By Ben Harris
With his hitless Maryland Terrapins trailing 1-0 and down to their final out in the bottom of the ninth inning, Nick Cieri struck out, and the Terps eventually won the game. It was that kind of night in College Park, Maryland.
Ohio State’s catcher Jalen Washington couldn’t squeeze the game’s potential final out, and Cieri reached first base to extend the ninth. Madison Nickens, who reached base with a leadoff hit by pitch, now stood in scoring position, 180 feet from knotting the game at one. It was the only time the Terps had multiple runners on base.
One batter later, Kevin Biondic slapped a hard groundball toward third baseman Nick Sergakis who bobbled and threw wide to first, allowing Nickens to score and tie the game – all of this before Maryland recorded their first hit on the day.
It wasn’t until the tenth inning when Zach Jancarski – who earned a spot start in center field from head coach John Szefc – laced a 0-2 single up the middle, staving off Ohio State’s combined no-hit bid.
Jancarski, arguably Maryland’s fastest runner, stole second under the watchful eye of reliever Yianni Pavlopoulos who had been keeping him close at first.
Not wasting any time, Nickens roped a single up the middle on the very next pitch to score Jancarski and clinch Maryland’s first Big Ten series win of 2016.
— MD Baseball Network (@mdbaseballnet) April 9, 2016
Upon touching home, Jancarski launched his helmet into the air, high-stepping in pure celebration toward the pile of Terrapin bodies that had materialized in the infield turf.
Somewhere at the bottom of that pile, amid a growing sea of Under Armour-clad student-athletes, was junior transfer Madison Nickens.
Senior John Havird was pulled in the ninth during his no-hit bid after plunking Nickens, the game’s eventual tying run, to begin the inning. Havird struck out seven Terps on the day and cruised through the Maryland order, turning the ball over to the bullpen to complete his no hitter.
Held without a hit for 9.1 innings, Maryland had just three total base runners through the eighth inning.
After the first game of Friday’s doubleheader featured complete games from both starters, it was only fitting to end the day with another pitcher’s duel. Brian Shaffer continued his phenomenal work on the mound, allowing just a sac fly in his seven innings of work. It was the only run the sophomore would allow in addition to five strikeouts and, as usual, no free passes.
It didn’t matter that Shaffer, the newly appointed Saturday starter, had his start pushed up due to impending inclement weather – he continued his torrid pitching, lowering his ERA in his last five starts to 1.56. On the season, his ERA is 2.55.
In a huge series win for the Terps, the recent rotation shake up means they turn to Mike Shawaryn, one of the nation’s top arms, to close out the series on Sunday. After beginning the day at 15-15, Maryland swept both games of their doubleheader while allowing just a single run.
Notes: After two wins on Friday, the Terps are 3-0 this season in their military appreciation uniforms.