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Penn State Baseball Drops Rubber Match To Maryland 7-1

Penn State baseball (3-8) lost the rubber match of its first home series of the season 7-1 to Maryland (5-6) on Monday.

A stellar pitching performance from Maryland starter Jason Savacool neutralized the Nittany Lions’ offense in this one. Penn State’s pitching staff got into trouble throughout the game, which resulted in seven runs for the Terrapins.

With Monday’s loss, Rob Cooper’s squad has yet to win a series during the 2021 season.

How It Happened

Right-hander Kyle Virbitsky took the mound for the Nittany Lions in the top of the first inning and escaped some trouble to pitch a scoreless frame that included two strikeouts. Despite a leadoff single by first baseman Cole Bartels, Maryland starter Jason Savacool pitched a scoreless inning as well.

Both teams went down scoreless in the second inning, and the game remained tied at zero going into the top of the third.

The Terps cracked Virbitsky in the top of the third, as catcher Luke Shliger drove in a run with a single through the left side of the infield to make it a 1-0 game. Savacool rolled through the bottom half of the inning, setting down the Nittany Lions 1-2-3.

Virbitsky responded by setting Maryland down in order on just 11 pitches to send Penn State’s offense back to the plate. To start the bottom of the fourth, Johnny Piacentino reached on an error, then Justin Williams and Jay Harry each singled to load the bases for Penn State with no outs.

Designated hitter Josh Spiegel grounded into a double play, but Piacentino scored to tie the game up 1-1 before Savacool struck out Gavin Homer to end the inning.

The Terps loaded the bases in the top of the fifth inning after three runners reached on a dropped third strike, a walk, and a hit by pitch. Designated hitter Bobby Zmarzlak knocked in a run with an infield hit, and Shliger drove in his second run of the game with a sac fly.

Coach Rob Cooper made a pitching change with one out in the fifth, removing Virbitsky from the game in favor of Jared Freilich. Freilich inherited a bases-loaded jam and induced a ground ball to third base, which Williams fired to Matt Wood at home plate for the out. However, Wood was met with a scary collision from Maryland first baseman Maxwell Costes.

Wood was down on the field for quite a few minutes and was removed from the game. Tyson Cooper took over behind the plate. Freilich then struck out Tommy Gardiner to escape trouble and keep the score at 3-1.

Savacool quickly set the Nittany Lions down in order in the bottom half of the frame on just nine pitches.

Chris Alleyne led off the sixth inning with a long home run to right field to extend Maryland’s lead to 4-1. Freilich allowed a single on the next pitch, but he got a flyout and a double play to get out of the inning. Savacool kept it going in the bottom of sixth inning with another scoreless frame for Maryland.

Freilich was hurt by walks in the seventh inning, as he gave up four total walks, one being intentional, to give Maryland another run. Ralph Gambino took over for Freilich with Penn State down 5-1 with one out in the inning. A passed ball by Cooper, as well as an RBI groundout for Alleyne, gave the Terps two more runs to make the score 7-1.

Savacool pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning to bring Maryland’s offense back to the plate. Gambino navigated out of trouble in top of the eighth inning to keep it a 7-1 ballgame.

Savacool responded with a four-pitch scoreless inning that included a double play and a groundout. Jaden Henline came on in the top of the ninth to pitch for Penn State and set down Maryland 1-2-3.

Penn State wasn’t able to score any runs in the bottom half, losing the game 7-1.

Takeaways

  • Penn State’s offense was kept in check by Jason Savacool all game long. Savacool pitched a nine-inning complete game and gave up just five hits, one unearned run, and walked no batters. Additionally, he was efficient with his pitches, as he completed the game with just 92 pitches.
  • The Nittany Lions’ pitching staff dealt with trouble in almost every inning. Penn State pitchers combined to allow nine hits, five walks, and hit four batters.
  • Despite the poor offensive performance, Penn State struck out just three times Monday, which is a far contrast from the 17 times in the opening game on Saturday. However, the lack of strikeouts didn’t manufacture much offense in this one.

What’s Next

Penn State will welcome in Michigan for a three-game series next weekend at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. The first game of the series is scheduled for 4 p.m. on Friday, March 26.

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About the Author

Gabe Angieri

Gabe is a junior majoring in journalism and is an associate editor for Onward State. He grew up in Lindenhurst, New York, and has had the absolute misfortune of rooting for the Jets, Mets, and Knicks. If you want to see his bad sports takes, follow him on Twitter @gabeangieri and direct all hate mail and death threats to [email protected]

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