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A special 2021 season comes to end for the Terps as they fall to East Carolina

Maryland knew to beat a baseball powerhouse like East Carolina in front of the hostile home crowd in Greenville they had to get off to a great start and take advantage of their scoring chances with runners on base early. Neither happened as they never led and left eleven runners on base. As a result, Maryland’s season came to an end Sunday night in an 8-6 loss as East Carolina advanced to the Super Regionals.

The big blow came in the top of the eighth after Maryland failed to turn a double play that would have gotten them out of the inning still down 5-4. Costes and Shaw couldn’t turn it fast enough allowing a runner to score to make it 6-4. 

The next batter Zach Agnos delivered the big blow of the game: a double into the gap that scored two runs and broke the game open 8-4. Down to its last six outs, Maryland did not give up and fought to the end. Maxwell Costes displayed that mindset with a two-run homer — his third of the regional — to cut the deficit to 8-6 hoping for some late-inning magic.

But after East Carolina added another insurance run in the ninth inning, Maryland was unable to rally like they did earlier Sunday, and as a result, the clock had literally struck past midnight as its road to Omaha came to an end.

“I thought the guys, laid it on the line and I thought they absolutely left the tank completely empty,” coach Rob Vaughn said.  

After a rain delay delayed the start of the game. Connor Staine was given the ball to start off and East Carolina jumped on him from the start, getting back-to-back doubles from Thomas Francisco and Josh Moylan to go up 1-0, and an Alec Makarewicz single made it 2-0 before Maryland could grab a bat. 

Matt Shaw wasn’t afraid of the moment and got one of the runs back quickly in the bottom half of the inning with a leadoff home run to left field. 

“As leadoff hitter, I’m kind of just trying to see some pitchers and every time I go up to bat I’m just trying to hit the ball hard,” Shaw said.

After a shaky first, the hope was Staine could settle in and pitch a clean second inning for the Terps. He didn’t and was pulled with two outs in the second inning for Sam Bello after giving up a solo home run to Seth Caddell to make it 3-1. 

“I just didn’t [Staine] wasn’t too sharp because he hasn’t been on the mound, a lot in the last couple of weeks,” Vaughn said.

East Carolina would add another run in the third inning with a sacrifice fly by Agnos before Shaw would hit his second home run of the game to cut the deficit to 4-2 in the bottom half of the inning. 

When Bello loaded the bases in the fourth inning, Sean Fisher was summoned from the bullpen and was wild to start his outing, hitting two batters in a row to force in another run. That made the score 5-2, but Fisher got out of the inning without any more damage to keep Maryland within striking distance.

Maryland definitely had its chances with runners on base to do some damage early in the game. The Terps had two runners on in the second inning, but Tucker Flint grounded out to end the inning. They were in the same scenario in the third after Shaw’s home run, but Bobby Zmarzlak struck out and Justin Vought popped out to the shortstop to end Maryland’s hope of a rally.

In the fourth inning, Maryland had runners on second and first with its two best hitters up. Shaw this time struck out, and a Ben Cowles flyout was a couple of feet away from tying the game but died at the warning track. 

“We had some opportunities early, and just couldn’t quite get the big hit,” Vaughn said.

Maryland finally broke through in the fifth inning. With the bases loaded, a rocket off of Troy Schreffler’s bat deflected off Ryder Giles’ glove at shortstop into left field and allowed two runs to score, cutting East Carolina’s lead to 5-4. Maryland couldn’t find that important tying run before East Carolina added those insurance runs late to extend their season for another game.

Even with the heartbreaking loss, it was a successful and historic season for Maryland as it finished with a 30-18 record and finishing second in the Big Ten despite the injuries and the adversity they faced all season.

“You just can’t say enough about this group, [with] the adversity that these guys have been through and the challenges that have been put in front of them,” Vaughn said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever been a part of a team that’s done what this team’s done.”

Vought walks it off, keeps Maryland alive in Greenville Regional

Maryland was 1-13 coming into Sunday when trailing after seven innings. With their season on the line, the Terps found themselves in that exact same situation, down 1-0 going in the bottom of the eighth, but came back and walked it off 2-1 over Charlotte to keep their season alive and advance to the Greenville Regional Final later Sunday against East Carolina. 

Needing someone to step up down 1-0 in the eighth inning, Troy Scheffler Jr. did just that with a single, and he advanced to second on a wild pitch. Tucker Flint laid down a bunt to advance Schreffler to third base and reached himself on a throwing error. The freshman Matt Shaw hit into a productive double play that tied the game and gave Maryland new life on a season that has been full of adversity.

In the ninth inning, Charlotte had runners on first and second base against Elliot Zoellner when Maryland’s defense showed up when it needed it most for their pitcher. Justin Vought threw out the lead runner at second on a pickoff and Shaw saved the potential go-ahead run from scoring on a lineout to get out of the inning.

“[Dragum] caught that last ball pretty good but we had Shaw positioned in a good spot and he made a play,” coach Rob Vaughn said.

Facing Friday night starter Andrew Lindsey, Randy Bednar led off with a single and advanced to third on Maxwell Costes’s own single and Maryland had the winning run on third with no outs. A Bobby Zmarzlak infield single loaded the bases up for Vought and the senior didn’t wait to deliver the big moment with a walk-off single to right field to complete the comeback.

“Postseason baseball is about guys just stepping up and getting it done,” Vaughn said.

The Terps wouldn’t have been in this situation to come back if it wasn’t for Ryan Ramsey’s gem in the first collegiate start of his career.

“[Ramsey] has not started a game for us this year,” Vaughn said. “He goes out and goes 100 pitches and is absolutely flawless, he’s the story of this game.”

Ramsey went eight innings and gave up three hits where his only mistake on the day came in the fourth inning when Conference-USA Player of the Year Austin Knight hit a home run to left field to give the 49ers an early 1-0 lead that looked like for a while it would stick. 

Ramsey only needed seven pitches to get through the first inning and got out of a two-runner jam in the second inning. With defense being a theme of the day, Ramsey picked off a runner leaning off of first base in the third inning to keep the game scoreless. 

With his offense struggling to get hits and get on base already down 1-0, Ramsey kept the Terps in the game. In the sixth inning, Carson Johnson hit a leadoff double, but Ramsey buckled down and retired the next three batters to get out of the jam. 

In the next inning, Ramsey found himself in a similar spot with a runner on second base and one out, but once again Ramsey got himself out of the jam to give his team a chance.

Running out of steam in the eighth inning, Ramsey walked the leadoff batter, Todd Elwood, on four pitches. Ramsey emptied the tank and retired the next three batters to finish off an outing the Terps needed to keep their season alive.

“Got to keep the same mentality, the whole game in just keep on throwing pitches and getting outs,” Ramsey said. “I trust those guys to pull away and get some runs, and we did that in last inning.”

For the first seven innings, Maryland’s offense was held in check by starting pitcher Matt Brooks. After combining for 26 runs in the first two days of the Greenville Regional the Maryland offense had no answer for Brooks.

“Offensively, I thought, we took some tired swings a little bit,” Vaughn said.

The Terps’ only baserunner through the first three innings was a Bednar Jr. walk in the first inning as Brooks was cruising the first time through the order. 

It wasn’t till the fourth inning where Maryland recorded its first hit of the ballgame on a Ben Cowles single, and after Zmarzlak singled, Cowles stood in scoring position at second base. That rally was quickly put to an end as Brooks got Vought swinging to end the inning. 

In the fifth inning with one out, Flint laid down a bunt single down the third baseline. Rounding second base Schreffler Jr. saw a chance to advance to third base with no one covering the bag. But a heads-up play by catcher Aaron McKeithan to sprint over to third base and just tag out Scheffler Jr. ended Maryland’s scoring chance. 

Adversity wasn’t new to this Maryland squad as it answered the call all year. They needed to answer the call one more time when they needed to in the eighth and ninth inning. Their success paid off, as they now advance to the regional final against East Carolina where they’ll need to win to force a winner-take-all game for a Super Regionals berth Monday.

“We’re excited to get back to the hotel get off our feet for a minute and then line up and rock and roll at six o’clock tonight,” Vaughn said.

Season-high seven home runs fuel Terps offensive explosion, keep tourney hopes alive

Maryland hit a season-high seven home runs in a 16-0 blowout win over Norfolk State to advance in the losers bracket of the Greenville Regional and keep the Terps’ tournament hopes alive for another day.

Coach Rob Vaughn wanted his team to get off to a great start Saturday in the first inning and Bobby Zmarzlak did that, getting the party started with a three-run homer off MEAC Player of the Year Danny Hosley to give Maryland an early 3-0 lead.

Maxwell Costes was next up in the third inning, as his own three-run homer hit off the batters eye in center field for his second of the regional and made it 6-0.

“I really liked the way [Costes] has swung the bat,” Vaughn said. “He has the ability to put a team on his back and in the postseason, that’s what we’re gonna need from him.

Justin Vought added a RBI single and Troy Scheffler Jr.’s safety squeeze capped off a five-run inning for the Terps to go up 8-0. 

The home runs kept coming in the fourth inning, as Ben Cowles hit his 18th home run of the season, a two-run homer to left-center field to make it 10-0. Randy Bednar Jr. followed Cowles’ lead and went back-to-back with his second home run of the regional and made it 11-0. 

Later in the inning, Vought hit a two-run homer — his ninth home run of the season — to make it 13-0. For the second time in the inning, Maryland would go back-to-back as Schreffler Jr. hit his first home run of the season to make it 14-0 and tying their most home runs hit on the season. 

In the sixth inning, Zmarzlak, who finished the day 4-5 and a triple shy of the cycle, capped off the offensive firepower for the Terps with his second home run of the day to make it 15-0.

After adding another run, Maryland has come into Greenville and totaled 26 runs in two days of regional action all without leadoff hitter and Second Team All-Big Ten Chris Alleyne who did not play after leaving Friday with an injury. 

But unlike Friday, where they were outslugged by Charlotte, Maryland’s pitching staff put on a masterclass performance and pitched a shutout behind another quality outing by Sean Burke.

A moment that highlighted Burke’s strong performance was in the second inning when he escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam with two strikeouts of Norfolk State’s best hitters in Dionte Brown and Alsander Womack.

Zach Thompson picked up where Burke left off with three shutout innings of his own out of the bullpen.

“Just a really efficient job by our pitchers [today],” Vaughn said.

Maryland’s road to the Super Regionals still presents a challenge, as it needs to pick up a win against the loser of East Carolina-Charlotte Sunday at noon.

“Once you get in this side of the bracket it’s a long road to get your way back,” Vaughn said.

Regardless of who the Terps will play, Saturday’s offensive eruption couldn’t have given them a more promising breath of fresh air as they live to see another day.

“The motto is just to play one more day with each other,” Zmarzlak said. “We don’t want this season to end.”

Maryland falls in high-scoring NCAA Tourney match with Charlotte

Maryland’s return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2017 got off to a rough start in a 13-10 loss to Charlotte in the Greenville Regional Friday.

It was a back and forth game to start off the contest with a tie game 3-3 going into the bottom of the fourth inning. That’s when Charlotte blew the game open against Maryland starting pitching Jason Savacool. The bases were quickly loaded on a walk, a single and a bunt single that scored a run on an errant throw by Tommy Gardiner that made the score 4-3. Charlotte would add another run and load the bases once more chasing Savacool out of the game and forced coach Rob Vaughn to go to his bullpen and bring in David Falco to try and put out a fire facing the top of the 49ers lineup in a big spot in the game.

But the fire wasn’t put out by Falco as Charlotte’s offense made their impact on the game with a sac-fly that scored another run and two more RBI singles suddenly made the score 8-3 and put the Terps suddenly in an early hole that be hard to climb out of.

The game got off to a scary start for Maryland when Chris Alleyne took a foul ball to the head and had to leave the contest in the first at-bat of the game and was replaced by Tucker Flint a brutal early blow for the Terps. 

But Maxwell Costes gave Maryland its first lead and run of the NCAA Tournament in the second inning with a home run off of Andrew Lindsey to right field opened up the scoring and got the Maryland dugout fired up.

Charlotte answered right back and took the lead when Jack Dragum hit a two-run homer off of Savacool to make it 2-1. In the third inning, down 3-1, Maryland tied the game in the top of the fourth thanks to a Gardiner RBI single and a Troy Scheffler Jr. sac-bunt as both pitching staffs were struggling to contain these high powered offenses.

Now trailing by five runs Maryland loaded the bases in the top of the fifth without even putting a ball in play via three walks but could only muster up two runs on an RBI groundout by Costes and a wild pitch. 

But every time Maryland tried to get back into the game Charlotte answered any rally the Terps had. A three-run six-inning for Charlotte was highlighted by two long home runs by David McCabe and Will Butcher gave Charlotte a 12-5 lead. 

Maryland had one last rally in them in the seventh inning scoring four runs highlighted by a sac-fly by Randy Bednar and RBI singles by Costes and Gardiner to cut the lead to 12-9 and make things interesting. 

But again all game, Charlotte would answer any momentum Maryland had with their offense when McCabe hit his second home run of the game to make it 13-9 in the bottom half of the inning leaving the Terps frustrated.

Bednar would hit a home run in the top of the ninth to make it 13-10 to show signs of life that the group wouldn’t quit at this point in the season but it was too little too late for Maryland. Charlotte spoiled their welcome back party to the NCAA Tournament and now Maryland will play Norfolk State in an elimination game Saturday at 1:00 p.m. looking to continue their season for another day.

Tournament Preview: Greenville Regional

For the first time since 2017, Maryland (28-16) is in the NCAA Tournament thanks in part to a late-season 20-5 stretch from March 29 to May 21 to set the best 25-game stretch in program history. The Terps won seven straight series wins to end the season and finish second in the Big Ten standings. 

Maryland is slated as the No. 3 seed in the Greenville Regional which features the host No. 1 seed East Carolina, the No. 2 seed Charlotte and No. 4 seed Norfolk State.

Helping lead Maryland back to the NCAA Tournament was the top three guys in their lineup all earning Big Ten honors. Shortstop and Big Ten home run leader Ben Cowles was named First-team All-Big Ten. Center Fielder Chris Alleyne was named to the Second-team All-Big Ten and Second Baseman Matt Shaw was an at-large on the All-Big Ten Freshman Team.

Pitching wise, Jason Savacool was named to the All-Big Ten Freshman Team, and Ryan Ramsey out of the bullpen was named Second-team All-Big Ten. 

Luke Shliger was also named to the All-Big Ten Freshman Team.

Maryland enters the postseason being ranked No. 24 in the D1 Baseball top-25. This weekend will also feature the first time all season Maryland faces a non Big Ten opponent.

Maryland owns an all-time record of 8-9 in the NCAA Tournament with its best performances being back-to-back super regional appearances in 2014 and 2015. In its last appearance in 2017, Maryland went 1-2 and did not make it out of the opening round.

Being four years since their last appearance, Maryland does not have much NCAA Tournament experience on the roster. Only two players remain from that 2017 team, pitcher Tyler Blohm, who’s battled injuries all year, and Elliot Zoellner, a key part of the Maryland bullpen. 

This is Rob Vaughn’s first NCAA Tournament as a head coach but he is not a stranger to the big stage here as he was a part of the staff under previous head coach John Szefc during the 2014, 2015 and 2017 NCAA Tournament appearances. Vaughn also made it as a player in 2009 for Kansas State and 2011 as an assistant coach. 

Maryland will face Charlotte for the first time ever in program history at 6:00 P.M. Friday from Clark-LeClair Stadium with Jason Savacool taking the mound. In a double elimination format a win would send them to the winners bracket Saturday against the winner of East Carolina/Norfolk State matchup which is at noon Friday. A loss would mean they play the loser of that matchup also on Saturday with their season being on the line. 

Charlotte 49ers (39-19)

Last Season

Charlotte’s season was cut short after 17 games due to the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving the 49ers with a 9-8 record. Their biggest win was against No. 8 NC State but they were also swept by No. 22 East Carolina. 

This Season 

Charlotte won the Conference-USA regular-season championship and was ranked throughout the season and was in the host discussion for the NCAA Tournament but settled for the No. 2 seed in the Greenville Regional after being bounced from the Conference-USA tournament. 

Hitters to watch 

Charlotte’s lineup is well-balanced across the board but is led by third baseman Austin Knight and first baseman LuJames Groover III. Knight has a .351 batting average, a 1.024 OPS and a team-high 61 RBI on the season. Groover III sits just behind in batting average with a .350 average. Groover III also has a .880 OPS and 34 RBI on the season. 

Pitchers to watch  

Starting pitching-wise Charlotte is led by Andrew Lindsey who will get the start Friday against Maryland. Lindsey has a 6-1 record, a 4.64 ERA in 77 2/3 innings pitched this season. Bryce McGowan is the second guy to watch for with a 7-4 record and a 4.62 ERA in 78 innings pitched this season. Out of the bullpen, Christian Lothes has a 2.72 ERA and a 4-0 record in 20 appearances and one game started as well. 

East Carolina Pirates (41-15)

Last Season 

East Carolina’s season was cut short after 17 games due to the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving the Pirates with a 13-4 record. While they did not play any ranked teams they did sweep Charlotte but did lose to Indiana and Ole Miss. 

This Season

East Carolina is one of college baseball’s biggest powerhouses getting the No. 13 national seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Pirates won the regular season AAC title but lost in the semifinals of the AAC conference tournament to UCF. However, on paper this is a team capable of making a deep run into the tournament ranking among the national leaders in nine different categories such as in hits, sac bunts and K to BB ratio.

Hitters to watch 

Where do we start with a dangerous team like this? What about the AAC Conference Player of the Year and Second Team All-American Connor Norby who has a .424 batting average, a 1.173 OPS, 51 RBI on the season and at one point set the school record with a 56-game on-base streak going back to 2020 that ended on May 21. Thomas Francisco is another name to watch with a .368 batting average, a .992 OPS and 44 RBI on the season. Josh Moylan also checks in with a .321 batting average, a .887 OPS and 32 RBI. 

Pitchers to watch

AAC Pitcher of the Year and First-Team All-American Gavin Willams is the ace of the East Carolina pitching staff. Williams has a 1.32 ERA which is fourth in the NCAA, a 10-0 record, allowing 10 earned runs on the season while opponents only have a .176 batting average hitting off of him. Another starter to watch out for is Carson Whisenhunt who is 6-1 with a 3.52 ERA. Out of the bullpen, Cam Colmore is the name to watch. Colmore made 28 appearances with one start and posted a 1.74 ERA.

Norfolk State (25-26)

Last season 

Even though it was shortened due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 season was not kind to the Spartans finishing with a 3-13 record. They did get a win against Old Dominion but had losses against VCU and Kentucky.

This season 

Despite the under .500 record it has been a historic season for Norfolk State which is making its first ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament. They did it in dramatic fashion by winning the MEAC conference tournament in extra innings, 7-6, over North Carolina Central to earn an automatic bid. 

Hitters to watch

Norfolk State is led by two-way player and MEAC Player of the Year Danny Hosley who has a .375 batting average, a .961 OPS and has 23 RBI on the season. First-team All-MEAC second baseman Aslander Womack is another name to watch with a .358 batting average, a .899 OPS and leads the team with 36 RBI. First-team All-MEAC outfielder Dionte Brown checks in with a .312 batting average, and a .790 OPS. He also leads the team in stolen bases with 19.

Pitchers to watch 

Hosley is the name to watch on the Norfolk State staff making Second-team All-MEAC as a pitcher. Hosley posted a 2.95 ERA and leads the team with 79 strikeouts. Left handed pitcher and Third-team All-MEAC James Deloatch is another name to watch. Deloatch has a 2.58 ERA and a 7-2 record but gives up a lot of walks with 41 on the season, the most on the team. Out of the bullpen, Nolan Manzer has a 0.81 ERA and a 1-1 record in 13 appearances and 22 1/3 innings pitched.

Maryland selected to NCAA Tournament for first time since 2017

For the first time since 2017, the Maryland Terrapins are dancing.

Following the conclusion of the 2021 regular season — a disappointing loss on Senior Day to Indiana — the Terps (28-16) were elated to find out they were named on Monday’s selection show as the No. 3 seed in the Greenville Region.

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To put the cherry on top, the Terps also climbed up in the D1 Baseball top-25, being ranked No. 24 to enter the week.

Maryland joins No. 12 East Carolina (41-15), Charlotte (39-19) and Norfolk St. (25-26) in the Greenville Region, and it will meet with the No. 2 seed Charlotte 49ers in game one Friday at 6:00 P.M..

Early in the 2021 season, Maryland had quite the mountain to climb to even be recognized in the Big Ten, but a strong second-half performance jettisoned the Terps to second place in the regular season standings. In its final 21 games, Maryland won 17 contests and won its last seven series.

With this being the program’s first tournament appearance since it was eliminated in regionals in 2017, there are huge expectations for this extremely hot team to carry its regular season momentum into the postseason as the road to Omaha begins.

Hoosiers spoil Terps’ Senior Day, salvage a win in regular season finale

On an emotional day for many senior Terps — those who returned for their senior season following the 2020 season’s cancelation and the seniors of 2021 — the Indiana Hoosiers rained all over Maryland’s parade, salvaging a win after being victim to a doubleheader sweep Saturday.

What looked like a promising start for the Terps quickly turned into a bullpen implosion, as the Hoosiers scored all seven of its runs in the middle innings to claim a 7-3 win.

With Nick Dean day-to-day due to a wrist injury, Senior Sean Fisher took his spot as the Sunday starter and looked fiery in his first three frames. In what would be his final appearance at the Bob in his Terps career, Fisher fired three scoreless innings with two strikeouts.

Meanwhile, the Maryland lineup kept up its trend of scoring early, getting on the board first with a solo bomb off the bat of Senior Randy Bednar. Chris Alleyne came around to add to Maryland’s early lead after back-to-back Hoosier errors allowed him to score from first base.

Fisher, and the proceeding outing of Zach Thompson, would keep Indiana at bay through the first four frames, but then the implosion began. Bullpen implosions had been hard to come by in the spectacular 18-3 stretch this Terps team entered this game amidst, but with the reliable arm of Dean absent, the bullpen was forced to take on some extra workload this afternoon.

Indiana would load the bases in the fifth after Thompson hit Jeremy Houston with a pitch, and a Drew Ashley sacrifice fly would quickly halve Maryland’s lead. In came Senior Tyler Blohm to douse the Hoosier rally, but Grant Richardson battled through a seven-pitch at-bat to tie the game with a RBI single that just rolled past Benjamin Cowles into left field.

With rain being a common theme of this weekend series, the Hoosiers let the runs pour in just an inning later, putting up a four-spot against the combined efforts of Blohm and Sean Heine.

Fucci came around an inning later to double his home run total for the day and give Indiana a commanding 7-2 lead.

Indiana’s pitching — reflecting Maryland’s “bullpenning” — was extremely hard to penetrate in its Sunday outing, and held the potent Terps lineup to two earned runs. John Modugno started the Hoosiers off with four innings of work to keep Indiana in the game long enough to spark its offensive rally.

Next came Nathan Stahl, who surrendered the game-tying home run to Maxwell Costes in game one Saturday. This time, he promptly threw three one-run innings and left the door open for Braden Scott to close out the final two innings.

The only ounce of a comeback Maryland could muster against the strong Hoosier bullpen was a two-out RBI double off the bat of Cowles, but the Terps ultimately fell to Indiana in the season finale.

Maryland now awaits the Selection Sunday show later this afternoon, where it stands in as a national tournament hopeful.

Terps secure seventh-straight series win, lock in on second-place with doubleheader sweep over Hoosiers

With a monsoon-like rainstorm wiping out any chance of Friday night’s game being played, the Terps were be forced to play a straight doubleheader Saturday afternoon. The rain didn’t entirely disperse Saturday as the Terps kicked off the final series of the season with a sweep of the doubleheader over the Indiana Hoosiers, winning game one, 4-3 and game two, 5-2.

Game one pitted two of the best starting pitchers in the conference against each other, with Freshman Jason Savacool matching up with Gabe Bierman. Savacool came into this start as a three-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week, while Bierman owns the third-best ERA in the Big Ten (2.78).

The pitchers’ duel was as advertised as scoring was limited to just four runs between the two starters, and not surprisingly, only one of those runs was scored on a hit.

The Terps kicked off the scoring with Bobby Zmarzlak drawing a two-out walk with the bases loaded, but the Hoosiers didn’t wait too long before matching the score.

While Savacool did his job to keep Indiana scoring to a minimum, his one flaw was allowing the dreaded leadoff walk, which he did in back-to-back innings as his control seemed to drop off throughout his outing. The first walk came in the fourth inning, and the free pass came around to score off a sacrifice fly courtesy of Cole Barr.

Savacool’s struggles only got worse when seeing the Hoosiers lineup the third time around in, as the leadoff hitter Jeremy Houston served a pitch to deep left field for a double to lead off the sixth frame. A couple batters later and Grant Richardson would loop a single into center field to bring home Houston, giving Indiana its first lead of the day.

Indiana would extend its lead in the sixth as Savacool came undone, loading the bases thanks to a hit batter and a walk. The consequential, second sacrifice fly of the day would provide Indiana with some insurance as they jumped to a 3-1 lead.

As Savacool exited after six innings of work with his team trailing, it was still a positive outing for the freshman. He recorded his sixth quality start of the season and nearly matched his season-high in strikeouts with six on the afternoon.

David Falco entered from the bullpen to limit the Hoosiers to their three runs, and that’s just what he did with three scoreless frames.

But with the Maryland offense unable to come up with anything following the first-inning bases-loaded walk, the stellar pitching in relief would appear to be for naught — that is until the ninth inning.

After Bierman and the Hoosiers bullpen sent down 13 of Maryland’s last 14 batters prior to the ninth, Maxwell Costes would become game one’s hero, smashing a solo bomb to left-center field to tie the game at three runs and giving the Maryland offense life.

The Maryland bullpen continued to shove in extras, as Ryan Ramsey replaced Falco in the tenth frame and promptly retired the side.

While the offense was more than anemic for a majority of game one, the Terps would finish off the Hoosiers in a similar fashion to how they started them off.

After loading the bases on a walk and two hit batters, the Terps offensive MVP Benjamin Cowles stepped to the plate. Working the count full against Nathan Stahl, Cowles drew the bases-loaded walk to walk it off against Indiana, 4-3 — making it the third time the Terps have won in that fashion this season.

Game two presented yet another pitchers’ duel — this time between two 2021 MLB Draft hopefuls: Sean Burke and McCade Brown.

With both starters being ranked within the top-100 of MLB Pipeline’s Top 200 Draft Prospects list, it arguably should have set up for a more intense battle than game one’s pitchers’ duel. However, Brown’s rare struggle with command would put Indiana into an early hole.

Walking five batters in the first inning, Maryland stole an early 2-0 lead on Brown’s shaky command — a lead they would take and never look back. In total, Brown walked a career-high eight batters in just three innings, easily his worst outing of the season.

Burke would pitch from the opposite side of the spectrum as he stayed sharp on the mound, lighting up Indiana’s lineup for 12 strikeouts — a new season-high.

As Burke butchered the Hoosiers, the Terps lineup would still struggle to get hits against the Hoosiers, especially after Brown exited the game in favor of Braydon Tucker. Tucker immediately struck out the side in his first frame, but the Terps bats would finally heat up in the fifth inning.

After Cowles picked up a rare infield single, Costes launched a Tucker pitch off the top of the right field wall to score Cowles from first and extend the Terps lead to 3-0.

While Maryland may have struggled to find just a few hits in game two, the Hoosiers struggled even more as they were held hitless through 6 2/3 innings. They finally broke through when Kip Fougerousse slapped a single to center field.

It would be the first time Indiana really threatened to that point as it loaded the bases on a walk against Elliott Zoellner, who replaced Burke after his 6 2/3 innings of work. A lined shot off the bat of pinch-hitter Ethan Vecrumba to center field would have Terps fans holding their breaths — but it fell just short of the wall into the glove of Chris Alleyne to keep a zero in the Hoosier run column.

Maryland’s offense found some life in the seventh inning, as the first five Terps would reach base and add two more runs onto the lead. Justin Vought nearly blew game two wide open with a deep blast with the bases loaded but just fell short of his second grand slam of the season.

A solo home run from Drew Ashley in the seventh and a two-out Jacob Southern RBI single were the only blemishes on Zoellner down the stretch, and he was able to safely navigate the Terps through the final few innings to secure the doubleheader sweep.

The sweep gives Maryland its seventh-straight series win, and gives them the chance to sweep the series Sunday at noon in the regular season finale.

Series Preview: Indiana Hoosiers

For the first time since 2017, the Maryland Terrapins (26-15) will be entering a series as a ranked team coming into the 2021 season finale as the No. 25-ranked squad in the country, according to D1 Baseball.

Maryland’s placement amongst the top-25 in the nation is greatly due to getting hot at the right time, as the Terps have won more games than any other Power Five school in the past 19 games (16). As it stands, Maryland owns a second-place tie with Michigan in the Big Ten standings with a chance to cement its position against the Indiana Hoosiers.

Part of the Terps’ scorching-hot stretch comes from Big Ten Freshman of the Week Matt Shaw. After leading Maryland to a series win last weekend against the Wolverines, Shaw’s batting average for the second half of the season stands at over .400. Playing all but three games this season, Shaw is slashing .346/.413/.532 with five home runs and 27 RBI.

Shaw’s infield-mate Benjamin Cowles has also continued to be a powerful catalyst in the Terps’ lineup, owning a sizable lead in the Big Ten home run standings with 17 bombs on the year, four more than the three batters tied for second.

While the offense has certainly stolen the show for Maryland, the pitching has also had great contributions to the second-half success the Terps have seen. Last weekend’s series isn’t the best indicator of what the rotation has done, but ever since Head Coach Rob Vaughn shifted the weekend starters to Nick Dean-Jason Savacool-Sean Burke, the runs have come at a minimum for opponents.

That change has held opponents 3.91 runs per game against Maryland’s pitching providing a comfortable cushion for the offense, which had been scoring seven runs per game in that stretch.

It’ll take a Michigan sweep of the Nebraska for the Terps to match the first-place Cornhuskers 29-11 record, but even if that comes to fruition Nebraska owns the tie-breaker over Maryland. Either way the weekend goes, Maryland will be controlling its own fate in the second-place spot since it owns the tie-breaker against Michigan.

The season finale will begin Friday at 6:30 P.M at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium, where the university is opening attendance up to full capacity for the first time this season. The following two games are Saturday at 2:00 P.M. and Sunday at noon.

Indiana Hoosiers (25-16)

Last Season

Indiana’s 2020 season was cut short at 15 games due to the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving the Hoosiers with a 9-6 record in the early going. Their lone conference game was a 17-2 clobbering of Purdue in just seven innings, very representative of the strong offense they brought to the table (6.33 runs per game).

This Season

Indiana’s shortened 2020 season may have displayed a strong offense, but its 2021 has been dominated by incredible pitching. The Hoosiers’ pitching staff has compiled a strong 3.13 ERA this season, led by a dynamic one-two punch of McCade Brown and Gabe Bierman.

Hitters to Watch

The Hoosier bats don’t pack much of a powerful punch, sitting in the middle of the Big Ten when it comes to power numbers. However, it’s been two batters who have been leading the way for Indiana: Cole Barr and Grant Richardson. Barr and Richardson both own a .900+ OPS and are the first two within Indiana’s home run standings with eight and seven, respectively.

Pitchers to Watch

The aforementioned Brown and Bierman are the two biggest names to watch on this Indiana pitching staff by quite the large margin. Brown has been included in many draft prospect lists for the 2021 MLB Draft, including being ranked No. 94 on MLB Pipeline’s top 200 draft prospect list. He boasts a 3.26 ERA this season, but more impressively a 92-35 strikeout to walk ratio. Bierman owns the Hoosier rotation’s best ERA at 2.78 with slightly less eye-popping strikeout numbers.

Pitching Matchups

Friday, 6:30 P.M.

RHP Jason Savacool (7-2, 5.32 ERA) vs. RHP John Modugno (3-1, 2.08 ERA)

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Savacool ran into the biggest road bump of his freshman season last weekend against Michigan, where he couldn’t get through the third inning before letting up six runs on six hits. The start bumped his season ERA to 5.32, but numbers won’t matter when he heads to the mound Friday night in the biggest start of his young collegiate career.

John Modugno has only started three games for the Hoosiers prior to his Friday night slot in College Park, but he’s been stellar regardless of coming out of the bullpen or starting on the hill. His season ERA stands at 2.08 and he’s coming into the weekend with an eight-inning scoreless streak.

Saturday, 2:00 P.M.

RHP Sean Burke (4-3, 3.94 ERA) vs. RHP McCade Brown (5-3, 3.26 ERA)

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Burke has been on quite the roll in his last handful of starts, stringing together four straight wins and recording a 2.50 ERA in those four starts. He’s certainly back in form as the pitcher who’s ranked No. 73 in MLB Pipeline’s top 200 draft prospects list.

In the battle of likely 2021 MLB draft picks, Brown will toe the rubber coming off a somewhat short but impactful start against first-place Nebraska. While he wasn’t able to lead his team to victory, he pitched five innings and had two runs scored against him while striking out eight Cornhuskers.

Sunday, 12:00 P.M.

TBA vs. RHP Gabe Bierman (5-4, 2.78 ERA)

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While Bierman owns the best ERA on the Indiana staff, he has been going through struggles in his last pair of starts. Just last week, he fell short of recording a quality start in a loss to Ohio State, going five innings with three earned runs and a couple walks. Having gone at least six innings in eight of his ten starts to that point, a five-inning outing was certainly uncommon for Bierman.

Maryland takes rubber match, wins sixth-straight series against Michigan

For the first time since April 16, Maryland finally had its top five hitters in the same lineup and through a full-strength offense and one of Sean Burke’s best outings of the season, Maryland beat Michigan 7-3 to win their sixth-straight series Sunday.  

Maryland was swinging out of the gates with a more aggressive approach against starting pitcher Jacob Denner compared to Saturday with a leadoff double by Chris Alleyne. Up came Ben Cowles who had been hitless in the first two games of the series as Michigan has done a good job containing him. 

But on a 3-1 pitch, Cowles hit his Big Ten leading 17th home run to deep left field to give Maryland the early 2-0 lead and also extend his streak of hitting at least one home run in a series. Randy Bednar Jr. would then follow Cowles’ lead and hit his own home run to left field to give Maryland a commanding 3-0 lead in the first inning.

“We got after [Denner] early, with a really good plan and a really good approach by the guys,” coach Rob Vaughn said.

Michigan would respond in the second inning, hitting Sean Burke hard with a single and a double that brought Tito Flores to the plate, and on one swing he tied the game 3-3 with a home run to left field. 

But Maryland slugger Matt Shaw responded in the third inning with a double and advanced to third on Cowles’ sacrifice fly that was almost home run No. 18 on the season. Bednar would get the job done and bring him home on the RBI groundout to give Maryland the lead right back 4-3. 

Against an offense like Michigan, Maryland needed to add insurance runs. That’s exactly what happened in the fourth inning when Troy Scheffler Jr. got it going with a single and a stolen base. Justin Vought continued his hot streak with a single that put runners on the corners with no outs. 

Schreffler Jr. then had a heads up play to score when a wild pitch got away from catcher Griffin Mazur with nobody covering home to make it 5-3 and bring up the big guns of the Maryland lineup with the chance to do more damage.

Shaw’s RBI double would do just that making it 6-3 and the bases would be loaded for the returning Maxwell Costes after missing five games with an ankle injury. Normally, facing a high leverage situation would cause you to be aggressive looking for the big hit. Costes stayed patient and drew the bases-loaded RBI walk to cap off the big inning and give Maryland a 7-3 lead.

“[Costes] really sees the baseball well.” Vaughn said. “It’s good to have him back in there today.”

Sunday featured only the 18th time out of 41 games this season Bednar Jr. and Costes were in the lineup at the same time, and the result was seven runs, which was all the offense Maryland needed on the afternoon.

After his slip up in the second inning, Burke would settle in. In the third inning, Burke picked off Elliot at second base which would ultimately keep a run off the board as Jimmy Obertop would single right after. Burke then retired nine-straight Wolverines from the fourth through the sixth innings. 

Around 100 pitches, coming back out for the seventh inning, Burke entered empty-the-tank mode and gave up a walk to Big Ten player of the week Ted Burton, his first baserunner since the Obertop single in the third inning. 

But Burke struck out Mazur looking to record the first out and was taken out of the game. Burke went a season-high 6 1/3 innings, gave up three runs on four hits with two walks and eight strikeouts.

“[Burke] slammed the door,” Vaughn said. “When he’s throwing his fastball like that he’s really good.”

Elliot Zoellner would come out of the bullpen and only needed two pitches to get out of the inning as he forced a huge double play.

Michigan tried to rally in the eighth with two runners on base, but Zoellner struck out Obertop to end the inning. 

Ryan Ramsey was tasked to get the save in the ninth inning and did it stress-free to clinch Maryland’s six-straight series win.

“Unbelievable job by our pitching staff having a big time bounce back day after a tough one yesterday,” Vaughn said.

Maryland is now tied with Michigan for second in the Big Ten standings and has the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Wolverines going into their last series of the regular season against Indiana chasing after that at-large-bid to the NCAA Tournament.

“We’ve got one weekend left,” Vaughn said. “It’s our job to go leave a really good lasting impression in the committee’s mind so they don’t have the option to leave us out.”