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April 26, 2013
By Mike Esse, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State enters their three-game weekend series at Ohio State (25-13, 9-6) with an 11-25 overall record and a 2-10 mark in the Big Ten. However, there are a lot of things that record might not tell you as the Nittany Lions look to win their second straight Big Ten series.
For the first time all season, numerous Nittany Lions are contributing, whether it is in the field, on the mound or at the plate.
It's not just one or two guys, it's six or seven guys each day, and that is what has allowed them to turn the page and play better baseball.
"Anytime you look at teams that are having success they have several guys throughout the lineup that are contributing and we [have had] that," said assistant coach Eric Folmar. "Now you are starting to see [production] from different guys offensively and on the mound and there is no question when we have that kind of production throughout the lineup, it's a great thing."
The stats can prove Folmar's point true as in Penn State's last five games, which they are 4-1, Penn State has at least seven hits in each game and at least six different players have gotten a hit in each of those games.
Head coach Robbie Wine is now seeing players like sophomore's Aaron Novak and J.J. White produce from the bottom of the lineup and combining that with the production Penn State has seen from the top of its lineup via James Coates, Elliott Searer and Luis Montesinos, the offense is rolling at the right time.
Continuing to get this production against Ohio State is very important, especially against a Buckeyes pitching staff that has been very efficient this season.
Ohio State's pitchers boast a 2.94 ERA, which is third in the Big Ten behind only Indiana and Minnesota. The Buckeyes have also struck out 261 batters, the second most in the conference, and that makes getting timely hits even more important this weekend.
"They're going to be around the plate, so when we get guys in scoring position we are going to have to execute," said Folmar. "They have been really good on the mound so when we get a guy one base and move him into scoring position, we have to execute."
On the other side, Folmar is also looking at the pitching staff to produce this weekend, which is something they have done as of late. Cody Lewis has been strong out of the bullpen along with Ian Parvin and a host of other Nittany Lions.
If they can throw strikes and get help defensively, Folmar believes Penn State will be in each game of the series.
"It's pretty simple on the mound for us. I think our guys are very capable and are going to go out and throw strikes for us," he said. "Defensively we have to be clean and we have to make the plays."
Arguably the biggest positive for Penn State as they are set to open the series with Ohio State on Friday is that its mindset hasn't changed at all this season.
Even when they were struggling, Wine's team was positive. Now, with wins in four of its last five games, they still aren't satisfied and that in itself is a good thing.
"The record is not at all what we want it to be, but the one thing that has been constant is that they have battled," said Folmar. "They have worked from day one in the fall to today. They continue to get after it in practice and work hard. There is no quit in these guys."