by John Vittas
Freshman lefty Willie Rios threw six innings of shutout baseball to lead No. 16 Maryland (11-4) to a 5-0 win over Princeton (1-8) Sunday afternoon at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium in College Park.
Rios only allowed four hits and one walk while striking out five. He retired nine in a row at one point, keeping his fastball and changeup down in the zone to keep the ball on the ground. Only two of the 18 batters Rios retired put the ball in the air.
“I felt great on the mound,” Rios said. “I just kept the ball down in the zone and relied on my changeup a lot to get ground balls when I needed them.
On a cold and windy day in Maryland, Rios said he was only able to manipulate two of his four pitches.
“I tried a couple cutters and curveballs but it was one of those days where it’s just not there,” he said.
Sunday’s performance earned the Connecticut lefty his first win of his college career.
“He threw a lot of strikes, he was just in the zone,” head coach John Szefc said. “He’s made a monstrous jump from the preseason to be able to get ahead of hitters and when he does get behind, he’s able to reset himself. He’s matured as quick as anybody in that respect.”
Relievers Ryan Selmer and Alex Robinson combined to finish off the shutout, only allowing one baserunner over the final three innings.
The Terps managed only five hits offensively. They were held hitless for more than two full trips through the order by Princeton starter Keelan Smithers, who allowed three runs over seven innings.
Maryland got off to a fast start, putting up three runs in the first. After Brandon Lowe reached on an error, Kevin Martir, Jose Cuas and Tim Lewis singled on consecutive pitches to score twice. Sophomore Nick Cieri then grounded out to drive in Cuas and make it 3-0.
The Terrapins didn’t score again until the eighth inning. Martir drove in shortstop Kevin Smith on a single to center before Cuas scored on a throwing error by Tigers’ reliever Chris Bodurian.
The Terps will go for the sweep against Princeton Monday morning at 11am before heading to Elon, North Carolina to play a two-game set with the Elon Phoenix (8-9).