Many times in their inconsistent 2018 season, the Maryland Terrapins had desperately needed a big hit. Often, it didn’t happen.
In Saturday’s contest with Michigan State in East Lansing, the Terps didn’t need that big hit, as they were rewarded free bases early and often. A five-run second inning placed Maryland in the driver’s seat, and it held on for an 8-2 win.
In that second frame, Spartan starter Mason Erla worked into trouble with a pair of walks and a hit batsman to go along with a Justin Morris single. His final batter, Nick Dunn, worked a seven-pitch bases loaded walk to bring home a run.
Although Erla was relieved after just 1.1 innings and 46 pitches (26 of which were balls), the command woes didn’t stop there. The first batter Caleb Sleeman faced, Marty Costes, also drew a run-scoring walk. Kevin Biondic put an exclamation point on the rally with a two-run single that skidded under the glove of Michigan State third baseman Zach Iverson.
While the bulk of the damage came in the second inning, the five-run frame was bookended by a pair of solo homers by Dunn, who increased his team-leading total to 10. The left-handed hitting second baseman became the fourth Big Ten player this season to reach the double-digit homer mark. His long ball in the first inning gave Maryland a lead it would not surrender; his dinger in the fourth extended the lead to 6-0.
With run support on his side, Maryland starting pitcher Hunter Parsons cruised to his fourth win of the season. After retiring the first nine Spartans he faced, the junior right-hander gave up a run in each of the fourth and fifth innings. He battled through that tough stretch, hurling seven innings and allowing just the two earned runs on five hits.
After he had allowed 11 earned runs in his first two starts (18.56 ERA), Parsons has an ERA of 1.81 in his last nine starts, allowing 13 earned runs in 64.2 innings.
Parsons was relieved in the eighth inning by Kevin Biondic, who also had an RBI single in the seventh. Biondic allowed five base runners in two innings of work, but shut the door without allowing a Spartan to score.
The Terps and Spartans will play the rubber match of the three-game set on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. EST. Maryland will send Tyler Blohm to the mound for his second consecutive Sunday start.