Michigan’s leadoff hitter Jordon Rogers and LHP Jack White were having a little fun with a shadowboxing session in the pregame as they got ready for their second game of the day. But by the end, pinch hitter Danny Zimmerman would be the one to deliver the knockout punch with a solo home run in the top of the ninth as the No. 25 Wolverines clawed past Maryland, 6-5, on Easter Sunday to improve to 13-5.
Matthew Shaw and Randy Bednar both hit two-run bombs but Maryland missed too many opportunities. They left ten runners on base and came up short in a bid for their fourth straight come-from-behind win. The Terps came back from deficits of 4-2 and 5-4, but could not muster up a third equalizing effort in the final frame and are now 0-5 when Sean Fisher has taken the mound.
“We’ve kind of shown since day one that we can fight from behind,” the third baseman Shaw said. “We’re able to play from behind, we put together good at-bats.”
Aside from the power hitting on display, Maryland hung around with the help of its fielders. After hitting leadoff batter Jordon Rogers with a pitch, Fisher’s infield collected two grounders and turned a double play to get the veteran LHP out of the top of the first.
Then, in the second with two runners in scoring position, Benjamin Cowles made another key play in the field, scooping a grounder up. Rather than getting the force out at first, he honed in on Clark Elliott, who was heading for home. Cowles hummed in a throw to catcher Justin Vought to trap Elliott in a pickle and the Terps got the tag out, keeping Michigan off the board.
The Terps have been used to going behind 2-0 after one inning over the past two days. But this time, Matt Shaw sent a fastball opposite-field and over the wall in right centerfield for a two-run homer, scoring Costes, and Maryland was now the team taking the early 2-0 advantage. Shaw wants Maryland to be able to step on the gas more when they get ahead like this going forward.
“I honestly just want to see us fight better when we’re ahead,” Shaw said. “I hope that we start to have some of those games where we get up big and it keeps getting bigger.”
Despite the help of his defenders, Fisher couldn’t get settled and Maryland would come undone in the top of the third. After loading the bases with a seven-pitch walk to Griffin Mazur, Rob Vaughn replaced the senior with sophomore RHP Connor Staine.
Staine was put in a tough spot and Jimmy Obertop pounced, cranking a 2-2 pitch over the left field wall for a grand slam. Mazur, Rogers, and Christian Molfetta would all score and in an instant, Michigan flipped a two-run deficit into a two-run lead of 4-2. Staine couldn’t take command of the mound at first either as the bases loaded up again with two outs. But Bubba Alleyne caught a fly ball in deep center field to get Maryland out of the inning.
Michigan struggled to plate runners as well throughout the course of the day. The Wolverines had 8 hits in game one against Northwestern but couldn’t get those runners home on many occasions, falling 4-1. Michigan continued to falter against the Terrapins in that department in spite of the Obertop slam, leaving nine on base.
But Maryland’s difficulty getting around the diamond superseded that of their opposition as they would strand two runners on base for three innings a row – between the third and fifth.
However, before Michigan got out of the bottom of that fifth inning, Bednar would bomb a fastball just over the wall in left centerfield for Maryland’s second two-run shot of the day.
Michigan starting pitcher Cameron Weston got the nod over projected starter Jacob Denner, as Denner pitched 3.2 innings and gave up six hits in game one against the Wildcats. Weston notched four strikeouts through four innings pitched but also gave up four runs on those two homers. Once Bednar tied the game at four, Michigan would turn to their bullpen and favor the graduate student Joe Pace.
From then on, the bullpen would stay busy all afternoon long. Pace had a good performance but was pulled after 2.1 IP, and his replacement, junior RHP Will Proctor, would not even last a full inning before getting pulled himself. Michigan settled on fellow junior RHP Willie Weiss to close out the affair.
Maryland’s bullpen got a huge boost from Staine, who settled in nicely after getting out of that costly third inning. Staine stayed in for 5.2 innings, struck out five and held to Michigan to two earned runs. He would eventually hand the ball off to David Falco, who earned his second appearance in relief this weekend, for the final inning.
Unfortunately, the sailing was not as smooth for Falco this afternoon as it was against Northwestern on Friday. With two down in the top of the ninth, the pinch hitter Zimmerman would deliver the decisive blow and Falco fell to 1-1 on the season. On the other hand, Weiss picked up his third win in this campaign for the Wolverines.
“[Staine] threw the ball awesome,” head coach Rob Vaughn said. “Obviously as soon as that ball goes out of the yard, you’re like, ‘Man, I wish I would’ve left him in,” you know? But the bottom line is I trust Dave 1,000 times out of 1,000.”
The Terps drop to 8-10 and will seek revenge tomorrow as they rematch with the Wolverines to close out pod play. If Maryland pulls it off, it will be their first winning weekend of the season. First pitch is currently scheduled for 3 p.m.