The Buckeyes struggles continue in the mountains of Pennsylvania…drop first game of their weekend series to the Penn State Nittany Lions.
State Park, PA — The difficulties continue for Ohio State’s baseball team. The Buckeyes opened a three-game series here Saturday afternoon, falling to Penn State, 6-2, and doing so in a feeble fashion.
OSU was held to just four hits and struck out 12 times, four of those coming on a called third strike.
Their two runs were the result of a three-base error and a right-side groundout in the fourth, and Dominic Canzone’s solo home run in the ninth.
The loss dropped Ohio State to 12-17 overall and 1-6 in Big Ten play.
The win was Penn State’s first in conference play—after being swept by Michigan. The Nittany Lions enter tomorrow’s doubleheader at Medlar Field 11-17 overall.
Penn State’s Sal Biasi made easy work of the struggling Buckeyes. The right-hander worked 6.2 innings, allowing three hits and one unearned run. He struck out nine before giving way to Taylor Lehman and Nick Distasio, who combined to provide Penn State with three innings of one run ball.
But Buckeyes coach Greg Beals was in no mood to toss laurels Biasi’s way or toward those who followed him. He was far more concerned with an approach at the plate that not only led to a dozen strikeouts but also resulted in eight fly ball outs, no small portion of those routine fly balls.
“He (Biasi) was good,” Beals said. “I don’t want to take anything away from him. But he pretty much pitched with his fastball only. For us to strike out as many times as we did today on one pitch, and to make as many outs as we did in the air, was disappointing.
“We need to do better than that. But give him credit. His fastball had some life on it and he was able to beat us with it.”
Here, again, was evidence of this team’s youth and gradual learning curve. On Saturday, the Buckeyes were missing what Beals deemed hittable pitches.
“The strike outs aren’t the result of that third strike,” Beals said. “It’s missing pitches to hit earlier in the count…That’s where we get in trouble.
“We need to make sure that we are focused in our at-bats,” he continued, “that we’re focused on recognizing the pitch we want to hit, and when we get it, we are able to put it in play.
“The guy (Biasi) gave us a pitch to hit in every at-bat. We’re missing them right now. We can’t continue to do that.”
So, this team continues to search for success, a process made all the more difficult—and noticeable—because it is doomed to comparison. Every failure this team makes spurs a memory of last year’s successes.
Clearly, this team has issues and they go beyond at-bats.
Yianni Pavlopoulos, last year’s closer, is back in the starting rotation, partially out of necessity—Adam Niemeyer is battling an injury—and partially because he has not thrived in his former role.
On Saturday, Penn State got him for two runs in the second on three hits and an error—still another issue—and two more in the fourth when the Nittany Lions strung together back-to-back one out singles and catcher Ryan Sloniger tripled to right.
State plated two more in the sixth. With one on and one out, Pavlopoulos gave way to Curtiss Irving. He yielded a single to put runners at first and third. Jordon Bowersox scored one run with a base hit, and an errant pick-off attempt scored the second run.
In short, this game was an extension of so many before it—not a lot to shout about.
“The one thing I do feel good about,” Beals said, “is I feel like our team is fighting: the bench, the bullpen. They are trying to keep everyone in the right frame of mind throughout the game.
“Our hitters are lacking confidence. There is no doubt about that, and I think a part of that is our inability to execute.”
Confidence is the result of repeated success, regardless of the area. When the stat sheet shows 43 errors in 29 games; when opponents are hitting .286 and there are 232 strike outs on the ledger, nearly eight a game, confidence can be truly illusive.
NOTES: The Buckeyes and Nittany Lions will play two Sunday. First game is at 11 a.m. The second is scheduled to begin at three o’clock and will be televised by BTN (Big Ten Network)…Dominic Canzone delivered both runs in Saturday’s loss, the second coming on his first home run of the season. He leads the team with a .293 average. In his 22 games, he’s 17-for-58…No Buckeye is hitting above .300…Noah McGowan started at third base Saturday. He has now started at four different positions: second, third, right and left field.