by John Vittas
Taylor Bryant’s tenth inning home run broke a scoreless tie and propelled Cal State Fullerton to their first win of the weekend as they salvaged the series finale at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium in College Park, Maryland.
Bryant’s home run to left was the first earned run that Terps reliever Alex Robinson had allowed all season. Robinson’s ERA still stands at 0.50. It was also Bryant’s first college home run.
Jake Drossner made the best start of his career Sunday, dominating the Titans over a career-high eight shutout innings. Drossner allowed only four total baserunners (3 hits, 1 walk) while striking out six.
“I went in there knowing that if I can command my fastball, they’re not going to be able to his us,” Drossner said. “I think that halfway through the season, I kind of realized that I had good stuff and that my team believed in me. If I can go out there and command the zone with my fastball and get ahead of the hitters, it was game over. I really believe that.”
The performance dropped Drossner’s season ERA from 5.40 to 3.65. It was his first weekend start since the Terps’ season opening tournament in Myrtle Beach. He had walked 16 batters over his first 16 and two-thirds innings, but only walked one on Sunday.
“He just commanded the strike zone really well,” Maryland head coach John Szefc said. “He gave us a good start when we needed it.”
On the other side, Cal State Fullerton’s starting pitcher John Gavin did not allow a run either. Sunday marked the first time Maryland had been shut out all season. Gavin lasted seven innings and like Drossner, allowed three hits and one walk.
“He just kept us off-balance really well,” Maryland shortstop Kevin Smith said. “When he was down in the count, he was able to get the curveball and changeup over. He was attacking us and only giving us one pitch an at bat to hit. He pitched well.”
Smith had two of Maryland’s five hits on the day, finishing the series 6-for-12.
“I’m just trying to be more aggressive and hit that first pitch strike,” Smith added. “I’m getting better pitches to hit. I’ve been hitting it hard.”
Smith came to the plate in the tenth inning with a runner on base and hit a comebacker that Titans closer Tyler Peitzmeier was able to stab and throw to first to end the game.
“I hit it hard right at him,” said Smith. “I had a few other ones that could have been outs so you give and you take.”
Maryland also had a chance to win the game in the ninth. After Jose Cuas singled and advanced to second, Peitzmeier got Kengo Kawahara to strike out swinging to send the game to extras.
Maryland’s Sunday loss was a bit easier to swallow considering the Terps took the first two games of the series, completing a 3-1 week with all four games coming against potential NCAA Tournament teams.
“To be able to go out there and win two out of three against a team that gets to Omaha a lot, it’s good for us to know that we can compete,” Drossner said. “It shows that we can compete with the best.”
Maryland (27-11) will return to action on Tuesday when they take on VCU (22-16). The Maryland Baseball Network will hit the air at 6:15 from Richmond, Virginia.
Listen to John Szefc’s press conference
Listen to Kevin Smith’s press conference