STATE COLLEGE, Pa. Eric Best pitched a career-best 6.0 innings and Matt Streng hit two home runs in a game for the second time this season to lead No. 16 Ohio State to a 12-2 win over Penn State Saturday at Medlar Field. Ohio State is now 20-3 on the season and 2-0 in the Big Ten. Penn State is 13-10 and 0-2.

Best scattered six hits, gave up just two earned runs and struck out four while improving his record to 4-0 this season with the win. Drew Rucinski closed out the seventh inning and Jake Hale retired all six batters he faced in the final two innings and finished his 12th consecutive game without allowing a run.

Streng, who hit two home runs against UConn March 1, hit a solo shot in the third and a two-run blast in the seventh that gave the Buckeyes a 7-2 lead. He also had a single in the sixth (and four RBI) to lead an 18-hit Ohio State attack. Ryan Dew had four singles and scored two runs. Dan Burkhart, Justin Miller, Zach Hurley and Michael Stephens also had multi-hit games with two apiece. Streng (three runs scored) and Tyler Engle, Burkhart and Hurley (two runs apiece) joined Dew with multi-runs scored. Engle also had a pair of RBI.  

Ohio State scored a run in the first and another in the third to take a 2-0 lead. Hurley scored from second base on a Stephens first-inning single and Streng sent a Scott Kelley (3-3 with the loss) pitch deep into the right field stands for a solo home run in the third, his fourth of the season.

Hurley saved a run in the fourth inning by ranging to his left into deep left center field to make a diving grab of a Jordan Steranka liner. Cory Wine would have scored from second had Hurley not made the play that preserved a 2-0 lead.

Best cruised through the first four innings by allowing only two hits and getting four strikeouts. He issued his only two walks of the game with one out in the fifth and he gave up his first run when Bobby Jacobs singled. But he got the next two hitters on ground outs to close the fifth inning with Ohio State still in the lead at 2-1.

Three consecutive two-out singles by Dew, Tyler Engle and Streng in the sixth inning, plus a throwing error, netted two more runs for the Buckeyes and increased the lead from 2-1 to a less-tenuous 4-1. Engle’s hit was the key hit. Making only his seventh start of the season due to injury and with just 14 at-bats, he laced a single to center to score Burkhart, who had singled earlier in the inning, from second. When the throw to the plate sailed high, both Dew and Engle moved up with Dew eventually scoring on Streng’s wicked-bounce shot off the first baseman’s chest.

Three more runs in the eighth and five more in the ninth iced the victory. Streng’s home run was the big blow in the eighth inning and the ninth-inning runs were compliments of three singles, two walks and an error.

Game Notes and Good Stuff:

  • A note not noted in post-game notes on Friday but it should have been: Zach Hurley extended his career-long hitting streak to 13 games with two hits.
  • Hurley extended the streak to 14 games with a fifth-inning single on Saturday.
  • Both of Matt Streng’s home runs soared over the 18.55-foot high green wall in right field, 320-feet away from home plate. Why 18.55 feet high? Because 1855 is the year that Penn State University was founded so designers made the wall that height in honor of the founding year.
  • Ohio State’s 31 home runs this season represent a five-year high for the team. The 2004 team was the last team to hit more than 30 (42).
  • This is true: Coach Bob Todd threw out a suggestion to the team after the pre-game meal Saturday morning at the hotel (which consisted of a nice selection of juices, danish, breads, cereals, scrambled eggs, fried potatoes and some of the finest French toast imaginable). He said: “Hitters, why don’t you make this day easy on all of us by scoring eight or nine runs early?” After some chuckles about the coach mandating runs, one member of the team got serious and asked Todd: “So which inning would you like these runs to be scored by?” More laughter. More fun. Karma. Good karma. 
  • This doesn’t count in the stats but it was cool to watch: Dan Burkhart wreaked havoc on the right field stands during batting practice. At one point he dropped eight bombs into the seats off 11 swings.
  • The Buckeyes entered Saturday action continuing to lead the Big Ten in nine offensive categories, including average (.337), slugging pct. (.534) hits (275), triples (16) and home runs (29). No doubt those rankings will stay for another day.
  • The team had climbed to fourth in the Big Ten prior to the Saturday game in earned run average (4.83) and is second in opposing batting average (.268). Leading the Big Ten in both categories: Minnesota, the Buckeyes’ next Big Ten opponent. 
  • Winners in the Big Ten on Friday night: Michigan over Iowa, Illinois over Michigan State, Purdue over Northwestern and Minnesota over Indiana.
  • The Ohio State/Penn State series finale is set for 1:05 p.m. Sunday. Two-time Big Ten pitcher of the week Alex Wimmers (5-0; 1.62 ERA) will start for Ohio State against LHP Calvin Grumley (2-1; 5.84 ERA).