Ohio State Comes Back to Top Penn State, 12-5, in Big Ten Tournament Opener
Brett McKinney

May 23, 2012

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The No. 6 seed Ohio State baseball team plated nine runs in the final two innings to defeat No. 3 seed Penn State, 12-5, on the opening day of the Big Ten tournament Wednesday afternoon at Huntington Park. The Buckeyes, who move to 32-25 on the season, take on top-seeded and 18th-ranked Purdue at 7:05 p.m. Thursday.

“We continued to believe and scoring nine runs in the final two innings proves that,” Ohio State head coach Greg Beals said. “We were fortunate enough to get their starter’s pitch count up, get to the bullpen and do some damage in the late innings. We stuck to it offensively but I’m really impressed with what Brett McKinney brought to the table on the mound. He was a difference-maker for us today.”

Penn State took the early lead in the bottom of the first against Ohio State starter Jaron Long. Sean Deegan led off the inning with a single up the middle, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Steve Snyder, moved to third on a foul out by Joey DeBernardis and scored on an RBI single through the box by Jordan Steranka.

The Buckeyes answered right back to tie it in the top of the second when Brad Hallberg singled to center to lead off the inning, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Mike Carroll and scored on a two-out RBI single through the right side by Patrick Porter.

The Nittany Lions threatened again in the bottom of the second, putting runners on first and second with one out but Long struck out Penn State leadoff hitter Sean Deegan for the second out and Porter threw out Alex Farkes at the plate on a Steve Snyder single to end the threat and keep the game tied after two innings.

Penn State took the lead again with three runs on three hits in the bottom of the third. After a walk to Steranka and a single by J.J. White put runners at first and second with one down, Luis Montesinos singled home Steranka for the 2-1 lead. Aaron Novak then doubled down the left field line to score White and Alex Farkes followed with a sacrifice fly to left to plate Montesinos to make it 4-1 Penn State.

The Nittany Lions tacked on another in the bottom of the fourth when Deegan singled through the right side and came around to score on an RBI single from DeBernardis to make it 5-1 Penn State and chase Long from the game in favor of McKinney.

Ohio State cut into the lead with a pair in the top of the sixth. After a Hallberg single and a fielding error on a ground ball by Carroll put runners on first and second with one out, David Corna lined a single to right and Porter followed with a sacrifice fly to left to make it 5-3 Penn State.

The Buckeyes then took the lead with a three-run top of the eighth against Penn State relievers Greg Welsh and Dave Walkling. Singles by Josh Dezse and Hallberg and a walk by Carroll loaded the bases with nobody out before Walkling came on to replace Welsh. Corna then singled through the left side for the Buckeyes’ first run of the inning and Porter followed with a fielder’s choice to score Hallberg and a throwing error by Penn State shortstop Elliot Searer allowed Carroll to come around with the go-ahead run for a 6-5 lead.

In the meantime, McKinney was brilliant in relief of Long, striking out five over 4.2 scoreless innings before giving way to Andrew Armstrong, who induced a groundout to second to end the bottom of the eighth.

The Buckeyes then blew it open with a six-run top of the ninth. Ohio State took advantage of a Penn State error, a walk and two hit batters along with two-run singles by Corna and Pellant and an RBI single by Porter to make it 12-5.

Dezse came on to toss a scoreless ninth to close it out as the Buckeyes advanced to take on the Boilermakers Thursday evening.

McKinney picked up the win to even his record at 5-5 on the season while Hallberg finished 3-for-4 with an RBI and four runs scored and Corna went 3-for-5 with a run scored and four RBI. Porter and Pellant also finished with two hits for the Buckeyes.

- Brad Hallberg recorded his team-high 22nd multi-hit game of the season.
- Josh Dezse has reached base safely in 50 of 55 games played this season.
- Pellant stole his 31st base of the season, leaving him fifth on the Ohio State single-season list, four shy of leader Mike Harris.