Nick Dean toed the rubber as the sun began to dip in the cloudless sky on a beautiful Friday evening in College Park against the Ohio State Buckeyes.
After Dean cruised through the first inning, Chris Alleyne and Nick Lorusso both reached base and Maxwell Costes drove in Alleyne off a slow ground ball. A couple more ground ball hits by Bobby Zmarzlak and Kevin Keister scored two more runs in the opening frame.
After an early mound visit for the Buckeyes, Jacob Orr struck out with the bases loaded to put an end to the first inning where every Terp came to bat.
When Dean took the mound for the second, Blayne Robinson and Mitchell Okuley hit balls out of the park on consecutive pitches, cutting the Maryland lead to 3-2.
“He [had] a clean first and two quick outs and then jack-jack real quick and they’re right back in that thing,” Vaughn said about Dean. “[He] gives us a chance to win.”
Marcus Ernst and Trey Lipsey both singled in the third and Kade Kern brought home Ernst with a double to the wall, tying the game at three.
In the bottom half, Ian Petrutz recorded his second RBI of the season as he drove in Keister. Ohio State pitcher Nate Haberthier thought he had strike three earlier in the at bat but the home plate umpire felt otherwise.
The Terps turned a 4-6-3 double play as smooth as it could get in the fourth as Orr tossed the ball to Keister who fired over to Costes just in time to beat a sprinting Okuley.
Maryland bats came back hungry again in the fourth as Alleyne and Lorusso singled. Costes hit what should have been an out to shallow center, but Josh McAlister dropped the ball and Alleyne was off the races, giving his team a 5-3 as he athletically slid home safely.
A balk and a groundout later, Nate Karaffa came in to relieve Haberthier after 3.2 innings and five runs.
Without much action in the fifth, Robinson tripled as Alleyne nearly made a sensational catch along the wall, but couldn’t quite hang on. Robinson then scored and Okuley grounded into a fielder’s choice to cut the Maryland lead to 5-4.
Noah Mrotek took the hill for the Terps in the seventh with a one-run lead to face the heart of the Buckeye order. He would escape a jam with a big strike three call on Brent Todys.
Troy Schreffler kicked off the home seventh with a single and a stolen base. Zmarzlak advanced him to third on a fielder’s choice. No runs crossed the plate in the inning, though, as Schreffler was left on third.
Costes fielded a ground ball in the eighth and sharply tossed to Mrotek who covered the bag for the first out. The sophomore right-hander then drilled Okuley on the foot, who then advanced to second on a passed ball. Another pitch got away from Shliger and Okuley moved up to third.
That was enough for Mrotek, who was replaced by Sean Heine. A third passed ball allowed Okuley to score, tying the game at five. McAlister then advanced to third on a fielder’s choice from Ernst. A walk, a bean ball, and another walk gave Ohio State their first lead of the night.
David Falco pitched a smooth ninth inning, setting up the Terps to bat in a one-run situation in the bottom of the inning.
“We showed a ton of grit on Wednesday at James Madison,” Vaughn said. “And a ton of grit tonight, and the best teams I’ve ever coached, you don’t want to play from behind, but they’re not afraid to play from behind.”
Costes walked to lead things off. Schreffler followed with a single over McAlister’s head. Zmarzlak then hammered a ball over the wall in left center for a walkoff three-run homer.
“That was the best feeling ever” Zmarzlak said with a smile on his face.
The scene was set perfectly for Bobby Z, as the team likes to call him, who capped off the night with an incredible comeback with a final score of 8-6.