With an 8-1 lead after an inning-and-a-half, it looked as if the Maryland Terrapins were well on their way to a fourth-straight Big Ten win.
But their best starting pitcher, Hunter Parsons, faltered, and the relief core flirted with trouble until it was too late. Seven earned runs against Parsons, followed by a three-run seventh inning against Sean Fisher, gave Nebraska the 17-8 victory, and its largest come-from-behind win of the year.
Maryland’s offense feasted in the first two innings against Nebraska starter Luis Alvarado. After he threw a career-high eight innings in his last start, the senior right-hander could not control his pitches on Saturday. He walked six of the 12 batters he faced, and allowed seven earned runs.
After loading the bases with a pair of walks and a single by Will Watson, Zach Jancarski launched a grand slam over the left field fence to put Maryland ahead 4-0. The blast marked the Terps’ second grand slam in the last week.
After a solo shot by Cornhusker superstar Scott Schreiber (his Big Ten-leading 17th) in the bottom of the first, Maryland put together a second straight four-run inning. Three straight walks chased Alvarado out of the game, and against reliever Nate Fisher, Will Watson and Taylor Wright each drove in a pair.
Once the rally concluded, the Maryland bats went cold for the first time all weekend, and the Huskers were able to chip away. The Terps only had three hits after the second inning, both singles. As a team, Maryland was 0-for-6 with runners on base in the final seven innings, and never advanced a runner into scoring position.
Nebraska scored three in the second to cut the deficit to four. Then, a two-run fifth inning and a three-run seventh gave the Cornhuskers their first lead of the series. They ended scoring 16 consecutive runs
With two outs and one on, it looked as if Fisher would elude further damage for the third straight inning, and keep the Terps clinging to a one-run lead. Then, Nebraska center fielder Jaxon Hallmark belted his first career homer, a two-run shot off the foul pole, to give the home team a 9-8 lead. It tacked on another run on an RBI single by Carter Cross.
The collapse was shocking for the Terps, who have counted on Parsons to give them a reliable outing for the past few months. The junior right-hander hadn’t allowed more than three runs in a start since his season opener.
Nebraska even got to senior Kevin Biondic, Maryland’s most reliable relief pitcher. The senior gave up five runs in the eighth inning, all but sealing the come-from-behind win for the Cornhuskers. The final blow was a two-run homer by Alex Henwood that gave Nebraska its 17th run, the second-most it has scored in a game all year.
The two Big Ten foes will meet in the rubber match on Sunday, a critical meeting, as both teams are just out of the Big Ten tournament race. Maryland will send Taylor Bloom to the hill. The senior will be making his first start since his unfortunate injury, when he was struck by a foul ball in batting practice last month. He did enter as a reliever last weekend against Michigan State.