Maxwell Costes, just nine home runs away from the all-time program record, walked to the plate with Nick Lorusso on first base. On the third pitch of the at-bat, the senior first baseman swung and launched a home run that nearly reached the Varsity Team House beyond the left field wall.
He watched it fly and flipped his bat after it cleared the wall and stayed fair, something that’s become a standard for Costes long balls. The two-run homer capped a three run sixth inning for Maryland to retake a lead that held to win, 8-5.
Facing the Patriots for the second time in seven days, a light rain in College Park throughout the afternoon hampered the Terps during pregame warmups and cast doubt over whether the game – which had already been moved up from 6:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. – could be completed.
The rain let up in the second inning. Still, the Terps’ infielders felt the effects.
“It’s just wet turf, so you’re always a little more cautious,” said Head Coach Rob Vaughn. “But those guys are too good. We got to be clean with the throws.”
Starting pitcher Logan Ott, taking the mound for his sixth midweek start this season, cruised through the opening three innings. He allowed no hits and issued just one walk.
After the walk reached second base, a towering fly ball with one out came as the first true threat to score. Center fielder Chris Alleyne raced back to the warning track to make the grab, then threw a laser to beat a tagging runner to third base.
“He’s our captain, that’s what he’s supposed to do,” said Vaughn.
After Troy Schreffler Jr. plated Maryland’s first score with a run-scoring single in the third, the Terps added two more in the following inning when Lorusso brought in Riley Langerman after his leadoff double. Alleyne scored in the next at-bat on a passed ball to take a 3-0 advantage.
Ott, Maryland’s usual starting pitcher for midweek games, has worked on getting stretched out to be able to stay in games longer through his first handful of starts this season. After an offseason injury limited how much he was able to do that over the winter, it’s taken some time to get him extended.
Through four innings, it looked like Ott had finally reached where Vaughn was waiting on him to. He carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning, but George Mason pounced on the sophomore left hander from there. With five hits in the inning, the Patriots brought four runs across to take their first lead.
“It’s hard to get through a lineup two or three times,” said Vaughn. “They made an approach adjustment. Some of it is bad breaks. Some of that was just being a little unlucky.”
That score held into the bottom of the sixth. There, Maryland’s offense did something it’s struggled to do consistently for the better part of the season: produce in the middle innings.
Alleyne was brought home for a second time courtesy of a Matt Shaw sacrifice fly out. The next batter, Costes, simultaneously gave Maryland a two-run lead and inched closer to the home run record.
“What could be better than leaving your senior year with that?” said Costes regarding the record. “Me and my older brother talk all the time about what’s the coolest thing in sports. To keep it honest, hitting a home run might be the coolest.”
George Mason cut the deficit to one run in the seventh with a RBI-single, but Lorusso answered with one of his own to stretch the lead back to two runs in the eighth.
After adding one more on a bases-loaded Kevin Keister walk, Sean Heine shut the door in the ninth to give Maryland its second win over George Mason this season.