Series Preview: Penn State Nittany Lions

With this past weekend’s series victory over the Minnesota Golden Gophers, No. 20 Maryland has extended its Big Ten series win streak to 22 and has finished its 2023 season at home. 

The Terps are now set to hit the road to conclude the regular season against the Penn State Nittany Lions before traveling to Omaha to compete in the Big Ten Championships. 

However, despite their recent success, the Terps now find themselves in second place in the Big Ten behind Indiana. The Hoosiers are riding an eight-game winning streak, which includes sweeps over Big Ten foes Purdue and Northwestern. 

The Terps’ destiny may not be entirely in their hands, but according to third baseman Nick Lorusso, the team is solely focused on what they can control. The team will look to swing the chances in their favor starting Thursday evening in State College. 

Penn State Nittany Lions (24-23, 6-14 Big Ten)

Last Season

The Nittany Lions finished last season with a 26-29 overall record, coupled with an 11-13 in-conference record. Despite the losing records in both categories, they finished sixth in the Big Ten, qualifying them for the tournament. In their first game, they bested Iowa 5-2. After that, their luck ran out, as they would lose to Rutgers in extra innings the following day before losing to Iowa in the rematch the day after. 

In last season’s series, the Terps came out on top in College Park, winning two games to one. 

This Season

In this year’s campaign, it has been a better effort from the Nittany Lions out of conference, as they hold a 24-23 record overall heading into the final series. However, their in-conference record of 6-14 has cost them, placing them 12th in the Big Ten and making it unlikely to make the tournament. 

Just two weeks ago it would have seemed like the Nittany Lions would be a lock for the tournament. However, since the beginning of May, the team has lost all eight games they have played, which include sweeps to Rutgers and Nebraska. 

Hitters to Watch

Senior Johnny Piacentino, graduate student Thomas Branley, and freshman Bobby Marsh have been the best at the dish for the Nittany Lions this season. The three are the only to average over .300 with 75% of the games played. 

Piacentino leads the team in batting average, slashing .324/.386/.458. He has recorded 46 hits, 3 of which have been home runs, and he has driven in 22 runs.

Branley is tied for first on the team in hits with 55, slashing .318/.447/.457. He has scored 37 runs himself, with a tie for second most RBIs with 33. He also leads the team in walks with 39. 

Marsh has slashed .303/.380/.523. His slugging line is good enough for second best on the team. Out of the three, he has the most extra base hits.

Pitchers to Watch

Junior Travis Luensmann, junior Jaden Henline, and senior Jordan Morales are the team’s most notable pitchers. 

Luensmann (6-4) sports an impressive 3.94 ERA to go along with a 1.47 WHIP and .230 batting average allowed. Over 59.1 innings, he has allowed 26 earned runs and 50 hits, while recording 59 strikeouts to 37 walks. 

Henline (5-3) comes in with a 4.31 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, and a .299 batting average allowed. Over 56.1 innings, he has allowed 33 runs and 67 hits, while recording 32 strikeouts to 15 walks. 

Finally, Morales (3-2) enters with a 5.51 ERA 1.42 WHIP, and a .265 batting average allowed. Over 50.2 innings, he has allowed 31 earned runs and 52 hits. He has recorded 47 strikeouts to 20 walks. 

Probable Starting Pitchers

Thursday, May 18: TBA vs. Jaden Henline

Friday, May 19: TBA vs. TBA

Saturday, May 20: TBA vs. TBA