After having been shut out since the third inning, the Maryland offense finally came to life in the bottom of the ninth with the game tied at two.
Chris Alleyne led off with a double, a line drive over the head of the UMBC left fielder that bounced off the base of the wall. Matt Shaw, the Big Ten’s player of the week, moved Alleyne to third courtesy of a sacrifice fly. Nick Lorusso, playing his fourth game in a Maryland uniform after transferring from Villanova, stepped to the plate.
After a seven pitch at-bat, he sent a rocket back up the middle to score Alleyne and give Maryland a 3-2 victory over UMBC. He was promptly swarmed and showered with water in shallow right field.
“It’s really cool to be the winning run and then celebrate with him out in right field,” said Alleyne.
Leadoff man Luke Shliger broke the ice with a solo home run in the third inning, sparking the Maryland offense. After an Alleyne walk, Nick Lorusso brought the center fielder in with an RBI groundout.
“He’s got a great approach,” said Alleyne. “He’s on base all the time. He can hit the ball to all parts of the field and he really does a good job of setting the table for the rest of us.”
Starting pitcher Logan Ott sped through the first four innings. He did so with just 47 pitches, mixing his fastball and off-speed pitches well.
From there, Ott began to struggle and the Maryland offense went stagnant. After allowing a run-scoring single in the fifth, Rob Vaughn replaced Ott and went to freshman Ryan Van Buren to escape the jam.
“I probably should have got him one inning before,” said Vaughn. “He hadn’t been up this high in a while. I probably left him out there a couple hitters too long.
Van Buren allowed an inherited runner to score to tie the contest at two runs a piece, but ultimately ended the top of the fifth inning. After a scoreless bottom of the frame, Van Buren returned for the sixth.
In his first career appearance, Van Buren lasted just over an inning. Sean Heine replaced him after he allowed a single and hit a batter. Heine, making his second appearance of the season, escaped the two on, one out jam.
The Maryland offense struggled to get anything going against the Retrievers’ bullpen as the sun set on College Park and the lights began to shine on the field. Senior Owen Hamilton entered in relief of UMBC starter Reid Celata in the fifth inning and allowed just one hit in 2 1/3 innings of work.
“They really were pounding the strike zone with different pitches,” said Alleyne. “We got off our plan a little bit, chasing pitches and a little off time. Coach Vaughn talked to us about that in the dugout and we cleaned some things up.”
At last, the Terps’ offense seemingly awoke. Maxwell Costes led off the eighth inning reaching on a hit by pitch, chasing Hamilton out of the game. Costes advanced to second on a Troy Schreffler Jr. sacrifice bunt. After a Sean Lane walk and Kevin Keister fiedler’s choice, Costes moved to third.
As the batting order circled back to the top, Shliger came to bat with an opportunity to give Maryland a lead. But, after a seven pitch at-bat, a sharp line out to the shortstop squandered the Terps’ scoring chances.
Meanwhile, junior reliever Will Glock shut down the momentum the UMBC offense seemed to begin to build. After coming on to start the seventh inning, Glock threw two perfect innings to keep the game tied heading into the ninth.
After two strikeouts from freshman Noah Mrotek in the top half of the inning, Maryland went to the bottom of the ninth looking for a walk-off to extend its winning streak over the in-state rival UMBC to 12 games.
Alleyne provided a jolt to the home crowd, which had been mostly silent as Maryland’s lead vanished and the temperature dropped. Finally, Lorusso gave them a reason to jump to their feet, bringing in Alleyne for the winning run.
“He gets buried with two strikes there and fouled off some tough pitches and finally got something up,” said Vaughn. “Didn’t try to get big with it, stayed through the middle, and there we go.”