Maryland’s late heroics lead to 3-2 victory over Ohio State

On an afternoon filled with excellent pitching, strong defense and timely hitting, Maryland’s two-run eighth inning proved the difference as the Terps edged Ohio State 3-2 Saturday in Columbus. 

Once again, Maryland struggled with runners on base, coming up empty in its first eight chances. But like last night, the Terps erased those struggles in the eighth. With two on and two outs, Ian Petrutz laced an RBI single into right field, giving Maryland a 2-1 lead. Eddie Hacopian followed Petrutz with a soft ground ball into left field to give Maryland a much-needed insurance run.

“We talked about the big hits with runners in scoring position and two outs and there’s no secret we haven’t been awesome at that,” head coach Rob Vaughn said. “Two really good at-bats from players that are just good ballplayers.”

An excellent defensive play from the previous inning set the stage for the Terps’ big eighth inning.

With a runner on first and one out in the seventh, Ohio State’s Cole Andrews ripped a double into the left field corner. Left fielder Jacob Orr, who replaced Bobby Zmarzlak in the top half, hit the cutoff man Shaw, who fired a strike to the catcher Shliger to nab Tyler Pettorini at the plate and keep the game tied at one.  

At Thursday’s practice, Vaughn preached to his team the importance of staying focused for all nine innings. He believed they did that on Saturday. 

“I told them, our focus for complete games has not been good enough. You never know when the play to win the game, save the game, is going to happen,” he said. “We did a really good job when it mattered today.”

Starters Nick Dean and Jonah Jenkins traded zeroes through the first four innings. Dean faced his first test of adversity in fourth. With the bases loaded and no outs, the right-hander retired three consecutive hitters, punctuated by a strikeout of Trey Lipsey. 

Zach Martin and the Terps took advantage of Dean’s fourth-inning wizardry. The hot-hitting right fielder drilled a fastball to right field, easily clearing the wall and giving Maryland a 1-0 lead in the fifth.

Aside from the solo shot to Martin, Jenkins pitched fabulously in first first start of the season. Primarily used as a reliever, the grad transfer finished his outing allowing five hits and one earned run over an efficient 5 1/3 innings, throwing just 57 pitches. The right-hander has allowed just one run and four walks over his last 14 innings, bringing his ERA down to a team-leading 2.12.    

Ohio State strung together a sixth-inning rally with two soft-contact singles and a walk. Once again, Dean loaded the bases. Only this time the All-Big Ten pitcher failed to escape the jam. Lefty Kenny Lippman replaced Dean following a game-tying RBI walk to Josh McAlister. 

Dean had a nearly identical line as his Ohio State counterpart, going 5 1/3 innings while allowing six hits and one run with five strikeouts on 103 pitches, his second-highest pitch total of the season. 

Vaughn called Dean’s start a “gutsy” outing and said the righty has been dealing with a lower back and rib issue. 

“We didn’t know how much length we were going to get out of him depending on how he felt,” he said. “He wouldn’t tell me but I guarantee you he didn’t feel great.” 

Not only did Dean battle the lower back and rib issue but Ohio State’s first base coach picked up something mechanically on the senior’s changeup, forcing him to pitch out of the stretch from the second inning on.

“We’ll make the adjustment during the week when he can get back to it but when the bullets are flying, you’re not revamping anything crazy,” Vaughn said. “That’s a veteran guy that doesn’t panic. Some guys, you ask them to throw out of the stretch all the time, they freak out.”  

Ohio State’s Michell Okuley had an excellent day on both sides of the ball. The senior helped out his starter Jenkins with a pair of sparkling plays in right field. He made a leaping grab just in front of the warning track to rob Elijah Lambros of extra bases in the third and another tough play in the fifth, a sliding catch down the first base line to end the inning. 

At the plate after a 15-minute, eighth-inning rain delay, Okuley’s solo shot cut Maryland’s lead to 3-2.

But the Buckeyes could not overcome the Terps’ late heroics, as David Falco Jr. came on to seal the win for Maryland. The right-hander notched his second save of the weekend to give the Terps their 17th consecutive Big Ten series win. 

Maryland seeks its first Big Ten sweep of the season tomorrow at 11 a.m.