Senior A.J. Lee stepped to the plate with two outs and a runner on second in the bottom of the ninth Friday morning, as Maryland trailing Ohio State 3-2 in the continuation of the Terps’ Thursday night game, which was suspended due to rain.
Just over a week earlier, Lee hit a two-run walk-off homer in the Terps’ series opener against the Iowa Hawkeyes in the final series of the regular season.
But, Lee couldn’t get the ball out of the outfield on Friday, and Maryland fell 3-2 to Ohio State as the Buckeyes sent the Terps to their first elimination game of the 2019 Big Ten tournament, a Friday afternoon matchup against the Michigan Wolverines.
Maryland struggled to find its offensive momentum when play resumed Friday morning, after a thunderstorm halted the Terps’ second round game against the Buckeyes on Thursday night.
When the game resumed Friday, the Terps had a runner on second and one out in the eighth, with Michael Pineiro at the plate. But Buckeyes reliever Andrew Magno recorded two strikeouts to neutralize the threat, then got three straight outs after a Maryland leadoff walk in the ninth to secure Ohio State’s second win of the tournament.
The Buckeyes plated the first run of the game early, when an RBI single plated Dominic Canzone, who worked a hit-by-pitch to start the inning. The Ohio State right fielder scored again in the third, after he walked to lead off the half and scored on a Maryland error, when third baseman Taylor Wright misthrew a ball Brady Cherry hit deep to the left side of the infield.
The Terps struggled to plate runs against Buckeyes starter Griffan Smith. Though Maryland had eight base runners against the lefty, on five hits and three walks, through the first 7 innings the Terps’ only runs came in the third, when freshman Maxwell Costes sent the first pitch of his at-bat deep to left field for a two-out, two-run homer and tied the game at two runs apiece.
Maryland right-hander Trevor LaBonte went 6.1 innings Thursday night for his longest start of the season, topping his previous 6.0 innings against Ohio State on April 21 in College Park. He gave up only two runs on two hits, three walks and two hit batters, striking out three.
Though the freshman right-hander provided the Terps with a solid start in his first Big Ten tournament appearance, holding the Buckeyes to two runs on two hits, three walks and two hit batters, the first 6.1 innings didn’t matter in the top of the eighth when Ohio State clawed back on top, capitalizing on another Maryland defensive miscue.
After Cowles dropped a popup in foul territory, failing to secure the second out of the eighth, Cherry singled to center field. Then, Terrapin reliever Mark DiLuia walked a batter to load the bases, and a sacrifice fly plated the go-ahead run for the Buckeyes.
But DiLuia continued to battle on the rubber, and after walking another batter to re-load the bases, the righty took Nick Erwin seven pitches deep, securing the final out of the inning on a strikeout that stranded the bases loaded.
The Terps carried the momentum from DiLuia’s strikeout into the bottom of the inning, after consecutive hits from Wright and Costes, but the weather did not cooperate and the game was suspended until Friday, Maryland trailing 3-2 with 1.2 innings left to play.
Right when the Terps seemed primed to mount an eighth-inning rally, after the Ohio State Buckeyes took the 3-2 tie-breaking lead in the top of the inning, Maryland’s second game of the Big Ten tournament entered into a weather delay on Thursday night before the game was suspended, to be picked back up at 11 a.m. ET on Friday.
Just before the delay, Maryland head coach Rob Vaughn challenged the call on the field that Taylor Wright was out at second, after a grounder to third base from Maxwell Costes, who reached first on the fielder’s choice then landed on second on a throwing error from second baseman Matt Carpenter.
If the call had been reversed the Terps would have had two runners in scoring position with no outs. But, the call was upheld and the game suspended with Costes on second and one out, after lightning in the vicinity of TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska, halted play and sent both teams retreating to the locker rooms.
When play picked back up Friday, Ohio State reliever Andrew Magno remained on the mound, securing a pair of strikeouts to rid Maryland of its one base runner and end the eighth.
Then, Maryland called on freshman left-hander Andrew Vail to hold Ohio State to its one-run lead in the ninth. Vail recorded three consecutive outs and gave the Terps the chance for their second walk-off victory in eight days.
But Magno continued to dominate on the mound, and Maryland’s rally fell short and sent the Terps to the elimination game against the Wolverines Friday afternoon, with a tentative 4:30 p.m. ET start.