The Ohio State baseball team (21-15, 4-8) got back on track with a weekend series victory at home against Penn State.
The bats woke up in a big way for the final two games of the three-game series — both victories for OSU — and coach Greg Beals credited the lineup change and the wind for helping out the offense.
“When the wind is blowing, it really helps the mentality of the hitters,” Beals said. “And we’ve been talking mentality and maybe it took the wind blowing to get them going a little bit and get that mentality at game time to attack.”
Sunday’s game began with the Buckeyes jumping all over the Nittany Lions’ sophomore pitcher Nick Hedge.
After scoring a run in the first on an RBI single from sophomore second baseman Troy Kuhn, redshirt-junior first baseman Josh Dezse led off the second with a deep home run to straightaway center to put the Buckeyes up two.
Sophomore third baseman Jacob Bosiokovic followed with a single and junior catcher Connor Sabanosh brought him home with a stand-up triple to center.
With no outs in the inning and Sabanosh on third, the Nittany Lion coaching staff had seen enough and pulled Hedge in favor of senior Ian Parvin before Hedge could allow any more damage.
The pitching change didn’t stop redshirt-sophomore shortstop Nick Sergakis from scoring Sabanosh with a sacrifice fly to center.
Dezse continued his onslaught on the Nittany Lion pitching staff with another bomb to center in the third to put the Buckeyes up by five.
“I’ve always thought I’ve had a good swing. I just think that circumstances are starting to line up. Couple sliders, wind was blowing out and was just able to square a couple up,” Dezse said Sunday. “I’ve always known that I got a decent swing if I make contact. I’m just not really thinking too much. Just going up and see ball, hit ball.”
The Nittany Lions began mounting a comeback and tied things up by scoring two runs in the fourth and three in the fifth.
The Buckeyes took the lead right back in the bottom half of the fifth, though, on a bases-loaded ground ball from Bosiokovic.
They broke it open again in the seventh with four runs, including RBIs from Sergakis and Dezse, giving them a total of five and seven, respectively, for the weekend.
“It’s really been the same approach that I’ve had all year. It’s just falling in my favor lately,” Sergakis said. “Every at-bat I go up there and I try and fight the pitcher. I don’t want him to beat me on a pitch and I want to put my best swing on it.”
The Nittany Lions got one run back in the eighth, but the Buckeyes got two more in the bottom half to end the scoring and give them the series-clinching 12-6 win.
Sophomore pitcher Jake Post earned the win and redshirt-senior reliever Tyler Giannonatti came on in the sixth to allow only the one run in the eighth before freshman Travis Lakins came in to close it out.
Saturday’s tilt was all Buckeyes as senior pitcher Greg Greve threw a complete game shutout, allowing only four hits and walking just two.
Despite his strong performance, Greve said it was just another game for him.
“I try to approach the game the same each way. I want to go out there and give my team a chance to win,” Greve said afterward. “You try to do too much as an individual player, that’s when you start getting in trouble. Win as a team, lose as a team. Defense made some great plays for me and the offense really came alive, so that made my job easier.”
Offensively, home runs by Dezse and Sergakis and three errors by the Nittany Lions gave the Buckeyes a much-needed 7-0 win.
“This was very important for us after losing seven straight conference games,” Beals said. “We need to get back in good ways and Greve, our senior co-captain, grabbed the bull by the horns and shut them out today.”
Friday night, the Nittany Lions took the lead early and pulled out a 5-4 win.
The Buckeyes are next scheduled to play on the road against West Virginia in Morgantown, W. Va., Tuesday at 6 p.m.