Brandon Gum’s huge day at the plate keys Maryland win

By: Dylan Sinn

Brandon Gum isn’t 100 percent healthy, but you wouldn’t know it from how he played Friday.

The transfer from George Mason went 3-for-3 with a pair of walks and a ninth-inning game-tying RBI single despite playing with a sore shoulder that forced him from first base to the DH slot just before the game.

Gum’s heroics helped Maryland score twice in the ninth and pick up a come-from-behind 4-3 win over Notre Dame at the USA Baseball-Irish Classic in Cary, North Carolina.

“I just felt like I was seeing the ball well, especially after the first AB [a walk], being able to lay off a 3-2 breaker like that,” he said. “It just kind of let me know early in the game that I was seeing it alright and that I could trust my approach and do what I do.”

The senior is hitting .429 and getting on base at a .571 clip. In the decisive top of the ninth, he lofted a single to right-center off Irish pitcher Sean Guenther with the bases loaded that evened the score at 3, after Maryland had entered the inning trailing 3-2.

“I knew [Guenther] was mostly staying away and then coming in late, so I was trying to look for something over the outer part of the plate,” Gum said. “I got it first pitch and just missed it…Then I think he was trying to come in and just left it over the middle of the plate.”

Pinch-hitter Danny Maynard followed with a deep fly to left that drove home Nick Dunn with the game-winning run. The sacrifice fly came off Matt Vierling, but the run was charged to Guenther, who took the loss.

Maryland got on the board early, putting up a run in the top of the first to take a lead it would hold until the seventh. In that opening frame, Zack Jancarski led off the game with a single and later scored when Nick Cieri, making his first start at catcher this season, pulled a double down the right field line. Cieri is tied with Gum for the team lead with four RBIs, and is hitting .375 with runners in scoring position.

After that early rally, Notre Dame starter Brandon Bielak put up zeroes over the next five innings. Bielak, who came in with a 10.80 ERA in his first two starts, pitched six innings, allowing five hits and striking out six with a pair of walks.

It wasn’t much offense for the Terps, but they didn’t need it early on as starter Brian Shaffer dominated through six shutout innings, striking out a career-high eight while allowing just three hits and walking one.

Maryland (2-5) added a run in the seventh on a bases-loaded walk from Gum following an eight-pitch at-bat to take a 2-0 lead, but the Irish finally got to Shaffer in the bottom half. Back-to-back singles, just the fourth and fifth hits he had allowed, brought Irish catcher Ryan Lidge to the plate with nobody out. Lidge lofted a long fly ball to right field. The Terps’ Marty Costes tracked it to the wall, but it hit off the heel of his glove for a two-base error, allowing a run to score.

Left-hander Andrew Miller relieved Shaffer, but a ground ball to second and a safety squeeze in succession plated two more runs to give Notre Dame (1-7) the lead.

Gum said the Fighting Irish’s three-run seventh was “very deflating,” but he liked how Maryland was able to stay in the game and keep playing.

“A big thing that we talked about is staying up and we even had a meeting this week about it where if something goes wrong, all the air seems to go out of the balloon,” he said. “So I think that was good that the dugout did a great job of staying up the next inning and we just kept working for it.”

Shaffer didn’t get the win, but he was very good all day. In one particularly impressive stretch, he set down eight Irish hitters in a row, including three strikeouts. He struck out eight total for the third time in his career, walking just one.

After Notre Dame took the lead, Maryland’s bullpen held the Irish in check. Miller and right-hander Ryan Hill combined for 1 2/3 scoreless innings, striking out four. Miller has been the Terrapins’ best reliever so far this season, throwing 4 1/3 innings, surrendering just one hit and no runs. Hill, who pitched a clean eighth, picked up the win following the Maryland rally in the ninth. It was his first win as a Terp.

Hill gave up three runs in 2/3 of an inning over his first two appearances, but has pitched 2 1/3 scoreless frames with six strikeouts in his last two times on the mound.

“The first few outings, I kind of just wanted to go out there and throw and I thought I could blow it by them,”  the junior right-hander said. “I’ve realized I just need to stick with what I know and what I’ve been taught and everything. Just working on command, if you can hit your spots with your fastball and then have that breaking pitch after to come back with it, then you’ll do just fine.”

Ryan Selmer got the save after working a perfect bottom of the ninth.