Penn State Baseball vs Maryland, Piacentino (22), Wood (14)

Outfielder/Pitcher Johnny Piacentino (22) and Catcher Matt Wood (14) run the bases during Penn State baseball's first game in their series against Maryland on Saturday, March 20, 2021 at Medlar Field in University Park, Pa. The Terrapins beat the Nittany Lions 19-10.

Just when it looked like Penn State was on track to get its first home win of the year, Maryland tied up the game with a pair of runs in the top of the ninth inning.

After a 19-10 loss Saturday afternoon, as well as being mired in a five-game losing streak, blowing a lead in the top of the ninth was the last thing that the Nittany Lions needed.

In the bottom half of the inning, the blue and white managed to get a few baserunners on and loaded the bases with no outs, bringing freshman Josh Spiegel, who transferred to Penn State this year, to the plate.

On the first pitch of the at-bat, Josh Spiegel hit a moonshot to left-center field, nearly clearing the fences in the process. The long single brought home the one run the blue and white needed, giving Penn State its first home victory of the season.

Spiegel, positioned behind the plate at catcher on Sunday, put together an impressive day at Medlar Field, going 3-for-5 with two runs batted in.

His first RBI was a big one, too. In the bottom of the seventh with two outs and a tied game, he singled to right field and brought a runner home.

This would be the blue and white’s first lead of the series after almost 16 combined innings of losing baseball against the Terrapins.

Coach Rob Cooper said that during Saturday’s defeat to Maryland, he talked with Spiegel during the middle innings about letting the game come to the young catcher.

“I had a conversation with him in the game, where I [said] ‘listen, your takes are really hard, you're getting really far out there,’ cause he’s just so amped up, and I said ‘you’re not going to give yourself the best chance to be successful if you can’t stay behind the ball,” Cooper said. “For him to start to make that adjustment, and then today that’s what he did and he got rewarded for it.”

Spiegel has been on a tear so far. He is now batting at .400, leading all starters in batting average while being tied for the team leads of three home runs and eight runs scored.

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He also leads the team with 15 runs batted in, and has the squad’s best slugging percentage with a .700 mark.

In his first game of the season, Spiegel opened up the campaign with two home runs and a double, solidifying his role as one of the most important hitters on the roster.

Cooper said Spiegel has had to push through a lot in order to get to the success he is finding so far this season.

“He’s just a great kid and a hard worker. He’s had to overcome a lot. He went to Oklahoma State and was told to leave, and that’s a hit for a guy’s confidence,” Cooper said. “He’s competed here, been a great teammate, really proud of him and lucky to coach him.”

Cooper said Spiegel is “another teammate” and has done well adjusting to being on a new roster.

“He’s come in, battled to get playing time, and plays an extremely tough and demanding position at catcher, and really had to come in and learned a bunch of veteran pitchers,” Cooper said. “The guys really respect him and his toughness.

“His role is being a great teammate and bring a winning attitude, and that is what he is doing.”

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