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Penn State Baseball Drops Two Games In Series Against No. 20 Maryland

Penn State baseball (25-25, 7-16 Big Ten) was defeated by No. 20 Maryland (37-19, 17-7 Big Ten) in two of three games during the final series for the Nittany Lions of the 2023 season. The series also marked the end of head coach Rob Cooper’s time at Penn State, as he announced he will step down following the 2023 season.

Game one featured an offensive slugfest between both teams, scoring a combined 32 runs, with Maryland ultimately coming out on top. Games two and three weren’t as offensive driven with each team winning a game.

Game One

Maryland struck first putting up a three spot in the top of the second. A leadoff walk and double to right by Maryland’s Matt Woods put two runners on for Elijah Lambros, who smoked a single to center to score the game’s first two runs. Another single put runners on the corners and Lambros crossed home after a fielding error by Penn State’s Kyle Hannon to make it 3-0.

In the bottom half of the inning, the Nittany Lions answered back with one of their best innings of offense in a number of weeks. Bobby Marsh led off the inning, reaching on an error by the first baseman. Josh Spiegel followed it up with a single down the left-field line. The next batter was Jay Harry, who reached on an error as well, which allowed Marsh to score to make it 3-1. Hannon followed with a single through the right side, scoring another run. Billy Gerlott continued the rally with a single of his own to load the bases.

Thomas Bramley was hit by a pitch to tie the game and keep the bases loaded. Johnny Piacentino hit a ball to center for a sacrifice fly and the fourth run of the inning for Penn State, giving it the lead. Grant Norris reached on the third error of the inning by Maryland, scoring another run. Marsh stepped in the box for his second at-bat of the inning and smoked a ball down the right field line, scoring two and making it 7-3 Penn State.

The Terrapins answered back with another three-run inning at the top of the fourth. Back-to-back-to-back singles to start the inning brought in two runs for Maryland to make it 7-5. Luke Shliger hit a double to left and put two runners in scoring position with less than two outs. The Terrapins added another run with a sacrifice fly to center to make it a one-run game, but Penn State got out of the jam before Maryland could add any more runs.

In the fifth, the Nittany Lions added to their lead after a couple of big hits. Back-to-back singles to lead off the inning by Spiegel and Harry put runners on the corners with no outs. Spiegel scored, thanks to a sacrifice fly, and made it 8-6.

While a two-run lead is good, Penn State wanted more. In the bottom of the sixth, a leadoff walk and another error by Maryland put two runners on for Piacentino who scored a run with a single to right center. Norris stepped in and smoked a two-RBI triple to left-center scoring two more runs to make it a five-run lead for the Nittany Lions.

Marsh stepped up next and smacked a double to left-center to score. Norris and Marsh were driven in by a single off the bat of Harry to make it 13-6.

The Terrapins wouldn’t go down without a fight. A walk and hit by pitch put two runners on, a double by Kevin Keister scored both runners, and back-to-back walks loaded the bases. All three runners on base eventually scored, thanks to two singles and a sac fly, to make it 13-11. Two consecutive walks after that brought in another run to make it a one-run game.

Holding a one-run lead, the Nittany Lions answered yet again with two runs in their half of the seventh. Two walks and a single loaded the bases for Penn State, and a walk to Marsh forced in a run. Spiegel added another after reaching on a fielder’s choice to make it 15-12 Penn State.

In the top of the ninth, a walk and two hits loaded the bases for Maryland with only one out. A sacrifice fly scored one run. A double down the left field line by Shliger made it a one-run game. After an intentional walk loaded the bases again, Nick Lorusso smacked a single to left, scoring two runs and giving Maryland the lead. Another single brought home another run for Maryland, and in the bottom half of the inning Penn State couldn’t answer. The Nittany Lions fell 17-15, extending their losing streak to nine games.

Game Two

Prior to the start of the second game of the series, head coach Rob Cooper announced that he would step down as head coach.

Tommy Molsky was on the mound for the Nittany Lions to break their season-long nine-game losing streak.

Penn State struck first in this contest thanks to a couple of big base hits. Jay Harry led off the second inning and two batters later, C.J. Pittaro put runners on the corners with a single of his own. The leadoff hitter, Thomas Bramley, stepped in and smacked a double to right field, scoring Harry and Pittaro to make it 2-0 Penn State.

However, that lead disappeared in the fifth as Maryland put together a big inning to take its first lead. A single and walk to lead off the innings and back-to-back singles by Matt Shaw and Nick Lorusso tied the game at two.

Molsky got a big out on a pickoff at second base, but a triple to left center by Ian Petrutz scored a third run, giving the Terrapins a 3-2 lead.

In the bottom half of the fifth, Penn State put together a rally of its own to retake the lead. Johnny Piacentino led off the inning with a double down the right field line. Back-to-back walks loaded the bases for Harry, who smoked his second single of the game, scoring two and making the game 4-3 Penn State.

Molsky grabbed a big three outs in the sixth before being pulled in the seventh inning for Ryan Partridge. The Nittany Lions grabbed an insurance run in the eighth after a single by Pittaro scored Kyle Hannon from second base after a double to lead off the inning.

Partridge remained in the game in the ninth and was able to hold the two-run lead for the Nittany Lions, picking up the 5-3 win and breaking the nine-game losing streak.

Game Three

The final game of the series saw senior left-hander Jordan Morales get the start for the Nittany Lions.

Like the previous game, Penn State struck first. A leadoff Jay Harry single in the second inning put an early runner on. Harry reached third after a stolen base and error. C.J. Pittaro stepped up and smoked a triple to the left-center nook, scoring Harry, making it 1-0 Penn State.

In the top of the third, Maryland tied the game on a sacrifice fly. The Terrapins took the lead in the fourth, thanks to a long solo home run to right field by Matt Woods.

Penn State rallied in its half of the fourth to retake the lead. A walk to Harry and a single by Hannon put runners on the corner for Pittaro, who reached base on a single off the pitcher’s foot, scoring Harry to tie the game. Johnny Piacentino reached on an error to give Penn State the lead and another error, this time by Maryland, allowed another run to score, making it 4-2.

Maryland once again was not going down without a fight and picked up a massive hit in the sixth. After Woods was hit by a pitch, Elijah Lambros stepped in the box and smoked a ball over the left field fence for a two-run home run, tying the game at four.

In the eighth, Maryland retook the lead. After grabbing two quicks out in the inning, Jacob Orr smoked a triple to left center and was driven in by a Kevin Keister single up the middle to take the lead. A double and a walk loaded the bases for Maryland and Nick Lorusso scored two more runs with a single to center field, making it 7-4 Maryland.

The Nittany Lions failed to score in either of their final two innings at-bats, losing the game 7-4 and officially ending their 2023 campaign.

Takeaways

  • Game one saw an outstanding offensive performance from Penn State, which scored 15 runs in the contest, but was defeated due to a blown save in the ninth by right-hander Travis Luensmann.
  • Tommy Molsky showed up big time in game two, tossing his season-long six innings for the Nittany Lions and holding Maryland to only three runs. He also picked four strikeouts in the win.
  • It’s the end of the Rob Cooper era. After 10 seasons and over 450 games, Cooper will officially step down as Penn State baseball’s head coach. He finishes with an all-time record of 198-270 with one appearance in the Big Ten Tournament.

What’s Next

The Nittany Lions failed to qualify for the Big Ten Tournament, ending their 2023 campaign with a record of 25-25. With Cooper stepping down, Penn State will now begin its search for a new skipper for the 2024 season and beyond.

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About the Author

Matt Brown

Matt is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism and minoring in sports studies from Bensalem, Pa. Matt is a huge Philadelphia sports fan and an overall sports fan in general. When not watching sports, you'll find him taking down any Dollar Dog challenge or rewatching the Big Ten Maps Commercial. To reach him, follow him on Twitter and Instagram: @matt_brown63, or email him at [email protected].

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