Maryland falls to Penn State in extra innings, eliminated from Big Ten Tournament contention

The crowd at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium heard the sound of metal hitting the bat. Penn State outfielder Tayven Kelley’s bat just tipped Kenny Lippman’s pitch and the ball made its way to the glove of catcher Devin Russell. The foul tip was ruled a plain foul ball, as the home plate umpire ruled the ball hit the ground before making its way to Russell’s glove. The next pitch Kelley hit a double to left field, putting two runners in scoring position in the top of the tenth with the game tied.

Logan Berrier replaced Lippman for the following at-bat and during the change head coach Matt Swope was ejected in a heated exchange with the home plate umpire. Kevin Michaels hit a soft grounder that resulted in the game’s winning run and a throwing error by Chris Hacopian, making the Maryland faithful left questioning what could’ve been. 

Penn State beat Maryland in the first game of the doubleheader, 6-5, Friday afternoon, claiming the series victory in the process.

For all the drama that occurred in the first frame of extra innings, Maryland had a chance to win the game in the bottom of the tenth. Chris Hacopian led-off the inning getting hit by a pitch. Hojnar followed him with a pop out and Keister grounded into a fielder’s choice in the next at-bat. A Jacob Orr single and a Michael Iannazzo walk loaded the bases for Devin Russell.

With anxiousness permeating throughout the stadium, Russell was unable to find a way on base, striking out in the game’s final at-bat. 

The result was a rough way for Maryland to kick-off a day meant to celebrate its seniors. Sam Hojnar was one of those seniors honored in the day’s festivities and he showed up in a big way.

Hojnar celebrated senior day with a two for five game, starting Maryland’s scoring in the bottom of the second with his first home run of the game, a solo shot to left field. Hojnar hit his second home run of the game in the bottom of the fifth, a two-run shot giving the Terps their first lead of the game. Hojnar’s two home run performance put him back in the team lead in home runs with 16.

Hojnar also played a role in tying the game in the bottom of third with a hard ground ball that resulted in a Penn State error scoring a run. 

That was the only error for the Nittany Lions in the game though it was a big one that erased their, 2-0 lead they earned in the first inning. The two teams traded runs in the fourth and in the top of the seventh the lead Hojnar helped create disappeared on his own throwing error. 

Hojnar overthrew Eddie Hacopian at first with runners at the corners and two outs. Hojnar fielded a ground ball from Bobby Marsh cleanly but with Marsh hustling up the line Hojnar’s throw went awry. Kenny Lippman entered the game in relief of Logan Koester striking out Bryce Molinaro to end the inning. 

Koester ended the game pitching six and two thirds innings allowing 10 hits in that time span. Koester struck out five Nittany Lions and walked only two. Koester allowed four earned runs to score during his outing, two of which also resulted in outs. Lippman pitched well in his relief out as well going two and two thirds innings with no earned runs.  

The loss puts Maryland in a tough spot for its chances at making the Big Ten Tournament. For Maryland to make the tournament, the Terps need a win in the final game of the series and Michigan State and Ohio State to lose all its remaining games as well as Minnesota losing at least one of its remaining games. 

Maryland had 45 minutes to regroup and strategize before starting what turned out to be its last game of the season.

Maryland and Penn State were just starting the fourth inning of the final game of the series when the news came across the screens of Maryland fans in attendance. Ohio State beat Rutgers in the second game of the teams weekend series, 11-5. 

Ohio State’s win officially eliminated the Terrapins from contention for the final spot in the Big Ten Tournament meaning the outcome of the Terps’ final game became irrelevant. 

Maryland’s season ended on Friday.