By Duncan Irvine
After seemingly being hit by a pitch, Chris Alleyne trotted to first base as Maryland baseball looked to hand Penn State its second loss in two days. But midway through his journey to the bag, the home plate umpire halted him in his tracks, citing that Alleyne had leaned into the pitch.
Alleyne was called out on the play, sending the Big Ten battle into extra innings. Just minutes later, the Terps fell to the Nittany Lions, 6-4.
“It’s one of those situations where if you’re deemed to have leaned into the pitch, no matter where the pitch is, it’s a strike,” said Coach Rob Vaughn, “he had two strikes on him so that becomes strike three.”
It would prove to be a momentum-killing blow that the Terps couldn’t overcome.
On a perfect afternoon for baseball, Maryland baseball blew a three run lead despite a solid pitching performance from Ryan Ramsey and nine total hits.
Ramsey took the mound for the Terps at a blazing pace, retiring the first six batters that he faced and striking out the side in the second inning.
Luke Shliger hit a lead-off double and Chris Alleyne brought him home with a single, giving Maryland an early 1-0 lead.
Penn State picked up their first hit of the afternoon in the third when Ben Kaliher rocketed a ball straight back at the mound for a single.
Cole Bartels got a single of his own later in the frame, but neither was brought home.The Terps loaded the bases in the bottom of the third without getting a hit.
Sean Lane was hit by a pitch and both Shliger and Alleyne walked. Nick Lorusso changed this fact when he lofted a single into center field to bring home Lane.
With the bases loaded and just one out, Penn State made the first pitching change of the night. Kellan Tulio was replaced by righty Steven Miller. He finished the game with just over two innings pitched, giving up three runs on three hits.
Matt Shaw hit a sacrifice fly, bringing in Shliger and pushing the Terps’ lead to 3-0. Maxwell Costes grounded out to second end the frame, but the damage was already done.
He gave up another single, but other than that he was almost impenetrable through the first five innings. He struck out seven and walked none while only giving up three hits.
His performance took a quick turn for the worse in the top of the sixth when he gave up a lead-off double followed by a home run and then a single. The next three batters were retired, but the Maryland lead was now cut to just one.
Coach Vaughn made the decision to bring him back out for the seventh and eighth innings, a decision that he didn’t even have to think about.
“When the ball is in his hands, the other team is not happy. The biggest thing we can do for [Penn State’s] dugout is to take him out of the game. Ryan was great… There was zero doubt we we’re gonna send him back in,” Vaughn said.
Ramsey retired the side with less than ten pitches in the seventh like the sixth inning never happened.
In the top of the eighth, Ramsey’s struggles emerged once again. He walked the lead-off batter before retiring the next two, but immediately after Matt Wood singled home the run, tying the score at three.
All in all, he went eight innings, giving up seven hits and three runs while striking out eight. The Terps got runners on the corners in the bottom of the eighth thanks to Matt Shaw walking and Maxwell Costes reaching via an infield single, but failed to bring either home.
Sean Heine came in to stabilize things in the top of the ninth, striking out two of the four batters he faced with the final out of the inning coming when Kaliher attempted to steal second base.
Penn State coach Rob Cooper was ejected in the middle of the ninth for arguing with the umpires, a move that Maryland fans met with cheers.
Zach Martin came in to pinch hit for Sean Lane in the bottom of the ninth, but harmlessly struck out. Kevin Keister and Shliger both walked with two outs to bring up Chris Alleyne.
With a chance to walk it off, Alleyne was called out on strikes after the home plate umpire determined that he didn’t do enough to get out of the way of the pitch that hit him.
Vaughn was clearly frustrated with the call and declined to speak further on what was perhaps the biggest moment of the game.
Nick Robinson came in to relieve Heine as the game moved on to the tenth inning. He struggled mightily, giving up four hits and three runs in his one inning on the mound.
In a game in which they dominated for seven innings, Maryland trailed by three runs heading into the bottom of the tenth. Leading off the inning, Lorusso was able to leg out a miraculous infield single that started building hope for the Terps.
Shaw saw this and was inspired, hitting an infield single of his own. Costes stepped up to the plate with a chance to tie the game or at least cut into the Nittany Lion lead.
Costes drew a walk, deciding to save some fun for Troy Schreffler. Schreffler grounded out to the shortstop, but was still able to bring a runner home.
Bobby Zmarzlak struck out, bringing Martin up for his second at-bat. Martin flew out to the second baseman, putting out the flame that was seemingly ignited.
The Terps late rally fell short, and they were not able to capitalize on a solid pitching performance from Ryan Ramsey. Matt Shaw noted that the Terps’ were able to get runners on in critical situations, they just couldn’t seem to bring them home.
“We got on base. We did what we needed to do, we just didn’t end up finishing.”
In total, the Terps left ten runners on base, a mark that is now haunting them.
Penn State won the second game of the series, 6-4, in comeback fashion, handing Maryland its first home loss and first Big Ten defeat of the season. The two squads will be back in action Sunday for the rubber match of the series.