After seven straight losses against Michigan to open his coaching career in College Park, Rob Vaughn got his first win against the Wolverines in style today at the Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium. Maryland’s offense was an uncontrollable monster in the middle innings as they scored 14 runs without response between the fourth and seventh frames to coast to a 17-7 win.
Chris Alleyne was a standout amid a sea of great individual Maryland performances. Bubba batted 4-for-5 and drove in five runs. Two of those five were the eventual game-winners off a two-RBI single he dropped into shallow right field, giving Maryland an 8-6 lead in the bottom of the fifth.
The Terps would bust the game wide open in the sixth as they scored seven runs and forced three pitching changes in the bottom of the frame. Maryland left 11 on base yesterday in a 6-5 defeat that was tough to swallow, so it was even sweeter for Vaughn that they exacted their revenge in such a convincing fashion today.
Maryland students were allowed to join the limited number of fans in the Bob for the first time in over a year and they were loud and proud throughout as Maryland put on a show and scored well into double digits.
The game started out as a battle between new blood and old guard on the bump as freshman RHP Jason Savacool took the mound against Michigan’s senior RHP Blake Beers. What Savacool lacks in experience to Beers, he made up for with pure speed and skill.
Maryland needed to have a smooth start on the mound, as Sean Fisher could not contain the Wolverines and was pulled after just 2 1/3 innings pitched. But that was simply not meant to be.
Jordon Rogers led-off for the Wolverines and battled out of a 1-2 count, fouling off three pitches with two strikes against him and eventually working a nine-pitch walk. It didn’t amount to anything but from the very first at-bat, Michigan made it clear they were going to battle at the plate and make life difficult on the mound for the freshman sensation Jason Savacool.
The difficulty level cranked up several notches in the second, as it turned into a frame to forget for Savacool. Jimmy Obertop would take a fastball for a ride over the right-field wall and Maryland’s early lead was erased immediately. That seemed to unsettle Savacool, as he started to struggle to find the strike zone. The Michigan dugout did their part to rattle the freshman, hooting and hollering with every ball call and check to the runners.
The bases quickly filled off the back of the homer and the Baldwinsville, NY native had his day end early. Savacool’s pitch count ballooned to over 60 within the second inning and he struggled to find the strike zone. He hit two batters with a pitch and then gave Ted Burton an easy 90-foot run to home plate with a wild pitch. After walking the leadoff batter in the top of his third, Sean Heine was the one favored to take his place.
It felt as though the game was getting away from Maryland in a hurry after just an inning and a half. But with two out in the bottom of the second, Tommy Gardiner crushed his second two-run home run of the series. He would score Benjamin Cowles and bring Maryland right back into the game at 4-3. Gardiner’s goner was a carbon copy of the one he hit in their second win over Northwestern Saturday, as he got it all the way over the batter’s eye in center field and onto the football practice fields beyond.
Christian Molfetta would respond in kind with a two-run jack that also cleared the catcher’s eye to restore the three-run lead and make it 6-3.
The back-and-forth battle early turned into a game of tactics as both coaching staffs chose to go to their bullpen nine times combined by the end of the sixth. Michigan had a slightly more active bullpen, changing their mound martial five different times with four of those switches occurring between the fifth and sixth frames.
It was for good reason, as Maryland’s offense exploded in the middle innings. Maryland got a solo shot out of Cowles in the fourth. In the fifth and sixth, they drove in four and seven runs respectively – and it was all catalyzed by a series of Wolverine errors.
No one could take command on the mound for Michigan, and the Wolverines unraveled as Junior LHP Jack White was the first to falter, firing a wild throw over to first trying to check Matthew Shaw. Shaw stole two bases and then scored as the first baseman, Jake Marti, took his eye off the ball on a slow-rolling grounder.
White’s replacement, RHP Isaiah Paige, picked up where White left off. Paige hit back-to-back batters, driving in the tying run at 6-6. Then, Alleyne looped his fly ball into shallow right, scoring Cowles and Ott, and the Terps took a lead they would never relinquish.
None of the mound moves Michigan made could stop Maryland after that point. The Terrapin batters faced eight different pitchers but could not be contained. Tucker Flint and Luke Shliger quickly doubled the lead to 10-6 with back-to-back RBI base hits. Bubba would get another RBI single, and Maxwell Costes and Shaw both smacked RBI doubles all within the bottom of the sixth and the margin ballooned to nine runs.
Bubba would rub salt in Wolverine wounds with his third RBI base hit in as many innings, sending a deep drive to center cannoning off the batter’s eye. Ultimately, it was a two-RBI triple that scored Cowles and Flint, and Maryland settled for a modest 17 runs.
Although Maryland had their own pitching problems to start, RHP Sean Heine and graduate LHP Tyler Blohm did well to see the Terps through the middle innings. Then reliever Sam Bello slammed the door on Michigan as he built off the confidence his offense exuded and was excellent to close out the afternoon. In 3 2/3 innings pitched, Bello allowed just one hit, a solo shot by Brandon Lawrence to give some consolation to the Wolverines in the top of the ninth.
Maryland moves to 9-10 and will hit the road next weekend for a series with the Nebraska Cornhuskers in Lincoln, Nebraska. On the other hand, Michigan is now 13-6 and will head home to take on Ohio State after breaking even in this series.