Maryland takes advantage of free bases, defeats Minnesota in series opener

After suffering a sweep at home last weekend, Maryland (24-25, 9-10) ensured it wouldn’t leave Minneapolis, Minnesota, under the same fate. Capitalizing on freebies from the Golden Gophers, the Terrapin offense pulled ahead early, a lead Minnesota (22-24, 11-8) tied, but never overcame in Maryland’s 7-3 win in Friday’s series opener.

The Terps got on the board first, taking advantage of a short-lived outing from Golden Gophers’ starter Max Meyer. The right-hander gave up two free bases––a hit-by-pitch and a four-pitch walk––to start the day, before Maryland loaded the bases on a Taylor Wright single.

But when Meyer ran to cover the plate on a Michael Pineiro sacrifice fly, which brought across the Terps’ first run of the night, giving Maryland a lead…, the right-hander seemed to trip and hurt his left ankle, ending his outing at 0.2 innings.

Starting with the two free bases from Meyer in the first, Maryland continued to make the most of freebies from the Minnesota pitching staff. A leadoff walk to Randy Bednar in the third set up Pineiro’s second RBI of the night, a ground-rule double that bounced over the left-field wall.

Then, with reliever Nick Lackey tiring in the fourth, the Terps strung together a series of hits and free bases, putting up three runs in the half to pull ahead 5-2, after the Golden Gophers tied the game at two runs apiece in the third on two singles and a double from the bottom of the lineup.

Of those three runs from the Terps in the fourth, two came from RBI freebies: Pineiro walked in a run with the bases loaded, and catcher Justin Vought took a pitch inside, working the RBI hit-by-pitch.

Once Minnesota put up a run in the sixth––after Parsons gave up a walk and a double to start the inning, and the Golden Gophers put a run across with an RBI groundout from Jack Wassel––Maryland pulled further ahead with a two-run top of the seventh.

After a pair of leadoff walks, a fielder’s choice put runners on first and second with one out as Ben Cowles stepped to the plate. Cowles singled to load the bases, and after a sacrifice fly from freshman Josh Maguire put the Terps up 6-3, Bednar sent an RBI single to left-center field for Maryland’s seventh and final run of the night, securing Maryland’s 7-3 victory.

Minnesota called on five pitchers Friday night, as its bullpen struggled to keep Maryland off the bases. They gave up a combined seven runs on eight hits, six walks, five HBPs and one error, striking out 15 Terps.

For the Maryland, senior Hunter Parsons continued his dominance as the Friday starter.  With five scoreless innings, the righty gave up only three runs on six hits in seven innings, working out of multiple jams while recording eight strikeouts and walking only three. Andrew Vail and John Murphy combined for two scoreless innings, striking gout a combined three and allowing a walk apiece.

Maryland and Minnesota face off for the second game of the series on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET.