Penn State shuts down Maryland in crucial game one, wins 8-4

Adam Cecere rounded first looking into the Penn State dugout pounding his chest as his hit faded out of sight behind the short wall in right center. Cecere blasted his 14th home run of the season, a three-run shot in the top of the sixth, that increased the Penn State lead to six. 

The Nittany Lions scored runs in five innings progressively earning and maintaining a lead ending with a series opening victory against the Terps, 8-4, Thursday evening. 

Penn State’s lineup found success against pretty much every Maryland arm the Terps threw at them, ending the game with 13 hits, seven walks, and 10 runners left on base. The Nittany Lions had a baserunner in every inning. 

Penn State second baseman, Kevin Michaels, hit the first extra base hit in the top of the third on a solo homer to left field that scored the game’s first run. Michaels plated his second run of the game in the next inning with an RBI single through the left side. Michaels ended the game going three for four with two RBI. 

Michaels’ two runs were the only runs to score during Omar Melendez’s four inning outing. Melendez had a hard time navigating the Penn State lineup routinely pitching into deep counts and dealing base runners in every inning that bolstered his pitch count throughout his outing. Melendez finished with 87 pitches striking out four and walking two. 

“He worked out of some jams there, we didn’t help him out with the defense and you know, starting off that one inning,” head coach Matt Swope said postgame. “You know, can’t really say much too much, he got out of jams, it was fine.”

The Nittany Lions added two runs in the fifth on a single and sacrifice fly against new pitcher Kenny Lippman, going into the final four innings with a 4-1 lead. 

The Terps only run through the first five innings came off the bat of Chris Hacopian who hit his 15th home run in the bottom of the third tying the game at one. That home run moved Hacopian in a two way tie with former Terp, Maxwell Costas, for second on the all-time single season freshman home run record for Maryland. 

Maryland put up its largest run total of the game in the bottom of the sixth following Cecere’s three-run homer with three runs of its own. Kevin Keister started the inning with a walk and then Jacob Orr drove him in with his third home run of the season and first since March. 

The Terps followed Orr with two more baserunners before Penn State put in Mason Horwat in relief of starting pitcher Travis Luensmann. Lambros greeted Horwat with a sacrifice bunt setting the table for Eddie Hacopian to drive in the third run of the inning with a single to center. 

The inning ended abruptly in the next at-bat after Chris Hacopian flew out to shallow right field. Devin Russell stood at third as the play took place and after Michaels caught the ball Russell decided to make a run for the plate. Russell was easily thrown out on the baserunning blunder. 

“I’ll take responsibility for that,” Swope said. “When the ball goes in the air I’m just normally saying tag, tag, tag. I didn’t say yes, but he just mistook me for saying tag, tag, tag, as in go instead of yes, yes, yes, but I should have just been screaming no.” 

Maryland’s scoring ended there as the top of the lineup went down in order in the top of the ninth ending any hope of an iconic Cardiac Terps moment. Maryland finished with seven hits, six walks, and three extra base hits.  

The loss hurts Maryland’s chances at making the Big Ten Tournament as the only way to guarantee a spot was to sweep Penn State. The Terps will now be reliant on the results of other matchups (primarily Michigan State and Ohio State) as well as their own play to determine who makes it to Omaha for the conference tournament. 

Maryland will take on Penn State in a series ending double-header on Friday.