Maryland fends off VCU in dramatic back and forth game

Maryland baseball returned to Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium today to face the Virginia Commonwealth Rams to kick off a midweek home and home series.

Ryan Van Buren began his first of the season with two quick outs and nearly a third until third baseman Tyler Locklear reached base on an error. He was able to record the third out with no issue, though, sending the Terps to bat.

Chris Alleyne wasted no time in the first inning as he blasted a solo home run over the batter’s eye. Two hitters later, Nick Lorusso did the same, going even further with his long ball.

Virginia Commonwealth starting pitcher Campbell Ellis’ troubles from the first inning lingered into the second as Troy Schreffler Jr. poked a double into right field and Sean Lane reached base on a walk. Ellis had a pitch count of 43 after two innings.

Van Buren gave up the first VCU hit of the day after 2 ⅔ innings as Michael Haydak ripped a double over Bobby Zmarzlak’s head. AJ Mathis then brought him home with a hit himself and Locklear smoked a two-run shot to give the Rams a 3-2 lead.

Alleyne countered in the bottom half of the inning with his second home run of the day, this time from the other side of the plate. 

Andrew Johnson came in to relieve Van Buren after 49 pitches. Johnson gave up a solo home run to Connor Hujsak on the first pitch to allow the Rams to take the lead again. He then hit the next batter Devan Barnett.

Barnett stole second base and Johnson threw three straight balls to Marcus O’Malley, prompting Luke Shliger to come out for a visit. O’Malley walked on the next pitch.

Johnson walked Scottie O’Bryan to load the bases. Barnett slid home safely off a sacrifice fly from Haydak to extend the Rams’ lead to 5-3. Johnson was able to fan Mathis to finally conclude the inning.

In the bottom of the fourth, Zmarzlak cranked a solo home run over the wall in left center, bringing Maryland to within one run.

Schreffler and Lane popped consecutive base hits after the Zmarzlak long ball. For Lane, it was his first hit in a Maryland uniform. Jacob Orr moved both teammates into scoring position with a beautifully placed bunt.

Shliger rolled a ball along the first base line to score Schreffler, tying the game at five a piece. Maryland was unable to deal any more damage in the inning.

The next inning, Virginia Commonwealth gained the lead right back as Devan Barnett singled home Logan Amiss. Barnett advanced to second base after a Johnson wild pitch.

Matt Orlando arrived at the mound to pitch the sixth. O’Bryan walked and stole second base. He then made his way to third after Schreffler dropped a pop fly in right field.

Maryland walked the red-hot Locklear to make the bases full, but Lorusso fielded a ground ball to end the inning with zero VCU runs.

The Rams elected Edwin Serrano to pitch the bottom of the sixth with the middle of the Maryland order coming to bat. 

With Zmarzlak leading off the inning with a bean ball and Schreffler reaching base on balls, Drew Grace came to the plate with pinch hitting duties. Grace was unsuccessful on the bunt attempt with two strikes and he walked back to the dugout in frustration.

Luke Shliger extended his hit streak to four games as he dumped one into left field to score Zmarzlak and Schreffler to give Maryland a 7-6 lead.

Sean Heine took the mound for the Terps in the seventh. The senior right-hander hurled a clean inning and fired up the stadium after striking out Nic Ericcson for the third out.

Maxwell Costes hit a ball a mile high that had the crowd dead silent as they were waiting for it to land, but Hujsak dropped it and allowed fans to cheer jubilantly as the Maryland first baseman reached base.

Schreffler ripped one off the second base bag and into center field to score Costes and to extend the Maryland lead to 8-6.

Two-way player Nick Lorusso moved from third base to pitcher in the ninth as he looked to get the Terps back in the win column. 

Lorusso hit Locklear with the pitch and then walked Hujsak. Head Coach Rob Vaughn decided to throw Will Glock on the hill to close it out after Lorusso put runners on the corners with only one out.

Glock fanned Barnett on three pitches, but walked Ericsson to load the bases. With the lights shining down on the field and the fans rowdy, Glock got O’Malley to dribble a ball to Costes to step on first base to end it.

With the win, Maryland advances to 10-2 on the season and will travel to Richmond, Virginia to play Virginia Commonwealth in the second half of the home and home on Wednesday.