Junior Caleb Walls’s return to his hometown of State College, Pennsylvania started off with a bang as he provided an early start to the Terrapins’ offense in Friday night’s 5-2 victory in the series-opener versus Penn State.
The game was set to be a great pitchers duel, with Terps ace Hunter Parsons (3.60 ERA) facing off with Penn State’s ace, redshirt sophomore Dante Biasi (1.75 ERA). While Biasi has consistently been one of the best pitchers in the Big Ten, Parsons has struggled lately, giving up a combined 14 runs in his last 13 innings of work. However, with Penn State’s last-place offense at the plate this weekend, a bounce-back start was definitely on the tab for Parsons tonight.
While both starting pitchers were carving up opposing bats through two innings, the hometown kid Caleb Walls revved up the Maryland offense in the third inning, getting on base via a single. An AJ Lee double led to both runners being in scoring position. The Terps would get on the board after Randy Bednar soared a sac-fly into center field, promptly followed by a hard lined single courtesy of senior Taylor Wright that brought in the second run of the inning.
The third inning was not the last time Wright brought the offense in tonight’s match. In the fifth inning, Wright clobbered a pitch into the left field gap for an RBI double, giving the Terps a 3-0 lead halfway through the game. Wright would end the night with three hits, a walk, and two RBI in five at-bats.
The Nittany Lions would get themselves on the board for the first (and last) time of the night in the fifth inning when Parsons would allow two runners to reach on a walk and single. Penn State catcher Ryan Sloniger delivered when he clubbed the baseball off the right field wall, bringing in both runners.
With the lead cut to just one, the Terps certainly were wishing for some insurance with the game heading into the seventh inning. Their wish was granted when three straight errors — capped off by a botched pickoff attempt — allowed Walls to score after he reached on a dropped third strike. One final run would come home for Maryland when Michael Pineiro, who pinch-hit for the hitless Josh Maguire, laid down a nifty bunt up the third base line to bring home Randy Bednar.
Hunter Parsons’ start would come to an end shortly after the Terps provided him with a comfy, three-run lead. After seven innings of work, the ace left the game with two earned runs as he struck out nine opposing batters — his most since March 22nd — lowering his season ERA to 3.51.
Due to inclement weather predicted for Sunday, the series finale was moved to tomorrow to be played as a double-header when the Terps will look to grab both win number two and three of this three-game series as their pursuit for the Big Ten playoffs continues.