Pitching falters in 8-run fourth inning, Maryland drops series finale 13-8 to Ohio State

Control issues plagued Maryland pitching, leading to an eight-run fourth inning and a 13-8 defeat to Ohio State on Sunday in Columbus.

Freshman Kyle McCoy, who made the unexpected start after being hit in the face by a 110 mph line drive last Sunday, retired eight straight hitters after Tyler Pettorini’s first-inning RBI double. The left-hander quickly lost his command in the fourth. Four consecutive walks led to two runs for Ohio State. 

McCoy allowed just two hits over 3 1/3 innings. But his lack of command (five walks) led to his team-leading fifth loss of the season.

“Same thing happened in Iowa,” head coach Rob Vaughn said. “When you’re giving up nine-run innings [at Iowa] or eight-run innings [at Ohio State] in the middle of the game, it just makes it really tough [to win].”

Left-hander Andrew Johnson relieved McCoy but didn’t fare much better. An RBI single, balk and sac fly brought the deficit to six. Vaughn regarded Johnson’s balk as the game’s turning point on Sunday. 

“We had a free out at second base and we just get confused about where we’re going with the baseball,” he said. “If we pick the guy off at second, the momentum definitely shifts to our side and that eight-run inning turns into a three or four-run inning.”

Pettorini, who led off the inning with a single, capped off an eight-run inning with a three-run shot to right field. The designated hitter finished with a career-high four hits and four RBIs, falling a triple short of the cycle.

Sunday’s contest went from bad to worse for the Terps in the fifth. Right fielder Luke Zeisloft appeared to make an inning-ending grab at the warning track only for the ball to pop out of his glove and sail over the wall, giving Ohio State an 11-0 lead on the two-run homer. 

After right fielder Mitchell Okuley made a pair of outstanding defensive plays on Saturday, Ohio State continued its stellar outfield defense in the series finale. Left fielder Matthew Graveline took away a three-run homer from Luke Shliger in the second, stretching his glove just above the outfield wall to end the inning.   

Then, with Maryland threatening in the sixth, center fielder Trey Lipsey robbed Kevin Keister of extra bases, crashing into the wall to make an inning-ending, over-the-shoulder catch.  

Maryland chipped away at Ohio State’s lead with a three-run seventh after doubles from Shliger, Nick Lorusso and Eddie Hacopian. Lorusso added his Big Ten-leading 14th homer of the season with a three-run shot in the eighth, cutting the Buckeyes’ lead to 13-8.

With the win, Ohio State snapped a nine-game losing streak against Maryland. For the third consecutive weekend, the Terps came into Sunday with an opportunity to sweep a Big Ten opponent. All three times, they fell short.

“If you want to win the league, you’ve got to finish these [series],” Vaughn said. “If we want to beat a team that we can beat and you set yourself up to sweep the series on the road, you’ve got to do a good job at finishing.”  

Maryland travels to Washington, D.C., on Tuesday afternoon to take on George Washington.