Maryland completes sweep of Rutgers with Sunday victory

On Saturday, the Maryland Terrapins pieced together an 11-run third inning in their victory against Rutgers, one of the best single inning performances in program history.

The encore on Sunday: a five-run third inning, marking the second consecutive day Maryland batted around in the third frame. Sunday’s offensive burst was enough to give the Terps a 8-6 win, completing the sweep against the Scarlet Knights.

“When people are playing fearless and people are playing like there’s no tomorrow, they become really dangerous,” head coach Rob Vaughn said. “And that’s what you saw out of this group this weekend.”

With two outs and a pair on base, senior designated hitter Will Watson singled up the middle, bringing home AJ Lee. Watson, who set a career-high with eight RBI in Saturday’s game, was once again the catalyst. Then, after a Zach Jancarski walk, senior Justin Morris lined a base hit that trickled to the right field wall after Kevin Blum’s diving attempt came up short. He ended up on third base with a bases clearing triple.

Taylor Wright drove in the fifth, and final, run of the inning with an RBI single.

The Terps tacked on an insurance run the following inning, when Jancarski drove in a run with an infield single.

“Anytime our back is so-to-speak against the wall, for our team to come out and respond the way it did, it says a lot about our character,” Jancarski said.

While Maryland’s offense rallied in the early stages of the contest, its starting pitcher, freshman Mark DiLuia, kept up his end of the deal. The Illinois native allowed a solo home run to Juwaun Harris in the second inning, but then threw three straight scoreless innings while Maryland built its lead.

His solid outing hit a speed bump in the sixth inning. With the rain transforming from a mist to a drizzle, DiLuia allowed the first three Scarlet Knights to reach base (two singles and a walk). While Chris Folinusz’s run-scoring single cut the deficit to five, DiLuia retired the next three Rutgers batters to end the frame.

His day concluded after he threw six innings, allowing two earned runs, six hits, striking out four, and walking just one.

Grant Burleson relieved DiLuia and, after a scoreless seventh inning, struggled in the eighth. The freshman left-hander allowed a one-out single and walk, and then allowed both runners to score on an RBI double by Milo Freeman. Unfortunately for Burleson, Freeman’s at bat only continued because Morris dropped a potentially inning-ending pop-up in foul territory.

Maryland got one of those runs back when Nick Dunn drove in Justin Vought with a double in the right-center field gap.

There was some more drama in the ninth inning. After striking out Folinusz, Vought threw away the dropped third strike, allowing a run to score. Then Harris drove in his second run of the game with an infield single.

Head coach Rob Vaughn then elected to bring in closer John Murphy, with the potential game-tying runs on base. The right-hander hit Carmen Sclafani to begin his afternoon, loading the bases. The next batter, Freeman, endured an eight-pitch at bat that concluded with a deep fly out to right field.

“It felt good just to get out with a win,” Morris said.

With a 9-11 record in the Big Ten, Maryland is just on the fringe of postseason contention. The top eight teams in the conference make the Big Ten tournament, and the Terps are currently ninth. That could change depending on the result of Michigan State’s Sunday contest, which was still being played at the time of the conclusion of Maryland’s game. If the Spartans lose, Maryland would jump into the eighth, and final, postseason spot entering the final weekend.

Vaughn’s team will wrap up the regular season with a three-game set against Indiana, which is currently sixth in the conference.

Maryland’s bats stay cold as Terps drop series to Nebraska

In the top of the fifth inning, the Maryland Terrapins had a chance to even the score at one. Zach Jancarski and Taylor Wright had just singled back-to-back, and for the first time all afternoon, the Terps had a runner in scoring position.

An unassisted double play off the bat of Justin Morris ended the inning and the Nebraska Cornhuskers answered. In the bottom of the frame, Nebraska rallied for three runs against Taylor Bloom, guiding it to a 5-2 victory and a critical conference series win.

Bloom’s fifth inning woes came after the senior right-hander had one of his better appearances of the season. In his first start since an injury he suffered during batting practice a few weeks ago, Bloom retired the first 10 Huskers he faced. A solo home run by Scott Schreiber in the fourth broke the scoreless tie, but Bloom didn’t really falter until the fifth.

In the sixth inning, Bloom allowed a pair to reach scoring position, but got out of the jam without allowing anymore Cornhusker runs. In all, he threw 103 pitches in seven innings, allowing four earned runs on seven hits.

After the Terrapin offense scored 15 runs in Friday’s win and eight runs in the first two innings of Saturday’s contest, it took a step backward to end the series. Maryland failed to score in 15 of the final 16 innings of the series. Both of Maryland’s runs came in the ninth inning of Sunday’s game — one on an RBI single by Morris, the other on a wild pitch.

Maryland’s best chance to break the slump came in the eighth, when a pair of singles by Randy Bednar and Nick Dunn and a peculiar defensive miscue loaded the bases for Kevin Biondic. Facing closer Jake Hohensee, the Terps first baseman lined into an inning-ending double play.

As a team, the Terps finished 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and just 4-for-19 with runners on base.

Seemingly every time Maryland placed a runner on base, he was erased on a double play. The Terps hit into four double plays on the afternoon, including Biondic’s costly one in the eighth.

With a 6-11 Big Ten record, Maryland’s odds of earning a spot in the conference tournament are rapidly decreasing. The Terps have two more Big Ten series remaining — home against Rutgers and away against Indiana — and trail all but two teams in the standings.

Nebraska scores 16 unanswered runs to stun Maryland

With an 8-1 lead after an inning-and-a-half, it looked as if the Maryland Terrapins were well on their way to a fourth-straight Big Ten win.

But their best starting pitcher, Hunter Parsons, faltered, and the relief core flirted with trouble until it was too late. Seven earned runs against Parsons, followed by a three-run seventh inning against Sean Fisher, gave Nebraska the 17-8 victory, and its largest come-from-behind win of the year.

Maryland’s offense feasted in the first two innings against Nebraska starter Luis Alvarado. After he threw a career-high eight innings in his last start, the senior right-hander could not control his pitches on Saturday. He walked six of the 12 batters he faced, and allowed seven earned runs.

After loading the bases with a pair of walks and a single by Will Watson, Zach Jancarski launched a grand slam over the left field fence to put Maryland ahead 4-0. The blast marked the Terps’ second grand slam in the last week.

After a solo shot by Cornhusker superstar Scott Schreiber (his Big Ten-leading 17th) in the bottom of the first, Maryland put together a second straight four-run inning. Three straight walks chased Alvarado out of the game, and against reliever Nate Fisher, Will Watson and Taylor Wright each drove in a pair.

Once the rally concluded, the Maryland bats went cold for the first time all weekend, and the Huskers were able to chip away. The Terps only had three hits after the second inning, both singles. As a team, Maryland was 0-for-6 with runners on base in the final seven innings, and never advanced a runner into scoring position.

Nebraska scored three in the second to cut the deficit to four. Then, a two-run fifth inning and a three-run seventh gave the Cornhuskers their first lead of the series. They ended scoring 16 consecutive runs

With two outs and one on, it looked as if Fisher would elude further damage for the third straight inning, and keep the Terps clinging to a one-run lead. Then, Nebraska center fielder Jaxon Hallmark belted his first career homer, a two-run shot off the foul pole, to give the home team a 9-8 lead. It tacked on another run on an RBI single by Carter Cross.

The collapse was shocking for the Terps, who have counted on Parsons to give them a reliable outing for the past few months. The junior right-hander hadn’t allowed more than three runs in a start since his season opener.

Nebraska even got to senior Kevin Biondic, Maryland’s most reliable relief pitcher. The senior gave up five runs in the eighth inning, all but sealing the come-from-behind win for the Cornhuskers. The final blow was a two-run homer by Alex Henwood that gave Nebraska its 17th run, the second-most it has scored in a game all year.

The two Big Ten foes will meet in the rubber match on Sunday, a critical meeting, as both teams are just out of the Big Ten tournament race. Maryland will send Taylor Bloom to the hill. The senior will be making his first start since his unfortunate injury, when he was struck by a foul ball in batting practice last month. He did enter as a reliever last weekend against Michigan State.

Costes stays hot, guides Maryland to Friday win

A dominant Friday performance and a couple of Marty Parties. The Maryland Terrapins’ series-opening 15-7 victory over the Nebraska Cornhuskers felt a lot more like a 2017 performance — and a much needed one.

Marty Costes was in 2017 form, and with three homers in his last three games, he may be re-shaping the narrative on his 2018 season. Just under a week after his go-ahead grand slam against Michigan State, the Terps left fielder belted a pair of solo home runs, and had a pair of run-scoring base hits.

Costes, who hit a moonshot in Maryland’s most recent trip to Lincoln, Nebraska, rebounded well from his 0-for-4 performance in a midweek meeting with West Virginia. He finished 4-for-4 with two home runs, a walk, an RBI single, and a two-run single on Friday.

The Terps needed someone to step up offensively, as their second-leading hitter, first baseman Kevin Biondic, was not in Nebraska for the game; he was in Chicago taking his Chicago Police Academy test. In his absence, Maryland got contributions from several starters. Five Terps drove in runs, eight scored runs, and a pair hit home runs.

The 15-run total was Maryland’s most of the season, and the first time it has reached double-digits since March 21.

Costes’ two homers bookended a lengthy second inning, during which Randy Bednar drove in a run with a double, and Justin Morris with a sacrifice fly. The Terps’ big offensive outburst came in the seventh.

AJ Lee got the rally started with a double that nearly cleared the fence in left-center field. He scored on a triple by Nick Dunn, who then scored on Costes’ single. Taylor Wright put an exclamation mark on the frame with a three-run homer, giving Maryland a nine-run lead, and plenty of cushion for its bullpen.

Mark DiLuia had a lead for the entire time he was on the hill, and his third career weekend start was arguably his best. The freshman completed six innings for the third straight time, but was more effective with his pitches. He allowed just four hits and two earned runs, walked four and struck out four.

Maryland tacked on four more in the eighth inning with two-run hits from Dunn and Costes.

The Terrapin bullpen struggled, but was not helped out by its defense. Ryan Hill allowed two unearned runs in the seventh after a Costes error. Then, after Hill loaded the bases, Mike Vasturia came in to clean up the mess, and did so without allowing a run.

He didn’t fare as well in the ninth, when he gave up a three-run homer to Luke Roskam. Ultimately, it didn’t have much of an impact, as the Terps held on to win by eight. Alec Tuohy relieved Hill, and recorded the final two outs.

Maryland will send Hunter Parsons to the hill on Saturday, as he looks to bring the team’s conference win streak to a season-best four games. The junior right-hander will face Nebraska’s best pitcher, senior Luis Alvarado.

Series Preview: Nebraska Cornhuskers

The Maryland Terrapins will look to rebound from a tough 9-5 midweek loss to West Virginia — and continue their Big Ten momentum — when they travel to Lincoln, Nebraska to battle the Cornhuskers.

It’s a crucial series, as both teams are toward the bottom of the Big Ten standings. Maryland enters with a 5-9 conference record and Nebraska enters with a 4-9 conference record, 10th and 11th place respectively. The top eight teams in the conference earn a berth in the Big Ten tournament.

While the Cornhuskers have gone nearly two weeks without Big Ten play (they hosted Nevada in a three-game set late last week), Maryland had arguably it’s most impressive conference weekend just days ago. After losing 4-2 on Friday despite starting freshman Mark DiLuia on the mound, Maryland bounced back with a pair of convincing wins — 8-2 on Saturday and 5-3 on Sunday.

Maryland got major contributions from various offensive weapons, and will need that to continue this upcoming weekend. Nick Dunn hit a pair of homers in the Spartan series, increasing his total to a team-high 10, and a slumping Marty Costes hit a crucial go-ahead grand slam on Sunday.

It’s unsurprising that the Terps utilized the long ball to win the series, as the Terps enter the weekend tied for the third-most homers in the conference.

Although Maryland has a powerful lineup, from Nick Dunn to Randy Bednar, Nebraska boasts arguably the best power hitter in the league: Scott Schreiber. The 6-foot-3 senior outfielder is tied for first in the conference with 16 home runs. He has performed even better in Nebraska’s 13 conference games, during which he ranked first in home runs, hits, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, and batting average.

With his home run in the series finale against Nevada, Schreiber moved into a tie for fifth on Nebraska’s all-time home run list.

Aside from Schreiber, the Cornhuskers’ next-biggest threat is Jesse Wilkening, the junior catcher who leads the club with 46 RBI.

Both teams will have opportunities to use the long ball weekend, as the two teams enter the weekend tied for last in the conference in earned runs (219) and home runs allowed (33).

The last time the Cornhuskers faced a Big Ten foe was the weekend of April 20, when they lost two-of-three games to Rutgers. The Saturday game in that three-game set was a dominant offensive performance for Nebraska, which racked up 12 runs and 19 hits in one of its best performances of the year. Aside from that, the offense slumped against a decent Rutgers team, scoring six runs in the other two games combined.

Starting Pitching Matchup 

Friday, 7:35 p.m. EST

Jr. RHP Matt Waldron (5-2, 3.88 ERA) vs. Fr. RHP Mark DiLuia (1-4, 5.68 ERA)

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Waldron got off to a rough start in his last appearance, a Friday start against Nevada last week, but responded to adversity well. After back-to-back homers in the second, Waldron settled down, allowed just one more run, and struck out seven batters in six innings. He has also thrown some of his best games in Big Ten play, as he earned wins against Iowa (seven innings, three earned runs) and Rutgers (six innings, two earned runs) in his last two conference starts.

Since DiLuia took over the Friday starting role two weeks ago, the freshman has thrown two of his better games. The Illinois native still has struggled with his control, as he walked eight batters in 12.2 innings over those two starts, but he has worked into through six innings in both starts. Last weekend against the Michigan State Spartans, he threw 6.2 innings, allowing six hits and three earned runs. His 5.16 ERA in his two weekend starts has lowered his ERA from 5.92 to 5.68.

Starting Pitching Matchup 

Saturday, 3:05 p.m. EST

Sr. RHP Luis Alvarado (3-5, 3.19 ERA) vs. Jr. RHP Hunter Parsons (4-2, 3.01 ERA)  

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Nebraska’s best starter is coming off one of his best starts last Saturday against Nevada. In the series finale against the Wolf Pack, the senior took a no-hit bid into the sixth inning, and progressed through eight innings. He struck out three batters and only allowed two hits. A 13th round pick by the Seattle Mariners in the 2017 MLB Draft, Alvarado has made the most of his final season in Lincoln. The outfielder-converted-reliever-converted-starter is in the top 10 of Big Ten pitchers’ batting average against and strikeouts.

Since his rough first two starts, during which he allowed 11 earned runs in 5.2 innings, Parsons has reliably been Maryland’s best starter. Last week, he threw seven innings against the Spartans, allowing just two earned runs on five hits, and picking up his fourth win of the season. Since those first two starts, Parsons has allowed 13 earned runs in 64.2 innings, while allowing just 46 hits over that span. The junior right-hander has returned to his freshman year form and responded from a shaky sophomore campaign. With the Big Ten tournament just around the corner, it would seem that Maryland’s best chance to make the dance is to ensure it wins every one of Parsons’ outings.

Starting Pitching Matchup 

Sunday, 2:05 p.m. EST

TBD vs. Sr. RHP Taylor Bloom (2-6, 5.34 ERA)

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Costes’ heroics propel Maryland to Big Ten series win against Spartans

With his team down by a run and the bases loaded with two outs, Maryland outfielder Marty Costes stepped to the plate. He was 0-for-2 until that point, despite hitting the ball hard, symbolic of his tumultuous 2018 season.

Then, the hit that he so desperately needed. A home run over the left field fence, clearing the bases for a go-ahead grand slam. It was the jolt the Maryland Terrapins needed, as they used the slam to top the Michigan State Spartans 5-1 and win the weekend series.

Costes’ heroics were hardly done after the deep fly. In the bottom of that fifth inning, the Spartans threatened to respond. After loading the bases thanks to a pair of walks by Maryland starter Tyler Blohm, Chad Roskelly drove a ball out to left field. Costes extended and made a diving catch, saving at least two — maybe three — runs. It was the inning the Baltimore native has been searching for all year.

Blohm’s tendency to work in and out of trouble was constant throughout the afternoon. The left-hander didn’t have great command on his pitches — as he walked five batters in six innings — but left seven runners on base in his final four innings.

His second straight Sunday start got off to a shaky start, as the leadoff hitter, Michigan State’s Danny Gleaves, reached with a triple. After a sacrifice fly, the Spartans had an early lead that lasted until Costes’ fourth home run of the season.

Blohm was relieved after six gutsy innings by Taylor Bloom, Maryland’s usual Friday starter that had missed his last three starts after he was hit by a liner in pregame warmups against Michigan two weeks ago.

Maryland added a much-needed insurance run when third baseman Taylor Wright lined a double that scored Zach Jancarski in the top of the eighth. The run proved instrumental, as the Spartans responded in the bottom of the frame. A pair of two-out RBI singles, one by Marty Bechina and the other by Adam Proctor, cut the Maryland lead to two. Bloom, who allowed three hits and two earned runs in his two innings, escaped further damage by retiring Bailey Peterson to end the inning.

After Bloom’s lackluster return to the mound, Maryland turned to closer John Murphy to secure the win. After the leadoff hitter reached on an error, Murphy retired three straight Spartans to conclude the ballgame. The final batter he faced, Justin Antoncic, popped out after an intense 14-pitch at bat.

The win improved the Terps to 5-9 in conference play, and gave them their first Big Ten series win since their series against Northwestern nearly a month ago.

Second inning rally propels Terps to victory over Spartans

Many times in their inconsistent 2018 season, the Maryland Terrapins had desperately needed a big hit. Often, it didn’t happen.

In Saturday’s contest with Michigan State in East Lansing, the Terps didn’t need that big hit, as they were rewarded free bases early and often. A five-run second inning placed Maryland in the driver’s seat, and it held on for an 8-2 win.

In that second frame, Spartan starter Mason Erla worked into trouble with a pair of walks and a hit batsman to go along with a Justin Morris single. His final batter, Nick Dunn, worked a seven-pitch bases loaded walk to bring home a run.

Although Erla was relieved after just 1.1 innings and 46 pitches (26 of which were balls), the command woes didn’t stop there. The first batter Caleb Sleeman faced, Marty Costes, also drew a run-scoring walk. Kevin Biondic put an exclamation point on the rally with a two-run single that skidded under the glove of Michigan State third baseman Zach Iverson.

While the bulk of the damage came in the second inning, the five-run frame was bookended by a pair of solo homers by Dunn, who increased his team-leading total to 10. The left-handed hitting second baseman became the fourth Big Ten player this season to reach the double-digit homer mark. His long ball in the first inning gave Maryland a lead it would not surrender; his dinger in the fourth extended the lead to 6-0.

With run support on his side, Maryland starting pitcher Hunter Parsons cruised to his fourth win of the season. After retiring the first nine Spartans he faced, the junior right-hander gave up a run in each of the fourth and fifth innings. He battled through that tough stretch, hurling seven innings and allowing just the two earned runs on five hits.

After he had allowed 11 earned runs in his first two starts (18.56 ERA), Parsons has an ERA of 1.81 in his last nine starts, allowing 13 earned runs in 64.2 innings.

Parsons was relieved in the eighth inning by Kevin Biondic, who also had an RBI single in the seventh. Biondic allowed five base runners in two innings of work, but shut the door without allowing a Spartan to score.

The Terps and Spartans will play the rubber match of the three-game set on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. EST. Maryland will send Tyler Blohm to the mound for his second consecutive Sunday start.