Blohm struggles on the mound, Maryland drops first game of season at home

Tyler Blohm lasted just three innings and the Terrapin bats struggled Sunday as Maryland fell to No. 18 Michigan, 6-2, for their first home loss of 2017.

Coming off wins Friday and Saturday, the Terps (15-8, 2-1) were in a position to sweep their first Big Ten series of the year with a victory Sunday. But Blohm (4-2) faltered a week after earning his second-straight Big Ten Freshman of the Week plaudit, surrendering four runs on three hits and two walks over three frames, digging Maryland into an early hole. 

The freshman allowed a run on his own error in the first, but then settled down before things fell apart in the fourth. Blohm gave up a single and a walk to open the inning, but two passed balls by catcher Justin Morris allowed one runner to score, putting the other on third base. A second walk signaled Blohm’s exit, as the left-hander was pulled in favor of Jared Price after throwing just 55 pitches. 

“He was just getting behind hitters,” head coach John Szefc said. “He just kind of lost his feel for the strike zone, and an inning like that [fourth inning] blows up quick.”

Price allowed both inherited runners to cross the plate in the fourth, one on an RBI single and one on a bases-loaded wild pitch. After a walk loaded the bases again, left-hander Tayler Stiles came in to relieve Price.

In the fifth, Stiles gave up a run on a double, a single and a fielder’s choice, and the Wolverines plated their sixth run an inning later off Jamal Wade.

Maryland vs Michigan

Meanwhile, the Maryland offense was kept in check Sunday after scoring 12 runs over the first two games of the series. Michigan left-hander Michael Hendrickson surrendered two runs over five innings before the Wolverines’ bullpen stifled the Terps in the later innings.

Costes continued his strong play at the plate, however, going 2-4, both hits coming off Hendrickson.

“He commanded his off-speed well,” outfielder Marty Costes said. “He just made some mistakes to me.”

The Terps’ right fielder drove in their first run of the game, following a first-inning Nick Dunn double with a single of his own to knot the game at 1-1. He and Will Watson, who batted behind Costes in the lineup in each ballgame, each had two hits on the day, and finished with five and four hits in the series, respectively.

“It’s so comforting because [having Watson behind me in the lineup] takes a lot of pressure off of me,” Costes said. “Going up to the plate, I know I don’t have too much.”

Trailing 6-1 in the sixth, Costes and Watson opened the frame with back-to-back singles, prompting Hendrickson’s departure. The two runners moved to second and third on a wild pitch before Kevin Smith drove Costes home on a sacrifice fly, trimming the deficit to 6-2. With Watson on second and only one out, the Terps had an opportunity to strike again and cut into the Wolverines’ lead, but Madison Nickens flied out and Kevin Biondic struck out. 

Still down four in the ninth, Maryland again had a chance to score when pinch-hitter Nick Cieri singled with one out and AJ Lee followed with a walk to put men on first and second for Maynard. But the catcher flied out, and Zach Jancarski grounded out as the Terps fell at home for the first time in 11 contests. The loss is just their third loss in their last 17 contests.

One bright spot for Maryland was right-hander John Murphy, who threw two shutout frames to close out the game for the Terps. After a rocky freshman year, the sophomore has allowed just two unearned runs over six frames to open his sophomore season.

Maryland will look to get back in the win column Wednesday when they travel to Philadelphia to take on St. Joseph’s at 3 p.m. The Terps defeated the Hawks, 11-5, on March 8 in College Park.