By Mike Esse, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
COLUMBUS, Ohio - It was a back and forth weekend between Ohio State and Penn State during the Nittany Lions three game set in Columbus. After Penn State took game one of the series, 5-4, in dramatic fashion, the Blue and White dropped the next two games of the series, 7-0 and 12-6.
Friday night Penn State held on to win the first-game of the series, 5-4, and led 4-0 after four innings of play. Jack Anderson was stellar out of the bullpen throwing three shutout innings and recording five strikeouts for his fourth save of the season.
Head coach Rob Cooper was pleased with his team's resiliency in series opener.
"These guys have been coming to the ballpark every day whether it's a practice or a game and really making the choice to compete and play hard. They did that again today [Friday]. Even when Ohio State chipped away at our lead and made it close that [competitiveness] didn't change."
However, just as the scores indicated, Penn State's execution was back and forth on the weekend. Saturday the Nittany Lions' went cold on all fronts, including at the plate getting just four hits on the day, two of which came off of the bat of redshirt sophomore Greg Guers.
Sunday Penn State was down in another deep hole, trailing 5-0 after three innings, but then put up five unanswered runs to tie the game after five full innings of play.
Infielders Ryan Richter and Ryky Smith both had multi-hit games on a day where they were put in the lineup for extended time in Big Ten play for the first time in 2014. Richter got the start at third base and took advantage of the opportunity.
The redshirt sophomore was 2-for-4 on the day with 3 RBI.
"I've been waiting for the opportunity so I knew that if I went in there and played hard things would go my way," Richter said.
Smith received his chance in a little bit different of a fashion as he replaced Sunday's starting second basemen Taylor Skerpon after he was injured sliding back into first base in the second inning of the series finale. Cooper said after Sunday's game he had been impressed with Smith's work ethic all season long and wasn't surprised he had a big day.
After Tuesday's game against West Virginia, Cooper heard Smith in the batting cages getting swings after 10 p.m. continuing to work hard even though he wasn't seeing much playing time. That work paid off Sunday as Smith had a career high three hits in three at bats, scored two runs and had an RBI.
"I didn't really have time to put pressure on myself too much," Smith said of his play off the bench. "I didn't put too much pressure on myself and didn't try to do too much and that's why I felt good out there."
Besides Saturday where Ohio State starting pitcher Greg Greve threw a complete game shutout, Penn State fared well at the plate, despite leaving seven runners on base on Sunday in a game where they had 13 hits.
Aside from Richter and Smith's huge offensive days Sunday, outfielder Steve Snyder was 6-for-14 on the weekend upping his season batting average to .374 which is now good for third in the Big Ten.
However, Friday's win and Sunday's hitting performance is overshadowed in the minds of the players by dropping the series to the Buckeyes. With that said though, there is a lot for Penn State to take away from the road series moving into this weekend's home conference series with Illinois.
"We're pretty disappointed that we couldn't win the series, but we did some things right. We need to remember that we did some things right offensively," Smith said. "Limiting the mistakes [errors] is the key. They aren't huge mistakes but they are little mistakes that add up so we need to clean up those little mistakes and remember what we did well, too."