With the Old Liners leading by eight runs in the Fall World Series after winning the first two games, Aggies captain Kevin Biondic asked head coach Rob Vaughn to put the number “8” in their opponent’s run column on the scoreboard prior to Game 3. The senior knew his team would have to win by nine runs to claim the series victory.
Because this year’s fall finale incorporated a point-system comprised of wins, run differential and various objectives, the Aggies had a chance to win the series, despite losing the first two games.
Biondic swung and missed on a two-strike count in the first inning, ending his streak of eight straight times reaching base to start the series. Despite being retired for the first time in three days, Biondic quickly responded to spark a seven-run Aggies rally in the third inning, eventually helping blowout the Old Liners, 16-1.
Biondic’s request to visually see his team down eight runs on the scoreboard mentally sparked the Aggies, as they went on to win the entire series, 16-9.
“What that tells you, you start talking about leadership,” head coach Rob Vaughn said. “You start talking about grit and the things that great championship teams do. That’s what Kevin Biondic exhibited today.”
Following freshman Tommy Gardiner’s leadoff walk to start the third, Biondic launched an 0-1 pitch to the right-center field gap for a double off right-handed reliever Ryan Hill. Four runs came across before Biondic stepped back up to the plate with two outs as the Aggies batted around.
Battling tough, Biondic drew an 11-pitch walk to reload the bases against right-hander Mike Vasturia, who relieved Hill after he didn’t record an out. Senior Will Watson took advantage of Biondic’s at-bat by delivering a bases-clearing triple to cap off the Aggies’ seven-run inning.
“I don’t want to say that sealed the deal right there, but that boosted our confidence even more than what it was already at,” Biondic said.
Sitting on the bench while watching his team provide a surplus of run support, sophomore transfer Zach Thompson returned to the mound in the bottom of the third after setting down the first six batters he faced.
Thompson, who pitched at Archbishop Spalding High School prior to spending his freshman season at St. Mary’s College (Md.), allowed just one earned run, while striking out three in four innings of work. His counterpart and former high school teammate, Old Liners left-hander Tyler Blohm, allowed just one hit and struck out three in two scoreless innings.
Although the Older Liners scored a run in the bottom of the third to make it 7-1, the Aggies offense went back to work in the fourth. After falling behind 0-2 in the count, Biondic snuck a ball down the left-field line for a two-run double. The senior finished the series 7-for-9, reaching base in 11 of his 13 plate appearances.
“I think I’ve come a long way from where I started,” Biondic said. “I think of lot of it comes from the pitching. I understand what pitchers are doing and what they think and what pitches are going to be thrown and in what counts.”
The Aggies scored an additional six runs in the fourth inning, including RBI singles from Barrett Smith and Zach Jancarski, to make it a 15-1 Aggies lead. After the half inning, The Aggies took control of the series run differential for the first time of the week, 15-9. Smith provided the last run of the game in the top of the fifth on a sacrifice fly. He finished the afternoon 1-for-1 with three walks, a sac fly and three RBIs.
“All the guys came ready today,” Biondic said. “I was very surprised in how positive everyone was today. It was almost like we knew we were going to come back.”
Right-hander John Murphy closed out the game for the Aggies in the last inning, clinching both the game and Fall World Series victory over the Old Liners. The fall season is now over for the Terps, and they will return to game action in the middle of February for the start of the 2018 season.
“If we want to do what these guys want to do and do something special in the spring,” Vaughn said, “then now is really when the work starts.”