This season, Maryland have proven that, if nothing else, they can win on the road and they can win against the Big Ten. On Friday, they did not disappoint, as they took care of the slumping Penn State Nittany Lions 5-2 in the first of a three-game series in State College.
The game remained scoreless until the top of the third, when the Terrapins broke through with a two-run inning. Randy Bednar got Maryland on the board with a sacrifice fly that sent home Caleb Walls for the game’s first run, while Trevor Wright kept the inning going with an RBI single. Wright provided more offense in the fifth, hitting a double to right center that scored A.J. Lee.
The Nittany Lions finally made Hunter Parsons bend in the bottom of the fifth, as catcher Ryan Sloniger’s two-run double singlehandedly cut the Terps’ lead to one. Later in the inning, Penn State forced Parsons into another jam, putting runners on second and third with their best hitter, Jordan Bowersox, coming to bat. With the pressure on, Parsons struck out Bowersox to end the inning.
Penn State starter Dante Biasi’s run of bad luck continued; for the fourth time in his last five starts, he left with either a win or a no-decision despite a decent pitching performance. In six full innings, Biasi fanned eleven Terps, but his slip-ups in the third inning left his team playing from behind for the rest of the game. Parsons, who turned in seven grueling innings, was up to the task, with the fifth inning being the only real blemish on an otherwise quality start.
But if Biasi was merely unlucky, his replacement, Jared Freilich, presumably broke a mirror in the clubhouse before the game, considering how his first three at-bats went. First, he struck out Caleb Walls, only for his catcher, Ryan Sloniger, to let the ball get away and allow Walls to go to first, nullifying the out. Then, not only did A.J. Lee reach successfully on a bunt, but Freilich’s errant throw allowed Walls to move to third. With Randy Bednar at the plate, Freilich attempted to pick Lee off at first, but once again his aim was off, leaving Walls free to come home to make the score 4-2. With two outs, pinch-hitter Michael Pineiro added insult to injury by reaching first on another bunt, scoring Bednar for the Terps’ fifth run.
Sean Fisher and John Murphy closed out the Nittany Lions from there, sending the Terps back to the .500 mark and condemning Penn State to their 14th loss in 15 Big Ten games so far. The two will battle twice more tomorrow, as Sunday’s game has been moved up due to potential inclement weather in State College that day.