By Jacob Weinberger
A second inning two-out rally was all the Maryland Terrapins (19-16, 5-3 Big Ten) needed to even up the three-game series with the Minnesota Golden Gophers (20-11, 5-2 Big Ten) at Siebert Field in Minneapolis Saturday.
Shortstop Kevin Smith doubled down the left field line with the bases loaded and two outs to give the Terps a 2-0 lead in the second frame.
Smith has been on fire with the bat of late. The sophomore is 6-for-10 with four runs scored and three RBIs in the team’s last three games.
One batter later, right fielder Madison Nickens scored what would prove to be the game-winning run on a wild pitch.
The next five innings were dominated by the the two starting pitchers, Terps’ Brian Shaffer and Gophers’ Dalton Sawyer.
Sawyer is the reigning Big Ten Pitcher of the Week after tossing six shutout innings at Michigan (23-9, 4-2 Big Ten) on April 8.
The left-handed senior allowed four hits, five walks and three earned runs while striking out five Terps over seven innings this afternoon. Sawyer was dealt the loss.
The Terps added a fourth run on a balk by RHP Tim Shannon in the eighth inning, extending the lead to 4-0.
The Golden Gophers finally broke through against Shaffer and the Terps in the eighth inning.
After the first two batters of the inning were retired on a fly out and strikeout, the Gophers strung together two runs on four consecutive singles before Shaffer struck out left fielder Jordan Smith to end the frame.
Shaffer’s bid for a complete game ended after surrendering a leadoff walk in the ninth inning. RHP Mike Rescigno surrendered a one-out walk but closed out the game with the help of some good defense.
With two runners aboard, left fielder Kengo Kawahara, who entered the game in the ninth inning for Nickens, made nice a running catch in deep left field for the second out. First baseman Kevin Biondic followed with a fantastic diving catch on his backhand to save a hit and end the game.
Shaffer (4-2) improved on his 2.55 ERA by allowing nine hits, two walks and just two earned runs while tying a career high of seven strikeouts. He notched the win.
The Terps will look to win the rubber match tomorrow at 2 p.m. ET tomorrow.