Bats Come Alive in Conference Series Against Ohio State
April 25, 2011
By Kelsey Detweiler, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
Because of the rainy weather in State College on Friday night, the first game of the series between the Nittany Lions and the Buckeyes was moved to Saturday to make it a doubleheader for the two teams that afternoon. The Big Ten foes split the twinbill of games as Ohio State came away with a win in the first and the Nittany Lions squeaked out a victory in the second.
The Penn State squad swapped out their blue and white jerseys for grey-blue and white camouflage that afternoon as hosts of the second annual Wounded Warrior Benefit game. Behind a solid outing by starting pitcher Drew Rucinski, Ohio State was able to shut down the Nittany Lion offense and garner 12 hits for five runs in an opening 5-1 win at Medlar Field. The Lions had a tough showing at the plate and couldn't seem to string hits together to rally back against the Buckeyes. Penn State left seven runners on while Rucinski held the team to just five hits on the day.
In game two, it was a different story. Someone must have lit a spark under the Penn State offense because the entire lineup came out swinging against Ohio State starter Brett McKinney for a combined six hits and five runs in the first two innings of their second contest on Saturday. The Lions scored three of their runs in the first inning, making it a season total of 39 out of 209 runs scored in the opening inning of play. Sophomore John Walter had a clutch showing on the mound allowing eight hits and just two runs in 8.0 innings of baseball to ensure the 5-2 Penn State win.
After the game, Walter said that the team's opening loss that day gave him a little more motivation to throw his best.
"I mean the first game was just a tough loss," said Walter. "Especially against Ohio State we definitely want to beat these guys. Last year, we took it to them - took two out of three from them so we definitely want to do that again this year."
Walter got what he asked for in game three.
Penn State returned to Medlar Field on Sunday afternoon in the final game of their series with the Buckeyes and came away with a hard-fought 10-9 victory. Both teams chipped away to string hits together, earning runs in five of the nine innings of baseball played. Junior Sean Deegan was 2-for-4 for the Lions and junior Joey DeBernardis went a perfect 3-for-3 with a walk, two doubles and a single to keep the Penn State offense going. Freshman Geoff Boylston pitched the final 2.2 innings of the game and held the Buckeyes off to record the last win of the weekend.
The series win over Ohio State gives the Nittany Lions their third Big Ten series victory this season, and puts them in a three-way tie for first place in the conference with a record of 7-5. Penn State currently shares the top spot with Purdue and Michigan State.
After the game on Sunday afternoon, Penn State head coach Robbie Wine said that the final match-up against the Buckeyes was exactly what he had expected.
"I mean that was a tough game, but just a typical Sunday game," said Wine. "Bullpens are thin especially after a doubleheader. A battle of the bullpens and our guys stepped up and did the job just enough to win."
After two non-conference competitions this week, the Lions will head to East Lansing, Mich. to face Michigan State and battle for Big Ten standings. Wine said that both he and his players know that their week to come will be a tough one, but they are ready to go.
"It's huge," said Wine. "Going into Michigan State, you win two out of three you're in first place or tie or however it all looks but the way the league is, you can't let up. You lose two out of three or lose three, we hope that never happens but you know you're in trouble and I think our guys understand that."