Down 5-2 to Wake Forest going into the seventh inning, one-seed Maryland knew exactly what the stakes were: find a way to come back or a historic season would come to an end.
The start of any great comeback is the first run. Kevin Keister provided that with a leadoff home run. There was still work to be done, but the Terps had a much more manageable deficit going into the eighth.
After two groundouts to start the next inning, it looked like it would take a ninth-inning rally to keep Maryland’s season alive.
That was when the flip switched.
An Ian Petrutz walk gave an opportunity to Bobby Zmarzlak who had been hitless to that point. Following struggles earlier in the game both at the plate and in the field, the Terps outfielder sent a moonshot over the left field wall and tied the game at five.
That on its own would have been enough to get the crowd at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium energized and back on its feet, but the Terps were far from done.
“It’s no secret he hadn’t had a great regional,” Head Coach Rob Vaugh said. “But big-time players show up when it matters.”
Two batters later, Luke Shliger hit an RBI double to give Maryland its first lead of the game. Almost immediately after, Chris Alleyne broke his regional round cold streak with a two-run homer of his own over the batter’s eye in center field.
Following one more eighth-inning run off the bat of Troy Schreffler, the Terps were in complete control of the game after being down two just a few minutes earlier.
Maryland carried this momentum through the ninth inning, defeating Wake Forest 10-5 and eliminating the Demon Deacons from the NCAA tournament.
“That’s postseason baseball right there,” Vaughn said. “I was really proud of our guys. They fought really hard.”
Wake Forest got out to an early lead, two RBI doubles in the first inning put Maryland down early and swayed the momentum.
The Terps responded the very next inning when Maxwell Costes hit a two-run home run into the temporary outfield bleachers.
That longball was number 40 in Costes’s career at Maryland, making him just the second player in program history to reach that mark.
Two home runs off Maryland starter Nick Dean in the fifth and sixth innings gave the Demon Deacons a 5-2 lead.
Dean had a very up and down day, at times mesmerizing the Wake Forest lineup, but also allowing five runs and seven hits in five and two-thirds innings.
David Falco Jr. was fantastic out of the bullpen, finishing off the game for Maryland with a season-long three and one-third shutout inning performance. Falco credited his ability to pitch at length in relief of Dean to this Maryland team staff.
“It’s a testament to our staff,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of improvement on my ability to hold my fastball velo through the innings.”
The Terps won’t have too much time to relish this win as they’ll be right back in the Bob for first pitch against UConn at 7:06 p.m. Maryland’s starter is still to be determined.