Terps best Northwestern in back-and-forth battle, 8-4

The weather warmed up a bit for the continuation of pod play Saturday and so did Maryland’s offense as they knocked off Northwestern for the second time in two days, 8-4. The Terps won their third straight in a topsy-turvy matchup, as they again looked comfortable playing from behind at the Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium.

The middle innings made all the difference for the Terps as they outscored the Wildcats 5-2. Maryland trailed at 2-0 and 4-3, but they eventually retook the lead in the bottom of the sixth through a two-RBI single by Maxwell Costes and did not look back.

Costes continued to be productive for the Maryland offense all day, as he went four-for-five from the plate and drove in four runs overall. But the bottom of the order did some business too. Tommy Gardiner, who bats ninth in the lineup, played a pivotal part for the Terps as he went two-for-three with three RBIs.

The Northwestern Wildcats (9-7) popped in their purple jerseys and their hitting power was on display with three homers accounting for all four of their runs. It was another hot hitting start for the Wildcats, as they would take the lead in the top of the first on a two-run shot torched over the right-field wall by Michael Trautwein.

In the early innings, this game had an eerily similar feel to yesterday’s in that Northwestern took the early lead but could not build on their strong start for a while and Maryland would settle in nicely from a defensive perspective.

Junior RHP Nick Dean made his first appearance since coming down with mono, but there was no sign of that affecting his play. Bar the couple of homers he conceded, Dean was exceptional at finding the zone and getting ahead in the count. He would finish with five strikeouts and five hits allowed in five innings pitched.

Offensively, it was better for Maryland as they got some guys on base. But in the first few innings, they couldn’t finish the job and bring those runners home. The Terps halved their deficit through an RBI double from Matt Shaw, scoring Bednar. But Shliger would ground out and strand two runners in scoring position. Maryland ultimately left five runners on base through three innings.

That would change in a hurry and Maryland’s offensive execution would come, in part, from an unlikely source. In the bottom of the fourth, Tommy Gardiner hammered a two-run homer right back where it came from – all the way over the batter’s eye in center field – to score Flint and give the Terps their first lead of the day. After a pair of solo shots by Northwestern put Maryland behind again, Gardiner would be back for more. With two on and one out in the bottom of the sixth, the senior out of Mount Laurel, NJ sent Benjamin Cowles home with an RBI single.

A few batters later, Maryland had the lead as Costes drove in Alleyne and Vought with a base hit into left field to make it 6-4. In the bottom of the eighth, Costes went opposite field to double his RBI tally, dropping a fly ball into shallow right that got Gardiner home and scored Bubba once more.

On the defensive side of things, Ryan Ramsey was excellent in relief, playing out the final four innings after stepping in for Dean. The sophomore lefty struck out six batters and only gave up one hit – a solo homer by Wildcats second baseman Vincent Bianchina.

The Terps closed out the ninth with a sensational double play from Matt Shaw, who caught a line drive from Kaplan and zipped it over to first to turn two. Fittingly, Ramsey would follow up that effort and finish the afternoon as he struck out pinch hitter Luke Tanner for Maryland’s final out.

Maryland improves to 8-9 and will be back in action at the Bob tomorrow. The Terps will be seeking a third win in as many days as they matchup against a ranked Michigan team at 3:30 p.m, following game two between the Wildcats and the Wolverines.