Maryland blanks Stetson 7-0 in series opener

After a six-inning pitchers’ duel to start Maryland (8-4) and Stetson’s series opener, the Terps’ underclassmen paved the way to Maryland’s 7-0 win over Stetson (5-8) on Friday in DeLand, Florida. The victory marks the Terps’ largest shutout win since March 13, 2015, when Maryland beat Princeton, 15-0.

Back-to-back solo shots from sophomore Randy Bednar and senior Taylor Wright highlighted the Terps’ four-run ninth inning, giving Maryland’s pitching staff a seven-run  cushion heading into the bottom of the inning.

When Stetson threatened in the bottom of the eighth, Maryland head coach Rob Vaughn opted to play matchups with his bullpen, using the southpaw Andrew Vail against a lefty and the right-hander Mark DiLuia against a righty.

A solo home run from Maxwell Costes in the sixth put the Terps on the board first, after a pitchers’ duel between Maryland right-hander Hunter Parsons and Stetson righty Robbie Peto.

The momentum from Costes’ blast was evident, as the Terps’ dugout erupted in cheers that carried into the seventh, when sophomore Randy Bednar doubled with the bases loaded and one out, driving in two runs to put Maryland up 3-0.

Before Costes put Maryland on the board, Peto had pitched 5.2 scoreless innings and struck out nine, dropping the Terps in order in three of his first five innings pitched. Stetson pulled Peto after the sixth, however, ending the Peto versus Parsons duel.

Parsons went seven innings, tying his career-high nine strikeouts in only 6.1 innings. By the end of the righty’s night on the mound he struck out 10 batters total, setting a new career-high best in strikeouts. Parsons set his previous career-high nine strikeouts last season, in his complete-game shutout against Stetson. 

Catcher Justin Vought supported Parsons’ pitching prowess, as his strength behind the plate came helped keep Stetson’s batter out of scoring position. Vought caught two Hatters stealing to help Parson work out of the jams in the second and third innings. Vought has caught a total of six runners stealing in nine games this season, the same number he picked off in his 22 games played in 2018.

With two on and one out, the Hatters had the potential to slash the Terps’ three-run lead. Maryland’s pitching depth allowed Vaughn to utilize matchups to minimize any potential damage from Stetson’s lineup, with a combination of Vail-DiLuia to finish the eighth. Then, a three-up, three-down bottom of the ninth from closer John Murphy secured the Terps’ first shutout of their 2019 campaign.

To start on Friday, Costes found himself at first base for the second time this season––his second time defending first since middle school. The move, made by Vaughn in order to work in Sebastian Holte-Mancera’s power in the box, proved worthwhile in Maryland’s 11-6 win over Delaware on Tuesday.

Against Stetson, Costes’ inexperience at first showed after a defensive error in the second and a wide throw from freshman shortstop Benjamin Cowles pulled Costes off the bag, allowing a runner to reach. Neither error resulted in a Stetson run, and the game remained scoreless.

Costes’ power at the plate made up for the errors, however, and he ripped a solo blast to left field to give the Terps the 1-0 lead in the sixth. It marked the freshman’s second home run in as many games.

Building on Costes’ momentum, Bednar took advantage of a one-out bases loaded situation and knocked a two-RBI double down the left-field line in the seventh. Bednar found his groove, and two innings later sent a solo blast to left-field to start the Terps’ four-run ninth inning.

After Wright’s subsequent blast, a two-out rally with singles from Costes, Cowles and sophomores Tommy Gardiner and Chris Alleyne, combined with a hit-by-pitch for Holte-Mancera for two additional runs, before a strikeout ended Maryland’s four-run inning.

Maryland faces Stetson at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, for game two of the series.