A pair of free bases seemed to start a Maryland ninth-inning rally for the second time in as many games, as the Terps trailed the Illini 5-1 in the first game of a doubleheader on Saturday.
But, unlike on Friday, Maryland could not pull off a comeback win, falling in the second game of the series in Champaign, Illinois.
After a four-run ninth-inning rally on Friday, Maryland’s offense continued to struggle in game one on Saturday. And, while the Terrapin defense held the Illini scoreless through four innings, Maryland’s inability to score compounded the faltering pitching, and the Terps dropped the first game of the doubleheader 5-1. .
With one double in both the second and third, Maryland’s offense itched to plate a run beat Illinois to get on the board. But the Terps struggled to string together hits. Maryland did not have more than one runner on base until it loaded the bases in the eighth, on a two-out hit-by-pitch and consecutive walks, but the Terps failed to capitalize.
A leadoff home run from freshman Josh Maguire––the second of his career and second in seven days––finally put the Tears on the board in the eighth, but that was it for Maryland’s offense, stranding the bases loaded after a hit-by-pitch and a pair of walks had the Terps threatening with two outs.
Illinois responded to Maryland’s first run with a two-run inning, extending its lead 5-1 on a pair of walks and singles. After throwing five consecutive pitches out of the zone to start the inning, Terrapin starter Zach Thompson’s day on the mound was over. The righty went 7 innings, recording one strikeout and going up four runs on six hits and four total free bases––one hit-by-pitch and three walks.
Thompson shut down Illinois through two innings, facing the minimum each trip to the mound. The Illini didn’t put up a hit until the fourth inning, though two batters reached base in the third on consecutive free bases from Thompson.
In the fourth, however, Thompson started to fall apart. When Illinois loaded the bases with no outs on a pair of singles and a walk, the Illini seemed prepared to take the lead.
But, a heads-up double play from Taylor Wright and Justin Vought on a ground ball to Wright at third held Illinois scoreless and postponed the Illini’s first run of the game until the following inning.
The Illini broke out in the fifth with a leadoff triple from Grant Van Scoy, after a pair of runners reached in both of the previous two innings. The Illinois senior crossed the plate two batters later, on an RBI ground out, to give the Illini the 1-0 lead. Two innings later, a three-run homer from designated hitter Campbell––the first home run of his career––set the Illini ahead 3-0.
The combination of Thompson and reliever Mark DiLuia struck out only two batters, while walking four total and hitting just one. They allowed a combined five runs on eight hits in eight innings pitched.
Maryland (14-15, 2-3) faces Illinois (20-9, 1-4) for the second game of the double header at approximately 5:05 p.m. ET on Saturday.