Maryland baseball wins two out of three in series against Penn State

Chris Alleyne hits a triple in Game 2 (Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics)

Maryland (5-6) kicked off its three-game series against Penn State (3-8) with a 19-10 victory in Happy Valley Saturday. Penn State bounced back with a walkout 6-5 win in Game 2. In Game 3, Maryland’s pitching shut down the Penn State lineup for a 7-1 victory to win the series.

Game 1

Runs came aplenty to open the series for Maryland against Penn State. The 19 runs by Maryland were the most by the Terps since they defeated James Madison on April 26, 2016.

Maryland took an early 4-0 in the first inning. Third baseman Matthew Shaw got the Terps on the scoreboard first with an RBI single to score centerfielder Chris Alleyne. Designated hitter Bobby Zmarzlak singled in Shaw to raise the lead to 2-0. Maryland continued its hot start after shortstop Ben Cowles drove in Zmarzlak and right fielder Randy Bednar with a single. Cowles built on his impressive start to the season.

The Terps padded their lead in the fourth inning after an RBI single by second baseman Tommy Gardiner scored Cowles. The lead extended to 6-0 when Gardiner scored on an RBI-triple by Alleyne.

“I thought we were relentless offensively,” head coach Rob Vaughn said. “

However, Penn State’s offense also found success ousting starting pitcher Sean Burke after he allowed four earned runs and walked three in the first four innings. Burke did strike out eight Nittany Lions.

The Penn State offense scored double digits for the second time this season. Its 10 runs scored are the second most this season since Penn State defeated Northwestern 13-10 on March 7.

Shortstop Jay Harry led Penn State with three RBI, while first baseman Cole Bartels added two. Three other Nittany Lions contributed at least one RBI. After Penn State tied the score at nine in the bottom of the seventh inning, Maryland exploded for four runs in the top of the eighth inning from the bats of Bednar, pinch hitter Luke Shliger, and Gardiner.

“In those middle innings we kind of traded blows,” Vaughn said. “It got tight there, [Penn State] tied it up.”

Penn State scored another run in the bottom of the eighth to close within four runs after a bases-loaded walk to Harry scored second baseman Gavin Homer.

Maryland added five more runs in the top of the ninth to put the game away. Cowles went 3-4 with a home run and five RBI’s. Both Bednar and Gardiner went 2-5 with three RBI’s.

“Since we’ve been here, it’s probably the most complete offensive game we’ve played,” Vaughn said.

Game 2

Maryland led Penn State 3-0, entering the bottom of the fourth inning. Center fielder Chris Alleyne scored on a single by right fielder Randy Bednar in the first inning. Bednar scored on a home run by designated hitter Bobby Zmarzlak in the top of the fourth inning.

“Bubba [Alleyne] set the tone early in the top of the first,” Vaughn said.  

Starter Connor Staine was on the mound for Maryland and pitched effectively. Staine completed five innings, gave up three earned runs, and struck out four batters but did allow eight hits and two walks.

Penn State countered with starter Connor Larkin on the mound. Larkin completed 6.2 innings allowing two earned runs on seven hits with eight strikeouts.

“[Larkin] was outstanding today,” Vaughn said.

Penn State second baseman Gavin Homer and catcher Josh Spiegel scored on right fielder Tayven Kelly’s RBI double that pulled the Nittany Lions within one in the bottom of the fourth inning. Third baseman Justin Williams tied the game at 3-3 with a solo home run in the bottom of the fifth inning.

“They did a nice job of making freebies come back to bite us,” Vaughn said. “The did a lot of damage in those situations.”

Reliever Sean Fisher entered the game for Maryland in the sixth inning. Fisher struck out four but allowed two earned runs over three innings and walked three batters.

Penn State took a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the seventh inning when Spiegel drove in shortstop Jay Harry with a single. They extended to 5-3 after pinch-runner Kris Kremer scored on a Fisher wild pitch.

Maryland pulled within one in the top of the ninth inning when Alleyne drove in first baseman Maxwell Costes with an RBI triple to trail 5-4. Matt Shaw followed with an RBI double to score Alleyne to tie the game at 5-5.

Penn State had some hometown heroics in the bottom of the ninth inning of reliever Elliot Zoellner. Centerfielder Johnny Piacentino led the inning off with a single. Then a walk to third baseman Josh Williams that advanced Piacentino to second. Then Harry reached base after a hit by pitch. Finally, Piacentino scored on an RBI walk-off single by Spiegel that gave Penn State a 6-5 victory.

“We weren’t clean enough on the defensive side of the ball,” Vaughn said. “Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get it done today.”

Game 3

Starting pitcher Jason Savacool (3-0) threw his second complete game in his third career start as Maryland defeated Penn State 7-1 to close out the series.

Penn State’s hitters could not figure out Savacool, who allowed one unearned run, no walks, with three strikeouts.

“My goodness, Jason Savacool was about as impressive as you could be,” Vaughn said.

Savacool said that his approach was to stay in the zone with his slider and two-seam fastball. Keeping his pitches low in the strike zone forced Penn State into 14 ground outs. Savacool thanked catcher Luke Schliger on his pitch framing.

“I’ve caught ‘Savy’ for a while, and I kind of know what his pitches do,” Shliger said.

Shliger got the offense on the board in the bottom of the third inning with the first of his two RBI by driving in right fielder Bednar to give Maryland a 1-0 lead.

Centerfielder Johnny Piacentino scored Penn State’s only run in the bottom of the fourth on a fielding error by Maryland third baseman Austin Chavis.

Maryland continued to pad its lead over Penn State. Designated hitter Bobby Zmrzlak gave Maryland a 2-1 lead in the top of the fifth with an RBI single to score Chavis. Shliger extended the lead 3-1 after driving in Bednar with an RBI flyout in the fifth. The score advanced to 4-1 in the top of the sixth inning on an Alleyne home run.

Following in the top of the seventh inning, Maryland scored three runs. A bases-loaded walk to second baseman Tommy Gardiner (5-1). Shliger scored on a passed ball (6-1). And finally, Alleyne drove in Logan Ott with a ground-out RBI (7-1).

Maryland travels to Columbus for a two-and-two series against the Iowa Hawkeyes on Saturday and Sunday and the Ohio State Buckeyes on Sunday and Monday.