Season-high seven home runs fuel Terps offensive explosion, keep tourney hopes alive

Maryland hit a season-high seven home runs in a 16-0 blowout win over Norfolk State to advance in the losers bracket of the Greenville Regional and keep the Terps’ tournament hopes alive for another day.

Coach Rob Vaughn wanted his team to get off to a great start Saturday in the first inning and Bobby Zmarzlak did that, getting the party started with a three-run homer off MEAC Player of the Year Danny Hosley to give Maryland an early 3-0 lead.

Maxwell Costes was next up in the third inning, as his own three-run homer hit off the batters eye in center field for his second of the regional and made it 6-0.

“I really liked the way [Costes] has swung the bat,” Vaughn said. “He has the ability to put a team on his back and in the postseason, that’s what we’re gonna need from him.

Justin Vought added a RBI single and Troy Scheffler Jr.’s safety squeeze capped off a five-run inning for the Terps to go up 8-0. 

The home runs kept coming in the fourth inning, as Ben Cowles hit his 18th home run of the season, a two-run homer to left-center field to make it 10-0. Randy Bednar Jr. followed Cowles’ lead and went back-to-back with his second home run of the regional and made it 11-0. 

Later in the inning, Vought hit a two-run homer — his ninth home run of the season — to make it 13-0. For the second time in the inning, Maryland would go back-to-back as Schreffler Jr. hit his first home run of the season to make it 14-0 and tying their most home runs hit on the season. 

In the sixth inning, Zmarzlak, who finished the day 4-5 and a triple shy of the cycle, capped off the offensive firepower for the Terps with his second home run of the day to make it 15-0.

After adding another run, Maryland has come into Greenville and totaled 26 runs in two days of regional action all without leadoff hitter and Second Team All-Big Ten Chris Alleyne who did not play after leaving Friday with an injury. 

But unlike Friday, where they were outslugged by Charlotte, Maryland’s pitching staff put on a masterclass performance and pitched a shutout behind another quality outing by Sean Burke.

A moment that highlighted Burke’s strong performance was in the second inning when he escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam with two strikeouts of Norfolk State’s best hitters in Dionte Brown and Alsander Womack.

Zach Thompson picked up where Burke left off with three shutout innings of his own out of the bullpen.

“Just a really efficient job by our pitchers [today],” Vaughn said.

Maryland’s road to the Super Regionals still presents a challenge, as it needs to pick up a win against the loser of East Carolina-Charlotte Sunday at noon.

“Once you get in this side of the bracket it’s a long road to get your way back,” Vaughn said.

Regardless of who the Terps will play, Saturday’s offensive eruption couldn’t have given them a more promising breath of fresh air as they live to see another day.

“The motto is just to play one more day with each other,” Zmarzlak said. “We don’t want this season to end.”