of 1,421 fans Friday. Come on back for the rest of the series, folks.
  • A critical man in the crowd, too. One gentleman took exception with the home scorers on a “hit” call for a Buckeye. “Hit? Who called that a hit?” he bellowed wide-eyed and rather frighteningly through an open press box window. Everybody kept looking straight ahead and nobody took credit for the call.
  • The spring football game is Saturday at 1:30 so fans for the 1 p.m. baseball game should know they can park in the “Gray” lots that are just beyond right field line. This lot will be held for baseball fans until 1 p.m. Fans can also park in the typical baseball parking lots, but they’ll have to share the lot with football parkers.