Series Preview: Iowa Hawkeyes

Iowa

Entering its last series of the 2019 season, Maryland (25-27, 9-12) sits in 10th in the Big Ten standings. But, the Terps aren’t out of playoff contention quite yet. Though there are many other factors to account for, as long as Maryland isn’t swept by Iowa in its last series, the Terps stands a chance at making their conference tournament.

The last time the Terps faced the Hawkeyes was in the first round of the 2017 Big Ten Tournament, when Iowa won 9-8 and went on to win the tournament title.

Now, Maryland enters the series coming off a 6-5 win on Tuesday over James Madison, in the Terps’ last midweek matchup. In the past two weeks, the Terps are 2-5 including 1-5 in the Big Ten.

For the Terps, the only player hitting over .300 is sophomore Randy Bednar (.301). Bednar enters the weekend tied with senior Taylor Wright for most doubles in the Big Ten (19) and with the third-most RBIs in the conference (49). Bednar is also tied with Maxwell Costes for the most home runs of the Maryland squad (10).

Wright, the Terps third baseman, is on the cusp of .300, batting .284, just above shortstop AJ Lee (.280). Lee, whose three-hit game against James Madison on Tuesday broke his six-game hitless streak, leads the team in on-base percentage (.418).

Expect to see freshman left-hander Andrew Vail (2.45 ERA) out of the bullpen at least once during the series. The southpaw has been a go-to for head coach Rob Vaughn, after Vail has proven to be solid out of the bullpen, particularly when thrown into tough situations.

Closer John Murphy enters the weekend with 10 saves, in a three-way tie for third-most saves in the Big Ten. Murphy leads the Terps’ bullpen with 45 strikeouts in 27.2 innings pitched,  the third-most Ks among the entire Maryland pitching staff.

Iowa Hawkeyes (30-19, 12-9 Big Ten)

Last Season

Iowa finished last season with a 33-20 overall record and a 13-9 conference record, before being knocked out of the Big Ten Tournament with consecutive losses to Michigan and Ohio State.

This season

Now, the Hawkeyes eye another postseason berth, as Iowa currently sits sixth in the Big Ten standings. The Hawkeyes haven’t yet clinched a spot in the tournament, but could do so this weekend against the Terps.

Hitters to watch

Iowa enters the series with four batters hitting over .300, led by junior Austin Martin (.311) and sophomore Izaya Fullard (.310). Martin leads the Hawkeyes with 56 hits, while Fullard is tied for the second-most home runs on the team (5).

Redshirt-senior Chris Whelan, batting .301, leads Iowa with a .455 on-base percentage.

Relievers to watch

Expect an appearance from right-hander Grant Leonard, Iowa’s closer. The junior enters the weekend with a 1.82 ERA in 29.2 innings pitched, sporting 13 saves and 30 strikeouts.

Junior Trace Hoffman will also likely make an appearance out of the bullpen for the Hawkeyes. The right-hander enters the series with a 5.88 ERA in 33.2 innings pitched, with 26 strikeouts.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Thursday, 6:30 p.m. ET

Sr. RHP Hunter Parsons (9-3, 3.74 ERA) v. Sr. RHP Cole McDonald (5-3, 3.55 ERA)

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In his last regular season start for the Terps, Parsons will look for this 10th win of the season. Maryland’s ace proved his dominance in 2018 wasn’t a fluke, leading the weekend rotation and striking out 70 in 89 innings of work.

For Iowa, McDonald threw the Hawkeyes’ only win last weekend against Michigan State. With 70 strikeouts in 76 innings pitched, McDonald is evenly matched with Parsons, leaving the potential for a pitchers’ duel Thursday.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Friday, 6:30 p.m. ET

Jr. RHP Zach Thompson (2-6, 5.28 ERA) v. So. LHP Cam Baumann (4-3, 4.87)

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Thompson enters the series leading the Maryland pitching staff in hit batters, with 18. His first season pitching for the Terps, Thompson proved he could hold his own at the DI level, striking out 56 in his 76.2 innings pitched.

Baumann, a two-way player for the Hawkeyes, went only 3.1 innings against Michigan State last Saturday. This week, he enters the series against the Terps sporting 47 strikeouts in 57.1 innings pitched.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Saturday, 2:00 p.m. ET

LHP Tyler Blohm (1-1, 3.27 ERA) v. Jr. RHP Grant Judkins (4-6, 2.18)

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Last weekend against Minnesota, Blohm earned his fourth start of the season, and first weekend start since he pitched in the Terps’ opening weekend against VCU. The southpaw enters the weekend with 13 strikeouts in 11 innings pitched.

The third arm in the Hawkeyes’ rotation, Judkins enters the series off a solid outing against Michigan State last weekend, showing six innings and giving up one run on five hits while striking out seven. The right has 62 strikeouts in his 78.1 innings of work.

 

 

Maryland fails to finish in loss to Minnesota

When Maryland starter Zach Thompson exited the Terps’ Saturday game against the Golden Gophers in the seventh, Minnesota led 5-1, and the right-hander hadn’t given up a run since the second inning.

Then, the Terps put up a two-run eighth inning, closing in on the Golden Gophers, who led 5-3 entering the bottom half.

But Maryland’s bullpen failed to complete Thompson’s start, calling on three relievers in the inning and giving up four runs on four hits and two walks, eventually falling 9-3 to Minnesota in Minneapolis.

Though the Terps controlled Friday’s game en route to their 7-3 win over the Golden Gophers, Maryland (24-26, 9-11) failed to carry momentum from its series opener into Saturday’s matchup with Minnesota (23-24, 12-8). The Terps lost, 9-3, after early defensive struggles and inconsistent pitching combined with a lackluster offense.

Maryland’s troubles started in the first, after the Terps fell in order––the only inning the Maryland didn’t get a runner on base. Then the Terrapin defense, let by the right-hander Thompson, gave up four runs on five hits and two errors in the bottom of the first.

After a leadoff single from Minnesota, an error from Maryland left-fielder Caleb Walls set the tone for the inning, when the ball fell out of Walls’ glove in what should have been a sure out. Then, later in the half, second baseman Benjamin Cowles bobbled the ball and failed to secure an out on a ground ball, loading the bases with two outs. Thompson got our the bases-loaded jam with a pop-up to first base, but not before giving up four runs, two earned, on the two errors and five hits (all singles).

But, while Thompson bounced back, giving up only one additional run on a solo shot from Wilson in the second inning, putting the Golden Gophers ahead 5-1. Maryland’s only run through seven innings came in the second, when Maxwell Costes led off the inning with a solo home run to left field, his tenth homer of the season.

When Costes returned to the dugout, after trotting around the bases, he went over to Thompson and placed his hands on the righty’s shoulders, grinning and seemingly attempting to pump up Thompson and boost the starter’s confidence.

It worked, and the solo shot in the second was the only additional run Thompson allowed in his 7.0 innings of work. He finished with four strikeouts, allowing five runs––three earned––on six hits and one walk.

Maryland committed another error in the fourth, when shortstop A.J. Lee fielded a ground ball and threw the ball short of the bag for an E6. But Thompson worked around Lee’s error, and kept Minnesota from adding to its lead.

Though the Terps struggled defensively, after the first inning Maryland had a chance at a comeback, largely thanks to Thompson’s comeback on the mound. But the Terps couldn’t convert base runners into runs: in six of the first seven innings, Maryland had at least one base runner. And, in two of those innings Minnesota turned a double play to end the half.

Like Thompson, Maryland’s offense started to bounce back. After the right-hander put up a three-up, three-down inning in the seventh, the Terps came out hot to start the eighth. Caleb Walls led off the inning with a double, the first multi-base hit of the game.

A Randy Bednar single brought Walls across the plate, the first of two Maryland runs in the inning. Bednar scored two batters later, after Taylor Wright and Costes both singled.

But the Terps stranded both base runners, unable to finish the eighth-inning rally. Then, Maryland’s bullpen also failed to finish. Nick Turnbull, Sean Fisher and Sean Heine each pitched a third of an inning to pitch the eighth. Turnbull and Fisher gave up two runs apiece. Turnbull got one strikeout, the only K of the inning.

Minnesota’s pitching, led by right-hander Patrick Fredrickson, contained Maryland. Fredrickson lasted 4.2 innings, throwing 69 pitches in his first start since the end of March. The righty allowed one run on two hits, two walks and one hit-by-pitch, while striking out seven.

A combined effort from Bubba Horton, Brett Schulze and  Jeff Fasching finished out the last 4.1 innings, striking out four total Terps and allowing two runs, on five hits and one walk.

Maryland faces Minnesota for the rubber match Sunday at 2 p.m. ET.

Maryland takes advantage of free bases, defeats Minnesota in series opener

After suffering a sweep at home last weekend, Maryland (24-25, 9-10) ensured it wouldn’t leave Minneapolis, Minnesota, under the same fate. Capitalizing on freebies from the Golden Gophers, the Terrapin offense pulled ahead early, a lead Minnesota (22-24, 11-8) tied, but never overcame in Maryland’s 7-3 win in Friday’s series opener.

The Terps got on the board first, taking advantage of a short-lived outing from Golden Gophers’ starter Max Meyer. The right-hander gave up two free bases––a hit-by-pitch and a four-pitch walk––to start the day, before Maryland loaded the bases on a Taylor Wright single.

But when Meyer ran to cover the plate on a Michael Pineiro sacrifice fly, which brought across the Terps’ first run of the night, giving Maryland a lead…, the right-hander seemed to trip and hurt his left ankle, ending his outing at 0.2 innings.

Starting with the two free bases from Meyer in the first, Maryland continued to make the most of freebies from the Minnesota pitching staff. A leadoff walk to Randy Bednar in the third set up Pineiro’s second RBI of the night, a ground-rule double that bounced over the left-field wall.

Then, with reliever Nick Lackey tiring in the fourth, the Terps strung together a series of hits and free bases, putting up three runs in the half to pull ahead 5-2, after the Golden Gophers tied the game at two runs apiece in the third on two singles and a double from the bottom of the lineup.

Of those three runs from the Terps in the fourth, two came from RBI freebies: Pineiro walked in a run with the bases loaded, and catcher Justin Vought took a pitch inside, working the RBI hit-by-pitch.

Once Minnesota put up a run in the sixth––after Parsons gave up a walk and a double to start the inning, and the Golden Gophers put a run across with an RBI groundout from Jack Wassel––Maryland pulled further ahead with a two-run top of the seventh.

After a pair of leadoff walks, a fielder’s choice put runners on first and second with one out as Ben Cowles stepped to the plate. Cowles singled to load the bases, and after a sacrifice fly from freshman Josh Maguire put the Terps up 6-3, Bednar sent an RBI single to left-center field for Maryland’s seventh and final run of the night, securing Maryland’s 7-3 victory.

Minnesota called on five pitchers Friday night, as its bullpen struggled to keep Maryland off the bases. They gave up a combined seven runs on eight hits, six walks, five HBPs and one error, striking out 15 Terps.

For the Maryland, senior Hunter Parsons continued his dominance as the Friday starter.  With five scoreless innings, the righty gave up only three runs on six hits in seven innings, working out of multiple jams while recording eight strikeouts and walking only three. Andrew Vail and John Murphy combined for two scoreless innings, striking gout a combined three and allowing a walk apiece.

Maryland and Minnesota face off for the second game of the series on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET.

Series Preview: Minnesota Golden Gophers

maryland-minnesota

Maryland (23-25, 8-10) enters its last road series, a three-game set in Minnesota, hovering in eighth place in the Big Ten standings.

After struggling against the first-place Michigan Wolverines last weekend, the Terps will look to bounce back against the fifth-place Golden Gophers. The last time Maryland faced Minnesota was in 2016, when the Golden Gophers took two of three.

Now, the Terps likely need at least two games over last year’s conference champs in order to have a shot at a Big Ten Tournament appearance. Maryland didn’t play a midweek this week, so it enters the series on four days of rest, compared to Minnesota’s two rest days. 

Sophomore Randy Bednar and senior AJ Lee both enter the weekend on the cusp of .300, batting .294 and .291, respectively. Bednar leads the Terps in doubled (19) and RBIs (44), while Lee has the highest on-base percentage (.429) of Maryland’s squad. 

Third baseman Taylor Wright, another Terrapin multi-base hit powerhouse, also rests just below the .300 mark (.281). Prior to last weekend, Wright led Maryland in doubles. Now, the senior has 18, trailing Bednar by one double. Bednar leads the Big Ten in doubles, with Wright just behind him.

In recent weeks Maryland’s bullpen depth has been tested, but the Terps held their own. Left-hander Andrew Vail and righty Nick Turnbull have both thrown sub-3.00 ERAs, with 2.60 in 17.1 innings pitched and 2.76 in 16.1 innings pitched, respectively. Vail proved particularly vital to the Terps’ bullpen, with 24 strikeouts in his 18 relief appearances.

Closer John Murphy enters the weekend with nine saves, tied with Michigan’s Willie Weiss for the third-most saves in the Big Ten. Murphy’s 45 strikeouts in 27.2 innings pitched are the third-most Ks among the Terps’ pitchers, and the most Ks among Terrapin relievers.

Minnesota Golden Gophers (22-23, 11-7 Big Ten)

Last Season

Minnesota dominated the Big Ten in 2018, finishing the regular season with a 44-15 record and a 18-4 conference record, walking away with the Big Ten regular season and tournament titles. The Golden Gophers made it to the NCAA Super Regionals, where the Oregon State Beavers handed them a pair of losses and ended their postseason run.

This season

Now, the Golden Gophers are struggling to recreate last year’s success. With an 11-7 Big Ten record, Minnesota hovers in fifth place in the conference standings, right behind Iowa (29-17, 11-7). The Golden Gophers enter the weekend matchup riding a three-game sweep of the Ohio State Buckeyes, and a midweek victory over South Dakota State on Tuesday.

Hitters to watch

Catcher Eli Wilson leads Minnesota’s offense, the only Golden Gopher batting above .300. Not only does the junior lead Minnesota in batting average (.314), but he also has a team-high 53 hits. Senior outfielder Ben Mezzenga is on the cusp of breaking .300, batting .281 with a team-high 29 walks.

Though his batting average isn’t remarkable (.244), redshirt-junior Jordan Kozicky leads the Golden Gophers with nine home runs.

Relievers to watch

Southpaw Jeff Fasching leads Minnesota with a 1.38 ERA in 26 innings pitched, followed by fellow lefty Nick Lackney (2.68 ERA in 20.1 innings pitched). For a Terrapin squad that has struggled against lefties this season, the pair will likely get the call at least once over the weekend.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Friday, 7:30 p.m. ET

Sr. RHP Hunter Parsons ( 8-3, 3.73 ERA) v. So. RHP Max Meyer (4-3, 2.18 ERA)

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After a solid start to the year, Parsons has proven he deserves his spot as the Terps’ ace. The senior has a team-high eight wins in his 12 games started, with the lowest ERA of all Maryland starters. The righty also leads the Terps with 62 strikeouts in 82 innings pitched.

For Minnesota, two-way player Meyer has settled into his role as the Golden Gophers’s Friday starter. With a team-high 79 strikeouts in 70.1 innings pitched, including nine starts and five relief appearances, Meyer enters the weekend a serious threat for the Terrapin offense.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ET

Jr. RHP Zach Thompson (2-5, 5.43 ERA) v. So. RHP Sam Thoresen (4-3, 5.19 ERA)

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Entering the weekend, the Terps have won only two of Thompson’s 12 starts. Though the righty has 52 strikeouts in 69.2 innings pitched, Maryland’s offense has struggled to provide the redshirt junior with adequate run support.

Minnesota’s Saturday starter, Thoresen has the second-most strikeouts (63) among the Golden Gophers’ staff. The right has made 11 starts on the year, pitching 43.1 innings for Minnesota. The Thompson-Thoresen matchup has the potential to turn into a pitcher’s duel, if Maryland’s offense shows up.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET

Fr. RHP Trevor LaBonte (1-3, 7.02 ERA) v. So. RHP Joshua Culliver (2-4, 5.47 ERA)

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LaBonte enters the weekend with the highest ERA of the Terps’ starters, in the fewest innings pitched (50). In freshman’s first season with Maryland, the righty has 40 strikeouts in his 11 starts and one relief appearance.

For Minnesota, the sophomore Culliver has developed into an average Sunday starter, entering the series with 42 strikeouts in 51 innings pitched, including 10 starts and four relief appearances.

 

Maryland struggles, comes out on top in midweek against Villanova

In its next-to-last midweek matchup of the season, Maryland (23-22) struggled to find consistency on Wednesday against Villanova (11-30). After pulling ahead to a four-run lead early, a struggling Terrapin bullpen threatened to throw away Maryland’s lead in the eighth.

But a huge double play got the Terps out of the inning and Maryland pulled off its eighth midweek victory of the season, defeating Villanova 5-2.

Junior Tyler Blohm made his second start in as many weeks on Wednesday, after struggling with a lingering shoulder injury to start the Terps’ 2019 campaign. The southpaw retired the first nine batters he faced before giving up his only walk on the day––a four-pitch freebie to start the fourth.

Blohm bounced back and struck out the next batter with his 49 pitch, reaching his pitch limit and forcing the Terps to make the call to the bullpen. His performance on the mound earned the southpaw the win, his first since 2018.

Though reliever Nick Turnbull gave up an RBI-double to the first batter he faced, the righty quickly grew comfortable on the mound. A junior as well, Turnbull gave up only the one run in his 3.2 innings of work, striking out five Wildcats.

Behind Blohm and Turnbull’s solid arms, Maryland’s aggressive base running early proved worthwhile, the Terps’ four-run second inning all that was required for the midweek victory.

Maryland executed an almost perfect hit-and-run in the second, after Caleb Walls singled to start the inning. As Justin Vought made contact with the first pitch of his at-bat, sending the ball through the left side, Walls rounded second to give the Terps runners on the corners and no outs.

Walls didn’t score however, as the junior was tagged out on a sac bunt attempt. But the Terps loaded the bases on the fielder’s choice and a subsequent walk, and a groundout and back-to-back singles from A.J. Lee and Randy Bednar drove in Maryland’s four runs.

But the Terrapin bullpen almost threw away that four-run inning, after Elliot Zoellner and Daniel O’Connor loaded the bases with no outs in the eighth.

Freshman Andrew Vail and the Terps’ defense ensured Maryland’s victory, however, as infield turned an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play, and the lefty struck out four batters to end the Wednesday matchup.

A solo homer from Vought to lead off the ninth capped the Terps’ offense, a simple response to the Wildcats’ busy bottom of the eighth.

Maryland returns home to face Michigan in a three-game series on Friday.

Game Preview: Villanova Wildcats

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After taking two of three against Penn State over the weekend, Maryland heads back up to Pennsylvania for a midweek matchup with the Villanova Wildcats on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. The matchup marks the first time the teams have met in over 20 years, as the Terps and Wildcats enter with a split series history, each team with two wins.

Maryland, hovering around the .500 mark for the past few weeks, will look for the midweek victory to provide added momentum heading into a tough series against Michigan starting Friday. For the Wildcats, who haven’t finished the regular season with a winning record since 2012, the Wednesday meeting marks a much-needed non-conference win.

The Terps’ offense, which fell quiet toward the start of conference play, has rebounded of late. With seniors A.J. Lee (.313) and Taylor Wright (.303) leading the team in batting average, Maryland poses an offensive threat to Villanova.

Lee enters the matchup riding a 10-game hitting streak and a 19-game on-base streak, while Wright and sophomore Randy Bednar (.286) are tied for the most doubles in the Big Ten, with 18 apiece.

Bednar also leads the Terps in RBIs (42), the second-most in the Big Ten, just behind Indiana’s Matt Lloyd (45).

A handful of Maryland pitchers could take the mound for the midweek start, including left-handers Drew Wilden (8.74 ERA) and Tuck Tucker (6.14 ERA), and righty Mark DiLuia (5.65 ERA). Wilden and Tucker started most of the Terps’ midweeks so far this season, with combined seven starts. Junior right-hander Tyler Blohm (4.15 ERA in 4.2 innings pitched) may also get the call to the mound, after a solid two-inning start last week against VCU.

From the bullpen, southpaws Sean Fisher (4.44 ERA) and Andrew Vail (2.03 ERA) and right-hander Sean Heine (9.45 ERA) are likely to make relief appearances, as is closer John Murphy (3.97), if the righty gets a save opportunity.

Villanova Wildcats (11-29, 3-6 Big East)

Last Season

The Wildcats struggled last year, finishing with a 9-38 record, including going 1-17 in the Big East.

This Season

Villanova’s struggles are far from over, however it has proved its 2019 campaign to be better than that of 2018. With a 11-29 record, the Wildcats enter the midweek on a one-game winning streak, after splitting a two-game series with Delaware last weekend.

Hitters to Watch

Freshman two-way players Nick Lorusso (.310) and senior catcher Doug deMarrais (.302) lead the Wildcats in batting average, the only players hitting above .300. The pair is also in a three-way tie for the second-most home runs (3), and Lorusso leads Villanova in hits (45).

Pitchers to Watch

The Wildcats appear to be in a similar pitching situation to the Terps; in a pair of midweeks last week, Villanova used a total of 10 different pitchers, four of which made appearances in both games. None of the Wildcats’ pitchers hold sub-3.00 ERAs. Most likely to make mound appearances for Villanova are right-handers Cameron Mathes (5.97 ERA) and Jason Applegate (7.84 ERA).

Maryland clinches series win, taking game one of its doubleheader against Penn State

Before the Terps’ doubleheader against the Nittany Lions on Saturday, senior Taylor Wright said he wanted to hit a home run into or over the bleachers in left field at Medlar Field in University Park, Pennsylvania.

When Maryland needed it the most––leading 5-4 in the top of the ninth––Wright sent a blast deep into those very bleachers, giving the Terps a much-needed insurance run en route to the series-clinching 6-4 win over Penn State in game one of the doubleheader.

After defeating Penn State 5-2 in the series opener on Friday, Maryland continued to capitalize on the Nittany Lions’ defensive miscues in game one of the doubleheader––the Terps’ fourth consecutive Saturday doubleheader.

Maryland put a run on the board first Saturday, taking advantage of a Penn State throwing error. State College native Caleb Walls laid a sacrifice bunt down the third base line in the second inning, an attempt to move Maxwell Costes to third after the freshman doubled to start the inning.

But the Nittany Lions’ third baseman Justin Williams tripped while fielding Walls’ bunt, sending his throw into right field rather than to first baseman Ryan Ford. Costes came home on the throwing error giving Maryland the 1-0 lead.

Another Penn State throwing error, a failed pickoff attempt from right-hander Eric Mock, helped the Terps put up a two-out two-run rally in the fifth to take the lead. The rally started with a double from Chris Alleyne, who knocked the ball into the right-field corner. Then, Mock sent the ball soaring over second base into center field, and Alleyne made his way to third.

After AJ Lee worked a hit-by-pitch, giving the Terps runners on the corners,  Randy Bednar sent a double to right-center field, the ball bouncing off the top of the wall. Both baserunners crossed the plate on Bendar’s hit, giving the sophomore the most RBIs amongst the Terps (42).

Terrapin starter Zach Thompson looked himself on the mound through the first six innings, allowing one run on three hits. But the righty started to fall apart in the seventh, after hitting the first two batters he faced. One run came across in the inning for the Nittany Lions after a sacrifice bunt and an RBI-groundout, but Thompson worked out of the jam and Maryland remained ahead 3-2 heading to the eighth.

Penn State’s only hit through the first four innings came on a solo homer from Shea Sbranti in the third. The senior’s shot sailed over the right-field wall, tying the game at one run apiece.

The Nittany Lions’ second hit didn’t come until the fifth inning, when Thompson gave up a single after hitting Penn State’s leadoff. But help from a Maryland 4-6-3 double play got the righty out of the inning, the Terps’ 3-1 lead intact. Thompson went a full seven innings, putting up three runs on three hits and striking out three.

Right-hander Mark DiLuia entered with a runner on first and no outs in the eighth. After a pickoff error from catcher Justin Vought moved the runner to third, Penn State threatened to cut into Maryland’s 5-2 lead.

Though DiLuia made a huge play shortly after relieving Thompson, fielding a ground ball and sprinting to first base for the first out of the inning, the right-hander gave up two runs on two hits, including a solo home run, and Penn State cut Maryland’s lead to 5-4.

Closer John Murphy finished the game for the Terps, earning his ninth save of his senior campaign after battling against the bottom of the Nittany Lions’ lineup and throwing 32 pitches. Murphy’s outing ensured Maryland’s series win heading into game two of the doubleheader.