Penn State’s Rally Falls Short Against Maryland
UNIVERSITY PARK, PA – After a slow start offensively, Penn State (4-20) found themselves down 3-0 in the late stages of Sunday’s Big Ten conference showdown vs. Maryland (12-20).
Gianna Arrizurieta’s leadoff single up the middle fueled a fierce rally from the Nittany Lions, who used a three-run sixth inning to tie the game 3-3. It wasn’t quite enough, though, as Sky Ellazar’s solo home run propelled Maryland to a 4-3 victory at Beard Field.
During the Penn State rally, Delaney Elling swung for the fences and delivered a deep shot to centerfield that looked like it might be gone. Instead, Maryland outfielder Kassidy Cross made the play at the wall amidst a significant gust of wind.
If that wind hadn’t picked up I think Delaney’s [Elling] ball might have gone out, but that’s what it’s all about on Sundays,” said head coach Amanda Lehotak. “It was a great game there at the end, in the last few innings.”
Jess Cummings (3-8) pitched all seven innings for Penn State, holding Maryland to seven hits on the day, including Ellazar’s game-clinching home run. Cummings struck out five along the way.
“I think Jess always gets fired up playing Maryland since she’s from there,” Lehotak said. “I thought she pitched well today.”
Arrizurieta led all Nittany Lion batters with two singles and one run. Freshman catcher Haley Vallejos got the start and produced her first ever double with a hit over the left fielder’s head.
The scoreless tie broke when Maryland took advantage of a Penn State error in the top of the second. Anna Kufta drove in a run on an RBI single to right center, giving the Terps an early 1-0 lead.
In the top of the fourth, Maryland had runners on second and third with two outs, when pinch-hitter Kassidy Cross entered the game and lasered a triple down the left field line. This extended Maryland’s lead to 3-0 heading into the bottom of the fourth.
During the aforementioned sixth-inning rally, Arrizurieta’s frozen rope up the middle put her on base, and she completed the round trip when Elling dropped a single into shallow right center. Meghan Williams drove Dani Fey across the plate on a slow rolling grounder to second.
Amanda Grieco brought the tying run to the plate when she laced a line-drive single to the pitcher, but the inning ended when Destiny Weber’s grounder was fielded by the shortstop and Grieco was called out at second.
After Ellazar’s solo shot gave Maryland a 4-3 lead, Penn State had one last chance to tie or win in the bottom of the seventh. Arrizurieta singled yet again, but Fey was thrown out at first on a sacrifice bunt. Maryland elected to intentionally walk Tori Dubois, leaving two on base when Elling’s shot to center came up just short of the fences. Williams then grounded out, ending the Nittany Lions’ hopes to win another weekend home series.
Penn State continues play on Wednesday, hosting Robert Morris in a doubleheader. The Nittany Lions will resume conference play when they hit the road to face Rutgers next weekend.
Matt Freiler is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.