After their offense struggled all series against Michigan State, Maryland’s offense, behind Benjamin Cowles’ three-RBI day, put up 13 runs behind four home runs Friday in a 13-8 win against Rutgers in their home opener at Bob “Turtle” Stadium.
With the Terps offense needing a spark early, trailing 3-1 in the second inning, Cowles stepped up to the plate and hit a solo home run to center field to cut the deficit to 3-2 and start the offensive surge for the Terps.
Down 4-2 with two outs in the fourth inning, Chris Alleyne sparked the Maryland offense again, hitting a fastball from Rutgers starter Harry Rutkowski over the wall in center field to give the Terps a 5-4 lead — a lead they would not surrender the rest of the game.
“We just got a lot more comfortable [since the first game],” Cowles said. “I think it was first-game jitters but we’re settling in nice.”
A Bobby Zmarzlak solo home run in the fifth inning just cleared the right field wall to extend the Maryland lead to 6-4, but the Terps offense wasn’t done showing off its power.
After Rutgers added a run to cut the deficit to 6-5, the Terps chased Rutkowski out of the game with one out in the sixth inning and the Maryland offense struck again against the Rutgers bullpen.
With a runner on first base, Cowles hit his second home run of the game off Ben Gorski, this time a two-run homer to center field to extend Maryland lead to 8-5. Later in the inning, Randy Bednar added a RBI single to bring home Alleyne to make it 9-5.
In the seventh inning, the Terps had another extra-base hit, this time a Tommy Gardiner RBI double that brought home Matt Orlando to make it 10-5 and after a suicide squeeze and a RBI walk it was suddenly 12-5 Terps.
It was the Terps best offensive display of the season without even having star infielder Maxwell Costes in the lineup, who’s out with a wrist injury and is day-to-day.
Coming off a 13-strikeout game against Michigan State, starting pitcher Sean Burke had a rough start not being able to put away hitters with two strikes giving up three runs in the first putting the Terps in an early 3-0 deficit. But Burke settled into the game and gave the Terps offense to make the comeback going 5 2/3 innings, throwing 115 pitches, recording seven strikeouts and giving up four earned en route to the win.
“I thought Sean was a little bit amped up but his stuff was fine he settled in and let the game come to him,” Head Coach Rob Vaughn said.
Unlike in his first start on the season, Burke received run support from his offense, exiting the game with a 6-4 lead.
Relief pitcher David Falco came out of the bullpen to make his season debut and let up a run by throwing a wild pitch past catcher James Heffley, cutting the Terps lead to 6-5. With runners on second and third Falco got a groundout to second base to get out the sixth inning, shutting down the Rutgers threat.
[David] tough he doesn’t get fazed really and he kind of bent but didn’t break there and ended up holding us right there which was huge,” Vaughn said.
When pitcher Sam Bello recorded the final out of the ninth inning, the story of the day was the Maryland offense finally coming alive with 13 runs on 11 hits.
“13-8 is not a normal Friday night score,” Vaughn said. “It was a good night to hit, runs were big … it was a really big time come-from-behind win.”
The Terps, now on a two-game win streak, will look to continue their momentum Saturday in a doubleheader with game one starting at 12:00 p.m. and game two starting at 3:30 p.m.
“Just got to do the same thing tomorrow against a good arm,” Vaughn said. “They’re gonna come out hungry and ready to go tomorrow, so we’re gonna have to answer them.”