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Penn State Baseball Drops Two Straight, Downed In Series At Ohio State

Penn State baseball (24-24, 11-10 Big Ten) couldn’t keep up with Ohio State (18-29, 7-14 Big Ten) on the heels of a three-game series in Columbus over the weekend.

The Nittany Lions produced a convincing 13-7 victory on Friday night but dropped two matchups 11-0 and 12-3 on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

With three home runs in the first inning on Friday to start the series, Penn State jumped out to a commanding 5-0 lead directly out of the gate. The bats remained scorching hot for the Nittany Lions, as Matt Wood, Kyle Hannon, and Billy Gerlott each tallied two homers-a-piece en route to a 13-7 triumph.

However, Penn State compiled just 11 combined hits on Saturday and Sunday in comparison to its 13-hit performance on Friday alone. Defensively, the Nittany Lions struggled to find consistency from the mound behind shaky showings from Carson Kohls and Kellan Tulio in games two and three.

How It Happened

Game One

Sophomore Jaden Henline received the start for the Nittany Lions against sophomore Nate Haberthier, who dealt for Ohio State.

Penn State began the matchup with three hits on its first four at-bats, starting with a single by Jay Harry. Two pitches later, Matt Wood delivered his ninth home run of the campaign with a two-run shot deep to left field, giving the Nittany Lions an early 2-0 lead.

From there, the fireworks continued early and often for the Nittany Lions. Following a double by Josh Speigel, Pennsylvania native Billy Gerlott fired a two-run drive with another deep homer at the expense of Haberthier.

On the next at-bat, the momentum proved to be exclusively in Penn State’s corner with yet another home run by Kyle Hannon. The back-to-back skyrocket marked the Nittany Lions’ third homer of the inning.

After a red-hot sequence highlighted by five hits and three home runs, the Nittany Lions carried a commanding 5-0 lead into the bottom of the first inning.

The Buckeyes followed up a disappointing top-half of the inning with an explosive hitting display in the bottom frame. Henline started the sequence with a timely strikeout, but Ohio State followed the early setback with an immediate home run by senior Zach DeZenzo. Soon after, a single from Trey Lipsey and a double courtesy of Brent Todys gave the home squad one additional run.

Despite boasting a solid two-run showing in the first, the Nittany Lions still held a favorable 5-2 advantage entering the second inning.

In the second, the Nittany Lions failed to extend their three-run lead with a zero-hit effort on four attempts. The Buckeyes were able to bring in one run with their second deep shot of the day, thanks to a solo home run from Mitchell Okuley.

The back-and-forth derby-styled showdown continued with the Nittany Lions blasting their fourth homer of the evening at the top of the third. Hannon sent his second home run well over the right-center field wall, resulting in a two-run shot and a 7-3 advantage.

Following a solid defensive stand, the historic offensive start for Penn State advanced into the fourth inning. A double by Harry accounted for the Nittany Lions’ eighth hit of the day, but the action didn’t stop there. Wood’s hitting prowess gave the visiting squad its fifth home run in four innings, leading to a 9-3 Penn State edge.

At the conclusion of the at-bat sequence, the Nittany Lions’ 10-hit, five-home run bonanza marked season highs in each category through the first four innings of play.

Penn State failed to produce any action after formulating three-straight one-two-three innings from the fifth to seventh frames. At the bottom of the sixth, however, the Buckeyes picked up some slack from a Colton Bauer home run directly over the center field fence, cutting the Buckeye deficit to a 9-4 clip.

The Nittany Lions returned to their scoring ways in the eighth inning by notching the group’s sixth home run of the contest. Gerlott took the second pitch of reliever Will Pfenning’s services straight over the center field wall, giving Penn State a 10-4 lead.

In the face of a six-run deficit, Ohio State continued to chip away with strong hitting sequences from Bauer and Marcus Ernst. Following a double from Bauer down the right field line, Ernst was able to bring the senior in with an RBI single two at-bats later. Then, a wild pitch by Penn State reliever Mason Mellot led to another Buckeye score, bringing the margin to 10-6.

With a four-run lead heading into the ninth, the Nittany Lions capitalized on several shaky pitches from Pfenning. After walking Harry by tossing four balls in five pitches, the Ohio native later hit Wood squarely in the back after taking the Big Ten’s hitting leader to a full count in the subsequent at-bat.

A single hit by Spiegel sent in Harry for another Penn State score, followed by a double from Gerlott, which brought in Wood and Spiegel for a productive, three-run series of action. The RBIs from Speigel and Gerlott cemented a convincing 13-7 triumph to take game one in Columbus.

Game Two

South Carolina transfer Travis Luensmann began the matchup on the bump for the Nittany Lions. On the opposing side, Isaiah Coupet took the mound for Ohio State to begin the second stint of the series.

Through the first three innings, Luensmann and Coupet dueled by allowing zero combined runs highlighted by three strikeouts-a-piece. Then, in the fourth, Ohio State struck first on an RBI single from Colton Bauer, which brought in Kade Kern for an early 1-0 advantage.

Penn State’s offense continued to struggle early, but a throwing error by the Buckeyes advanced Tayven Kelley to first after initially striking out at the plate. To kickstart the Nittany Lions’ dugout, Kelley stole second, but his work was cut short after two-consecutive ground outs to end the top of the fifth frame.

The scoring spree for Ohio State began with a two-hit, one-walk inning at the bottom of the fifth to give the Buckeyes a 3-0 lead. A single from Marcus Ernst down the infield line and an additional free base gifted to Trey Lipsey were both brought in by Kern, who nailed a double deep to center field.

Midway through the sixth inning, the contest was placed on a lightning delay. The inclimate weather never subsided, forcing the two squads to push the remainder of Saturday’s matchup to 11 a.m. on Sunday morning.

Carson Kohls took over for Luensmann on the backend of the delay. Despite beginning his stint on the rubber needing just one out to retire the inning, Kohls struggled directly out of the gate by walking two batters and advancing another on an unhinged pitch.

Ohio State infielder Zach DeZenzo culminated Kohls’ miscues into a three-run blast to left field, giving the Buckeyes a controlled 7-0 edge.

Without making any progress on offense by recording just one hit in the seventh, Ohio State added another three runs to its already-dominating lead. Kern, Bauer, and Robinson all scored off of pitcher Chad Rogers, who surrendered three hits down the stretch. Heading into the eighth, the Buckeyes maintained a 10-0 clip.

A single towards the third-base line proved to be the only bright spot for the Nittany Lions in the eighth inning, who surrendered another Ohio State run without finding the scoreboard once again. Both squads sent in the reserves to clean up the final frame, with the Buckeyes claiming a dominant 11-0 triumph in game two.

Game Three

Less than an hour after the conclusion of game two, the Kellan Tulio returned to the mound for the tiebreaker opportunity in Columbus. For the Buckeyes, Wyatt Loncar nabbed the start.

The Nittany Lions shook off their sluggish start on Saturday with a three-hit, two-run inning to begin Sunday afternoon’s affair. Cole Bartels and Jay Harry notched two singles on only seven-combined pitches from Loncar. After two-straight strikeouts by Matt Wood and Josh Spiegel, Billy Gerlot nailed a double to left-center to bring in two runs, giving Penn State a 2-0 lead.

Ohio State answered the bell at the bottom of the first inning with two hits at the expense of Tulio. Marcus Ernst set the tone with a single on a 2-2 count, followed by a home run by Zach DeZenzo for a two-run score. The blast, which knotted the game up at 2-2, added to DeZenzo’s current 16-game hitting streak.

Despite boasting a scoreless second inning, the Nittany Lions found themselves in perfect position for a productive frame with two outs. After three-consecutive walks at the mercy of Loncar, Wood took to the batter’s box with the bases loaded. The Big Ten’s most productive hitter grounded out at the first base to end the inning for Penn State, extending Wood’s uncharacteristic 0-6 slump spanning back to the conclusion of Friday’s battle.

After the disappointing sequence for the Nittany Lions, DeZenzo blasted his second home run of the afternoon for a three-run score. With the shot, the Buckeyes jumped out to a 5-2 lead late in the second.

For the second time in as many innings, Penn State took to the plate with the bases loaded. This time, with only one out, Kyle Hannon and Derek Cease both received at-bat opportunities, but a strikeout and fly-out, respectively, ended the inning in let-down fashion for the Nittany Lions. Through three innings, Rob Cooper’s bunch left seven runners on base, with just two runs to show for their production.

The Buckeyes continued their explosive offensive outburst with a four-run third inning, extending their advantage to 9-2. A two-RBI double by Archer Brookman sent in two base runners for the home squad, while a two-run home run shot by Ernst gave Ohio State an additional two scores. Through three innings, Ohio State levied eight hits on the rattled Penn State pitching core.

Both defenses held each squad’s batters in check through the fourth and fifth innings, with a double by Wood serving as the only hit for the Nittany Lions over the span. For the first time since the fifth at-bat of the contest, Penn State scored in the sixth inning, courtesy of a Cole Bartels RBI double. The hit sent in Derek Cease for the additional run, bringing the score to 9-3 in favor of the Buckeyes.

Ohio State closed out the series by mounting four-straight hits at the bottom of the eighth inning. Lipsey nailed a triple down the right-field line to start the streak for the Buckeyes. Ultimately, the freshman scored thanks to an RBI double from Kern, which resulted in the first of three runs scored for the home team in the frame.

The Nittany Lions failed to cut into Ohio State’s nine-run lead late in the ninth, as the Buckeyes took game three by a score of 12-3. Over the final two matchups, Rob Cooper’s squad was outscored 23-3 at the hands of the second-to-worst team in the conference standings.

Takeaways

  • With a five-seed in the Big Ten Tournament looming for Rob Cooper’s visibly motivated squad, the bats continued to thrive at a scoring hot clip Friday evening after suffering a letdown performance against Georgetown. During game one, Penn State blasted six home runs in a single matchup for the first time since 2008. With the 13-run effort, the Nittany Lions produced 10-or-more runs in four-straight conference outings spanning from their last series with Michigan State.
  • After a 13-hit, 6-home run derby-style performance on Friday, the Nittany Lions struggled to find any semblance of offense on Saturday. Matt Wood, who is currently hitting at a .409 clip, uncharacteristically struggled by going 0-4 at the plate behind a solid pitching performance by Isaiah Coupet. For Penn State to potentially make noise in the Big Ten Tournament, Cooper’s crew will need to limit its consistent trend of letdown showings on the tail-end of victories.
  • Despite dropping the series to the Buckeyes after a disappointing weekend, Penn State currently sits at .500 with a 24-24 record. The mark, which currently stands as the fifth-best in the Big Ten, is four spots better than the squad’s ninth-place position this time last season. Moreover, the Nittany Lions are just five games back of the conference’s first-place crown. After shaking a 5-10 start to begin the campaign, Cooper’s ability to regroup and pivot Penn State’s season successfully should not be overlooked.

What’s Next?

Penn State will conclude its five-game road stand at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 17 against Pitt. Although the matchup is technically a home battle for the Panthers, the two interstate rivals will square off at PNC Park, the home of the Pittsburgh Pirates, for the Nittany Lions’ final out-of-conference bout of the season.

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About the Author

Connor Krause

Connor Krause is a junior from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania double majoring in journalism and business. He is a lifelong Penn State football and basketball fan and enjoys rooting for Pittsburgh sports teams. In his free time, Connor can be found playing golf or pick-up basketball. You can follow his Twitter and Instagram @ckrause_31.

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