After taking one out of three from Ohio State and beating Virginia Commonwealth 10-5 on Tuesday, the Maryland Terrapins are back on the road for another weekend conference series against the Penn State Nittany Lions. This series will kick off four straight games for the Terps in the Philadelphia area, capped off with one more at Villanova on Wednesday.
At first glance, Penn State enters the series in a similar position to Maryland. Both teams found success in the first month of the season, only to fall into a prolonged slump and hover around the .500 mark. However, the Lions’ collapse has been even more dramatic, knocking down what seemed to be a turnaround year for a team in decline.Coming off back-to-back last-place finishes in the Big Ten, Penn State opened 2019 with six straight wins. After stringing together another five-game winning streak in the middle of March, head coach Rob Cooper’s team were in a good position.
But conference play exposed the cracks in the Nittany Lions’ game and flipped a promising season on its head. Starting with a three-game sweep at the hands of Minnesota, Penn State have lost fifteen of their past twenty games. Most gallingly, coming into their series with Maryland, their conference record stands at 1-13 – far and away dead last in the Big Ten. That one win came April 5th, a 3-0 victory at Indiana. Adding to the Nittany Lions’ agony is the nature of many of those losses. Of the 15 losses, 12 were by either one or two runs, and two came in extra innings.
Throughout the slump, their pitching staff have failed to receive the run support they need. Most snakebit of all is sophomore Dante Biasi. The probable starter for game one against Maryland and perhaps the strongest arm in the Penn State rotation, Biasi has suffered three losses in his past four starts despite turning in quality performances.
The brightest spot in Penn State’s batting lineup is junior outfielder Jordan Bowersox, who leads the team with a .334 batting average and has hit two home runs. Earlier in the season, Bowersox embarked on a 16-game hitting streak, the longest for a Nittany Lion since 2015. The streak ended when he went 0-for-4 in Penn State’s 3-2 win over Lafayette.
Friday’s opener, scheduled for 6:30 PM, may or may not go off as planned due to thunderstorms in the forecast. Whatever the case, Maryland will send out its ace, Hunter Parsons, to match up with Biasi in the first game. Saturday will see Zach Thompson face Penn State’s right-hander Eric Mock, and the finale on Sunday has Trevor LaBonte dueling with Bailey Dees.