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Penn State Baseball Outslugged By Maryland In 19-10 Loss

For the first time in 672 days, Penn State baseball (2-7) took the field at home. Medlar Field at Lubrano Park was the scene for Penn State’s home opener against the Maryland Terrapins (4-5).

A fantastic comeback attempt and a massive offensive outburst were not enough to take down the Terps, as the Nittany Lions fell 19-10. Pitching issues were once again a major downfall for Penn State.

How It Happened

Junior right-hander Bailey Dees took the mound for Penn State and allowed the first batter of the inning to score on a base hit by Maryland’s Matthew Shaw. Bobby Zmarzlak and Benjamin Cowles contributed RBI singles to make the score 4-0 in favor of Maryland. Catcher Matt Wood nabbed Cowles trying to steal second base to end a rough top of the first inning for the Nittany Lions.

Following a 1-2-3 bottom of the first for the Nittany Lions’ offense, Dees went back to work in the top of the second. The big righty stranded two Maryland runners and struck out two in a clean inning.

Another quick frame from Maryland’s Sean Burke left Penn State without a hit yet again, sending Dees back to the hill. Dees registered two three-pitch strikeouts in the frame in a much-needed dominant inning.

Justin Williams worked a four-pitch walk to open the bottom of the third to give Penn State its first baserunner of the day. Gavin Homer did his best to extend the inning, but his eight-plus pitch at-bat resulted in a strikeout, ending the threat.

Dees went back to work in the bottom of the fourth for Penn State, allowing a leadoff double to score on an RBI single. The runner was then brought around by a triple to the right field corner by Chris Alleyne. The Nittany Lions escaped without further damage, carrying a 6-0 deficit to the bottom of the fourth inning.

Matt Wood worked a seven-pitch walk to lead off the bottom of the frame and reached second base on an overthrown pickoff attempt, giving the Nittany Lions life with no outs. Johnny Piacentino brought him in with a bloop single to left field, breaking up the no-hitter and the shutout in one fell swoop. Josh Spiegel walked and both runners were driven in by a line-drive double off the bat of Jay Harry.

The hits kept coming for Penn State, as Cole Bartels singled in Harry, keeping the inning alive. The four-run outburst from Penn State chased Burke from the game, and relief pitcher Sean Heine induced a popup off the bat of Curtis Robison to end the inning.

A monster three-run home run off the bat of the red-hot Ben Cowles with zero outs forced Penn State’s ace from the ballgame in the fifth inning with the score sitting at 9-4 in favor of Maryland. Coach Rob Cooper elected to bring in righty Steven Miller from the bullpen. Miller stranded two runners while escaping the inning without allowing a run.

Homer and Wood reached base to lead off the bottom of the fifth for the Nittany Lions. On a full count, Johnny Piacentino grounded a slow roller to the third baseman, reaching base on an infield single. A throwing error on the play brought Homer around to score and put Wood and Piacentino on second and third base, respectively, still with zero outs.

Maryland Coach Rob Vaughn chose to bring in Ryan Ramsey, a left-handed reliever, to face Penn State’s righty pinch-hitter Tayven Kelley. Ramsey struck out the side to end another promising Penn State threat.

A clean sixth inning for both pitchers kept the game moving along. Miller then took the mound for the top of the seventh and pitched his second straight 1-2-3 frame.

A single by Wood and a booming double from Johnny Piacentino put runners on second and third base with nobody out for the heart of the order.

A passed ball that evaded the eyes of catcher Justin Vought brought in Wood, then an RBI groundout by Kelley allowed Piacentino to cross the plate. Spiegel and Harry singled, and Penn State had two men on base for the second time in the inning. Justin Williams smacked a double off the wall, which scored Spiegel, but an excellent relay throw nabbed Harry at the plate.

A second Maryland balk sent Williams to third, and he came around to score on an infield single by Cole Bartels.

Left-hander Hutch Gagnon came on to pitch with the score tied at 9-9 in the top of the eighth inning. After plunking the first batter of the inning, he was removed in favor of righty Mason Mellott. Maryland took the lead back in the inning, driving Mellott out of the inning in favor of Chad Rogers. The Terps tacked on five runs in the inning and took a 14-9 lead into the bottom of the eighth.

A Jay Harry bases-loaded walk scored the Nittany Lions’ tenth run of the contest, but that was all the offense could muster.

Maryland tacked on five more runs in the top half of the ninth to extend its lead to 19-10, which ended up being the final score.

Takeaways

  • The bats are back, folks. Although strikeouts continue to be a big issue offensively for the Nittany Lions, the outburst of hits we saw in the first series against Northwestern returned. Excellent games from Matt Wood and Johnny Piacentino, as well as Penn State’s two four-run innings, were encouraging as well.
  • Consistency on the mound is going to have to be key if this team wants to be a contender. Dees showed flashes of the swing-and-miss excellence that is expected of him, but he also allowed a lot of hard contact that proved to be a problem. The bullpen could not come through yet again, allowing ten runs in the final two innings to put the game out of reach.
  • The Nittany Lions recorded four errors in the game, adding to the list of factors that resulted in the loss.

What’s Next

Penn State will take on Maryland on Sunday for the second game of the three-game series. First pitch is set for 1 p.m. and it can be seen on BTN+.

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About the Author

Matt Rudisill

Matt is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism from a little town called Parkesburg in Chester County, PA. More often than not, you can catch him yelling about the Phillies and the Steelers on his Twitter (@mrudy26). Matt is also an elite wiffleball pitcher and is not afraid to back up that claim. Direct all wiffleball challenge invitations, or other legitimate requests, to [email protected]

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