Rough fifth inning costs Maryland in loss to Northwestern

Ryan Hill struck out the first Northwestern hitter in the fifth inning. Nine hitters later, there was still one out in the inning.

Three Maryland pitchers combined to surrender five hits and four free passes in the inning, allowing Northwestern (20-28, 9-11 in the Big Ten) to plate seven runs and break open what had been a tight game.

A two-run triple for the Wildcats’ Joe Hoscheit opened the scoring in the inning and was one of three hits for the left-fielder as he led Northwestern to a 11-3 win Saturday at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium in College Park.

Maryland starter Tyler Blohm got through the first two innings unscathed, but it was a rough day after that for the Terps’ pitching staff. With one out in the third, No. 9 hitter Jack Paciorek ripped a home run over the high wall in center field to open the scoring. The catcher entered the game hitting just .134 and it was his first career home run.

The Terps (33-16, 15-8) briefly went in front in the bottom of the inning. Catcher Justin Morris led off the inning and matched his counterpart Paciorek with a home run to even the score at 1. Later in the inning, Brandon Gum singled and came in to score on a ground ball Marty Costes chopped to shortstop. It was Costes’ 36th RBI of the season, tying him with Kevin Smith for the team lead.

Maryland went hitless over the next four innings, though, while Northwestern’s offense exploded. Two runs came in in the fourth off Blohm, ending his day with the Wildcats in front 3-2. It was the second straight start the freshman hasn’t been at his best as he’s given up seven earned runs in 6.2 innings over those two appearances.

Hill opened the fifth with a strikeout of Paciorek, but it would be the only out he’d record. The next five hitters reached against the junior right-hander, including Hoscheit’s triple, which banged off the “Regional Champions” sign on the right-center field wall.

Jamal Wade relieved Hill, but he couldn’t stop the bleeding as he surrendered a single and three walks before exiting without having gotten an out. Jared Price became the third Maryland hurler in the inning and finished the frame, but not before allowing a fielder’s choice that plated the seventh run to make it 10-2. 12 Northwestern batters came to the plate in the inning and all nine players in the lineup reached base at least once.

Wildcat starter Hank Christie made sure the outcome was never in doubt as he held Maryland to just six hits in eight innings, striking out three and walking one. He picked up the win to move to 4-4 on the season. Blohm took the loss to drop to 8-5; he’s gotten a decision in each of the 13 starts he’s made this season.

Hoscheit was the hitting star for the Wildcats, going 3-for-5 with two RBI and scoring a pair of runs. He’s working on an eight-game hit streak. Connor Lind, Paciorek, and Jake Schieber also drove in two runs each for the Wildcats.

One bright spot for the Terps was the Hunter Parsons, who entered the game in the seventh and pitched 2.1 innings. He retired the first six hitters he faced, striking out four of them, before struggling in the ninth and ceding the final two outs to Cameron Enck.

Nick Dunn completed the scoring for Maryland with his third home run of the season, pulling a line drive off a right-field light pole in the eighth inning.

The loss was just Maryland’s second at home this season, running its record to 20-2 at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium. It sets up a series rubber match Sunday on the Terps’ Senior Day.