Maryland squeezes past Michigan State to clinch series victory

After making his first career start on Wednesday against William and Mary, right-hander Ryan Hill entered the game in relief during the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader with two runners on and nobody out in the sixth inning.

With the Spartans threatening,  the junior retired three consecutive batters to preserve the 2-0 lead, helping Maryland eventually win 2-1.

Michigan State catcher Matt Byars reached first base on a dropped-third strike off Maryland starter Tyler Blohm. Center fielder Brandon Hughes followed with a single, knocking the left-hander out of the game after five innings of work.

Hill, who pitched three innings of hitless baseball on Wednesday, continued that streak in his first inning of relief. After retiring his first batter on a sacrifice bunt, putting runners on 2nd and 3rd, the Texas native bared down against the next two hitters, striking them both out looking.

The escaped jam was Maryland’s fourth of the afternoon.

Blohm allowed two runners on in each of his first three innings. The southpaw struck out Hughes with two runners in scoring position and two outs in the first. He induced a 5-4-3 double play in the next frame with a pair of Spartans on base. And in the third, a nice on-the-run catch by left fielder Madison Nickens and a weak line drive to shortstop Kevin Smith ended the third frame for the Spartans with another two runners on base.

Even though Blohm wasn’t allowed to work himself out of trouble in the sixth, Hill came in to strand the seventh and eighth runners on base of the afternoon.

Although Michigan State had trouble hitting with runners in scoring position, it was a problem Maryland also experienced Sunday morning. The Terrapins left six of their own on base throughout the game.

A first-inning double by second baseman Nick Dunn opened the scoring for the Terrapins. After scoring eight runs in the first two innings Friday night, it appeared Maryland could be headed in a similar direction. But after the first frame, Michigan State starter Andrew Gonzalez settled in for the next three innings.

In the fifth, Maryland put runners on the corners to start the inning. Third baseman AJ Lee singled and moved to second a balk before a Zach Jancarski single. Brandon Gum scored Lee from third on a safety squeeze. Although Maryland continued the inning with runners on first and second and no outs because of a throwing error on the bunt, the Terrapins couldn’t further the damage.

Hill returned to the mound in the sixth, allowing a run to the Spartans on a sacrifice fly, cutting Maryland’s lead to 2-1. Left-hander Andrew Miller, who allowed just two earned runs in 16.1 innings this season, came on to pitch a scoreless eighth inning. 

Right-hander Ryan Selmer entered the game in the ninth, looking for his fifth save of the season. The junior walked a batter with an out, but erased it with a 6-4-3 double play to end the game.

Maryland clinches the series victory with the win, and it will look for the sweep at approximately 1:30 p.m. later today.