Maryland had its back against the wall, down by two runs with only six more outs to give.
Despite the circumstances, the Terps didn’t back down. A quick single by Bobby Zmarzlak and walk by Jacob Orr gave Maryland two baserunners, both of whom would be driven in on back-to-back singles by Luke Shliger and Nick Lorusso. It became a tie game with two outs.
Then, Matt Woods stepped up to the plate. The fifth year transfer from Bryant had been on fire the week leading up to the at-bat, with five home runs in the past six games, and his dominance didn’t stop there. On a 1-1 count, he sent a moonshot over the tallest section of the wall in center field. The Terps led 8-5, their first lead since the first inning. Just for good measure, Kevin Keister came in and delivered a shot of his own directly after Woods, making it 9-5 in favor of the Terps, who needed only three outs to seal the come-from-behind victory, which they would achieve.
The Terps defeated local foe George Washington 9-6 on Tuesday afternoon at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium, moving them to 12-8 in the 2023 campaign.
“Hell yeah,” Woods said about what went through his head when the ball left his bat. “I knew that was big for the squad, get some runs up and try to go win a ballgame, so I was happy to do that for the team…I got a good pitch and I didn’t miss it.”
The Terps started the game in dramatic fashion, with two home runs coming off the bats of Shliger and Matt Shaw in the first three at-bats of the game. However, their lead did not last long. The Colonials came out on fire at the top of the second, with three singles in a row capped off by a massive grand slam by graduate student Michael Kohn. The Terps quickly found themselves down 4-2, a lead held by George Washington until Maryland’s eighth inning heroics.
Despite recent success, Maryland’s pitching struggled on Tuesday. Junior Logan Ott got the starting nod, but quickly exited the game after only three innings of work which saw him give up the aforementioned grand slam.
“[Logan] was just really up in the second inning, the changeup was up, the fastball was up,” coach Rob Vaughn said. “Credit them…very rarely do you go hit, hit, hit, jack. Logan made them earn it, he didn’t put them on for free. He was just up to me, I thought he got a little elevated with a team that made him pay for it…when he’s down around the knee, he’s pretty effective.”
Relief pitchers Kenny Lippman and David Falco Jr., the latter getting the victory, did a nice job coming in and limiting the Colonials’ offense for the rest of the day. After the third inning, they would only get two more hits. Closer Nigel Belgrave struggled a little in the top of the ninth, but ultimately got the job done, earning him another save.
Tuesday’s game featured a few typical starters getting some rest – designated hitter Ian Petrutz was given the day off outside of a late game pinch hitting appearance. His role was filled by Shliger, while Shliger’s catcher role was occupied by freshman Devin Russell in his first collegiate start. Russell struggled at the platen a bit, but Vaughn sung his praises about his efforts behind the dish.
With those starters on rest and a struggling Nick Lorusso, the offense turned to another player to fill the void – Bobby Zmarzlak. Zmarzlak stepped up for the Terps in a big way, finishing the day three-for-four with a single, double, and triple.
“Bob was outstanding,” Vaughn said. “I wanted him to hit a homer at the end for the cycle, but what great at-bats. They were loud…I don’t know what the exit velos on those were, but he didn’t have a cheap hit today. As we get into the heat of the season with conference play right around the corner, Bobby heating up is a dangerous thing for the rest of the Big Ten.”
The Terps are now gearing up for a trip down to Florida to take on UCF this upcoming weekend. It’ll be a completely different atmosphere then what the Terps have experienced for the last few weeks, taking on a talented Knights team in hot weather.
“I thought we really handled our business against people we probably should have handled our business against the last two and a half weeks,” Vaughn said. “Now you’re gonna get tested again, going on the road against a talented team, a chippy team…we’ve gotta take the emotion out of the game and just go play good baseball. Guys are excited though, they’re chomping at the bit for 88 degrees. We gotta do a good job hydrating so that we’re not cramping and our starting pitchers can go six, seven innings. But these boys would rather play in 100 degrees than 20 like this weekend, so they’re ready to go.”
The Terps will take on UCF on Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 6 p.m., and Sunday at 1 p.m.