Cowles continues to dominate Rutgers pitching, but Terps fall short twice in Saturday doubleheader

Trailing 8-7 and down to their final strike looking for some more magic, Maryland’s Tucker Flint stepped back into the batter box against Rutgers closer Brian Fitzpatrick trying to play the hero.

Instead he struck out with the tying run on second base and the winning run on first with the red hot Benjamin Cowles being left on deck.

“[Tucker] didn’t have an awesome game today,” said Coach Rob Vaughn. “But I trust them. I really do I trust this at bats I believe in him.”

And as a result in their second doubleheader of the season, Maryland baseball was swept Saturday by Rutgers, losing game one 9-3 and losing game two 8-7 behind Chris Brito seven-RBI day between both games.

In game one, for the second straight day, Maryland started off slow, trailing 3-0 in the first inning before they even came up to bat.

Starting pitcher Sean Fisher quickly had the bases loaded before even recording an out on two hard hit balls and an error.

Chris Brito would make Maryland pay with a single to right field to bring in two runs, and later, Jordan Sweeney brought in another run home with a single of his own.

Suddenly it was Déjà vu for Maryland, but this time around, the offense couldn’t muster up a comeback against the Scarlet Knight arms.

In the second inning, Matt Orlando hit his first home run as a Terp — filling in for the injured Maxwell Costes — to cut the deficit to 3-1. Cowles would follow him, hitting his third home run of the series to make it 3-2.

Brito struck again in the fourth inning, this time on a hit-and-run double bringing home the speedy Danny DiGeorgio from first base to extend the lead to 4-2.

In the bottom of the inning, the Terps loaded the bases with one out and Orlando came up to plate representing the go-ahead run. Orlando choked up with two strikes and was able to cut the score to 4-3 with a sac-fly.

Luke Shliger came up trying to be a hero but struck out to end the inning, stranding runners on second and third base and blowing the Terps’ last real chance to tie or take the lead.

Rutgers would blow it open in the sixth inning behind solo home runs off the bats of Josh Rodriquez and DiGeorgio.

Later in the inning, Rutgers would tack on another run from a Sweeney suicide-squeeze against Chris Chaney to make it 7-3 Rutgers, putting it out of reach for Maryland to make another comeback.

“I just didn’t like the way we played in the first game, again,” said Vaughn. “I didn’t think we were clean enough I thought we competed just didn’t we were clean enough.”

After a short 40-minute break, Maryland got off to a much better start in game two with starting pitcher Connor Staine sending Rutgers down in order in the top of the first.

The Maryland offense woke up, attacking Rutgers’ starter Brent Teller’s fastball and getting an early 2-0 lead with a Matthew Shaw RBI double and a Bobby Zmarzlak RBI single by Bobby Zmarzlak bringing Shaw home. That perfect start by Staine was short lived when Sweeney took Staine deep for a tying two-run homer to left-center in the third inning.

Zmarzlak answered for Maryland in the bottom of the inning with an RBI double — his second RBI of the day to take the lead 3-2. The big inning struck for Rutgers in the fourth, starting with the red-hot Brito giving Rutgers the lead on a two-run homer, making the score 4-3. Peter Serruto added a two-RBI single to give Rutgers a 6-3 lead. Maryland would answer in the bottom of the inning, making it 6-4 on James Heffley RBI groundout.

But Chris Brito was a thorn in the side all day for Maryland as his second homer of the day — a solo shot in the fifth inning — gave Rutgers a 7-4 lead.

“Credit Brito, he’s a tough kid, man,” said Vaughn. “That guy’s a good player.”

Down 8-4, Maryland tried to mount a rally on back-to-back home runs from Cowles and Tommy Gardiner and with the chance to tie the game, Shaw just got under a ball that died at the center field wall. Cowles, the superstar the past two days, stepped up to the plate again in the eighth inning to hit another home run and cut the deficit to 8-7.

“Ben Cowles having some of those at bats he’s had the last two days are kind of incredible,” said Vaughn.

Maryland had one last chance in the ninth inning with Randy Bednar standing on second base after hustling to avoid a double-play and advanced to second on a throwing error.

“I was just trying to hustle down as hard as I can down the first baseline,” said Bednar.  “And then when I saw that ball kick back I was trying to get to second base, to try and get into scoring position.”

After a walk of Orlando with Flint up and Cowles hoping to get another chance to hit on deck, the deficit was too much in the end for Maryland to comeback and avoid being swept in the doubleheader.

Maryland falls to 2-4 on the young season and will look to spilt the series in the finale tomorrow at 1:00 P.M., with Big Ten Freshman of the week Jason Savacool taking the mound.

“That second [game] was a good brand of baseball with two teams kind of slugging it out and unfortunately [Rutgers] got one more hit than we did,” said Vaughn.