With the bases loaded and one out in the fifth inning, right fielder Marty Costes had the opportunity to hit for the cycle, needing just a home run off Penn State’s right-hander Nick Distasio.
Instead of going deep, the sophomore lined a ball underneath the glove of a diving center fielder to record a 2-RBI double to extend Maryland’s lead to 10-1. The offensive explosion from the Terps capped off a Big Ten weekend sweep, beating the Nittany Lions 15-2.
“It was just consistent production for eight innings, wearing [them] down,” head coach John Szefc said. “After a while pitchers don’t want to pitch to a lineup like that.”
After recording just three hits Friday night, Maryland’s offense progressively improved over the course of the weekend. Sunday’s season-high 19-hit performance was led by Costes, who increased his batting average to .369.
Costes singled home Zach Jancarski for the opening score in the first inning. A throwing error by shortstop Conlin Hughes allowed Brandon Gum to score on Costes’ infield hit.
In the following inning, the wind created a difficult play for Nittany Lions center fielder Nick Riotti, who misplayed Costes’ deep fly ball. The ball dropped to the turf, allowing two runners to score on what turned into a triple for the sophomore.
“It’s something to get used to,” Costes said of the wind. “I fear for anyone that steps foot in this park sometimes.”
Costes doubled twice in back-to-back innings later in the game before flying out to short and the catcher to end his last two chances for the cycle, an accomplishment that hasn’t been completed by a Terp since 2001.
“Our strength coach Esteban [Doria] brought it up and we were like ‘you can’t do that, you’re jinxing the guy” AJ Lee said. “He brought it up and that’s when Marty didn’t get [the homer] in his last two at-bats.”
While Costes stood out Sunday, the entire Maryland starting lineup contributed to the 15-run performance. Every starter recorded at least one hit, including four players with a multi-hit game.
Lee, hitting in the last spot in the lineup, went 4-for-4 with a pair of two-run homers and five RBIs.
“I think we played pretty well this series,” Lee said of his team as a whole. “We came out yesterday and today and really hit the ball well. All three of our starting pitchers threw well. I think we played a pretty complete series.”
The offensive production allowed Maryland starting right-hander Taylor Bloom to settle in on the mound. The junior allowed two runs on nine hits in seven innings Sunday afternoon.
In his previous four starts, Bloom hadn’t pitched past the fifth inning. His longest start since Sunday was back on March 18 at home against Princeton, who scored just one run off him in 6.2 innings.
“It was big for him and it was big for us,” Szefc said. “We could’ve take him out in the fifth because we had a fully stocked bullpen but he needed to get his pitch count up, he needed to pitch out of some jams and he did a pretty good job of that.”
But with plenty of run support and the opportunity to face a struggling Penn State lineup, the right-hander was able give the bullpen rest by lasting seven innings. Bloom’s only two miscues were the two solo home runs he gave up to Penn State’s Braxton Giavedoni.
Right-hander John Murphy came on in the eighth inning and left-hander Tayler Stiles entered in the ninth for the final six outs of the game. Because the lengthy starts of Brian Shaffer, Tyler Blohm and Bloom, the bullpen only pitched 4 ⅔ innings all weekend.
“The fact that threesome of [Andrew] Miller, [Ryan] Hill and [Ryan] Selmer threw four pitches the whole weekend, that’s an even bigger stat,” Szefc said.
Maryland (24-11, 9-3 Big Ten) will return to action Wednesday at 6 p.m. on the road against William & Mary.