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COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State travels to State College, Pa., for a three-game Big Ten Conference series against Penn State. The two teams are in a tie for third place in the league standings with 5-4 records and just one game behind leaders Michigan State and Indiana, each of whom is 6-3. Game times are 6:35 p.m. Friday, 2:05 p.m. Saturday and 1:05 p.m. Sunday.

BROADCAST ELEMENTS
No word from the Penn State folks about any BigTenNetwork.com streams for the games. Don’t be discouraged. There are still three viable and tastefully subjective ways to follow the Buckeyes this weekend: radio broadcasts at AM 1460 ESPN and its sister audio stream at OhioStateBuckeyes.com; via Live Stats at OhioStateBuckeyes.com; and on Twitter at @BrettR1321.

STARTING ASSIGNMENTS
Ohio State will go with its same weekend rotation for a fourth consecutive week: senior RHP Drew Rucinski (3-1; 2.38 ERA) will start Friday under the lights; sophomore RHP Brett McKinney (1-2; 5.40) will start Game 2 Saturday; and freshman Greg Greve (1-1; 6.03) will start Sunday.

Penn State will counter with sophomore RHP Steven Hill (4-2; 2.38) Friday night; sophomore RHP John Walter (4-3; 2.45) Saturday and either freshman LHP Greg Welsh (1-1; 5.59) or freshman LHP Geoff Boylston (1-0; 0.61) Sunday.

OHIO STATE vs. PENN STATE
Ohio State leads the all-time series 54-30. Penn State won the series last year to win its first-ever series at Bill Davis Stadium. After Ohio State won Game 1, 3-1, behind a complete game, four-hitter from Alex Wimmers, Penn State came back to win Game 2, 18-10, and Game 3, 14-6. Playing Game 3 was a task, as lightning and thunderstorms flirted off and on throughout the day and produced 60 minutes in weather delays. Dean Wolosiansky pitched a solid 7.0 innings in Game 3, giving up just four runs while striking out six. Brian DeLucia was 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and two RBI in Game 3.

WIMMERS TIES RECORD
Alex Wimmers’ win over Penn State allowed him to tie the school record for the best start to a season at 9-0. Doug Swearingen started 9-0 for Ohio State in 1982 and Scott Lewis opened 9-0 in 2003. It would be Wimmers’ last win as a Buckeye as an injured hamstring caused him to miss three of his next four Big Ten starts.   

SO FAR IN THE BIG TEN
Ohio State opened Big Ten play with a 2-1 series win over Northwestern in Columbus; lost a series by the same margin to Indiana in Week 2 and is coming off a 2-1 series win last weekend over Michigan State in Columbus.

Penn State, meanwhile, took two-of-three in Week 1 from Illinois in State College; won the series (2-1) over Northwestern in Evanston; and then hosted Purdue last week and lost the series, 2-1, with two games having to be played on Sunday because of inclement weather.

WHAT’S LEFT
The Big Ten season will reach its midpoint at the close of this weekend. Looking forward: Ohio State will host Michigan, travel to Illinois, host Iowa and travel to Minnesota to complete its conference campaign. Penn State will have to play three of its final four weekends on the road. The Nittany Lions travel to Michigan State and Iowa the next two weekends, hosts Minnesota and then closes out the season at Michigan.

BIG TEN TEAM STATS
Looking at the statistics in Big Ten Conference games only, there are some rather notable numbers so far. Consider:

  • Ohio State leads in six major offensive categories, including hitting (.335), slugging (.452), on-base pct. (.399) runs (66) and hits (104).
  • Penn State is second in runs scored (60), but is hitting .239 (ninth), slugging .350 (eighth) and reaching base at a .362 (sixth) clip.
  • Penn State’s pitching is tied for fourth in ERA (4.39) and is sixth in opposing batting average (.282) while Ohio State’s staff is seventh in ERA (4.57) and 10th in opposing batting average (.316).
  • Penn State leads the league with 15 double plays fielded – Ohio State has nine – and is eighth in fielding at .961. Ohio State is sixth in fielding (.967).

GETTING OFFENSIVE
Ohio State’s lineup features six .300 or better hitters and the team is hitting .297 as a team overall. Here are some leaders at the plate:

  • Ryan Cypret is tops with a .364 average and is second in runs scored (22) and RBI (22).
  • Josh Dezse is hitting .345 with a team-high 26 RBI.
  • Greg Solomon is hitting .322 with a team-high 12 extra-base hits.
  • Tim Wetzel is riding a 12-game hitting streak (20 of 46 with 12 runs scored) that has increased his average from .191 April 1 to .312 today.
  • And Brian DeLucia is hitting .378 the last 10 games with 12 runs scored, figures that have upped his season numbers to .308 at the plate and a team-best 24 runs scored.

EVEN BETTER IN THE BIG TEN
Ohio State has a better batting average and a lower ERA in Big Ten games than in all games. The Buckeyes lead the Big Ten with a .335 average through nine Big Ten games and they have a 4.57 ERA. In all games, Ohio State hits at a .297 clip and has a 4.84 ERA. Individually in Big Ten contests…

  • Josh Dezse and Tim Wetzel lead the team’s hitters with .441 and .421 averages, respectively. Those averages rank third and fifth in the Big Ten.
  • Dezse is also second in the Big Ten in slugging (.706) and RBI (13) and Wetzel is seventh in on base pct. (.476) and hits (16).
  • Five more OSU nine-game starters in Big Ten play have at least a .300 batting average: Brian DeLucia and Ryan Cypret (.361), Matt Streng (.351), Greg Solomon (.303) and Tyler Engle (.300).
  • Matt Streng and Brian DeLucia are second in Big Ten games with 11 runs scored each, while Wetzel is seventh with 10.
  • Drew Rucinski has a 4:1 strikeout to walk ratio (12:3).
  • Andrew Armstrong, who has nine strikeouts in 5.2 innings, leads all hurlers in the conference with seven appearances. Jared Strayer and David Fathalikhani are tied for second with six appearances apiece.

OSU’s 2011 BIG TEN HONOREES
Josh Dezse – Freshman of the Week (2/21, 3/7, 4/18)
Josh Dezse – Player of the Week (4/18)
Greg Solomon- Player of the Week (4/4)
Tim Wetzel – Freshman of the Week (4/11)

HEAD COACH GREG BEALS
Head coach Greg Beals is just the 11th head coach in Ohio State history and only the fourth in the last 60 years. He has a 258-218 career record and is in his ninth season as a collegiate head coach.

15th SEASON AT BILL DAVIS STADIUM
Ohio State is 240-118 all-time at Bill Davis Stadium for a fine .670 winning percentage. Ohio State 138-77 vs. the Big Ten Conference.

UP NEXT
The Buckeyes host Marshall at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday before travelling to Athens for a 6:05 p.m. game Wednesday against Ohio University. Michigan then comes to Columbus for a three-game set beginning Friday at Bill Davis Stadium.