Parsons fires complete game as Maryland takes rubber game from Bryant, 5-3

Rob Vaughn stood on the mound with right-hander Hunter Parsons and the Terps’ infield. With two out in the ninth, Bryant runners on the corners and Maryland clinging to a two-run lead, closer John Murphy was ready in the bullpen. But Parsons wasn’t ready to head to the dugout, telling Vaughn that he wanted to get that last out, to which the Terps’ head coach said “all right buddy, go get him.”

Parsons did just that, inducing a ground ball to third for the final out of his first career complete game, as Maryland (9-6) defeated Bryant, 5-3, Sunday in College Park to win the weekend series. The junior right-hander needed just 102 pitches to finish the nine innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on ten hits, and Marty Costes drove in the go-ahead run with an eighth-inning RBI single.

“He snuck a fastball up under his hands, made a great pitch,” Vaughn said of Parsons’ approach on the final hitter of the game. “That was one of the best-pitched games I’ve seen all year, much less just out of him.”

Tied 3-3 heading to the bottom of the eighth, Zach Jancarski and Nick Dunn singled with one out in front of Costes, who has struggled mightily at the plate to start the season. But the Terps’ right fielder came through, poking an 0-2 pitch through the right side to score Jancarski. The next hitter, Kevin Biondic, drove home Dunn with a sacrifice fly to center to extend the lead to 5-3.

“Everyone in this dugout is super confident that the person at the plate is gonna get it done, and if he doesn’t get it done, then the guy after him will,” Jancarski said. “That’s kinda the way our offense works, and why we’re good.”

Parsons (2-1), who struggled in his first couple appearances of the year, dominated the Bulldogs all afternoon, throwing Maryland’s first nine-inning complete game since Brian Shaffer blanked Indiana in the 2016 Big Ten Tournament. 

“I didn’t know what the pitch count was the whole game,” Parsons said. “Going a complete game wasn’t really in my mind, I was just going out there and giving my all for the team, just leaving it all out on the field.”

His only blemishes came in the second, sixth and eighth, giving up one run in each frame. Bryant (3-9) struck in the second, executing a squeeze play after two ground ball singles put men on the corners. Sam Owens then lined a single to left that seemed destined to score Nick Angelini from second, but Marty Costes fired home and Ty Friedrich lunged to apply the tag for the third out of the inning, keeping the Maryland deficit at 1-0.

RHP Hunter Parsons and C Ty Friedrich celebrate on the mound. Parsons threw his first career complete game Sunday in a 5-3 Maryland win over Bryant. Photo by Max Marcilla/Maryland Baseball Network

In the sixth, the Parsons ran into trouble, allowing a leadoff double to Ryan Ward. James Ciliento, who had three hits Saturday, bunted up the third base line, and Parsons threw wide of first, allowing Ward to score as Ciliento pulled into second. Parsons issued a walk to Mickey Gasper, with Ciliento moving up to third on a wild pitch with still nobody out. But the junior right-hander responded well, inducing a pop out to left before getting Shane Kelly to ground into a double play to end the inning.

At just 73 pitches after seven, Vaughn sent Parsons back to the hill for the eighth with the Terps up 3-2. The right-hander gave up a single to center to Sam Owens, who quickly advanced to third on a wild pitch and a ground out. Ciliento stayed hot, lining a single over second base to drive in the tying run.

After Maryland rallied to take a two-run lead into the ninth, Parsons went back to the mound needing just three outs to secure a victory. The right-hander got two outs, but surrendered a pair of singles, prompting Vaughn’s trip to the mound. But the right-hander finished off Sam Owens and the Terps went home with a victory.

“[I’ve been] working a lot with [pitching coach Corey Muscara], a lot of next-pitch mentality, that’s something he preaches every day,” Parsons said. “I was just trying to pitch to contact, if the strikeouts come they come, but really I was just trying to end every at-bat with four pitches or less.”

The Terps’ offense stalled early on, managing just one run in the first four innings against Bryant left-hander Vito Morgese before breaking out in the late innings.

They got on the board in the second, when Will Watson was hit by a pitch to open the frame and Ty Friedrich followed with a single, putting men on the corners. Zach Jancarski hit a sharp grounder to third, but Bryant could only get the force at second, allowing Watson to score the tying run. Nick Dunn, who went 4-for-5 with four RBIs in Saturday’s contest, hit a frozen rope to right center, but James Ciliento tracked it down for the third out.

Down 2-1 in the seventh, the Terps put together a successful rally against Bryant reliever Tyler Mattison. Zach Jancarski reached on an infield hit to lead off the frame, and Dunn followed with a line drive off the right-field fence, just missing a two-run homer. Costes, who has struggled mightily at the plate this season, grounded to short, scoring Jancarski to tie the game. Sam Owens’ throw pulled Chris Wright off of first, and Costes was ruled safe, much to the chagrin of Bryant skipper Steve Owens.

With runners on first and third after a fielder’s choice and a Bednar strikeout, Lee worked the count to 2-2 and laced an RBI single the opposite way into right field, driving home Dunn and giving the Terps a 3-2 lead.

After Watson walked to load the bases, Bryant went to the bullpen again, as left-hander Logan Lessard took over for Mattison on the hill. Gardiner then popped out to center field, stranding the bases loaded.

Bryant tied things up in the top of the eighth, but Costes’s RBI single broke the draw and proved to be the decisive run. Each time that the Bulldogs scored, the Terps were able to respond with runs of their own.

“That game was back and forth, it was like a boxing match, just punch after punch,” Jancarski said. “We pride our offense just on being relentless, you know we never feel like we’re out of the fight.”

Jancarski and Dunn each collected three hits, as Dunn raised his team-best batting average to .358.

With the complete game, Parsons lowered his season ERA by nearly two runs, from 7.07 to 5.09. The Terps improved to 3-4 at home this season, and now travel to Delaware Tuesday, where Mark DiLuia (1-1, 5.25 ERA) gets the ball for Maryland.