One week after failing to generate a single swing and miss in the midst of a zero-strikeout performance against No. 18 East Carolina, Maryland left-hander Tyler Blohm set a career-high with 12 strikeouts Saturday against Stetson.
The sophomore allowed just one run in eight innings, as the Terps bounced back from a Friday night loss to defeat the Hatters, 6-1. Blohm’s 12 strikeouts are his most since striking out 10 on May 26, 2017, against Nebraska in the Big Ten Tournament.
“He just did a really good job mixing pitches,” head coach Rob Vaughn said. “If you look this year, this is one the first outings he actually really had his breaking ball consistently, and that’s a game-changer for him.”
Last weekend, Blohm allowed a season-high six runs on six hits with five walks in a short four-inning outing in Maryland’s 18-4 loss to the Pirates, but he made adjustments during the week with pitching coach Corey Muscara to alter the results.
“I just found myself getting too fast in my delivery where my arm had to catch up and I was leaving balls up,” Blohm said about his prior start. “[This week] I worked on slowing my mechanics down, letting the mechanics do the work and it worked out today.”
The southpaw fell into a rhythm early against the Hatters, relying primarily on his curveball to strike out six of the first nine batters he faced. In addition to his mechanics, Blohm and Muscara revisited the grip on his curveball during the week.
“I held it a little looser in my hand and it worked out today,” Blohm said. “Once I saw it in the first inning I just rode on that confidence for the rest of the game.”
While The Severna Park, Maryland, native used off-speed pitches to strike out hitters on 10 of the 12 occasions, he also used his curveball to begin at-bats, keeping the opposition off-balance and uncomfortable.
“I think it’s one thing to throw a two-strike curveball, but I think the hardest thing with a big 12-6 is to throw it for a strike,” Blohm said. “And I think once I had that today, I just changed my reference point on certain pitches it worked out today.”
While Blohm recovered from a start ruined by control issues, his counterpart—Stetson right-hander Jack Perkins—gave the Terps seven free passes in 4.1 innings.
With the game scoreless in the bottom of the third, the Terps capitalized on opportunities Perkins gave them. A two-out hit by pitch followed by a single put runners on the corners for outfielder Marty Costes, who legged out an infield chopper to give Maryland a 1-0 lead.
Costes’ RBI single not only extended his hitting streak to six games, but it provoked a wild series from Perkins, who plunked three consecutive Terps—including two with the bases loaded—to hand Maryland another pair of runs. Stetson’s pitchers issued seven walks and hit four batters in total.
Costes and center fielder Zach Jancarski each hit doubles off the wall in the fifth inning to increase Maryland’s lead to four. The following frame, after reliever Jeremy Orbik loaded the bases with three walks, the Terps made it 5-0 despite Nick Dunn grounding into a double play.
“I think we grinded out at-bats a lot tougher today and Perkins is very good,” Vaughn said. “He’s had a lot of success this year, but the fact that we only [struck out] twice on a day like today is a good sign for our team.”
The Hatters finally scored a run in the seventh inning on an infield single, but Blohm worked in three strikeouts in the frame to set his new career-high. In the eighth, Dunn gave Maryland an extra insurance run with a solo homer to right field for his sixth of the season. The junior had five home runs last year.
Blohm’s day ended after the eighth, as right-hander Kevin Biondic came on to record the final three outs for the Terps to clinch the win. The rubber game between Maryland (11-12) and Stetson (19-4) is scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m.