On Saturday afternoon against Rhode Island, Maryland pitching and defense struggled mightily, allowing 11 runs and making two costly errors. On Sunday, the Terps showed almost immediately that there would not be a repeat of their poor performance, as pitcher Sean Burke, catcher Justin Vought, and shortstop Ben Cowles combined for a strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out double play to end the top of the first.
The defensive highlight set the tone for a game that was well-played by both sides, standing in sharp contrast to the somewhat sloppy first two contests of the series. The Terps rode Burke’s strong start and Maxwell Costes’s two solo home runs to a 3-0 victory, clinching their first series win of 2020.
For the first time this season, the Terps did not make an error, which allowed them to make up for a poor offensive performance. While Maryland had 8 hits, the Terps failed to capitalize on big opportunities, going just 2-for-9 with runners on base and 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position.
In the bottom of the first, with Maryland still buzzing after Vought’s strong throw, Chris Alleyne started off the Terps’ offensive afternoon with a bang, lining a double to deadaway centerfield. After taking third on a wild pitch, Alleyne scored on an RBI groundout by Tucker Flint. Costes doubled the Maryland lead in the third when he ripped his first home run of the season to left-centerfield.
Burke was nearly unhittable in the early-going, allowing only 2 hits and punching out 8 in his first two trips through the order. Burke’s only early jam came in the third inning, when the Rams put runners on first and second with two outs. But Burke won a seven-pitch battle with center fielder Austin White, getting a strikeout and keeping Rhode Island off the board.
“On Sunday you’ve just got to set the tone, and it starts on the mound.” said Maryland head coach Rob Vaughn. “I thought he did an unbelievable job.”
Burke finally ran into real trouble in the sixth inning, when the Rams used back-to-back singles to put a man in scoring position with one out. After a deep flyout moved the lead runner to third, Vaughn lifted his redshirt freshman and brought on Elliot Zoellner to escape the jam. The sidewinder got Mark Coley to fly out to center, escaping the inning and keeping the shutout intact.
After getting the big out, Zoellner’s afternoon was over, as he gave way to Connor Staine, who worked a 1-2-3 seventh inning and stranded a runner on second in the eighth to keep the Terrapin lead at two. After Costes’s second blast of the day extended the lead to three, Staine got two outs in the ninth before allowing a single and a walk to bring the tying run to the plate and being relieved by Mark DiLuia. DiLuia fanned pinch-hitter Thomas Summers, getting the save in the Terps first shutout of the season and moving the team to 5-1.
Costes’s home runs were his first two of the season and both were very impressive. The first was a line drive shot over the left centerfield fence, and the second a towering drive down the left field line.
Despite the change in result, Costes said that “nothing really” changed in his approach.
“I talk to [assistant coach Matt] Swope a lot before the game, a lot after games, he kind of keeps my mind in things,” Costes said. “He tells me I’m swinging at good pitches and it’s going to come together at some point, and today we needed it in a couple big spots and it came together for us.”