In one of the dramatic comebacks of the season, Maryland used a homer-happy ninth inning to take the series opener, 2-1, over Penn State.
The Terps’ offense went eight innings with only one hit, but it was back-to-back solo bombs from Zach Jancarski and Brandon Gum that sealed what was perhaps the most miraculous victory for the Terps this year.
The breakout ninth inning was great news for Maryland ace Brian Shaffer. After a complete-game loss last week to Nebraska, the junior saw his quality start turn into an incredible win.
Shaffer ended his day going 8.1 innings with 11 strikeouts and only one walk. He also only allowed four hits in what was another great effort for the Golden Spikes award nominee.
However, Penn State starter Sal Biasi was the more impressive hurler in the series opener. He went eight innings, giving up only one hit and striking out six before giving up the two heartbreaking solo shots in the bottom of the ninth.
It was a pitching duel early on, as can be expected when Shaffer takes the mound. He entered Friday with a sub-2.00 ERA and just over a strikeout per inning pitched, and continued his dominance early on against the Nittany Lions.
After hitting a batter in the top of the first, Shaffer only allowed one hit from the first through the fourth inning. The junior was his normal self, working the edges of the plate and getting strikeouts with his fastball-slider combination.
However, Maryland ran into some solid pitching as well. Biasi was exceptional in the early goings. The junior-right hander was slightly better than Shaffer as he only gave up one hit through five innings of work.
The starting pitching would give way to a run in the top of the fifth. It was Penn State catcher Jake Sloniger who put the Nittany Lions on the board when he went deep over the right field wall on a 2-1 fastball over the heart of the plate. Up until the long ball, Shaffer had only seen nine batters come to the plate from the second to the fourth inning.
Shaffer would bounce back from the mistake, as he did not allow another run in his start.
The game seemed all but lost with the Terps going into their final at bats without a single hit since the bottom of the first. After Dan Maynard struck out to start the inning, Zach Jancarski shocked everyone when he took a high fastball deep with two strikes on him for what was only his second home run of the year. With the stadium buzzing, Brandon Gum took advantage of a possibly flustered Biasi, hitting the first pitch he saw over the left field wall, which looked very similar to Jancarski’s.
After the walkoff celebration, the Terps now sit at 22-11 with a conference record of 7-3. Maryland will try to guarantee a series victory on Saturday with first pitch scheduled for 2 p.m. ET.