Despite four Penn State errors and an early lead, the Maryland Terrapins couldn’t hold off the Nittany Lions enough to clinch the series win, and dropped the rubber match of a three-game set7-5.
After a nail-biting 2-1 win on Saturday that went into extras, Hannah Dewey started in the circle again for the Terps Sunday afternoon.
“Eleven innings, two hits? Heck yeah,” head coach Julie Wright said about Dewey’s performance Saturday and her decision to start her today.
After replacing Juli Strange with Sarah Calta at the top of the lineup Saturday, Strange was back in her typical spot, batting first. Strange hit a single to left-center field in the bottom of the first, but an error by Penn State’s center fielder prompted her to keep running, sliding safely into second.
That hot start propelled the Terps to score first, putting up one run when Anna Kufta’s fielder’s choice sent Strange home.
Maryland’s defense didn’t falter in the top of the second, and big plays from Calta in right field and Anna Kufta at shortstop helped end the frame in four at-bats, preserving the early lead.
Penn State couldn’t escape the errors in the bottom of the second.
“You could tell they were feeling a little bit of pressure, dropping things you wouldn’t normally drop,” Wright said. “I thought we did a nice job taking advantage of mistakes.”
Jordan Aughinbaugh hit what could have been an easy out to the second baseman, but a fielding error kept her going past first base and into second. She reached third on a fielder’s choice by Calta and made it home on a RBI single from Kassidy Cross.
Although it wasn’t officially considered an error, Aughinbaugh’s run was made much easier when the second baseman fumbled the ball, allowing both Cross and Aughinbaugh to be safe.
The early momentum continued through the third. Dewey recorded three consecutive outs, helping the Terps maintain their 2-0 edge.
In the bottom of the third, two more Penn State errors pushed the Terps to expand the lead to 4-0.
Amanda Brashear started off the frame with a single to short. It didn’t take long for her to score, however, after a sacrifice hit by Skylynne Ellazar moved her to second and a Kufta triple deep into right field sent her running home.
With Kufta in scoring position, a single from Kristina Dillard was all it took to push the lead to 4-0.
Down 4-0, the Nittany Lions came out fighting in the top of the fourth. They quickly loaded the bases a single and two walks. Then, with no outs, all it took to narrow the game to just one run was a three-RBI double from Kristina Brackpool.
After Dewey allowed her third walk of the inning, Sami Main went in to pitch for the Terps.
“Sami’s been doing really well over the past few weeks in practice,” Wright said. “[She has been] keeping the ball down, which I thought was a really good matchup for Penn State.”
Two fielder’s choice ground outs scored Brackpool to tie the game, and it took two more at-bats for the Terps to end the frame.
“They just made good adjustments, and that’s what we were trying to do too,” said senior catcher Kristina Dillard about Penn State’s comeback in the fourth inning.
With two outs to start the frame, Maryland’s efforts to add more runs in the bottom of the fourth were ultimately unsuccessful. Although Brashear and Ellazar were stranded on base, the Nittany Lions’ difficulty handling the ball got the Terps farther than they would have otherwise.
Both teams remained runless through the fifth with just seven at-bats total between the teams.
In the top of the sixth, Penn State gained the momentum they needed to take the lead. A Maryland error — its first of the game — helped load the bases with no outs.
An RBI single followed by a Tori Dubois triple gave the Nittany Lions a 7-4 lead that gave them the room they needed to win.
In the bottom of the seventh, with three more outs left, Maryland needed three more runs to tie it up and force extras. Singles from Brashear and Ellazar put runners on first and second with no outs, creating potential opportunity for the Terps. Kufta singled and although Ellazar went out at second on a fielder’s choice, Brashear and Kufta on the corners with Dewey up to bat put pressure on Penn State’s defense.
Dewey grounded out, and Dillard started to approach the plate to try to take advantage of the Terps final remaining out. But, Wright conferred with umpires in between plays pointing out that Penn State had not announced that Delaney Elling went in for catcher. Dewey was allowed back up to the plate with one ball and two strikes.
“I was honestly just waiting for a strikeout,” Wright said. “A strikeout is a putout for the catcher. Whoever makes that out is when you can use that card to your advantage.”
Then, Dewey singled, scoring Brashear to make it 7-5. However, Dillard struck out in the next play, ending the game.
The Terps face Rutgers Wednesday in a doubleheader.
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