Maryland sweeps Iowa, clinches postseason berth

Maryland players sprinted out of the dugout, engulfing closer John Murphy in the infield Saturday evening. The Terps had just clinched their first appearance in the Big Ten Tournament under second-year head coach Rob Vaughn.

“It’s pretty awesome,” Murphy said. “Especially because this is the same weekend I got ejected last year, so I’m pretty happy I didn’t get ejected this weekend and get to be there for all three games with my team.”

Murphy, who entered in the ninth, recorded three straight outs to ensure Maryland’s 10-8 win over Iowa (30-22, 12-12), earning his 11th save of the year in the Terps’ final game of the regular season in College Park.

“What John Murphy did at the end was awesome,” Vaughn said. “That game was kind of a culmination of our season. We get up, have moments that are really good, we have moments were we give it up, then have moments that are really good again.”

Until the top of the eighth, when Iowa tied the game for the third time on the day, it seemed Maryland (28-27, 12-12) had already won the back-and-forth battle. Though Iowa got on the board first, on a Tanner Padgett solo homer to start the second inning, Maryland quickly clawed its way back on top.

After starter Tyler Blohm worked out of the top of the inning, Maryland sophomores Michael Pineiro and Justin Vought sent back-to-back solo shots deep to left-center field to start the bottom half.

“When Pineiro’s going oppo-jack, that gets people going a little bit,” Vaughn said. “Those [homers] were huge…[they] kind of captured the momentum back and let us play with the lead.”

Two more runs crossed in the third for the Terps, giving Blohm a 4-1 lead off a Hawkeyes error and a handful of Iowa defensive miscues. Senior A.J. Lee, who reached first on an error for the second time on the day,  scored on a wild pitch from left-hander Grant Judkins, who walked three Terps in the half. Maryland’s second run came on an RBI sacrifice bunt from Pineiro.

“We talk about how you respond in the midst of adversity,” Vaughn said, “That’s one of our pillars…and every inning that [Iowa] scored, we answered. I mean, the offensive effort today was unbelievable, absolutely unbelievable.”

But the Hawkeyes came back, and a Wetrich three-run homer tied the game at four runs apiece in the fourth. With that, the Terps brought in right-hander Trevor LaBonte, who hit the first batter he faced but worked out of the jam with his first strikeout of the game.

Blohm finished his 3.2 innings of work allowing four runs on four walks and four hits, including the two homers. Behind a solid Maryland offense, LaBonte threw three scoreless innings of relief, before faltering in the eighth.

“If we call it what it is,” Vaughn said, “Blohm’s stuff was terrible today…and he still [went] out and gave us three or four innings. I mean, that’s Tyler Blohm..that’s just who he is.”

After Iowa tied the game in the top of the fourth, Maryland regained the lead on two runs in the bottom of the inning, after Benjamin Cowles and Randy Bednar singled around an A.J. Lee double. Bednar’s hit scored Cowles, and a sacrifice fly from senior Taylor Wright plated Lee, putting the Terps up 6-4 heading to the fifth.

Then, Maryland designated hitter Josh Maguire doubled to start the bottom half for the Terps. The freshman cruised home two outs later on a sac fly from Cowles for the Terps seventh run on the night. Two innings later, Maguire scored again on Cowles sacrifice fly, putting Maryland ahead 8-4.

But LaBonte started to tire in the eighth, loading the bases on a walk and two singles after striking out the first batter he faced in the inning. Then, Andrew Vail relieved his fellow freshman, but gave up a game-tying grand slam to Wetrich before working his way out of the inning.

“I told them,” Vaughn said, “When [Iowa] did hit that grand slam, I said, ‘We’re going to see what kind of character we’ve got.'”

Chris Alleyne stepped into the box in the eighth, runners on first and second with two outs. Then, Alleyne roped a double into the right field corner, clearing the bases and putting Maryland ahead 10-8 heading to the ninth.

“It really just shows what kind of offense we can have,” Lee said. “When all cylinders are firing, we’re pretty good. When we’re moving barrels and we’re swinging at good pitched and we’re getting our swing off, we’re pretty good.”

Iowa put up a fight against senior closer John Murphy in the ninth. But Murphy was not having it, and after the Hawkeyes got a double to start the inning, Murphy struck out one and induced a pop fly to first base. Then, a fly out to Bednar in right field, which ended the game with the Terps on top.

“It was pretty tough [Friday] night,” Murphy said. “It made it easier that we still came back and won, but to do that today and to send us to Omaha, that was pretty awesome, especially on Senior Day.”

“I don’t know if I’ve been more proud of a group of guys than that group of dudes standing out there,” Vaughn said. “That was a gutty, character win for a team that’s [still] learning. Everything they’ve been through in the last six months…everything they withstood, I am so incredible proud of that group.”

Maryland clinches series victory with Friday win over Iowa

For only the second time in 2019, Maryland (27-27, 11-12) clinched a Big Ten series win, pulling ahead early and staying ahead in the Terps’ 8-4 win Friday night over the Iowa Hawkeyes (30-21, 12-11) in College Park.

With the victory, the Terps head into Saturday’s game controlling their own destiny with regards to a Big Ten Tournament appearance. A Maryland win or a Northwestern loss against Minnesota would clinch the Terps a postseason berth.

“We’re playing our best baseball right now, in my opinion,” Thompson said. “Everybody wants to play another week with each other, so if we win tomorrow we can do that.”

Maryland’s offense stayed hot on Friday, powered by big hits from throughout the Terps’ lineup that backed an at-times faltering defense, giving early run support to starter Zach Thompson.

“I’ve told these guys from the get-go, moving barrels are dangerous,” head coach Rob Vaughn said. “When we’re moving barrels and hunting stuff elevated out over the plate, usually we have some success offensively.”

Freshman Maxwell Costes put the Terps on the board first, with a two-out, two-run blast that soared over the wall in right center for his 12th homer of the season. The first baseman leads all Big Ten freshmen in home runs.

After Thompson worked out of a one-on jam in the second with back-to-back strikeouts, Iowa eventually got its first run on in the third inning. Tanner Wetrich doubled to left field, the ball falling between Michael Pineiro and the wall, as the left climbed and reached for the hit but failed to snag it for an out.

Though the missed out didn’t have a huge impact on the outcome of the game, Wetrich scored Iowa’s first run later in the third, on a two-out single from Izaya Fullard that bounced into center field, just past a reaching A.J. Lee.

Maryland responded quickly, however, tacking on three runs in the bottom of the inning after a pair of singles and a walk left the bases loaded with two outs for Maguire.

“When a good team like that gives you opportunities you have to cash in,” Vaughn said.

With a 1-1 count, Maguire send the third pitch of his at-bat flying to right field, where the ball fell in front of Zeb Adreon, bouncing over the right fielder before rolling to the wall. Maguire flew around the bases, landing on third with a bases-clearing triple, his second three-base hit of the year. 

Two more Maryland runs crossed the the fourth. The first, a solo shot to left-center from sophomore Randy Bednar, his first hit of the three-game series after the outfielder went 0-for-4 in the Terps’ Thursday victory.

Senior Taylor Wright crossed the plate later in the half, after he walked, made it to second on a wild pitch then came around to score on a throwing error from Iowa second baseman Mitchell Boe, prompting the Hawkeyes to pull Boe from the game between innings. Wright’s run put Maryland ahead 7-1 heading to the fifth.

But the Terps’ offense slowed, as the Hawkeyes slowly began adding on runs, though Maryland held Iowa to one run an inning in both the fifth and seventh, pulling out solid plays to negate defensive struggles in each of the innings.

When Izaya Fullard doubled into the left field corner, it seemed the Hawkeyes were about to add their second run of the inning, after Chris Whelan hit an RBI sacrifice fly the previous at-bat to cut the Terps to a 7-2 lead.

But Maryland left-fielder Michael Pineiro fielded the hit and threw down the line to shortstop A.J. Lee, whose throw to catcher Justin Vought made it just in time to catch Tanner Wetrich at the plate, leaving the Iowa senior sitting in the batter’s box in shock, helmet in hand.

Then, Thompson walked Sher with one out, who made it to second when the right-hander included a groundout. With that, junior Elliot Zoellner relieved the starter, who went 6.2 innings and struck out seven, allowing only two earned runs on six hits.

“To me,” Vaughn said, “That’s maybe the most complete game, against a really good team, [Thompson] has put together.”

“We’re a dangerous team,” Maguire said. “We gave [Zach Thompson] a 5-1 lead…if he has that comfort, you saw what he did tonight, he just goes out and attacks and gives a great performance.”

Zoellner, however, struggled against the Hawkeyes offense, walking the first batter he faced then committing a fielding error, which allowed Sher to cross for Iowa’s third run, putting Maryland ahead 7-3.

But Maryland wasn’t done yet. Right-hander Mark DiLuia relieved Zoellner after his error, inducing a fly out to end the seventh before retiring the Hawkeyes with three strikeouts in the top of the eighth.

A solo homer from Lee put the Terps up 8-3, his second in as many games, after sending a walk-off bomb deep over the left-field wall Thursday.

Iowa responded with a run in the ninth, but DiLuia got the game-ending strikeout to secure Maryland’s 8-4 win. The righty threw 2.1 innings, allowing one run on one hit, walking one and striking out five.

Maryland and Iowa face off in the series finale Saturday at 2 p.m.

“We’re coming out, we’re focused,” Maguire said. “We’re going to try to get a sweep and then the Big Ten. [It’s] Senior Day so we’re going to play our hearts out for those guys because they’ve been nothing but great to us.”

Lee walk-off homer secures series opener victory for the Terps

Maryland’s dugout emptied as A.J. Lee tossed his bat to the side and started his trot around the bases in the bottom of the ninth inning. Lee, and the rest of the Terps, knew the ball was going out of the park as soon as it left his bat.

In the opener of Lee’s last regular season series as a Terrapin, Lee secured Maryland’s 8-6  victory over Iowa (30-20, 12-10) on Thursday in College Park, the walk off two-run homer marking the Terps’ first walk-off of the 2019 campaign.

“It’s really special for this team,” Lee said. “We’re been through a lot of adversity as a team, had ups and downs, good days and bad days. But at the end of the day, we’re all brothers and we’re out here trying to fight for a spot in the post season.”

“Regardless of what happens in the next two days,” head coach Rob Vaughn said, “that’s a moment that that young man’s never going to forget. He deserves it.”

After Maryland (26-27, 10-12) took the lead early, a late-inning Iowa comeback––headlined by the Hawkeyes’ four-run top of the ninth––necessitated the Terps’ bottom-of-the-ninth rally.

When Hunter Parsons exited his final regular season start as a Terrapin in the top of the ninth, greeted by a standing ovation from Maryland fans in the stands of Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium, Vaughn handed the ball over to senior closer John Murphy to finish out the game, the Terps ahead 6-2.

But Murphy struggled to shut down the Iowa offense, walking his first batter and giving up a bunt single to load the bases, after third baseman Taylor Wright struggled to field the slow roller.

The Terps turned a double play, but a Hawkeyes runner still crossed. Then another, and another. With three consecutive hits, Iowa cut Maryland to a one-run lead. Then, a single up the middle from Ben Norman tied the game at six runs apiece, before Murphy got his first strikeout of the night to end the inning.

Before freshman Josh Maguire stepped into the box in the ninth, Vaughn told him to “let the guy behind [him] be a hero.” That’s exactly what the freshman did, as he singled to the mound then moved to second on a sacrifice bunt from fellow freshman Ben Cowles.

Then, Lee’s home run and bat flip.

“I had a pretty good idea [it was going out],” Lee said. “But [the bat flip] was just out of pure excitement. I knew pretty much it was going to be gone.”

Lee scored Maryland’s first and last runs of the game, after he smacked a leadoff single into center field, then stole second and made it to third on a wild pitch. A one-out single up the middle from fellow senior Taylor Wright, which bounced off second base and into center field, plated Lee and put the Terps on the board first. Wright crossed the plate two batters later, on an RBI-single from Pineiro, giving Parsons wiggle room with a 2-0 lead.

Maryland put up two more runs in the third, when Maxwell Costes belted his 11th home run of the year to left field. The two-run shot put the Terps ahead 4-0, and secured Costes’ team-high in home runs. The first baseman also leads all Big Ten freshmen in home runs.

After a solid four innings of work from Parsons, who worked out of multiple jams on the night, the senior and his defense began to falter against the Hawkeyes’ offense at the same time Iowa kept Maryland’s offense, for the most part, out of scoring position.

Second baseman Benjamin Cowles made Maryland’s first error of the night to start the fifth inning, dropping a Ben Norman line drive. Then, with Norman at third, Cowles dove but couldn’t stop an RBI-single from Chris Whelan, and Norman crossed the plate as the Hawkeyes’ first run of the game.

Cowles then redeemed himself, turning a double play to end the inning and strand two Hawkeyes on the base paths. Then, the freshman led off the bottom of the inning with a single right up the middle, his first hit of the night. A fielder’s choice left Cowles trotting off the field, out at second, and the Terps stranded one runner in scoring position to end the inning.

“We talk about resiliency a lot,” Vaughn said. “What I’m proud of [Cowles] for…he didn’t feel bad for himself, he didn’t pout, he said, ‘Hand me the next one,’ and turns a huge double play.”

With Hawkeyes on first and second in the sixth inning, right fielder Randy Bednar climbed the wall in foul territory, reaching over to grab a huge first out for the Terps. Iowa plated one runner, cutting into Maryland’s lead, after Norman knocked the ball into left field, dropping just inside the foul line and past a diving Pineiro before it bounced into the Terps’ bullpen for a ground rule double. The one run was it for the Hawkeyes in the half as Parsons worked out of the jam, holding on to the Terps’ 4-2 lead.

But the Terps seemed to find their rhythm after the seventh inning stretch. A Lee sacrifice bunt plated Chris Alleyne from third, Maryland’s fifth run of the night, setting up Parsons to work out of the jam in the eighth.

With the 5-2 lead, Parsons gave up a pair of singles to put Hawkeyes on first and second. But, after a mound visit from head coach Rob Vaughn, the senior stayed in the game, throwing a career-high 123 pitches and recording his fourth strikeout of the night.

Before Lee’s ninth-inning walk-off, Maryland’s sixth run came across in the eighth, after Wright doubled to start the inning, crossing the plate on a Pineiro sacrifice fly. 

After his brief outing in the ninth, Parsons ended the night having thrown 127 pitches in 8.0 innings of work, giving up three runs on nine hits and two walks, striking out four. Murphy went 1.0 innings, allowing three runs on five hits, one walk and recording the one strikeout and earning the win.

“Murphy competed really hard,” Parsons said. “He gave up a couple runs but he [ended up] getting the strikeout to get us back in in a tie game, and then A.J. comes up in the bottom of the ninth, hits a walk off. Just a great team victory all around.”

Both looking to secure a playoff berth, Maryland and Iowa face off in College Park for game two of the three game set on Friday at 6:30 p.m.

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.