Vought walks it off, keeps Maryland alive in Greenville Regional

Maryland was 1-13 coming into Sunday when trailing after seven innings. With their season on the line, the Terps found themselves in that exact same situation, down 1-0 going in the bottom of the eighth, but came back and walked it off 2-1 over Charlotte to keep their season alive and advance to the Greenville Regional Final later Sunday against East Carolina. 

Needing someone to step up down 1-0 in the eighth inning, Troy Scheffler Jr. did just that with a single, and he advanced to second on a wild pitch. Tucker Flint laid down a bunt to advance Schreffler to third base and reached himself on a throwing error. The freshman Matt Shaw hit into a productive double play that tied the game and gave Maryland new life on a season that has been full of adversity.

In the ninth inning, Charlotte had runners on first and second base against Elliot Zoellner when Maryland’s defense showed up when it needed it most for their pitcher. Justin Vought threw out the lead runner at second on a pickoff and Shaw saved the potential go-ahead run from scoring on a lineout to get out of the inning.

“[Dragum] caught that last ball pretty good but we had Shaw positioned in a good spot and he made a play,” coach Rob Vaughn said.

Facing Friday night starter Andrew Lindsey, Randy Bednar led off with a single and advanced to third on Maxwell Costes’s own single and Maryland had the winning run on third with no outs. A Bobby Zmarzlak infield single loaded the bases up for Vought and the senior didn’t wait to deliver the big moment with a walk-off single to right field to complete the comeback.

“Postseason baseball is about guys just stepping up and getting it done,” Vaughn said.

The Terps wouldn’t have been in this situation to come back if it wasn’t for Ryan Ramsey’s gem in the first collegiate start of his career.

“[Ramsey] has not started a game for us this year,” Vaughn said. “He goes out and goes 100 pitches and is absolutely flawless, he’s the story of this game.”

Ramsey went eight innings and gave up three hits where his only mistake on the day came in the fourth inning when Conference-USA Player of the Year Austin Knight hit a home run to left field to give the 49ers an early 1-0 lead that looked like for a while it would stick. 

Ramsey only needed seven pitches to get through the first inning and got out of a two-runner jam in the second inning. With defense being a theme of the day, Ramsey picked off a runner leaning off of first base in the third inning to keep the game scoreless. 

With his offense struggling to get hits and get on base already down 1-0, Ramsey kept the Terps in the game. In the sixth inning, Carson Johnson hit a leadoff double, but Ramsey buckled down and retired the next three batters to get out of the jam. 

In the next inning, Ramsey found himself in a similar spot with a runner on second base and one out, but once again Ramsey got himself out of the jam to give his team a chance.

Running out of steam in the eighth inning, Ramsey walked the leadoff batter, Todd Elwood, on four pitches. Ramsey emptied the tank and retired the next three batters to finish off an outing the Terps needed to keep their season alive.

“Got to keep the same mentality, the whole game in just keep on throwing pitches and getting outs,” Ramsey said. “I trust those guys to pull away and get some runs, and we did that in last inning.”

For the first seven innings, Maryland’s offense was held in check by starting pitcher Matt Brooks. After combining for 26 runs in the first two days of the Greenville Regional the Maryland offense had no answer for Brooks.

“Offensively, I thought, we took some tired swings a little bit,” Vaughn said.

The Terps’ only baserunner through the first three innings was a Bednar Jr. walk in the first inning as Brooks was cruising the first time through the order. 

It wasn’t till the fourth inning where Maryland recorded its first hit of the ballgame on a Ben Cowles single, and after Zmarzlak singled, Cowles stood in scoring position at second base. That rally was quickly put to an end as Brooks got Vought swinging to end the inning. 

In the fifth inning with one out, Flint laid down a bunt single down the third baseline. Rounding second base Schreffler Jr. saw a chance to advance to third base with no one covering the bag. But a heads-up play by catcher Aaron McKeithan to sprint over to third base and just tag out Scheffler Jr. ended Maryland’s scoring chance. 

Adversity wasn’t new to this Maryland squad as it answered the call all year. They needed to answer the call one more time when they needed to in the eighth and ninth inning. Their success paid off, as they now advance to the regional final against East Carolina where they’ll need to win to force a winner-take-all game for a Super Regionals berth Monday.

“We’re excited to get back to the hotel get off our feet for a minute and then line up and rock and roll at six o’clock tonight,” Vaughn said.