Coming into Ann Arbor this weekend Maryland knew how important this series was going to be towards their final placing in the Big Ten standings and how tough it would be.
They thought they got the series off to a stress-free start Friday against No. 24 Michigan when the offense put up eight runs to give them a commanding 8-0 lead over the Wolverines going into the seventh inning.
“The first six innings was about as dominant as a performance that we’ve had all year,” coach Rob Vaughn said.
But that was far from the case after a five-run collapse in the ninth inning forced the game into extra innings. But a three-run inning in the 11th inning helped Maryland escape with an 11-8 win over the Wolverines.
With the go-ahead runner on third base, Matt Orlando hit a double off the left-field wall that made the game 9-8. A safety squeeze by Tommy Gardiner and a wild pitch brought home two more runs and Maryland was up 11-8 looking to finally close it out.
Ryan Ramsey struck out three batters in the bottom of the inning, to close out a wild important win for Maryland.
Coming into the ninth with an 8-3 lead, closer Sam Bello came on for a non-save situation looking to end things stress-free. It was far from that with a couple of two-out RBI singles after a miscommunication on a foul ball pop-up by Justin Vought and Matt Orlando kept Michigan’s hopes alive.
“Orlando came in there at the last second,” Vought said. “But that’s my ball I got to go get it”
The next thing you know the score is 8-6, the bases are loaded and David Falco is facing Joey Velazquez with the game on the line. After a long at-bat, his two-out RBI single tied the game at 8-8 and sent the game to extra innings as the Wolverines scored eight unanswered runs and had all the momentum.
“I thought we played the eighth and the ninth inning kind of scared,” Vaughn said.
Looking to respond, Maryland loaded up the bases in the top of the 10th when Ben Cowles hit a sac-fly to center field but Matt Shaw tagged up to the second base and was thrown out before Troy Schreffler Jr. crossed home plate ending the inning keeping the score tied.
“The first move in that situation if you’re at first base is you can start running to second,” Vaughn said. “But if that throw starts coming into second base, you have to shut it down and go back.”
Before the craziness of the ninth inning, everything seemed like it was perfect on the day for Maryland starting in the third inning.
Chris Alleyne drew a walk and stole two bases to get to third base with one out. Playing some small ball, Cowles put down a perfect safety squeeze up the first baseline to score Alleyne and the game’s first run.
Randy Bednar in his return to the lineup after missing 15 games with an ankle injury didn’t look rusty at the plate whatsoever dropping an RBI single into center field to make it 2-0.
“I’ve been waiting for that moment,” Bednar said. “[Was] really excited beforehand, just to be out there and contribute on the field…help the team win.”
Vought kept the offensive attack going in the fourth with a leadoff solo home run, his seventh of the season to extend the lead to 3-0 continuing his recent hot play.
Up came Bednar again this time with runners on the corners and once again he delivered with a RBI double that hit off the brick wall in left field to score another run and make it 4-0 and two more runs scored in the inning to make the score 6-0. Vought hit a no-doubt two-run home run to left field for his second of the game in the sixth inning to make it 8-0. It was Vought’s eighth of the season and he has now homered in four straight series.
But despite the craziness of the late innings and nearly blowing it, Maryland has now won their sixth straight game and has tied the Wolverines for third place in the Big Ten. They also added another big win to their NCAA Tournament resume and will have the chance to win their sixth straight series with the Big Ten wins leader Jason Savacool taking the mound Saturday.
“There’s definitely some things we have to learn from and grow from with some young players,” Vaughn said. “But we’ve found a way to get it done at the end of the day and at this time of year, the [win] is all that really matters.”