by: Matt Present
One year ago Rob Galligan had a team high 9.95 ERA. He pitched in a team low six games. Tonight, the Terps most improved player dominated in relief, as Maryland knocked off the tournament’s number one overall seed, UCLA, 4-1. The victory was the team’s 41st of the season, which is the most single-season wins in program history.
Starter Brian Shaffer who led the Terps to a huge victory over Illinois in the Big Ten Tournament his last time out, lasted just two innings, before departing with forearm discomfort. Bobby Ruse came in and retired the first five batters he faced, but then after allowing two men to reach, Jim Belanger summoned Galligan. The junior lefty walked the first batter he faced to load the bases, but proceeded to induce a chopper to second to get out of the jam. Galligan worked four and a third scoreless innings, striking out two, allowed just one subsequent base runner, earning the win for the Terps.
“I think everyone was fired up, and as the game started getting to end, we started believing it and feeling it,” said Galligan.
The Bruins got on the board first in the top of the fourth when they turned an error (which should have been ruled an infield single), a hit by pitch, a bunt single, and a sacrifice fly into their only run of the ballgame.
The Terps took the lead in the bottom of the second, a lead they held for the remainder of the contest. After Kevin Martir and Nick Cieri both singled up the middle, Tim Lewis dunked a perfectly placed triple down the left field line to give the Terps the 2-1 edge. The hit was Lewis’ first base knock since the Terps home finale against Liberty on May 12th.
The Terps added to their lead in the third when LaMonte Wade led off the inning by smashing a solo shot over the right field fence for his third round-tripper of the season. Kevin Smith followed with a double to right, and then the Terps used a Brandon Lowe sacrifice bunt and a Kevin Martir RBI groundout to push across their fourth run of the game.
The final ingredient to the Terps winning recipe was defense. After Wade made a leaping catch at the wall last night, he followed it up with his arm tonight, gunning down UCLA’s Christoph Bono to end the top of the second, on a play where Martir blocked the plate beautify, upon receiving the throw from the Terps center fielder. And then in the eighth it was Anthony Papio with a headlong dive in right, robbing Luke Persico of extra bases.
“Today when you look at the game, I think there are two really big things – our defense was tremendous; we took a big run off the board in the second inning, and then Rob Galligan, what he did today was very special,” said Belanger.
Kevin Mooney came in to seal the deal for Maryland, striking out two, on his way to his fifth post-season save this season. Maryland will play the winner of UCLA and CSU Bakersfield tomorrow night at 11:05 p.m. eastern time. A victory tomorrow night would advance the Terps to their second consecutive super regional. A loss would force an additional game Monday night to decide the region.