Just like the series opener last week against Rutgers, what looked like a potential pitchers duel between Sean Burke and Penn State’s Bailey Dees transformed completely into an all-out slugfest, with Maryland reigning supreme, 19-10.
The Terps couldn’t have hoped for a better start than when they exploded for a four-spot in the first inning of the series opener against Penn State.
At this point, who else but Benjamin Cowles, who secured last week’s Big Ten Player of the Week honors, would be the one to put the exclamation mark on the first inning?
The junior, who crushed five home runs in last weekend’s series against Rutgers, would deliver a two-run single to put Maryland up 4-0 in the first after the Terps had eight batters come to the plate.
Cowles’ offensive onslaught wouldn’t stop there, as he blasted a Dees pitch over the center field wall for a three run homer, his seventh of the season.
Those Cowles hits would turn out to be much-needed, as a mix of walks and poor defense from Maryland helped keep the Nittany Lions in the game from start to finish. They would come as close as down two runs in the middle innings before Cowles’ three-run blast, and were in position to come even closer as a Matt Shaw error allowed Penn State to score and put two runners in scoring position.
A strong relief appearance from Ryan Ramsey prevented further damage, but Penn State would threaten once again after the seventh-inning stretch, putting two runners in scoring position with nobody out.
Redshirt freshman David Falco entered, hoping to clean up the seventh-inning mess, but his defense failed to back him up as catcher Justin Vought lost a passed ball in the backstop, allowing enough time for a Penn State runner to score from third. A fielder’s choice brought in yet another Penn State run, narrowing Maryland’s lead to just two runs in the late inning.
Although the Terps defense had been less-than-spectacular all day, it eventually came up with a potentially game-saving play, as Justin Vought was able to tag a Penn State runner out at home on a huge relay from the left-center outfield wall. However, with two outs, Penn State would knock in the tying run after a Falco balk sent Justin Williams to third base.
The Nittany Lions had come all the way back after being down 6-0 early in the game, putting an exclamation on what had been a rollercoaster of a game for Maryland’s pitching and specifically the bullpen.
Penn State’s bullpen, on the other hand, seemingly was having a strong outing, holding Maryland scoreless after starter Bailey Dees’ surrendered all of the Terps’ nine runs. Eventually, even their relievers faltered late, as they gave the lead back to Maryland immediately after grinding to tie the game at nine runs apiece.
What had become a close game due to Penn State’s comeback turned back into a Maryland blowout, as Penn State’s bullpen hit a rough patch in the eighth inning, giving up a five-spot before ending the inning. The crooked number that Maryland put up that inning was capped off with a Tommy Gardiner two-run single with the bags packed.
Tyler Blohm would continue an appearance that started in the seventh inning into the eighth, but Penn State’s offense wouldn’t give in. After loading the bags with one out, Blohm would exit in favor of Sam Bello, and after walking a run in, Bello was able to end the inning before it could get any messier.
Chad Rogers entered the ninth inning for Penn State, but the Terps topped off the game with the same aggression they showed in the first inning, loading the bases and ultimately running their run total up to a season-high 19 and the most runs scored in a Terps game since 2016.
Bello continued his appearance into the ninth, and made quick work of the Penn State ninth.
The win is certainly much-needed, as the Terps bats were able to overcome sloppy defense and a subpar outing from the bullpen, and then some. Maryland will be counting on the bats to continue their aggression into tomorrow afternoon’s game, as well as a strong start from Connor Staine.