The clock winding down on his collegiate career, Ohio State senior right-hander Greg Greve has apparently had enough of Ohio State's misfortune. With ball in hand and his club in the midst of a seven-game losing streak in Big Ten play, Greve twirled a gem against Penn State, a four-hit shutout in leading the Buckeyes to a 7-0 win and out of the Big Ten cellar.
"This was very important for us after losing seven-straight conference games," Ohio State head coach Greg 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. It’s just what our ball club needed today."
For a second consecutive weekend Greve has gave Ohio State more than it can ask for.
After pitching on short rest, being asked to take the ball mere hours before the series opener against Nebraska, Greve pitched six scoreless innings, scattering five hits against the Cornhuskers. With a full week of rest, Greve would finish what he started against the Nittany Lions, running a scoreless-inning streak to 15 innings with the dominant performance, needing 86 pitches to go the distance.
As Greve was in cruise control, Ohio State used the long ball to provide him with support.
Leading off the bottom of the third, leadoff batter Nick Sergakis pulled an offering from Penn State starter T.J. Jann over the left field wall, the first home run of the Ohio State career for the sophomore shortstop who began his collegiate career at Coastal Carolina. Though it would be his lone hit in five at-bats, Sergakis continues to swing a hot stick for Ohio State, opening the series with a 4-for-4 effort, carrying a team-leading .339 average through 59 at-bats.
Sloppy play in the fourth inning allowed Ohio State to score two runs. Junior first baseman Josh Dezse reached on a throwing error to open the inning, from second he would score as Sergakis reached base from a dropped two-out flyout which extended the inning. Sergakis moved to third on a strike three wild pitch which allowed freshman left fielder Ronnie Dawson to reach first. With runners on the corners, a double-steal allowed Sergakis to cross home with Dawson keeping inattentive Penn State fielders in a rundown, even though Dawson would freely advance to second because it was a ball four offering to sophomore second baseman Troy Kuhn.
With the score 3-0, there would be no assistance needed from the Penn State defense as the Buckeyes cemented the victory in the seventh.
After Dawson and Kuhn opened the inning with consecutive walks, junior right field Pat Porter loaded the bases with a single to right. A sacrifice fly from sophomore Designated Hitter Ryan Leffel plated Dawson. Standing a stout 5'8, Sergakis showed quite the punch could come from a little frame. Concluding the scoring, it was 6'5 junior first baseman Josh Dezse who found the left field jet stream. Dezse crushed his first home run of the season, a three-run shot off Penn State junior right-hander Ryan Harper deep over the left field wall, the first home run of the season for the junior first baseman, the 10th of his career.
A three-for-five day from Porter and Dezse's three RBI lead Ohio State on the afternoon, the seven Ohio State runs the first time the club has scored more than four runs in Big Ten play since its 6-2 win over Michigan State on March 22. Dawson finished with two singles in four at-bats and a walk, to match Porter in reaching base safely three times.
But the story of the day was the captain Greve, who lowered his ERA to 3.76 with the complete game. Needing only 146 pitches to work the last 15 innings, Greve has thrown 97 strikes, issuing only two walks, striking out five in that span.
Following Ohio State's second complete game in their last three Big Ten contests, sophomore right-hander Jake Post will seek to match Greve and pitch his second straight complete game. Post received the tough-luck loss in going 8.2 innings last Sunday at Nebraska when the Huskers walked-off with a 3-2 win. Post is 2-2 on the year with a 2.83 ERA over 35 innings.