Two seniors, three signees selected in 2019 MLB Draft

Hunter Parsons and A.J. Lee were the only Terps selected in the 2019 MLB Draft earlier this week, marking the second consecutive year where only two Maryland players have been drafted.

In addition to the two seniors, three signees––Tucker Flint, Ryan Ramsey and Bobby Zmarzlak––were drafted. If they choose to attend Maryland, they won’t be eligible for the draft again until after their junior year or after they turn 21 years old.

The New York Mets drafted Parsons in the 19th round on Wednesday, the first Terp drafted this year. In his four seasons at Maryland Parsons punched out 192 batters in 251 innings while making team history his senior year after a breakout junior campaign. As a senior Parsons earned 10 wins, the third-most in a single season by a Maryland pitcher, joining former Terp Mike Shawaryn as one of only two Terps to achieve double-digit wins in a single season.

In the 34th round Houston drafted Lee, the second Terp the Astros have drafted in as many years after they selected Marty Costes in the 22nd round in 2018. Lee put up a stellar second half of his senior season, finishing the year leading Maryland in batting average (.317), his highest of his four years as a Terp. In his final regular season series at Maryland, Lee launched a two-run walk-off homer to left field to help propel the Terps to their first Big Ten Tournament under second-year head coach Rob Vaughn.

The three signees––outfielders Flint and Zmarzlak and right-hander Ramsey––were drafted in the final five rounds of the draft. Flint and Ramsey were both drafted in the 36th round, by the New York Mets and the Cleveland Indians, respectively, while the Orioles selected Zmarzlak in the 40th round.

Both Parsons and Lee are likely to sign with the teams that drafted them, while Flint, Ramsey and Zmarzlak have until mid-July to decide whether to sign or to attend Maryland.

AJ Lee drafted by Astros in 34th round

OSU7.jpgThe Houston Astros drafted Maryland shortstop A.J. Lee in the 34th round on Wednesday. Lee is the second player drafted in the 2019 MLB Draft, after the Mets took Hunter Parsons in the 19th round.

A three-year starting infielder for the Terps, Lee’s final season at Maryland marked a comeback after a lackluster junior campaign. The Millersville, Maryland, native joined the Terps after receiving numerous accolades for his performance at St. John’s College High School in Washington, D.C., including being named the Washington D.C. Gatorade Player of the Year both his junior and senior seasons

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File photo by Paige Leckie

Though Lee played shortstop in high school, both positions on the left side of the Terps’ infield were filled by older, more experienced players during Lee’s freshman season. Lee only got 29 at-bats that year, as the infielder bided his time waiting for a spot to open.

After Lee’s freshman season, a spot opened up at third base and he made the transition to the hot corner, as former Terps Kevin Smith still occupied shortstop. As a sophomore Lee slashed .307/.389/.474 and found unexpected power, finishing with eight home runs, the third most on the team.  In addition to his strength in the box, Lee provided the Terps with speed on the base paths and stole 15 bases in his 59 games played.

When the Toronto Blue Jays drafted Smith in 2017, it enabled Lee to finish his tenure at Maryland back in his high school position. Though Lee hit a slump after his breakout sophomore campaign and struggled at the plate during his junior season, the shortstop stayed consistent with his ability to get on  base, working a .375 OBP and stealing 12 bases. As a junior Lee batted only .232 with one home run, but notched 47 hits in his 54 starts.

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File photo by Paige Leckie

Lee proved his junior year slump was a fluke with what became an outstanding senior campaign. Though the shortstop struggled at the start of the 2019 season, batting only .148 in eight games before an ankle injury benched Lee for seven games, the senior bounced back and finished the season with a team-high .317 batting average and .443 OBP.

Lee capped his final regular season as a Terp with Maryland’s first walk-off win of the year, when the senior sent a two-run bomb to left field for the Terps’ 8-6 win over the Iowa Hawkeyes on May 16. His walk-off homer set the tone for the rest of the series, Maryland’s first sweep against a Big Ten opponent on the year, and helped propel the Terps to their No. 6 seeding in the conference tournament.

After that weekend, the Big Ten named Lee Player of the Week, his first time receiving the honor.

With his comeback senior year, Lee showed the TEAM that he has the power at the plate, speed on the base paths and agility on defense to make a worthwhile draft pick.

MLB Draft Preview: 2019

Though the Maryland baseball season is over, the 2019 MLB Draft is right around the corner. Only two Terps were selected in last year’s draft, including Nick Dunn, who was drafted in the 5th round, though three more signed undrafted.

This year, the draft will take place from Monday, June 3 through Wednesday, June 5. Maryland has 10 juniors and seniors currently on the roster who are eligible for selection. Here’s a quick synopsis of each player.


Hunter Parsons – RHP

Ht: 6’3″        Wt: 200        Year: Sr.         Bats/Throws: R/R

2019 Stats: 

G: 15 (15 GS)  IP: 104.1    ERA: 3.45     K/9: 6.7       BB/9: 2.8     H/9: 7.6

After a breakout junior season in 2018, Parsons continued to dominate as Maryland’s ace. Under the guidance of second-year pitching coach Corey Muscara, Parsons thrived on the mound and finished the season with 10 wins, the third-most wins in a single season in school history.

For the second consecutive year, Parsons led the team in innings pitched, providing the Terps with solid Friday starts en route to multiple weekend series victories. Even when Maryland did not come out on top, the righty maintained control on the mound; in an eight-inning outing against Creighton he allowed only three runs, all solo homers, while he struck out a career-high 10 batters and walked none.

Parsons continued to pitch with increased pace in his senior campaign. After his junior season in 2018, which included his first complete game shutout as a Terp, Parsons likely stayed on teams’ radars with his strong showing on the mound in 2019.


AJ Lee – SS

Ht: 6’0″       Wt: 180        Year: Sr.         Bats/Throws: R/R

2019 Stats: 

G: 51     AB: 189    Slash Line: .317/.443/.497     HR7       RBI36     K: 48      BB: 29

In his final year at Maryland, Lee came alive at the plate in the second half of the season. After suffering an ankle injury only two weeks into the season, Lee sat out for seven games to recover. Once he returned to the lineup, the senior batted .327, including an 11-game hit streak over the end of April, and a 24-game on-base streak that lasted from the end of March to the middle of May.

Lee went 4-for-5 in his last game as a Terp on May 24, when Michigan eliminated Maryland from the Big Ten tournament. In that last start, Lee went deep in the 9th inning for a solo home run, his seventh of the year. As a junior, though Lee at times struggled to get hits, the infielder walked a team-high 36 times and maintained his high on-base percentage.

In 2016, his first season with the Terps, Lee played in 19 games but struggled at the plate and finished with a sub-.200 average. But the then-third baseman didn’t quit and emerged as an everyday starter in his sophomore season, when he finished the year with  batting over .300 with eight home runs. Over his four years at Maryland Lee proved to be an asset on the base paths and on the left side of the infield, and his ability to get big hits in key moments––most notably his two- run walk-off homer against Iowa––helped boost the Terps to their first Big Ten tournament appearance under second-year head coach Rob Vaughn.


John Murphy – RHP

Ht: 6’4″        Wt: 245        Year: Sr.         Bats/Throws: R/R

2019 Stats: 

G: 27 (0 GS)  IP: 33.1    ERA: 4.32     K/9: 14.7       BB/9: 4.6     H/9: 10.3

Murphy served as the Terps’ closer for a second consecutive season, finishing the year with 11 saves, making him tied with Kevin Mooney for third-most saves in a single season in team history. The senior made the most appearances out of the Maryland bullpen and worked out of multiple jams, boasting the most strikeouts (54) of any reliever.

In his first season with the Terps in 2016, the right hander struggled as many freshman do, throwing only 11 innings and finishing with an ERA just below 10.00. But Murphy bounced back, and in his sophomore year he held hitters to an .183 average while walking only eight batters on the year. That year he also provided Maryland with vital outs in key moments, escaping multiple bases-loaded jams during the Terps’ postseason run.

Murphy did struggle with control toward the end of his junior season, but as a whole the righty proved he’s dominant on the mound when in control. Between his junior and senior seasons, Murphy showed his prowess as a strikeout pitcher, setting down 37 batters in just over 25 innings in his junior campaign. In his final two years at Maryland Murphy also cut his walks-per-nine almost in half, from 7.5 to 4.6, while increasing his strikeouts-per-nine by almost two strikeouts per nine innings, from 13.1 to 14.7.


Taylor Wright – 3B

Ht: 6’3″        Wt: 180       Year: Sr.         Bats/Throws: L/R

2019 Stats: 

G: 58     AB: 231    Slash Line: .290/.375/.429     HR: 4       RBI31    K:  42     BB: 29

In his second season with the Terps, Wright played every game at third base, providing stellar defensive coverage from the left corner of the infield. At the plate, the Canada native’s speed and ability to get multi-base hits was key to Maryland’s success in 2019.

After transferring from Colorado Northwestern Community College for his junior season, Wright played 47 games for the Terps at third base and helped fill the void in the infield. In that first season at Maryland, Wright provided the Terps with one of two walk-off victories, when he drew a game-winning walk in the 10th inning against Northwestern.

Wright improved his average in his final season, hitting in the three-hole and providing the Terps with a consistent bat throughout the season. After batting only .230 his junior year with the Terps, his average increased to .290 while his slugging leapt from .333 to .429. Throughout his senior campaign, Wright battled with sophomore Randy Bednar for the most doubles on the squad and finished with 20 doubles on the season, just one more than Bednar’s 19. Those 20 doubles tied Wright for fourth-most doubles in a single season in team history.


Tyler Blohm – LHP

Ht: 6’3″        Wt: 205        Year: Jr.         Bats/Throws: L/L

2019 Stats: 

G: 6 (6 GS)  IP: 15.2    ERA: 5.74     K/9: 7.7       BB/9: 6.5     H/9: 7.7

Blohm’s junior campaign started with uncertainty as to whether the southpaw would reach the level at which he started the previous year. After a shoulder injury late in the 2018 season left Blohm with a lowered velocity and limited mobility, the lefty worked to get back to his previous level of play, which saw him awarded Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2017.

But Blohm overcame the hurdles and ended the season seeming to have regained some of his confidence and most of his control. After a rough outing in his first start against VCU in February, Blohm rehabbed his arm until late April, when he worked into the rotation as an opener for two midweek games before making Sunday starts in both of the Terps’ final series of the regular season. Once back on the rubber, Blohm set down 13 batters while holding opponents to a .228 batting average in his 15.2 innings pitched.

As a freshman Blohm earned numerous Big Ten accolades, including being named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team. In his first season as a Terp, the southpaw had a 3.48 ERA in 75.0 innings. His sophomore year, when Blohm struggled with his shoulder injury, he finished the season with a 4.10 ERA in 59.1 innings, while holding opposing batters to a .248 average.


Elliot Zoellner – RHP

Ht: 6’3″        Wt: 190        Year: Jr.         Bats/Throws: R/R

2019 Stats: 

G: 18 (0 GS)  IP: 20.2    ERA: 7.40     K/9: 13.8       BB/9: 8.5     H/9: 5.4

After a decent sophomore season with the Terps, Zoellner took on a vital role in Maryland’s bullpen during his junior campaign. Throughout the season the Terps relied on Zoellner to eat up innings before bringing in either a setup pitcher or closer John Murphy.

With his 31 strikeouts on the season, Zoellner proved to be an asset to Maryland’s bullpen, holding opponents to a .156 average when he took the mound. While the righty did walk 19 batters on the season, Zoellner’s ability to get outs when they mattered and keep opposing teams off the base paths made him a key component of the Terps’ 2019 squad.


Nick Turnbull – RHP

Ht: 6’5″        Wt: 200        Year: Jr.         Bats/Throws: R/R

2019 Stats: 

G: 19 (1 GS)  IP: 17.2    ERA: 4.08     K/9: 8.9       BB/9: 11.5     H/9: 3.7

At the start of the season, Turnbull seemed to be the Terps’ most promising transfer, when he made the switch to Maryland after two seasons at Hartford Community College, where he solidified himself as a strikeout pitcher. With the Terps, Turnbull came out strong and became one of Maryland’s go-to setup relievers early in the year.

The righty-hander was often called on to help work out of late-inning jams with a key strikeout or set of outs. In his longest appearance, a 3.2-inning relief outing against Villanova, Turnbull struck out a season-high five batters while allowing only one hit and holding the Wildcats scoreless. Though Turnbull struggled to hold runners off the bases due to his high number of walks (22), he held opposing batters to a .130 average and his ability to get an out in vital moments helped power the Terps’ bullpen.


Caleb Walls – OF

Ht: 5’10″        Wt: 190        Year: Jr.         Bats/Throws: L/R

2019 Stats: 

G: 48     AB: 176   Slash Line: .233/.352/.352     HR: 4       RBI: 16     K: 51      BB: 28

One of three position player transfers for the Terps’, Walls was the only transfer in the starting lineup for Maryland’s season opener against Campbell. The left fielder played in almost all of the Terps’ games during the regular season, after transferring from Pasco Hernando State College in Florida.

While the outfielder did struggle at the plate toward the end of the season, Walls provided key outfield coverage while also aiding in the Terps’ offense. Walls hit four home runs, including a two-run inside-the-park home run against Elon, and tallied one triple and seven doubles.


Sebastian Holte-Mancera – OF/C

Ht: 5’8″        Wt: 190        Year: Jr.         Bats/Throws: L/R

2019 Stats: 

G: 19     AB: 44    Slash Line: .250/.370/.409     HR: 1       RBI: 7    K: 14      BB: 8

Holte-Mancera saw more time in the lineup than expected this year at Maryland, after transferring from Ellsworth Community College in Iowa. The junior started the second two games of the season behind the plate while also making appearances as the Terps’ designated hitter and at least one outfield start.

While Holte-Mancera did not make it into Maryland’s lineup often, when he did the righty provided the Terps with 11 hits and nine runs in his 13 starts, including a solo home run to right field against Delaware.


Ben Irvine – OF

Ht: 6’2″        Wt: 175        Year: Jr.         Bats/Throws: L/R

2019 Stats: 

G: 14     AB: 17    Slash Line: .059/.158/.059     HR: 0       RBI: 2    K: 3      BB: 2

In his first season at Maryland, Irvine often pinch-hit or pinch-ran for the Terps. After Irvine transferred to Maryland from Northern Essex Community College in Massachusetts, he was one of many outfielders on the Terrapin squad, but found his place in the lineup when the Terps needed a speedy base runner or a fresh bat.

The outfielder started only three games for Maryland but made 14 appearances. In his second start, a midweek matchup against VCU, Irvine notched his first hit as a Terp, a one-out single through the left side. Prior to the move to Maryland, Irvine racked up 40 stolen bases in his sophomore campaign at NECC while holding a .417 OBP.


Bobby Zmarzlak – Class of 2019 Commit 

Maryland’s incoming freshman class is ranked No. 38, according to Perfect Game. Only one player, outfielder Bobby Zmarzlak, may be drafted high enough this year for him to forego his commitment to Maryland. In 2018, a scout at an East Coast Pro/Prospect Development Pipeline event said that the Stamford, Connecticut, native was the “most powerful hitter” of the group of prospects, according to an MLB.com article.


 

Pro Terps Update: Red Sox call up former Terp Mike Shawaryn

The Boston Red Sox called up right-hander Mike Shawaryn on Thursday, according to the team. With the promotion, Shawaryn joins three other former Terps in the majors: Brandon Lowe and Adam Kolarek in Tampa and Brett Cecil in St. Louis.

After three dominant years at Maryland, where Shawaryn won 30 games overall and struck out 307 total batters, the Red Sox drafted Shawaryn in the fifth round of the 2016 draft. Then, the starter quickly rose through Boston’s minor league system. Shawaryn entered the minors with the short A Lowell Spinners in 2016 and spent time in low-A and high-A in 2017, before he started the 2018 season with the AA Portland Sea Dogs.

In Portland, the righty started 19 games, working to a 3.28 ERA in 112.2 innings pitched, while holding opposing batters to a .238 average. Shawaryn struck out 99 batters with the Sea Dogs before he was assigned to the AAA Pawtucket Red Sox, where he finished out the 2018 season. There, Shawaryn went 3-2 in six starts and one relief appearance, struck out 33 in his 36.2 innings of work and threw a 3.93 ERA.

Boston invited Shawaryn to their official spring training at the start of 2019, before the right-hander started the season back in Pawtucket. Before his call-up on Thursday, Shawaryn went 1-2 with a 3.72 ERA in 55.2 innings of work. The right-hander also struck out 28 in those 10 starts, while he held opposing batters to a .230 average.

Shawaryn joins the 29-27 Red Sox as they take on the Yankees in New York for a four-game set that starts Thursday. The date of his debut is TBD.

Michigan eliminates Maryland from Big Ten tournament

After the Terps lost 10-4 to the Michigan Wolverines on Friday in Omaha, Nebraska, Maryland was eliminated from its first Big Ten tournament under second-year head coach Rob Vaughn.

Both defensively and offensively, the Terps struggled to get a handle on the Wolverines in the elimination game, Maryland’s first time facing elimination in the 2019 tournament.

Terrapin starter Tyler Blohm struggled to get a handle on the Wolverines offense, which scored two runs early in the first inning, after a leadoff walk and a single through the left side put two on and no outs.

A sac bunt moved both runners into scoring position and Michigan took the lead on a wild pitch from Blohm that bounced over a foot in front of the plate before getting past catcher Justin Vought. An RBI groundout plated the Wolverines’ second run of the half before Blohm induced a groundout to first base to end the half.

Head coach Rob Vaughn pulled the southpaw after Blohm walked Miles Lewis to start the second. When Elliot Zoellner entered, he walked the first batter he faced before securing three consecutive outs including his first strikeout of the day.

Zoellner threw 3.1 scoreless innings of relief, including a 1-2-3 third inning and a two-strikeout top of the fourth, where the righty worked around a leadoff single and a two-out hit-by-pitch.

After Zoellner secured the first out of the fifth inning, on a fly out to center field, Vaughn opted for the lefty-lefty matchup against Jesse Franklin and gave the ball to redshirt-freshman Drew Wilden. Though he walked Franklin, Wilden soon recorded the second out of the inning on a strikeout.

It seemed Wilden was almost out of the inning, with two outs and a runner on second after Franklin stole the base. But then Maryland’s inconsistent defense could not take advantage of a base-running miscue from Franklin, who scored on a throwing error from shortstop A.J. Lee.

The senior middle infielder caught Franklin in a rundown between second and third, but his throw to third baseman Taylor Wright bounced off of the Wolverine’s helmet and allowed Franklin to score and put a runner on third, after Jordan Brewer walked to initiate the strange sequence of events in the fifth.

But then, Lee send a two-out single into left field for the Terps’ fifth base runner on the day. Unlike with the previous four Maryland runners, however, Lee eventually came around to score, after Randy Bednar went deep to left field for his first hit of the tournament, a two-run blast that cut Michigan’s lead in half. Prior to the homer, Bednar was 0-for-10 in the postseason.

If not for the Terps’ error in the top of the inning, which eventually cost them two runs, Bednar’s homer would have tied the game at two runs apiece instead of cutting the Wolverines to a 4-2 lead.

Even so, Maryland’s middle-inning rally did not jump start the Terps’ offense, which continued to strand runners on the bases as Wolverine starter Tommy Henry consistently worked out of jams and held the Terps to their two runs. The southpaw struck out seven in his 6.0 innings of work, giving the two runs on five hits, one hit-by-pitch and one walk.

Michigan’s offense, however, seemed to feed off Maryland’s struggling relievers. Though right-hander Nick Turnbull threw one scoreless inning of relief in the sixth, after he took over for Wilden when the redshirt-freshman gave up a single to start the inning.

But after Turnbull hit the first batter of the seventh, sophomore Sean Fisher finished the inning and freshman Sean Heine threw the eighth. Both struggled against Michigan’s lineup. The Wolverines got two across in the seventh, one credited to Turnbull, the other to Fisher, before plating one in the eighth to pull ahead to a 7-2 lead.

A solo blast from Maxwell Costes, his third homer of the tournament, cut the Wolverines to a four-run lead, but the Terps couldn’t continue the freshman’s rally and went to the ninth trailing 7-3.

Michigan added three runs in the ninth on four doubles off of closer John Murphy, before the senior recorded a strikeout for the final out of the inning, the Wolverines ahead 10-3.

Maryland stranded seven runners on the day, as the Terps struggled to plate runs against the dominant Michigan squad in the elimination game. A two-out solo shot to left field from the senior Lee was the only run to cross the plate for the Terps in the ninth, as the Wolverines won 10-4 to advance to the tournament semifinals.

 

Maryland falls to Ohio State in postponed tournament game

Senior A.J. Lee stepped to the plate with two outs and a runner on second in the bottom of the ninth Friday morning, as Maryland trailing Ohio State 3-2 in the continuation of the Terps’ Thursday night game, which was suspended due to rain.

Just over a week earlier, Lee hit a two-run walk-off homer in the Terps’ series opener against the Iowa Hawkeyes in the final series of the regular season.

But, Lee couldn’t get the ball out of the outfield on Friday, and Maryland fell 3-2 to Ohio State as the Buckeyes sent the Terps to their first elimination game of the 2019 Big Ten tournament, a Friday afternoon matchup against the Michigan Wolverines.

Maryland struggled to find its offensive momentum when play resumed Friday morning, after a thunderstorm halted the Terps’ second round game against the Buckeyes on Thursday night.

When the game resumed Friday, the Terps had a runner on second and one out in the eighth, with Michael Pineiro at the plate. But Buckeyes reliever Andrew Magno recorded two strikeouts to neutralize the threat, then got three straight outs after a Maryland leadoff walk in the ninth to secure Ohio State’s second win of the tournament.

The Buckeyes plated the first run of the game early, when an RBI single plated Dominic Canzone, who worked a hit-by-pitch to start the inning. The Ohio State right fielder scored again in the third, after he walked to lead off the half and scored on a Maryland error, when third baseman Taylor Wright misthrew a ball Brady Cherry hit deep to the left side of the infield.

The Terps struggled to plate runs against Buckeyes starter Griffan Smith. Though Maryland had eight base runners against the lefty, on five hits and three walks, through the first 7 innings the Terps’ only runs came in the third, when freshman Maxwell Costes sent the first pitch of his at-bat deep to left field for a two-out, two-run homer and tied the game at two runs apiece.

Maryland right-hander Trevor LaBonte went 6.1 innings Thursday night for his longest start of the season, topping his previous 6.0 innings against Ohio State on April 21 in College Park. He gave up only two runs on two hits, three walks and two hit batters, striking out three.

Though the freshman right-hander provided the Terps with a solid start in his first Big Ten tournament appearance, holding the Buckeyes to two runs on two hits, three walks and two hit batters, the first 6.1 innings didn’t matter in the top of the eighth when Ohio State clawed back on top, capitalizing on another Maryland defensive miscue.

After Cowles dropped a popup in foul territory, failing to secure the second out of the eighth, Cherry singled to center field. Then, Terrapin reliever Mark DiLuia walked a batter to load the bases, and a sacrifice fly plated the go-ahead run for the Buckeyes.

But DiLuia continued to battle on the rubber, and after walking another batter to re-load the bases, the righty took Nick Erwin seven pitches deep, securing the final out of the inning on a strikeout that stranded the bases loaded.

The Terps carried the momentum from DiLuia’s strikeout into the bottom of the inning, after consecutive hits from Wright and Costes, but the weather did not cooperate and the game was suspended until Friday, Maryland trailing 3-2 with 1.2 innings left to play.

Right when the Terps seemed primed to mount an eighth-inning rally, after the Ohio State Buckeyes took the 3-2 tie-breaking lead in the top of the inning, Maryland’s second game of the Big Ten tournament entered into a weather delay on Thursday night before the game was suspended, to be picked back up at 11 a.m. ET on Friday.

Just before the delay, Maryland head coach Rob Vaughn challenged the call on the field that Taylor Wright was out at second, after a grounder to third base from Maxwell Costes, who reached first on the fielder’s choice then landed on second on a throwing error from second baseman Matt Carpenter.

If the call had been reversed the Terps would have had two runners in scoring position with no outs. But, the call was upheld and the game suspended with Costes on second and one out, after lightning in the vicinity of TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska, halted play and sent both teams retreating to the locker rooms.

When play picked back up Friday, Ohio State reliever Andrew Magno remained on the mound, securing a pair of strikeouts to rid Maryland of its one base runner and end the eighth.

Then, Maryland called on freshman left-hander Andrew Vail to hold Ohio State to its one-run lead in the ninth. Vail recorded three consecutive outs and gave the Terps the chance for their second walk-off victory in eight days.

But Magno continued to dominate on the mound, and Maryland’s rally fell short and sent the Terps to the elimination game against the Wolverines Friday afternoon, with a tentative 4:30 p.m. ET start.

Maryland defeats Illinois in first game of Big Ten Tournament

In the Maryland’s first Big Ten tournament appearance under second-year head coach Rob Vaughn, the Terps continued their hot streak, defeating the Illinois Fighting Illini 6-2 on Wednesday in Omaha, Nebraska, to move on to the winner’s bracket.

Maryland got on the board first, after loading the bases on a pair of walks and an infield single from Josh Maguire. A fielder’s choice from Randy Bednar drove in Chris Alleyne from third, giving the Terps a 1-0 lead.

After Illinois starter Andy Fisher retired the Terps in order in the first, Maryland had runners reach base in every inning. Even so, the Terps struggled to plate runners and provide Parsons with a bigger lead with which to work. The lack of solid run support from Maryland came back to haunt the Terps, as they stranded a total of 12 on the day.

Illinois finally got a runner on base in the fourth, after Parsons threw three consecutive 1-2-3 innings to start. After the Fighting Illini’s first hit, a one- out single to right field from Michael Massey, Parsons walked two with two outs to load the bases. But the Maryland right-hander induced a huge ground out to end the half and strand the bases loaded, maintaining the Terps’ 1-0 lead.

But the Fighting Illini continued to threaten in the fifth, putting two on after a leadoff single from Grant Van Scoy and two-out walk. Then, a single to second base from Massey drove home Van Scoy, who beat the throw from Ben Cowles after the second baseman bobbled the ball and hesitated before throwing home.

Parsons found his groove again in the sixth and seventh, however, retiring the Fighting Illini in order in both innings to give the Terps the chance to pull ahead as the right-hander threw his 115th pitch on the day.

Then, the Maryland lineup came alive in the eighth. After Taylor Wright led off the inning with a single through the left side against the shift, freshman Maxwell Costes sent a two-run homer to left field. Then, two batters later, sophomore Justin Vought went deep with a two-run shot of his own, putting the Terps ahead 5-1 and providing Parsons much-needed run support.

Parsons threw 7.1 innings, allowing only one run on four hits and threw walks, recording four strikeouts in his 123 pitches thrown. After the righty secured the first out of the eighth with a runner on first, Mark DiLuia entered to secure the final two outs of the half. The sophomore recorded a three-pitch called strikeout and induced a fly-out to end the inning and hold on to Maryland’s lead.

Behind DiLuia, the Terps tacked on another run on a drag bunt single from Alleyne in the ninth. Illinois tacked on a run in the ninth, but senior closer John Murphy recorded back-to-back strikeouts to secure Maryland’s first win of the conference tournament.

Maryland takes on the winner of No. 2 Michigan and No. 7 Ohio State at 6 p.m. ET on Thursday.