By Ben Harris
Nine straight Golden Gophers reached base, and seven total crossed the plate, in a nightmare eighth inning for the Maryland bullpen Friday.
Minnesota tallied nine unanswered runs in the sixth and eighth innings combined, erasing a three-run Maryland lead and beating the Terps by a workman’s 9-5 final.
Through five innings, Maryland starter Taylor Bloom (5-3) had allowed no runs, stretching his scoreless innings streak to 14. He hadn’t allowed a run since April 2.
But, Bloom ran into trouble in the sixth, allowing two runs before being pulled for senior Rob Galligan. After allowing three hits in his first five innings, he allowed two singles and a triple in the sixth. Bloom had only been in trouble once before on the night.
In the third, a hit-and-run put Golden Gopher runners at the corners with no outs. However, Bloom buckled down, picking off Luke Pettersen at first and striking out the next two batters to end the Minnesota scoring chance. He would go on to strike out his third straight batter to begin the fourth, his only three strikeouts of the evening.
Taylor Bloom pitched the entirety of his second Friday start with the lead. Maryland took a quick 1-0 lead in the top of the first after Minnesota catcher Austin Athmann’s errant rundown throw.
In the fifth, Maryland doubled their lead to 2-0 as Madison Nickens powered a solo homer against a fierce Minneapolis wind. The Terps chased Minnesota’s starter Matt Fiedler in the sixth with an Andrew Bechtold single that made the game 3-0.
Minnesota hadn’t won a game this season when trailing after six innings. But their carousel eighth inning grabbed the lead and put the game out of reach for a Maryland club who, once again, waited until the ninth inning to turn on the offense string together a long inning.
The frame following Minnesota’s seven-run eighth inning explosion, Maryland scratched two runs across to make the game 9-5, loading the bases and bringing the tying run to the plate.
However, Minnesota reliever Jordan Jess entered, striking out Nickens and Nick Dunn to end the scoring chance and the game for Maryland. Game 2 will feature sophomore Brian Shaffer squaring off against Golden Gopher senior left-hander Dalton Sawyer.