Maryland sweeps Princeton behind Blohm’s seven scoreless innings

Maryland completed its sweep of Princeton Sunday behind a career-best start from Tyler Blohm, defeating the Tigers 2-0 at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium.

On the heels of pitching six scoreless innings last Sunday against Bryant, the freshman gave up just two hits over seven complete innings and struck out eight batters for his team-leading fourth win of the season.

“I just thought I rode off that confidence from last week and prepared the same way, even harder this whole week,” Blohm said.

“He’s doing what you would hope a young arm would do as far as improving and getting better each time he goes out,” Head coach John Szefc said. “He’s throwing a lot of strikes, not giving a lot of freebies. He’s got a lot of poise for a young guy and we’re going to need that as we go into conference play next weekend.”

Through his first five collegiate starts, Blohm is 4-1 with a 1.78 ERA and averaging over a strikeout per inning.

“In the first three starts I felt like I was trying to get too big and I was trying to be someone who I wasn’t,” Blohm said. “And the last start I just tried to stay fluid and stuff like that and just pitch like I know how to. And its worked out for me.”

Blohm was not without help Sunday, receiving an early lead after a Madison Nickens’ solo home run in the second inning and two phenomenal defensive plays from Kevin Smith and Marty Costes in the fourth. With the score 1-0, Smith robbed David Harding of a lead off base hit with a diving grab at short. Then, with the tying run on third and two outs, Marty Costes sprinted towards a Paul Tupper-hit ball that seemed primed to hit the turf, but leaped  and stretched out his glove in time to make the run-saving catch.

“It was two outs and a guy on third, so I knew I had to be aggressive and stop the run from coming in,” Costes said. “I saw Jancarski going back on the ball, so I just decided to come in and just take a chance at it.”

In the bottom half of the fourth, Brandon Gum put a ball in play that dropped on the first base line in front of the visitor’s bullpen for a lead off double. After sliding into second base head first, Gum was slow to get up but remained in the game. The senior, who went 4-for-8 on the weekend, was evidently healthy enough to steal third base and then trot home after the throw from behind the plate got past Princeton third baseman Ramzi Haddad.

Gum left the game at the conclusion of the inning, with Kevin Biondic shifting to first from third base and AJ Lee taking the place of Biondic.

Maryland would not score any more runs after the fourth, putting the game in the hands of Blohm and the bullpen.

“Our bullpen has really been effective this year,” Szefc said. “Not just [the weekend starters].”

Jared Price pitched a scoreless eighth inning, setting Ryan Selmer up for a save opportunity in the ninth. But Selmer gave up a lead off double, prompting Szefc to bring in Andrew Miller to pitch against the left-handed pinch hitter Zack Belski. Miller walked Belski, which put runners on second and first and brought Tupper to the plate.

Tupper sent Miller’s first pitch high and deep into the right field corner, where Costes, who was fighting off the sun, was there once again to take away a game-changing hit from the Princeton senior.

“That’s just as good as driving a run in right there because he kept one or two off the board by making the catch,” Szefc said.

The next at bat, Miller induced a game-ending double play to give Maryland its eleventh win in twelve games.

“This is a type of day where our pitching staff and defense really picked up the offense,” Szefc said. “You’d like to think that good teams, they have different ways of beating you. And I think we kind of showed that this weekend and in the last week in general, where you got different ways of winning games.”

In three games against Princeton, Maryland allowed two runs, all of which came in Saturday’s game, and 13 hits. The recent play of all three weekend starters, Brian Shaffer, Taylor Bloom, and Blohm, has been momentous for the Terps who, start Big Ten play in less than a week.

Maryland will travel to Wilmington, N.C. for a two-game set against UNC-Wilmington Tuesday and Wednesday, before beginning conference play Friday at home against Michigan.