Bullpen, patience at the plate lead Terps to 6-3 win over Army

A patient approach at the plate and a strong performance from the bullpen led Maryland to a comeback win over the Army Black Knights Sunday, 6-3, in College Park. The Terrapins (3-4) snapped a four-game losing streak, and salvaged the final game of the three-game set with Army.

Maryland’s offense managed just six hits in the contest, but was able to take advantage of Army starter Sam Messina’s inability to find the strike zone. The right-hander walked three, hit five batters and uncorked four wild pitches in 4.2 frames, as Maryland plated four runs int the process.

Nick Dunn enjoyed a 2-for-3 day at the plate, driving in two, including the go-ahead run on a bases-loaded walk in the fourth. Randy Bednar added some insurance with a seventh-inning homer and an eighth-inning bases-loaded walk. Freshmen Mark DiLuia and Sean Fisher and junior John Murphy combined for 4.1 scoreless innings out of the bullpen. 

After leaving runners in scoring position the first two frames, the Terps rallied in the third. Down 3-0, Marty Costes was hit by a pitch to open the inning. The Terps left fielder stole second and third, and Nick Dunn drove him home with a double past a diving John McKenna at first, putting Maryland on the board for the first time since the eighth inning Friday. Dunn moved up to third on Taylor Wright’s line out to right, and came in to score on a wild pitch, cutting the deficit to one run.

“Even if we’re down, part of what makes us good is forcing pressure,” Maryland Head Coach Rob Vaughn said. “The fact that [Costes] was able to embody that, stealing second, stealing third, getting there and being aggressive really set the tone for the rest of the [game].”

An inning later, Kevin Biondic led off with a booming fly ball off the batter’s eye in center that went for a triple, and Morris drove him in with a ground out to shortstop, knotting the score at 3-3.

With two away in the third inning and the game tied at 3, Messina lost his feel for the zone, hitting Gardiner and Costes and walking Jancarski to load the bases. Nick Dunn appeared to bail Army out of the jam, popping up a 2-1 pitch in foul ground, but three Black Knights couldn’t make the catch, giving the Terps’ second baseman new life. He then worked a walk, forcing in a run to give Maryland its first lead since early in Friday’s contest, with the bases still loaded for cleanup man Taylor Wright. The Vancouver, British Columbia, native couldn’t extend the lead, however, popping up to second to end the rally.

Bednar hit a solo homer to left in the seventh inning for his first career long ball. After Dunn reached on an error in the eighth, Army reliever Carter Van Gytenbeek walked Lee, Biondic and Bednar to force in a run, extending the Terps’ lead to 5-3. 

“I’m just trying to stay with a consistent approach, and all the coaches say don’t worry about the result,” Bednar said after the game. “Just trust the process and everything else will take care of itself, so I’ve just been trying to do that. [Hitting Coach Matt] Swope and Vaughn always preach ‘pass it on to the next guy at bat.’ Anyway you can get on base is a better chance for us to win, so I think we did a great job of that today.”

Meanwhile, the Terps got 4.2 solid innings out of right-hander Hunter Parsons, who allowed three runs on three hits and five walks. He struggled at times, but it was an improvement from his first start of the year, when he failed to record an out in the second inning against Tennessee.

The junior right-hander cruised through the first inning, retiring the Black Knights in order. He hit John McKenna leading off the second frame, but seemed to still be in control, coaxing a fly out and fielder’s choice to get two quick outs with a runner still at first. Things quickly unraveled, however, as the right-hander surrendered a single and a walk to load the bases. He then walked nine-hitter Tim Simoes to force in a run. Jacob Hurtubise followed with a line drive single past a diving AJ Lee at short, scoring two more to make it 3-0 Army.

After that, he settled down again, making quick work of Army in the third and fourth innings. After Parsons walked Simoes leading off the fifth and intentionally walked three-hitter Jon Rosoff with two away, Vaughn elected to go to the bullpen, bringing in freshman right-hander Mark DiLuia, who escaped the jam.

“[Parsons] did a great job,” Vaughn said. “I thought his body language and all that was very different in the second inning. He got back in the third to really attacking and going at people. You could just see it, his demeanor on the mound was awesome. He did a great job for us, that’s what we need out of Hunter on Sundays.”

DiLuia (1-0) threw a scoreless sixth, picking up his first career win. Freshman southpaw Sean Fisher kept Army off the board in the seventh before turning things over to John Murphy, who allowed four baserunners over two frames but was able to shut the door on the Black Knights in the ninth for his first save of the season.

Looking ahead, the Terps are back in action Wednesday when they travel to Richmond to take on the VCU Rams.