After Saturday’s season opener, which saw a combined 29 runs scored between Maryland and Penn State, Sunday’s matinee featured a much lower-scoring affair as starters Connor Staine and Conor Larkin were locked into somewhat of a pitchers duel throughout much of the game. Ultimately, it was Maryland’s pitching, both the starter Staine and the bullpen, that would eventually snap as Penn State tied the series with a 6-5 walk-off win.
Maryland would get off to a similar start to yesterday, grabbing an early 1-0 lead in the first inning, but the offensive explosion from Saturday afternoon wouldn’t make a return.
Besides the first-inning score, which was a Randy Bednar RBI single to score Chris Alleyne, the only other offense the Terps bats could muster up was a two-run home run via the bat of Bobby Zmarzlak, giving him his second home run of the season.
The absence of a strong offense was hard to blame on the Terps, as Larkin was nothing but nails outside of the two run-scoring hits he allowed. The junior has been nothing short of a strikeout machine in his three starts of the season, as his eight punch outs Sunday gave him 23 on the season.
It took the Terps 6 2/3 innings and 89 pitches to knock Larkin out of the game, but Penn State’s Tyler Shingledecker came to fight as well, keeping Maryland scoreless for much of the remainder of the game — until the very last out.
Staine did as good of a job as he could to keep up with Larkin, but he failed to match his efficiency, despite helping maintain a 3-3 tie for most of the contest. Staine got through three scoreless innings to begin his day, but it was eight hits, two walks, three wild pitches and several hard hits that kept the Nittany Lions’ offense on the prowl.
Looking to keep Penn State scoreless through four innings, Staine faced Tayven Kelley with two runners on and two outs. Down to his last strike, Kelley pulled a shot down the right field line to score Penn State’s first pair of runs, putting the pressure on Staine.
The 3-3 tie would come to fruition an inning later, as Justin Williams — who reached base three times in the series opener, including a 107 mph double — crushed a Staine pitch over the left field wall for a solo shot.
Sean Fisher entered the game in his first bullpen appearance of the season, but he suffered the same issues that Staine had displayed in his start, as he walked three Nittany Lions and threw two wild pitches, both wild pitches allowing Penn State to take the lead and then some.
Maryland struggled to find any opportunity to score late in the game, but Chris Alleyne and Matt Shaw would come up with the Terps’ biggest hits of the afternoon, hitting back-to-back extra-base hits to tie the game at 5-5.
The late rally fizzled out before Maryland could grab the lead, and with Elliott Zoellner entering the ninth hoping to give his offense a chance in extra innings, the late rally turned out to be in vain. Just as fast as Maryland tied the game in their half of the frame, Penn State loaded the bases, and it was Penn State’s hottest hitter Josh Spiegel who blasted a Zoellner pitch into the left-center gap to win the game.