Maryland Ninth-Inning Comeback Falls Short, Creighton Sweeps Series

A five-run ninth inning for the Terps was not enough to overcome Creighton’s offense Sunday afternoon as the Bluejays slammed the door shut on the Maryland comeback en route to an 8-6 Terps loss. This is the second home series in a row that the Terps have been swept, the last time being against ranked East Carolina just a week ago.

While Maryland ultimately put up six total runs, they struggled offensively for most of the game against Creighton starter Evan Johnson. The senior recorded his best start of the season, limiting the Terps to only two hits and zero runs through six-plus innings.

On the other side of the pitching matchup, Terps freshman Trevor LaBonte started the game struggling to maintain his control. The leadoff batter for Creighton, Isaac Collins, tripled to start the game and immediately got brought in by teammate Will Robertson. While Creighton was held to that one run for the next five innings, LaBonte continued to struggle with control as he walked five batters and allowed four hits over his 4.1 innings of work.

The Terps bullpen would struggle as well, allowing the floodgates to open for Creighton in the seventh inning by surrendering four runs on four hits, including a long two-run homer from Bluejays designated hitter Jake Holton. Although redshirt freshman Billy Phillips was able to retire the side before allowing more runs to score, the damage was done.

Three more runs would be scored by the Bluejays between the last two innings with junior Will Robertson knocking in his third RBI of the day for the first of the three. Robertson and his fellow junior Isaac Collins had huge days at the plate, collecting six total hits over nine at-bats. The last two runs would score on a deep Jason Hovey home run in the ninth that completely broke the game open.

Creighton’s bullpen was rather shaky, giving up all five of Maryland’s runs in the late innings. However, the late comeback attempt by the Terps simply wasn’t enough with the Bluejays’ bats coming up big at multiple occasions during the game.

Up next, the Terrapins will play the second half of their six-game homestand when they face the Indiana Hoosiers next weekend. By then, they’ll hopefully be able to present a much more consistent offense as conference play begins.

Maryland Threatens Late, but Creighton’s Bullpen Slams the Door on Potential Comeback

In a closely contested game versus the Creighton Bluejays, the Maryland bullpen failed to convert when it came to locking down the final two innings as Creighton took advantage of bad control en route to a 5-3 Terrapins loss.

The Saturday matinee appeared nearly identical to last night’s contest through the first few innings with Creighton picking up a trio of runs between the third and fifth innings. The first two runs came from back-to-back RBI singles in the third, while the third run, delivered via a Jack Strunc sacrifice-bunt, gave the Bluejays a 3-0 lead.

At the same time, Creighton’s starter, senior Denson Hull, appeared to be in full control of the game, surrendering only three hits through four-plus shutout innings. For a while, it seemed like the Bluejays’ pitching, between yesterday and today, had figured out Maryland’s lineup.

Then, a quiet first four innings from Maryland’s bats turned into a booming fifth when Justin Vought provided a much-needed offensive spark — or perhaps an explosion when he crushed a Jonah Smith pitch deep behind the left-center outfield wall, tying the game at three runs apiece.

From then on, both offenses would struggle with converting on scoring opportunities as the game progressed through the seventh inning. When the eighth inning arrived, sophomore Mark DiLuia had entered the game looking to hold Creighton to their three runs but ended up walking two of their batters, setting the Bluejays up for an offensive push that would put them ahead for good after a lined single and bunt brought home the two batters DiLuia had walked.

As for the Bluejays bullpen, their relievers got the job done. Junior Jonah Smith made quick work of the Terrapins in the final three innings after their hiccup in the fifth and ended Maryland’s hopes of coming back despite loading the bases in the bottom of the ninth.

The Terps will have one last chance to salvage a win from this home series tomorrow at noon when freshman Trevor Labonte takes to the mound.

Maryland Left in Bluejays’ Dust in Battle of Home Runs

With Terps ace Hunter Parsons taking to the mound following his worst start of the season against East Carolina, a bounce-back start versus the Creighton Bluejays was the only thing on his mind as he attempted to right the ship of his season. However, the wind would not be working in Parsons’ favor.

In the brisk, windy College Park weather, one would think that there was a home run derby taking place at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium as the Bluejays and Terrapins slugged four home runs en route to a 3-2 Terrapins loss.

The home run barrage began immediately after the 7:00 p.m first pitch with Creighton second baseman Isaac Collins hitting a near-foul leadoff home run. After a brief review to confirm that the ball landed within the foul poles, the Bluejays were off to a quick 1-0 lead. The leadoff home run was the first home run of its kind given up in Hunter Parsons’ career.

Creighton’s bats weren’t done yet as senior Jordan Hovey started the second inning the same way his teammate Collins lead off the first. This time, the wind carried the barreled ball far over the head of Terps left fielder Caleb Walls as the Bluejays doubled their lead. Later in the inning, Bluejays sophomore David Vilches would hit his own home run to give Creighton a 3-0 lead.

The Terrapins would finally create some longball action themselves in the fifth inning when Randy Bednar hit his now team-leading fourth home run of the season. With a runner already on base, the home run cut the Bluejays lead to 3-2.

The one home run would be all the offense the Terps could muster up against Creighton’s starting pitcher, senior Mitch Ragan. Ragan, who has struggled for most of the 2019 season as the Bluejays ace, put up his best start of the season by surrendering just two runs on five hits while striking out ten Terrapins during his seven innings of work.

While Hunter Parsons was the losing pitcher, he didn’t pitch that much worse than Ragan. Outside of the three solo homers Parsons let up in the first two innings, he had allowed one hit for the last six innings he pitched all while striking out his own ten batters. Unfortunately, the exceptional start from Parsons wasn’t enough for the Terps as they drop the series opener to the Bluejays.

Tomorrow, the Terps will have a chance to even the series with Zach Thompson on the mound, who’s coming off a start against East Carolina in which he only gave up two earned runs through eight innings of work.

Series Preview: Creighton Bluejays

With a commanding 12-4 win over the Elon Phoenix, the Terrapins (12-8) capped off a dominant two-game sweep of Elon on the road. The Terps offense, which surged for 23 runs over the two-game swing, will look to stay hot as they travel back home this weekend to face the Creighton Bluejays (8-5).

The series had previously been scheduled to be played in Omaha at TD Ameritrade Park, but due to heavy snowfall, the series was moved to Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium in College Park.

The Terrapins and Bluejays will be facing each other for the first time in over 20 years, so the history between the two schools is relatively short. Maryland will surely be looking to add some of its own success to the schools’ brief history this weekend, and there’s no better time to do so than after outscoring their last opponent 23-8.

The Terps also outhit their last opponent 23-9 with a couple of outstanding performances from senior AJ Lee and junior Caleb Walls. While some Terps notched themselves a pair of hits over the two-game series, Lee compiled three hits in four at-bats including a two-run homer and two-run double while Walls mashed a couple of home runs himself as part of his own four-hit day on Tuesday.

As for Maryland’s pitchers, they’re sitting on just six earned runs over the last two games and were given big enough leads throughout the series to cruise on by with 22 strikeouts and two wins under their belts. While five pitchers mostly split up innings during Tuesday’s 12-4 win, junior Tuck Tucker started Wednesday’s game and provided five one-run, one-hit innings as the Terps eased their way into another dominant win.

Creighton Bluejays (8-5, 0-0 Big East)

Last Season

Despite finishing the 2018 season with an overall record of 34-16, Creighton’s best since 2016, a conference record of 8-9 wasn’t good enough to push the Bluejays into the Big East tournament. While they did win the second-most overall games in the Big East after St. Johns’s 36, it simply wasn’t enough, leaving the Bluejays out of the NCAA Tournament for the sixth straight year.

This Season

Creighton has yet to play a home game this season due to the terrible weather Omaha has had since the season opened up, but they still carry an 8-5 record including some very high-scoring wins. In fact, the Bluejays have scored 10 or more runs in six of their eight wins. However, their opponents have also scored a lot, and they’re coming off of a series loss in which their opponent, Evansville, outscored them 22-11. One of those games was an 11-0 slaughter by Evansville.

Hitters to Watch

The Bluejays have three hitters who each have an on-base plus slugging percentage of over .900. Those hitters are senior Parker Upton (1.084) and juniors Jake Holton (1.022) and Will Robertson (.990). The three of those hitters have combined for 10 home runs and are responsible for nearly 50 percent of Creighton’s RBI this season.

Pitchers to Watch

Creighton’s pitchers have been shelled up to this point in the season. Between the four pitchers who have started games for them, they’ve pitched 54.2 innings while letting up 49 earned runs. Some of their better pitchers reside in the bullpen. Right-handed senior Bobby Kametas has pitched 6.1 scoreless innings in six appearances while striking out seven. Their next best pitcher in relief is righty freshman Dylan Tebrake, who, despite pitching just 3.2 innings this season, has only surrendered one hit while limiting batters to a team-best .091 batting average.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Friday, 6:30 p.m. ET

Sr. RHP Hunter Parsons ( 3-1, 2.45 ERA) v. Sr. RHP Mitch Ragan (2-1, 6.56 ERA)

 RMZBYNJDDYBZPMM.20150924191225  1Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logo  vs.logo_-creighton-university-bulejays-blue-jay-head-cMitch Ragan

Hunter Parsons will surely be looking to bounce back after East Carolina knocked his season ERA up by over an entire run after plating six runs against him. The Terps ace received his first loss of the season from that start, and could certainly use a quality start to bring himself back down to Earth.

While Bluejays ace Mitch Ragan leads his team in strikeouts (23) over his 23.1 innings this season, he also leads in hits allowed and total runs allowed. Ragan is returning to the mound after giving up seven runs (two earned) over 3.2 innings while hitting three batters.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Saturday, 2:00 p.m. ET

Jr. RHP Zach Thompson (1-2, 3.34 ERA) v. Sr. LHP Denson Hull (0-2, 9.15 ERA)

    Thompson082818_02  1Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logo  vs.logo_-creighton-university-bulejays-blue-jay-head-cDenson Hull

Thompson is coming off one of the best starts out of anyone on the Terrapins roster, allowing only two runs over 8.0 innings against East Carolina. That start helped bring his ERA down from 3.74 to 3.34 as he looks to continue his domination on the mound into Saturday.

Denson Hull leads all Bluejay starters in ERA — and by quite a large margin (next lowest is 6.56). He leads Creighton in earned runs (20) while also allowing the highes opposing batting average out of Creighton starters (.297). The last time Hull pitched was last Saturday in Evansville, where he gave up four earned runs after allowing five hits and walking four batters.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET

Fr. RHP Trevor LaBonte (1-1, 2.78 ERA) v. Sr. RHP Evan Johnson (1-0, 5.94 ERA)

Labonte082818_021Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logo  vs.logo_-creighton-university-bulejays-blue-jay-head-cEvan Johnson

Trevor LaBonte, just like Parsons, got roughed up in his last start versus East Carolina. Although his ERA only increased by 0.18, his control was a bit awry, as evident by his three walks and one hit-by-pitch during that start. He’ll also be looking to bounce back against this Creighton team on Sunday.

Johnson had pitched his best game of the season last Sunday, going five innings versus Evansville while only allowing two runs on four hits. However, the senior leads Creighton in total walks (12) this season while also allowing the most extra-base hits by any Bluejay in 2019 (7).

Month in Review: Top 5 Defensive Plays

Highlights galore.

The 10-5 Terps have officially wrapped up their first month of baseball in the 2019 season, and they did not go without making several SportsCenter Top Ten-caliber plays. From gracious leaping catches with the game on the line to pure domination on the pitcher’s mound, many of the Terrapins made great first impressions for themselves as the season progresses. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at the top five plays from the Terps during the past month.

No. 5: Hunter Parson’s Ten-Strikeout Performance Leads Team to Shut-Out W

Terps ace Hunter Parsons reached a new career-high in strikeouts on March 8, as he punched out Stetson University’s Noah Dickerson in the seventh inning. The strikeout, which came of the swinging variety, was Parsons’ 10th of the game all while Parsons did a magnificent job at controlling the game. With only one walk and six hits allowed, he let up zero runs en route to a dominating 7-0 victory over Stetson.

No. 4: Justin Vought Prevents Winning Run from Scoring with a Diving Tag

The first of three jaw-dropping defensive plays the Terps made during their three-game swing at Louisiana Lafayette, catcher Justin Vought displayed his sharp instincts when an 11th-inning safety squeeze attempt by the Ragin’ Cajuns nearly brought in the game-winning run. By the time Vought had picked up the ball, which was bunted about five feet in front of home plate, the lead runner was already halfway home from third base. With only milliseconds left to make a decision, Vought threw his body straight at the sprinting Cajun — ball in hand — to apply the tag and send the game into the 12th inning.

No. 3: Michael Pineiro’s Diving Catch Eliminates Potential Extra-Base Hit

In the midst of the Terrapins dominating home series sweep against the Maine Black Bears, sophomore right fielder Michael Pineiro put his body on the line after ranging far to his left to prevent a bloop hit from falling near the foul line for what surely would have been more than a single for Maine catcher Ryan Turenne. With the Terrapins leading the Black Bears 6-4, this catch was even more crucial considering an extra-base hit would have brought two runners into scoring position while one out still remained in the inning. Pineiro’s stellar catch neutralized the threat and ended the Maine sixth while maintaining the lead.

No. 2: Randy Bednar Somersaults on Warning Track to Rob Extra-bases

The second SportsCenter Top Ten-caliber play to come out of the Louisiana Lafayette series came from sophomore Randy Bednar, who was manning right field for the first game of the series. Similar to Pineiro’s near-foul line layout, Bednar found himself ranging far to his left to make this play. However, this ball was hit further — right in front of the right-field wall to be exact — which forced Bednar onto the warning track where he made an incredible rolling catch to steal a potential run-scoring extra-base hit from Louisiana Lafayette’s catcher Handsome Monica.

No. 1: Chris Alleyne’s Jumping Catch with his Back Turned to Save the Game

Are you kidding me?!? In Chris Alleyne’s first season playing as an outfielder, he makes arguably one of the best catches of the season. With the game on the line — runners on first and second in the bottom of the 13th — Handsome Monica belted a Will Glock pitch deep to right-center for what easily would have been a walk-off hit,  had it not been for Alleyne’s insane athleticism and vision.

Alleyne was positioned in shallow center field and was narrowly able to track down the Monica blast as he approached the warning track. Then, with the help of his great athleticism, Alleyne leaped into the air grasping for the soaring baseball as he crashed straight into the wall. After a quick pause, the mind-blowing play became a reality. Alleyne had caught the ball, ending the Ragin’ Cajuns’ threat and sending the game into the 14th inning as the Terps hopes of winning lived on.