Penn State Baseball

Penn State splits doubleheader with Maryland

Penn State's Nick Riotto is congratulated by his teammates after his first-inning home run on Saturday, April 30, 2016 against Maryland at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. Penn State won 2-0 in the first game of a doubleheader.
Penn State's Nick Riotto is congratulated by his teammates after his first-inning home run on Saturday, April 30, 2016 against Maryland at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. Penn State won 2-0 in the first game of a doubleheader. adrey@centredaily.com

The two games of a doubleheader could not have been more different.

Penn State posted its first shutout win in nearly three years in the opener, then had a rough nightcap on Saturday at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.

Nick Riotto homered to back some expert mound work as Penn State blanked Maryland 2-0 in the first game. In the second, the Terrapins racked up 11 hits and used four Nittany Lion errors to earn an 8-3 win on a day that drew a season-high 1,949 fans.

“We didn’t take care of the ball as well as we should have,” head coach Rob Cooper said of the contrasting games. “That’s why this game is so interesting, honestly.”

Before Saturday, the last time Penn State had shut out an opponent was May 17, 2013, against Michigan State.

Riotto was 2 for 4 and Jim Haley also had two hits while Tyler Kendall doubled in the opener for the Nittany Lions (25-20, 10-8 Big Ten), who dropped two of three in the weekend series.

Penn State takes the week off for final exams before hosting Texas Christian for a three-game series next weekend.

In the opener, Riotto turned on the fourth pitch he saw and lofted the ball to right field, clearing the wall by a couple feet, to lead off the game for the Nittany Lions. It was the junior’s second homer of the season, and came in his second game back after missing eight games with an injury.

“I don’t really have too much power,” Riotto said. “I was just running it and I saw it hit the bleachers. I think I kept on striding for a little while. It felt good and I put a good swing on it and it went out, thankfully.”

Willie Burger plated Haley with a two-out single in the eighth for the other run.

Sal Biasi earned the win, giving up five hits and four walks with three strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings. Dakota Forsyth and Jack Anderson finished off the shutout. Anderson earned his 11th save of the season, tying Drew O’Neill’s school single-season record, and earned his 23rd career save, putting him alone atop the program’s all-time list.

“It’s really cool,” Anderson said. “It’s an honor to have my name in there, but … I think saves are more of a team stat, and a team record. I wouldn’t be put in that position if I didn’t have great guys around me.”

“I don’t think Jack’s pitching all that much better than he has in the past,” Cooper said. “We’re a better team and so we’re putting him in positions to get a save or a win. … This is the oldest sport on campus, and he’s all-time saves leader. That’s a pretty cool thing.”

Anderson entered the game with just a 1-0 lead, but he enjoyed the pressure.

“That’s what I live for, that’s what I’m here for,” Anderson said. “The closer, the better. The more pressure, the better. I love it.”

Taylor Bloom pitched a complete-game loss for the Terrapins (24-19, 9-6).

The Terps made up for the lack of offense in the first game by tearing up Nittany Lion pitching in the second, and pouncing on Penn State’s errors.

RBI singles from Marty Costes in the first and Andrew Bechtold in the second started the scoring. An error on a sacrifice bunt attempt plated a run and a Bechtold sacrifice fly scored the other in the fourth. Then came a four-run seventh helped by two more Lion errors, an RBI single for Nick Dunn and an RBI double for Costes.

“We made a few mistakes and it kind of got away from us,” Riotto said. “We didn’t quit or anything like that. We just made some mental mistakes more than anything.”

Starter Brian Shaffer went seven innings and gave up four hits, two runs and no walks with seven strikeouts before two relievers closed it out. It was the first time Maryland used the bullpen all weekend.

“Because they were getting ahead (of batters) … their pitch counts were so low,” Cooper said. “They weren’t losing anything. It just shows what kind of starting pitching they have.”

Penn State, which saw 14 straight batters retired from the first to the sixth, finally got runners aboard in the sixth and then got some help from Maryland. Nick Graham reached on a one-out single before the shovel feed on a double-play ball was botched, and with two out Greg Guers hit a sky-high pop up that third baseman Bechtold missed. Graham scored but Bechtold gunned Riotto down at the plate.

Kendall doubled and scored on James Coates’ double in the seventh, and Burger bounced into a double play in the ninth to plate the final run.

Justin Hagenman (6-2) took the loss, his first loss since Feb. 28 at South Carolina, though he only gave up two earned runs over six innings.

Gordon Brunskill: 814-231-4608, @GordonCDT

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