PSU Outlasts Buckeyes for Best Big Ten Start Since 2001 With 5-4 Win
April 11, 2014
COLUMBUS, Ohio.; April 11, 2014 - The Penn State Nittany Lions (17-14, 5-1 Big Ten) turned in a gritty performance to escape Nick Swisher Field at Bill Davis Stadium on Friday night with a hard-fought 5-4 win over Ohio State (19-15, 2-8 Big Ten). The win improves Penn State’s Big Ten record to 5-1 on the season, its best start since the program went 6-1 during the 2001 season to begin league play.
The victory keeps the Blue and White undefeated in Big Ten series openers in 2014, as the squad is now 3-0 with wins over Northwestern, Purdue and now Ohio State. The win is also the program’s first in Columbus since the team won 14-6 on April 25, 2010.
For the second-straight game this week the Nittany Lions got production all through the batting order, as eight of the team’s nine starters recorded at least one hit in the contest to combine for 12 base knocks.
Seniors Steve Snyder (West Chester, Pa.) and Zach Ell (Plains, Pa.) were the catalysts for the offense. Snyder turned in a team-high three hits, marking his 11th multi-hit performance of the season, and scored three runs, which ties his season-high in the category. Ell recorded two hits and scored each time he was on base to give the Nittany Lions the much needed five runs on the evening.
After Snyder and Ell reached base, James Coates (Girard, Ohio) drove them in on two separate occasions. The sophomore’s night was highlighted by an RBI triple in the sixth to build the Nittany Lions’ lead to 5-1.
Jack Anderson (Evanston, Ill.) continued his great season out of the bullpen, as the sophomore pitched three shutout innings to close out the game and earn his fourth save of the season. Anderson finished with three innings pitched, allowing no runs on just one hit and no walks to go along with five strikeouts.
Penn State jumped out of the gates to grab an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first, using three hits and a sacrifice bunt to produce the opening run. Snyder led off with an infield single followed by a sacrifice bunt from Coates and an infield single from White to put runners on the corners. Greg Guers (Langhorne, Pa.) then lifted what appeared to be a routine fly to left center but the OSU outfielders lost the ball in the sun, allowing Snyder to cross home.
The Buckeyes’ defense unraveled in the top of the second, handing the Nittany Lions two runs in the frame to give Penn State a 3-0 lead. Ell led off with an infield single and moved to second off another successful sacrifice bunt. With two outs Snyder hit a grounder to shortstop, who made an errant throw to score Ell. Snyder then broke for second on a steal, drawing an Ohio State throw that sailed into the outfield to let Snyder come around and give the Lions a 3-0 lead.
The Lions tacked on another run in the fourth to grow their lead to 4-0. Ell and Tyler Kendall (Boynton Beach, Fla.) started the inning with back-to-back singles to set the table for the offense. After a PSU strikeout, Snyder recorded an infield single to load the bases. Coates drove in Ell with a sacrifice fly to extend the lead to 4-0.
The hosts got one run back in the bottom of the fifth to draw within three runs at 4-1. The Buckeyes used two hits, including an RBI single from Connor Sabanosh to score their first run.
Penn State responded with a run of its own in the top of the sixth to push the lead back up to four runs. With two outs and no one on, Snyder hit an infield single to shortstop for his third hit of the night. Coates followed by tagging a double triple to right center to drive in the senior and make the score 5-1. The triple marks Coates’ first three-bagger of the season.
Ohio State used a three-run sixth inning to cut the Nittany Lion lead to just one run at 5-4. The Buckeyes scored their runs off three hits, including a crucial two-out single with runners on second and third from Nick Sergakis to drive in both runners to make it a one-run game.
Penn State called upon Anderson in the seventh inning to stop the Buckeye charge and the sophomore delivered. Anderson struck out the side in the seventh inning and followed with a flawless eighth to put the Lions on the door step of the victory.
Ohio State made things interesting in the ninth, putting men on second and third with one out and its best batter of the season to the plate in Ryan Leffel. Anderson came up with a huge strikeout, as Leffel swung and missed on strike three to deliver Penn State its 12th win in the last 14 games.
The Blue and White will play game two of the series against the Buckeyes tomorrow at 4:05 p.m. and will then wrap up its stay in Columbus with the series finale on Sunday, which is slated to start at 1:05 p.m.