Three Terrapins earn Big Ten yearly awards

The Big Ten announced its end-of-season baseball individual award winners Tuesday afternoon, which featured three Maryland players: second baseman Nick Dunn, first baseman Kevin Biondic and pitcher Billy Phillips.

Dunn, who hit .330 this season, was featured on the All-Big Ten first team. The junior hit 10 home runs for the first time in his career after only hitting six in his first two seasons in College Park. He ranked fourth in the conference in total bases and third in doubles this season.

Dunn has played and started in all 172 games at Maryland, and now is projected to be selected within the first 10 rounds in the upcoming MLB Draft. He has 85 walks to just 67 strikeouts through three seasons, showcasing his ability to put the ball in play. He was consistently the best player on the field for Maryland in 2018.

Biondic earned All-Big Ten second team honors as a utility player, being noticed for his hitting, pitching and fielding. The senior came to College Park as a third baseman, but eventually transitioned into one of the best first baseman in the conference. Prior to the 2018 season, he even added pitching to his repertoire.

At the plate, Biondic hit .279 with six home runs and 27 RBIs. His four triples led the team, with no other player recording more than one. In his first year on the mound, Biondic finished with a 2.59 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 24.1 innings as one of the more reliable arms in the bullpen. For most of the year, the right-hander had an ERA below 1.00. In the field, Biondic recorded just one error toward a .998 fielding percentage.

One player on every team was also recognized for demonstrating sportsmanship, and left-handed pitcher Billy Phillips was the no-brainer decision as the Terps’ representative. After winning his battle with leukemia, Phillips has continued to overcome challenges in the face of adversity.

Pitching for the first time since high school, the southpaw pitched 20 innings and even started three games just months after being cleared to play. He earned his first-career win against James Madison, pitching four scoreless innings to help Maryland snap a six-game losing streak.

Maryland’s 2018 season ends with 13-3 loss to Indiana

Maryland baseball learned during pregame warmups that Saturday’s game against Indiana would be its last of the season. Michigan State’s win clinched the final spot in the Big Ten tournament, eliminating the Terps from postseason contention for the first time since 2013.

Maryland (24-30, 9-14 Big Ten) arrived in Bloomington with their eyes set on a fifth straight conference tournament berth, but left with three straight losses and a nine-month wait before their next game. For a handful of Terps — whether it be because of graduation or the upcoming MLB Draft — Saturday’s 13-3 loss was their last time donning the Maryland uniform.

In the last four seasons, Maryland has participated in every conference tournament, earned three trips to the NCAA Tournament and advanced twice to the NCAA Super Regionals. That streak of success wasn’t replicated in the 2018 season, which failed to yield a postseason appearance.

Indiana (37-15, 14-9) still had motivation to play well in the regular season finale, hoping for better seeding in next week’s tournament while celebrating senior day. The Hoosiers scored in five of the first six innings, jumping on starting pitcher Mark DiLuia and a variety of relievers thereafter.

Right fielder Logan Sowers blasted a three-run homer in the bottom of the first off DiLuia, taking advantage following a Maryland error and a one-out walk. The Hoosiers scored three more times in the next two frames against the freshman, who had been great for the past month and a half before Saturday.

Maryland nearly came back twice before the Hoosiers started to pull away. Junior third baseman Taylor Wright finished the season strong, collecting another two RBIs on a two-out single to cut Indiana’s lead to 3-2. After Indiana added another run, freshman Randy Bednar crushed a solo homer for his sixth of the season.

At least four players in Saturday’s starting lineup won’t be back next season, but Wright and Bednar both will be. They accounted for three of Maryland’s five hits and all three runs driven in.

Left-hander Sean Fisher worked a scoreless fourth inning, but it took four different pitchers to get through the next two frames. Fisher and right-hander Elliot Zoellner each finished short relief outings with three earned runs before Alec Tuohy entered and conceded a run and just one out. Senior Ryan Hill got the last two outs of the sixth after Indiana opened up a 13-3 lead. Hill pitched a scoreless seventh inning, capping off his Maryland career.

Senior Kevin Biondic’s pitching career began by fooling around with a knuckleball in pregame throwing lines and over last summer. He finished his first and only season as a Maryland pitcher with the same exact pitch, striking out Indiana’s Sam Crail with the erratic motion in the bottom of the eighth.

Maryland’s bats then went down in order in the ninth inning, ending the season by getting swept in Bloomington.


How Maryland can still clinch a spot in the Big Ten tournament

Maryland baseball can still qualify for the Big Ten tournament despite back-to-back losses against Indiana to start the final series of the regular season, but it’ll take some help from the Ohio State Buckeyes.

The Terps must win their game tomorrow against Indiana and have Ohio State beat Michigan State on Saturday. If either of the two things doesn’t happen, Maryland will not be playing in the postseason for the first time since 2013.

Seven of the eight spots have been punched to the Big Ten tournament, awaiting  Maryland or Michigan State to officially claim the No. 8 seed. Whichever team makes it will face Minnesota, who clinched the Big Ten regular season title on Friday.

Here are the current conference standings heading into the final day of the regular season:

  1. Minnesota (18-4)
  2. Michigan (15-6)
  3. Purdue (15-6) 
  4. Illinois (15-8)
  5. Ohio State (14-9)
  6. Indiana (12-9)
  7. Iowa (12-9)
  8. Michigan State (10-12)
  9. Maryland (9-12)
  10. Nebraska (7-14)
  11. Rutgers (7-16)
  12. Northwestern (6-18)
  13. Penn State (3-20)

 = clinched postseason berth
Strikethrough  = eliminated from contention

The Terps began the series with the opportunity to control their own destiny, but after losing the first two games of the series, handed that advantage over to Michigan State. Maryland’s loss Friday afternoon gave Michigan State the ability to pass the Terps in the standings later in the evening at home against Ohio State. They took advantage, beating the Buckeyes, 6-2.

The result put Michigan State one game ahead of Maryland in the standings with one game left in the regular season. It also eliminated Nebraska from contention. Because the Terps won two of three games against the Spartans earlier this season, Maryland owns the tiebreaker if both teams finish 10-12.

Here’s the schedule for Saturday’s influential games:

1:05 p.m. ET — Ohio State at Michigan State

5:00 p.m. ET — Maryland at Indiana

Maryland’s game was originally scheduled for 2:05 p.m., which would’ve overlapped with the one in East Lansing. Now, Maryland will know for sure whether or not its regular season finale against Indiana will matter. Maryland has participated in the Big Ten tournament in each of its first three years as a part of the conference, but is in jeopardy of continuing the streak.

Freshman right-hander Mark DiLuia (3-4, 5.17 ERA) will be Maryland’s starting pitcher against junior left-hander Tim Herrin (4-0, 3.00 ERA).

This story has been updated to reflect Maryland’s game vs. Indiana starting at 5 p.m. instead of the originally-scheduled 2:05 p.m. 

Maryland loses for 2nd straight day as postseason race tightens

Maryland baseball no longer controls its own destiny, now requiring assistance to earn a Big Ten tournament berth after losing for the second straight day against Indiana. All eyes for the remainder of Friday will turn to East Lansing, where Michigan State has a chance to put itself a game ahead of the Terps heading into the final day of the regular season.

Senior right-hander Taylor Bloom’s potentially last collegiate start was primarily successful, but Maryland’s offense stranded 12 runners — twice leaving the bases loaded — as the Terps never led in a 5-1 loss.

Maryland had two opportunities to control its fate this series, but with back-to-back losses, it’ll need some help now. If Michigan State beats Ohio State Friday at 4 p.m., the Spartans would overtake the No. 8 seed with one game left in the postseason race. Nebraska, too, remains alive with the Terps’ loss.

In the midst of retiring 13 straight hitters at one point, Bloom became just the second pitcher in program history to eclipse 300 innings in his career. He trails just former Terrapin and 2015 fifth-round MLB draft pick, Mike Shawaryn, but won’t catch his record unless Maryland makes the postseason.

The senior took several batters to settle in, walking the first batter he faced on five pitches before conceding a single on a 2-0 count. He wouldn’t allow another base runner until the fifth inning, but Matt Gorski’s RBI groundout in the first was the game’s only run for the first half of the game.

Maryland’s offense looked uneasy one time through the batting order against Indiana starter Pauly Milto (7-2, 2.00 ERA). The junior right-hander effectively used off-speed pitches, allowing one hit to the first nine batters.

The Terps fared much better in the following innings, but still struggled to find the tying run. Maryland loaded the bases with two outs in the fourth inning, but third baseman Taylor Wright struck out swing to end the threat. Designated hitter Randy Bednar singled to lead off the fifth, but a failed hit-and-run turned into a double play.

Right fielder Marty Costes began the sixth by working a walk, and then advanced around to third on two wild pitches. Left fielder Will Watson, on a 3-0 count, selected a pitch he liked and drove home Costes on an RBI double to tie the game. Still with no outs, the Terps were unable to bring across the go-ahead run.

Bloom walked the first two batters he faced in the following half inning, both of which came around to score to put Indiana back on top, 3-1. The Terps loaded the bases in their next trip to the plate, but first baseman Kevin Biondic struck out to strand all three runners on base.

Gorski and Luke Miller provided insurance runs with two solo home runs to put away the Terps, as Bloom preserved Maryland’s bullpen by completing all eight innings on 118 pitches. The final game of the series on Saturday is scheduled for 2:05 p.m.

Eighth-inning homer dooms Maryland, drops series opener to Indiana

Junior right-hander John Murphy struck out the first two batters he faced out the bullpen — each representing the go-ahead run  — narrowly escaping an eighth-inning jam before conceding a costly three-run home run in an all-important series opener against Indiana.

The Terps (24-28, 9-12 Big Ten) held a 4-2 lead before a two-hour weather delay halted play at Bart Kaufman Field in the top of the seventh. The stoppage ended junior Hunter Parson’s successful start for Maryland after six innings, and the bullpen was unable to preserve the lead in a 6-5 loss.

Before the home run, everything Maryland needed to happen to create separation in the postseason hunt, did. Rutgers, Michigan State and Nebraska — the three teams directly trailing the Terps in the standings — all lost Thursday.

While the loss is disappointing, absolutely nothing changes in the hunt for the No. 8 seed. With two games left in the regular season, Maryland still holds the final spot. The Terps have the same conference record as the Spartans, but hold a tiebreaker, while Nebraska sits 1.5 games back. Rutgers’ loss eliminated it from postseason contention.

Center fielder Zach Jancarski gave Maryland an early advantage following Will Watson’s leadoff single in the second inning. The senior launched a towering fly ball that cleared the left field fence for his seventh homer of the season to put the Terps up 2-0. The Hoosiers, who lead the Big Ten in home runs, used their strength to immediately answer. After Parsons worked a 1-2-3 first frame, the junior allowed a solo home run to Luke Miller.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, Indiana tied the game using an unusual sequence. Following a leadoff single, right fielder Logan Sowers hit a line drive to center field that scored Matt Gorski all the way from first. Sowers ended up in a rundown in between first and second, deflecting all attention away from Gorski as he scampered home.

Indiana starter Jonathan Stiever escaped a jam in the fifth after the Terps got the first two hitters of the inning on base. Rather than electing to sacrifice bunt with Marty Costes, the right fielder flew out to straightaway center field. Kevin Biondic then grounded into an inning-ending double play.

A leadoff walk issued to Watson later hurt Stiever when Taylor Wright delivered the go-ahead hit in the sixth. Following Stiever’s departure, Maryland instantly  jumped on reliever Tommy Sommer. Lee led off the top of the seventh with a double. Nick Dunn — who became the 13th player in Maryland history to record 200 hits in his career earlier in the game — then singled to put runners on the corners. Costes lifted a sacrifice fly to extend Maryland’s lead to 4-2.

An almost two-hour rain delay ensued, knocking Parsons out of the game after 77 pitches. Following the delay, senior right-hander Ryan Hill replaced the starter and pitched a scoreless seventh frame.

But after Wright provided another insurance run that gave Maryland a 5-2 lead, it all fell apart in the bottom of the eighth. Left-hander Grant Burleson allowed an RBI single before Murphy entered the game and allowed Miller’s second homer of the game to put Indiana ahead, 6-5.

Maryland can still clinch a tournament berth with a win Friday and a Michigan State loss. The Terps’ game was moved up to 1 p.m. from an original 6 p.m. start.

Series Preview: Indiana Hoosiers

Maryland (24-27, 9-11 Big Ten) swept Rutgers last weekend in College Park to move into eighth place in the conference, the last spot that qualifies for the tournament. The Terps now control their own destiny, knowing they’ll clinch a postseason opportunity if it wins all three games on the road against Indiana.

Anything short of a second straight sweep will require help to get in. MBN’s Justin Gallanty and Connor Newcomb broke down every scenario going into the final week of the regular season in the latest podcast. But simply put, Maryland likely needs to mirror whatever Michigan State does against Ohio State. Because Maryland took two of three against the Spartans, it owns a tiebreakers right now despite having the same exact conference record.

Nebraska is the only other team that has a realistic chance of catching the Terps. If Maryland only wins one game and Nebraska sweeps Illinois, then the Cornhuskers jump the Terps by half of a game. Rutgers, technically, isn’t out, but the Terps pretty much ended the Scarlet Knights’ season last weekend.

Scenarios can be described over and over but at the end of the day, Maryland doesn’t need to worry about them as long as it continues to win in Bloomington. The series will begin on Thursday at 7:05 p.m. and end Saturday, instead of the typical Friday-Sunday.

Maryland is riding a four-game winning streak, its longest in over a month. The offense took full advantage of a weak Rutgers pitching staff, outscoring the Scarlet Knights 30-10 in the three games. Nick Dunn continues to lead the Terps with a .335 average, but it was Maryland’s senior bats that stood out last weekend. Will Watson hit two home runs in one inning, Kevin Biondic’s batting average inches closer to .300, Zach Jancarski made two more highlight-reel catches and Justin Morris provided a much-needed boost at first base and at the bottom of the order.

While the Terps might be playing their best baseball at the right time, the Hoosiers have lost five of their last eight games. Indiana was the only Big Ten team ranked to begin the season, tabbed as the favorite to win the conference. However, the Hoosiers head into the final weekend ranked sixth in the Big Ten, and no longer included in the national top-25 polls.

Indiana (34-15, 11-9) has been average on the road with a 10-9 record, but 18-5 in Bloomington. The Hoosiers are 6-0 against Maryland during the regular season since the Terps joined the Big Ten, but 0-3 in the postseason. Indiana swept Maryland in Bloomington last season.

Indiana hits .287 as a team — third in the conference — with four starters batting above .300 and seven players with at least six home runs. Sophomore infielder Matt Gorski leads the team with 68 hits, 13 doubles and 19 stolen bases. Senior outfielder Logan Sowers — a 2017 Big Ten All Second Team selection — is hitting over .300 with seven home runs in the middle of Indiana’s lineup.

Juniors Matt Lloyd and Luke Miller are both hitting below .300, but each lead the team with eight home runs this season. Indiana’s 54 team home runs lead the Big Ten, but the Hoosiers also strike out the second-most times. Only Maryland has more strikeouts as a team.

Indiana’s 2.88 team ERA is the lowest in the conference. All of its most-used starters have an ERA below 4.00 and every player who has started in at least one game has an ERA below 5.00. Sophomore right-handed reliever Cal Krueger has a 3.13 ERA in a team-leading 37.1 innings out of the bullpen, while senior lefty B.J. Sabol has a 1.05 ERA and a .198 batting average against in 25 innings this season.

Starting Pitching Matchup 

Thursday, 7:05 p.m. EST

Jr. RHP Hunter Parsons (5-2, 3.47 ERA) vs. Jr. RHP Jonathan Stiever (5-4, 2.98 ERA)

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Parsons made his first-career Friday night start last weekend and will take the ball for Game 1 against the Hoosiers. The right-hander allowed just one earned run over seven innings, walking three and striking out seven in the win against Rutgers. The late-season injuries have shifted the weekend rotation, and Parsons rose to the occasion last weekend and he’ll need a similar appearance Thursday against the Hoosiers. He’s allowed just three homers all season — the fewest among Maryland’s starters — which will come into play against a power-heavy Indiana team.

Stiever has by far pitched the most innings for the Hoosiers this season, tossing 84.2 innings in 13 starts this season. No other Hoosier has pitched more than 61 innings this year. The right-hander holds hitters to a .244 average, striking out more than one batter per inning and walking only 25. In his last start against Nebraska, he allowed five runs (three earned) in six innings. He’s conceded at least three runs in each of his last three starts, receiving a loss in all of them.

Starting Pitching Matchup 

Friday, 6:05 p.m. EST

Sr. RHP Taylor Bloom (3-7, 4.92) vs. Jr. RHP Pauly Milto (6-2, 2.04 ERA)

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Bloom pitched last Saturday as he continues to work back from his concussion last month. He matched the performance of Parsons, allowing just one earned run over seven innings. He didn’t walk anyone, hit just one batter and struck out six. Bloom hasn’t had the season many expected him to have, but as someone who has pitched in big games since his freshman year, Friday’s could certainly be up there as one of the biggest and definitely one of, if not the last opportunity for the senior.

Milto has the best ERA of any Indiana starting, also holding opposing hitter’s to the lowest batting average. The junior has also only allowed one home run the entire season. His best performance came early in the season against Boston College, throwing a complete-game shutout. In his last start against Nebraska, he earned the win by allowing two runs over 6.2 innings. He walked one and struck out five.

Starting Pitching Matchup 

Sunday, 2:05 p.m. EST

Fr. RHP Mark DiLuia (3-4, 5.17 ERA) vs. Jr. LHP Tim Herrin (4-0, 3.00 ERA)

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After starting on several straight Fridays, DiLuia’s permanent role for the rest of the season appears to be on Sundays. With Tyler Blohm’s status looking improbable, the freshman will remain in the weekend starting rotation. He started for the first Sunday last weekend against Rutgers, tossing six solid innings. He allowed two runs on six hits, walked one and struck out four. His start may very well end up deciding whether or not the Terps will make the Big Ten Tournament.

Herrin has made a lot his early-season appearances out of the bullpen, but has transitioned into a weekend starter. He’s now made eight stands and, on the season, has an 3.00 ERA in 51.0 innings. He’s not an overpowering thrower, striking out just 29 batters this year. He earned a win in his last start against Nebraska, allowing one run on five hits while striking out three. He has yet to allow more than three runs in an appearance the entire season.




Controlling their destiny: senior bats are leading Maryland’s postseason push

Maryland baseball’s chances of making the Big Ten Tournament looked slim less than a month ago after it was swept at home by Purdue. The weekend dropped the Terps’ conference record to 3-8 with three of the last four series slated for the road.

The team then won two of three in East Lansing against Michigan State — a series that might determine the final seed in the tournament — before losing two of three against Nebraska. Maryland’s record still sat at 6-11 and outside the tournament.

The probability of the postseason still looked minimal heading into last weekend against Rutgers, likely needing a sweep — something the Terps hadn’t accomplished all season — to keep their hopes alive. But then, with potentially six games left in their Maryland careers, the seniors led a charge that now has Maryland in a position to control its own destiny heading into the regular season finale on the road against Indiana.

Screen Shot 2018-05-16 at 2.27.56 AM
Big Ten baseball standings (as of 5/16/18)

Maryland’s four starting seniors — Kevin Biondic, Will Watson, Zach Jancarski and Justin Morris — finished their final series at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium a combined 19-for-43 (.442) with 14 runs scored and 17 RBIs to lead the Terps to their first sweep of the season. The results moved Maryland from 11th place in the Big Ten to eighth, which would earn them a trip the tournament.

“We’re playing with that chip on our shoulder right now,” Morris said on Sunday. “I mean, our careers can be over after any day now so we’re all just trying to take advantage of these last few games and just leave it all out there on the line.”

Senior catcher Justin Morris waiting for a call. Photo by Amanda Broderick/Maryland Baseball Network

The Maryland native started all three games at first base against Rutgers, relinquishing his primary role behind the plate to provide assistance as Biondic nursed a bruised foot. In addition to his 4-for-10 weekend at the plate, Morris’ defense was strong despite playing the position on just one other occasion this season.

“He did an unbelievable job out there, just unbelievable. What that is, is just big-time unselfishness from that young man. Big time,” head coach Rob Vaughn said. “He’s been our catcher here for the last couple of years but our team needed him to play first base and that dude stepped up and did his thing both offensively and at first base [last] weekend.”

While Morris’ defensive boost was a pleasant surprise, Jancarski’s performance in center field was nothing out of the ordinary. His full-extension grab in the ninth inning Friday night potentially saved the game with the tying-runner at the plate. A day later, with his team much more comfortably up 15 runs, he dove backward and crashed into the wall to corral a fly ball.

Senior center fielder Zach Jancarski scores for the Terrapins last season against Northwest. Hannah Evans/Maryland Baseball Network

Jancarski — who also went 5-for-10 at the plate in the series —  has played in 183 games in his Maryland career, including starts in every game of the last two seasons. Putting his body on the line while up 15 runs in the last inning of his last weekend series in College Park shows what kind of seniors Vaughn has playing for him.

Biondic, despite not pitching, didn’t let his minor injury keep him from the batting order for the finale home series of his career. He assumed the designated hitter role for all three games, going 3-for-10 with two RBIs. The typical first baseman’s time in College Park began with playing 42 games in the Terps’ run to the NCAA Super Regionals in 2015, including all 10 starts in Maryland’s postseason games during his freshman year.

Senior first baseman Kevin Biondic mid-swing. Photo by Amanda Broderick/Maryland Baseball Network

He started just 16 times two years later as a junior when Brandon Gum replaced him as a redshirt senior. Biondic’s adaptability has exemplified senior leadership, working hard to earn 50 more games this season with 23.1 innings on the mound as a first-year pitcher.

However, Maryland’s offensive surge began with the senior that has spent the least amount of time in College Park. Will Watson, who transferred from LSU-Eunice after his sophomore year, went 7-for-13 with 10 RBIs against Rutgers in three games. He hit two home runs with seven RBIs in the third inning alone on Saturday, helping earn national recognition and the Big Ten Player of the Week.

“Not one of us wants to be done playing so we want to extend the season as long as we can and we know what’s at stake,” Watson said Saturday. “We know that every inning, every pitch is important so we just kind of try to relay that message to the whole team.”

Despite a below-.500 season the Terps didn’t anticipate, they have a chance to extend their season in Bloomington. It’s simple: win all three games and they’re in the tournament. Anything other than that will require some help from around the conference.

The Terps are playing inspired baseball right now, going 6-3 in their last three conference series. That success, orchestrated largely by their seniors and starting pitching, has earned all one can ask for going into the final three games of the regular season: the right to control one’s own destiny.

“We could’ve made out lives much easier if we were getting after it, doing some of this earlier in the year,” Vaughn said. “But at the end of the day, if we can find a way to get to the tournament, who knows? I think when people are playing fearless and people are playing like there’s no tomorrow, then they become really, really dangerous.”

Maryland completes sweep of Rutgers with Sunday victory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maryland baseball destroys Rutgers, 17-2

The bottom half of the third inning against Rutgers on Saturday will go down in Maryland lore as one of the best in the history of the program. And senior Will Watson’s performance will live on forever in the record books.

In the second game of his last series in College Park, Watson tied a school-record with eight RBI on the day. The majority of that came in the third inning, hitting two home runs and knocking in seven runs to lead the Terrapins to 17-2 victory.

Not to be lost among the offensive showcase that Maryland put on was the outstanding performance of starting pitcher Taylor Bloom. In his last outing ever on the mound at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium, the senior delivered a masterful gem, hurling seven strong and holding the Scarlet Knights to just one earned run on six hits.

“I just wanted to give the fans a good start, the team a good start,” Bloom said following his outing.

A double from Dan DiGeorgio to kick off the game was not how Bloom wanted things to start. And when Mike Nyisztor ripped the very next pitch towards the third base line, it seemed as though it could be the makings of a disastrous outing.

But Taylor Wright made a diving stop to hold the runner at second base and get the out, and Bloom picked off DiGeorgio soon thereafter to take away the scoring threat. He then struck out the next batter to close out the first inning without any damage.

AJ Lee doubled to start off the bottom half for Maryland, and some good baserunning allowed him to score on a passed ball. After Marty Costes made his way to third base following a walk, Watson brought him home on sacrifice fly in his first at-bat of the game.

In the top of the third, Rutgers got its first run on the board. Luke Bowerbank sent a seemingly innocuous ground ball to second base, but Nick Dunn couldn’t field it cleanly. That put a runner on base, and it came back to hurt the Terps. DiGeorgio delivered his second double in as many at-bats to cut Maryland’s lead to one, but Bloom stranded him on base to leave with the inning with the lead.

Marty Costes doubled with one out in the bottom of the third, and Kevin Biondic singled to put runners on the corners for Watson. At that point, the Terps held a 2-1 lead and were looking to add some insurance runs for Bloom. But the senior left fielder wanted more, ripping a line drive over the wall in left-center field to give Maryland a four run advantage.

“He’s swinging the bat with a lot of confidence right now,” coach Rob Vaughn said of Watson. “Will just comes out and keeps working every day. You’re seeing the fruits of his labor right now.”

The Terrapins didn’t stop there. Seven of the next eight batters reached base, sending Watson to the plate once again. This time around, he stepped into the batter’s box with the bases loaded and his team sporting a 9-1 lead.

“With runners in scoring position, you’re just trying to get a good pitch to hit,” Watson said about heading to the plate for the second time in the inning. “Once you get one over the plate, you have to be moving the barrel and good things usually happen.”

On an 0-1 pitch, Watson drove a long fly ball to left-center field, sending outfielder Kevin Blum to the warning track. Blum followed the ball as far as he could, scaling the wall once he ran out of room. But his efforts were futile, and it was a grand slam for Watson.

That was the senior’s second home run, combining for seven RBI in the third inning alone. He sits in second place in NCAA history for most in a single inning, and Terps now led by a score of 13-1.

“We’re having so much fun right now, we’re just trying to keep it rolling,” Watson said.

Bloom did his part to keep the Terps ahead – the senior went above and beyond to quiet the Scarlet Knights the rest of the way. The tops of the next three frames were all scoreless, as Bloom used a combination of the strikeout and the soft-contact routes to silence Rutgers.

Despite such a large number already on the scoreboard, Maryland kept putting runs across. The fourth inning saw AJ Lee and Nick Dunn knock runners in on a single and sacrifice fly, respectively. Then in the sixth, Dunn plated another run with a second sacrifice fly.

Bloom’s only real mistake came on the first pitch to Chris Folinusz to kick off the seventh, as the first baseman lifted a fly ball over the wall to get Rutgers back on the board. The bases became loaded with one out, but he got Blum to roll a pair to close out his outing. Elliot Zoellner came on to finish off the final two innings, and he did so without incident to complete the blowout victory.

Maryland still has some work to do if it is to make the postseason, but if Saturday is any indication, the Terrapins are up to the task to get the job done. These seniors don’t want to quit playing just yet.

“For most of us, this is our last time playing baseball,” said Bloom. “We’re just laying it all on the line.”

Maryland beats Rutgers behind Parsons’ masterful first-career Friday start

With right-hander Hunter Parsons over 100 pitches in his first-career Friday night start, pitching coach Corey Muscara visited the mound in the middle of a 2-0 count to tell his starter the next two batters were his regardless of the result.

Parsons threw two more balls to walk the hitter, but with the confidence instilled in him, the junior then induced an inning-ending flyout on his 118th pitch to cap off his two-run, seven-inning performance in Maryland’s 5-2 win against Rutgers.

Center fielder Zach Jancarski perhaps saved the game in the top of the ninth, making a full-extension grab with the tying-run at the plate. After losing eight straight series openers, the Terps have now won their last two as they continue to vigorously hunt down the final spot in the Big Ten Tournament.

“This is the playoffs from here on out. We’re playing for our lives right now and it’s time to step it up,” Jancarski said.  “I think our guys did a great job not letting the pressure get to them, but being ready when their number was called.”

Rutgers scored in the very first frame, taking advantage of multiple Maryland miscues. Parsons allowed a leadoff single after getting ahead 0-2 in the count, and Justin Vought’s throwing error on a steal attempt moved the runner to third. With an RBI groundout following, The Scarlet Knights took a quick 1-0 lead.

From that point on, though, it was all Hunter Parsons and clutch hitting from several Maryland seniors to stay in postseason contention. After retiring 11 straight hitters at one point, Parsons conceded a run in the seventh before loading the bases. But the coaching staff decided to live or die with their ace on the mound.

“That guy’s been so dang good. He deserved a chance to try to finish that inning,” head coach Rob Vaughn said. “So just try to give him a deep breath and just reset everything and good execute some pitches and kill some of their momentum.”

In the midst of Parsons’ standout start, all four seniors in Maryland’s starting lineup recorded multi-hit games in clutch situations to pull away from the Scarlet Knights. Kevin Biondic, Will Watson, Justin Morris and Jancarski went a combined 8-for-15 with two runs scored and three RBIs.

“This is the last time we’re going to be putting the Maryland uniform on this field,” Jancarski explained. “The blood, sweat and tears that these guys — especially the seniors — put into this, just so much stuff behind the scenes. There’s nothing else we know.”

Biondic extended the bottom of the first with two outs with a single, granting an opportunity for Watson to deliver the game-tying RBI hit. The following frame, Morris led off with a single before junior shortstop AJ Lee hit a two-out RBI double to give Maryland a 2-1 lead.

The bottom of the sixth belonged to Maryland’s senior hitters, too, doubling, singling and doubling again to spark a two-run inning to extend the Terps’ lead to three heading into the seventh frame. After Parsons allowed a run in the seventh, Jancarski grabbed the run right back with an RBI single in the next half inning.

Kevin Biondic was the designated hitter, unable to play defensively with a bruised foot. Morris, therefore, was given the task of playing first base for the first time this season. He made several great plays, including a foul grab against the wall with a runner in scoring position and two inning-ending picks.

“This was his first week of practice at first base,” Parsons said. “He’s played 50 games either behind the dish or [designated hitter] and just to see him over there … it looks so natural for him.”

Ryan Hill, also a senior, held the score at 5-2 by striking out two hitters in a scoreless eighth inning. He recorded the first two outs of the ninth, but let the tying-run get to the plate. Left-hander Grant Burleson sealed the game, coming on to get the last out.

“We’re going to enjoy this for about 15-20 minutes and then it’s back to the basics. It’s back to square one,” Jancarski said. “We got a 0-0 game and we have to take care of business tomorrow.”