Maryland scored in double digits on Sunday for the third time in its past four games, taking down the Bryant Bulldogs 13-3 for a series sweep in College Park.
Unlike the past two days, Bryant got on the board first in the series finale. Maryland allowed the first three Bryant batters to reach base to start the inning, after an error, a single, and a double. With the double the Bulldogs plated their first run of the game, taking the least 1-0.
But Terrapin starter Sean Burke proceeded to strikeout the next three batters to work out of the jam, minimizing the damage.
Maryland struck back in the bottom of the first on a Maxwell Costes home run to left field, after which Costes chucked the bat toward the home dugout, Tim Anderson-style. A Bobby Zmarzlak walk and Tucker Flint’s ninth hit-by-pitch of the year kept the rally going. (Flint was hit by two more pitches before the day was over).
Catcher Tavan Shahidi then smoked a single to right field to score Zmarzlak and give the Terps the one-run advantage.
“I feel like we have a complete lineup here,” Costes said. “If I don’t [get a hit], somebody else will.”
Bryant tied the game in the top of the second on a sky-high RBI triple just out of the reach of Terps left fielder Flint, but the Bulldogs’ lead didn’t last long.
Maryland’s offense continued the back-and-forth scoring in the bottom of the inning, putting up a two-spot after capitalizing on Bryant errors and free bases, heading into the third up 4-2, helped by a successful double-steal from Randy Bednar and Costes.
“When you are playing with the lead you can up your tempo a little bit and try to force guys to make mistakes,” head coach Rob Vaughn said, regarding the double-steal attempt.
A long ball to right-center field in the top of the third gave Bryant its third run of the day, but Maryland’s defense kept the Bulldogs from tacking on any more, while the Terps’ offense continued to dominate.
Shortstop Ben Cowles continued his hot streak with an RBI-double through the left-center field gap, putting Maryland ahead 5-3 heading to the fourth. The junior finished the day two-for-five with a double and three RBI.
On the mound Burke fully settled down in the fourth inning, with help from catcher Shahidi; after Burke walked the leadoff batter, Shahidi eliminated the baserunner with a successful throw down to second–then Burke struck out the next two batters to face the minimum.
Burke allowed runners in the fifth and sixth innings but both times the Maryland infield picked him up, turning two nifty double plays to keep his pitch count low enough to finish out the sixth inning with a strikeout. It was his 11th strikeout of the game, the most by any Maryland pitcher this year.
“In the past and this preseason when I struggled a little bit I was trying to do too much,” Burke said. “So now I have a real simple pinch-plan and make adjustments along the way if I need to.”
The Terps added three insurance runs in the fifth inning, plus four runs in the seventh and a run in the eighth; the late-inning scoring was highlighted by another double-steal and a Bryant error to plate Bednar from third base in the seventh.
Sam Bello came in the game for Maryland in the top of the seventh, relieving Burke, who finished with 11 strikeouts over six innings, allowing only two earned runs on five hits and two walks. Bello, who made his first appearance since February 21, pitched a clean seventh and struck out two batters.
“Burke is a baller, man… whenever he steps on the mound, the whole vibe of the team becomes different,” said Costes on the presence his freshman-year roommate brings to the diamond.
Austin Chavis had an impactful day for the Terps, going three-for-four with a double and two runs. Costes was two-for-two with a homer, double, two walks and three RBI.
Maryland will be back in action on Wednesday in College Park to take on James Madison at 4 p.m.