Terps bats fizzle out, Nittany Lions even series

Ryan Ramsey may have shined as bright as the sun Saturday afternoon with an eight-inning, three-run start, but a quiet Maryland offense couldn’t keep up with Penn State as the Terps dropped the potential series-clincher, 6-4.

The lone smudges on Ramsey’s pitching line came from a mistake pitch in the sixth that turned into a two-run blast from Penn State’s Johnny Piacentino, and a game-tying single from Matt Wood in the eighth inning. Outside of that, it was practically a clean slate as the only other damage was a few softly-hit singles and one double.

Unfortunately, Ramsey’s efforts weren’t enough as the Terps could only score early, but not often.

In his past four starts, which included a seven-inning, one-run outing against Dallas Baptist last weekend, Ramsey owns a 1.33 ERA and 35 strikeouts. This was his most efficient of those starts, as he had to throw more than 10 pitches in just four innings en route to 100 total pitches in eight innings.

Ramsey was backed by an offense that once again struck first, this time on the seventh pitch of the game. Following a Luke Shliger leadoff double, Chris Alleyne battled to send a RBI single to center field. The Terps have now scored first in 22 of their 27 games, but unlike the 16 of those that they’ve won, they couldn’t hang on Saturday.

A couple of innings later, Maryland would triple their score thanks to some free passes from Penn State starter Kellan Tulio, who hit the leadoff batter and filled up the bases with a pair of walks. The ever-hot Nick Lorusso would be first to take advantage the free passes — looping a single to center for one run — and Matt Shaw would make it a 3-0 lead via sacrifice fly. Lorusso has now reached base safely in 24-straight games and has four-straight games with a RBI.

The struggling Tulio would exit the game the same inning in favor of Steven Miller, and that change may have saved the Nittany Lions hopes. Miller threw 4 1/3 shutout frames, rendering the Terps offense useless for nearly the remainder of the game.

While the Terps offense would go quiet, Penn State rallied in the sixth inning on Piacentino’s no-doubter to left field, cutting Maryland’s lead to one. The Nittany Lions tied it a pair of innings later as Ramsey ran out of gas, but he was able to keep the score even before making his exit.

Maryland nearly had itself a chance to walk off the game before extra innings, as back-to-back walks brought Alleyne to the plate with two outs. But on what initially looked like a hit-by-pitch on an 0-2 count, the umpires ruled that Alleyne leaned into the pitch, and called him out on strikes to fizzle out the rally.

Extra innings immediately took a turn for the worse as the Nittany Lions opened up the 10th inning with two singles against Nick Robinson.

Robinson nearly got out of the jam, putting away the monster bats of Piacentino and Wood, but pinch-hitter Tayven Kelley would provide the biggest hit of the day, smoking a pitch into the left-center gap to give Penn State a 5-3 lead. A Jay Harry double put the cherry on top for Penn State, giving them a three-run lead to defend.

The opportunity to tie the game came up once again in the Terps’ 10th as Maryland quickly loaded the bases with nobody out. Troy Schreffler brought the Terps a run closer on a groundout, but down to the final out, Penn State’s Ben Kailher made the play of his career to close the door. A diving catch drifting out to shallow right field may make an appearance on SportsCenter Top 10, as Kailher robbed freshman Zach Martin of a potential game-tying single.

With the Nittany Lions evening the series, Jason Savacool will lead the Terps into Sunday afternoon’s rubber match as the Terps still look to take the first series of Big Ten play.