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Under pressure: OSU’s success dependent on clutch hitting

The flood of two-out run production has run dry.

The Ohio State baseball team had displayed a knack for key hits with two outs in its previous two Big Ten series, but it left 27 runners on base during last weekend’s contest with Penn State.

In six games against Michigan State and Indiana, the Buckeyes scored half of their runs (21 of 42) with two hitters retired. OSU won both of those series. That clutch hitting was absent against the Nittany Lions, who took two of three from the Buckeyes.

Right fielder Brian DeLucia, who had four of those 21 RBIs, acknowledged that relying on two-out runs is a dangerous game to play.

“You’re not always that lucky and you’re not always that fortunate,” DeLucia said. “With runners on first and second with no outs or one out, we got to find a way to get those runners around and not wait till we have two outs.”

Unfortunately, the team waited too long and dropped the final two games of the series while leaving potential runs on the bases.

Coach Bob Todd was not worried about two-out production but offensive production in general.

“You’re always worried any time that you’re not going to be productive offensively, but it doesn’t matter when you get runs, the key is to get them,” Todd said.

Though Todd downplayed the importance of timing, he added that two-out hitting is something that is regularly emphasized in practice.

“We do drills … situations weekly with two outs,” DeLucia said. “That’s something we practice and we got to look for the right pitch.”

Finding the right pitch is more important for this team than handling the pressure of two outs, DeLucia said.

“We have talked about it as a group that the way you win a lot of close ball games is to come through with some big two-out base hits,” Todd said.

The Buckeyes hope to return to their clutch ways by doing just that as they look to hold onto their place atop the Big Ten standings.

OSU takes a break from Big Ten play against Marshall at 6:35 p.m. Wednesday at Bill Davis Stadium.

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