In the Maryland’s first Big Ten tournament appearance under second-year head coach Rob Vaughn, the Terps continued their hot streak, defeating the Illinois Fighting Illini 6-2 on Wednesday in Omaha, Nebraska, to move on to the winner’s bracket.
Maryland got on the board first, after loading the bases on a pair of walks and an infield single from Josh Maguire. A fielder’s choice from Randy Bednar drove in Chris Alleyne from third, giving the Terps a 1-0 lead.
After Illinois starter Andy Fisher retired the Terps in order in the first, Maryland had runners reach base in every inning. Even so, the Terps struggled to plate runners and provide Parsons with a bigger lead with which to work. The lack of solid run support from Maryland came back to haunt the Terps, as they stranded a total of 12 on the day.
Illinois finally got a runner on base in the fourth, after Parsons threw three consecutive 1-2-3 innings to start. After the Fighting Illini’s first hit, a one- out single to right field from Michael Massey, Parsons walked two with two outs to load the bases. But the Maryland right-hander induced a huge ground out to end the half and strand the bases loaded, maintaining the Terps’ 1-0 lead.
But the Fighting Illini continued to threaten in the fifth, putting two on after a leadoff single from Grant Van Scoy and two-out walk. Then, a single to second base from Massey drove home Van Scoy, who beat the throw from Ben Cowles after the second baseman bobbled the ball and hesitated before throwing home.
Parsons found his groove again in the sixth and seventh, however, retiring the Fighting Illini in order in both innings to give the Terps the chance to pull ahead as the right-hander threw his 115th pitch on the day.
Then, the Maryland lineup came alive in the eighth. After Taylor Wright led off the inning with a single through the left side against the shift, freshman Maxwell Costes sent a two-run homer to left field. Then, two batters later, sophomore Justin Vought went deep with a two-run shot of his own, putting the Terps ahead 5-1 and providing Parsons much-needed run support.
Parsons threw 7.1 innings, allowing only one run on four hits and threw walks, recording four strikeouts in his 123 pitches thrown. After the righty secured the first out of the eighth with a runner on first, Mark DiLuia entered to secure the final two outs of the half. The sophomore recorded a three-pitch called strikeout and induced a fly-out to end the inning and hold on to Maryland’s lead.
Behind DiLuia, the Terps tacked on another run on a drag bunt single from Alleyne in the ninth. Illinois tacked on a run in the ninth, but senior closer John Murphy recorded back-to-back strikeouts to secure Maryland’s first win of the conference tournament.
Maryland takes on the winner of No. 2 Michigan and No. 7 Ohio State at 6 p.m. ET on Thursday.