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.”

Series Preview: Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Maryland baseball showed in Wednesday’s extra-inning victory over Towson that it will be fighting until the very end of the season. The Terps played from behind the entire contest, tying the game in both the eighth and ninth innings before Nick Dunn delivered the game-winning hit in the bottom of the 10th — the first walk-off in his Maryland career.

Now, the Terps will host Rutgers this weekend in another pivotal conference series with postseason implications.

After Wednesday’s game, head coach Rob Vaughn said everyone in his dugout still believes they’re not finished just yet. With six games left in Big Ten play, the Terps are still mathematically in contention despite three teams separating them and the No. 8 seed in the tournament. The current Big Ten standings:

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Losing two of three on the road last weekend against Nebraska hurt, as it put the Cornhuskers one spot ahead of Maryland. But looking ahead to Rutgers, the Terps have a great opportunity to jump up a couple positions with a possible sweep. A positive week can keep Maryland’s hopes alive heading into the final three games of the season next week on the road against Indiana.

The Terps have won four of six games against Rutgers since joining the Big Ten, including a three-game sweep on the road last season. It was a very successful series for Maryland, which held the Scarlet Knights to just one run in each of the three games. Two seasons ago, Rutgers took two of three against the Terps in College Park.

Rutgers is trending downward as the Big Ten season progresses, and has an even more difficult road to the tournament than Maryland. The Scarlet Knights are 1-5 in conference games over the last two weeks, losing two of three to Michigan and being swept against Purdue. Like the Terps, Rutgers will be giving its all with three games on the road this weekend before hosting first-place Minnesota to end the regular season.

The Scarlet Knights are a good offensive team that is often held back by its pitching. They hit .276 as a team with three different players hitting above .301, but their two primary weekend starters haven’t been too successful, and neither have the carousel of Sunday starters they’ve employed.

Senior infielder Kyle Walker leads the team with a .310 average and a .438 on base percentage. He’s walked 23 times with just 16 strikeouts. He was one of Rutgers’ hottest hitters in the beginning of the season, hitting over .400 until April. He’s used primarily as a designated hitter, but only started once last weekend.

Junior third basemen Carmen Sclafani spent the last two games in the four-hole for Rutgers, second on the team with a .305 batting average. He’s third on the team with three home runs and has four multi-hit performances in his last 10 games. Junior Nick Matera is on the 2018 Johnny Bench Award Watch List, awarded to the best catcher in college baseball. He started in 42 of 44 games this season, leading the team with five home runs.

Rutgers’ weekend starting pitching has been suspect for much of the season, with none of their current three players with an ERA below 4.82. Senior right-hander John O’Reilly and freshman left-hander Harry Rutkowski have started every weekend for the Scarlet Knights, while right-hander Karl Blum has turned into the most recent Sunday starter as a graduate student.

The bullpen for Rutgers isn’t the strongest, but they’ve had seven different players make at least 10 appearances out of the pen. Ryan Wares and Serafino Brito have each had over 20 outings in relief duty.

Starting Pitching Matchup 

Friday, 6:30 p.m. EST

Sr. RHP John O’Reilly (5-2, 5.28) vs. TBD

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Rutgers plays well with their Friday night guy on the mound, winning in nine of his 12 starts. In the middle of the season, the Scarlet Knights won six consecutive games the right-hander started in. He has a winning record this season, but it’s been more because of run support than his perforance. O’Reilly’s 5.28 ERA isn’t great, and he has allowed 87 hits and 27 walks in 73.1 innings this season. O’Reilly is a workhorse that’ll preserve the bullpen for Saturday and Sunday. He averages six innings per start and has one complete game this year. In his last start, he allowed seven earned runs in 6.1 innings against Michigan.

Maryland’s starter is TBD. Freshman right-hander Mark DiLuia has started the last three Friday nights, though.

Starting Pitching Matchup 

Saturday, 2:00 p.m. EST

Fr. LHP Harry Rutkowski (4-5, 4.82) vs. TBD

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In just his freshman season, Rutkowski has filled the Saturday starting role for Rutgers this season. A 28th round draft pick by the Cincinnati Reds out of high school, the left-hander has had ups and downs this year. He’s conceded at least three earned runs in seven of his 12 starts and each of the last three. He had a stretch of five straight starts of at least six innings, including a season-high 8.1 innings of one-run ball against La Salle. In his last start, Rutkowski gave up five earned runs on six hits in 4.2 innings against Michigan.

Maryland’s starter is TBD. Junior right-hander Hunter Parsons, though, has started the last three Saturdays.

Starting Pitching Matchup 

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. EST


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Both starters for Sunday are to bet determined. For the Terps, senior right-hander Taylor Bloom and sophomore left-hander Tyler Blohm have alternated Sunday starts over the last two weekends.


Nick Dunn delivers walk-off hit in extras to beat Towson

Maryland baseball is still fighting to extend its season, and while Wednesday’s midweek matchup with Towson would neither help nor hurt those chances, erasing two late deficits before second baseman Nick Dunn’s walk-off single in extras was representative of the team’s challenge to make a late push into the Big Ten Tournament.

First baseman Kevin Biondic hit a game-tying home run in the bottom of the eighth and right fielder Marty Costes hit a game-tying sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth to force extras, keeping Maryland alive. All this happened before Dunn delivered the walk-off hit in the bottom of the 10th to cap off Maryland’s 8-7 comeback win in its final midweek game of the season.

The Terps were never truly out despite trailing the majority of the game, similar to the team’s position two games back of the final spot in the Big Ten Tournament with two weekends left to play. Mathematically, Maryland still has a chance.

“Belief is a huge thing. That’s the one thing in this dugout. There’s a lot of people that believe that we’re not done yet,” head coach Rob Vaughn said. “I think that goes for every game we walk in to. Having guys come through in big spots like they did today can be a big thing to carry into the weekend.”

The Terps fell behind 6-2 in the top of the seventh, but used a late offensive power surge to even the score. Zach Jancarski and catcher Justin Vought each homered in the bottom of the seventh inning to cut the Terps’ deficit to 6-5.

Right-handed reliever Elliot Zoellner recorded a much-needed shutdown in the eighth, just in time for first Biondic to hit a game-tying home run to deep left field. It was Maryland’s fourth homer of the afternoon.

“We were just locked in at the plate today,” Dunn said. “We were seeing the ball well and running off good ABs.”

Trailing since the second inning, the Terps were even with the Tigers, who used similar home runs to claim their lead.

Starting pitcher Billy Phillips worked a scoreless first inning, but allowed three runs over the next two frames. Junior third basemen Richard Miller hit his seventh home run of the season over the batter’s eye to give Towson a 1-0 lead. The Tigers went up 2-0 later in the second inning, and senior left fielder Billy Lennox snuck a ball over the fence the following in the third to put the visitors up 3-0.

“I thought we came out, honestly, a little flat today and I thought Towson kind of did the opposite,” Vaughn said. “They came out with energy and took some really good swings early in the game and kind of punched us in the mouth a little bit.”

After three scoreless frames, Maryland cut its deficit to two in the bottom of the fourth. Biondic legged out a leadoff infield, preceding a two-run home run from Will Watson.

Towson added two important insurance runs in the top of the seventh off left-hander Grant Burleson, extending its lead to 6-2 with just nine outs left to record. But another late Maryland push ensued, tying the game after scoring four runs in the next two trips to the plate.

Closer John Murphy entered in the top of the ninth, but allowed a leadoff walk and a go-ahead double before departing after recording one out. Redshirt senior Alec Tuohy recorded a double play to get out of the inning, and later pitched a scoreless frame in the top of the 10th.

Dunn delivered the walk-off hit down the right field line with one out, scoring Taylor Wright from second. A mob followed, as Dunn was lifted and carried into the outfield in celebration. It was the most emotion on the baseball field Dunn has expressed, according to Biondic.

“It feels pretty good,” Dunn said. “I was just looking to put a good swing on the ball. He kind of left one up and that was it.”

The Terps, who have six conference games remaining, will return to Big Ten play this weekend when they host Rutgers. Maryland trails Nebraska, Rutgers and Michigan State for the No. 8 seed in the tournament.

“We’re just fighting for a spot right now in the Big Ten,” Biondic said. “We start with Friday. Win Friday and go on from there.”

Game Preview: Towson Tigers

Maryland baseball’s chances at making the Big Ten Tournament took a big hit after losing two of three on the road against Nebraska this past weekend. Mathematically, though, there’s still a chance to sneak into the last spot with little room for error against Rutgers and Indiana.

Before then, the Terps will host Towson on Wednesday for their last midweek game of the season. Maryland has won its last seven games against the Tigers dating back to 2012, including a thrilling 6-5 victory last season at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen.

Maryland used seven different pitchers, with no one player throwing more than two innings. Ryan Hill tossed the first two scoreless frames, but then the Terps employed six more arms en route to the victory. Of those relievers, though, on John Murphy is still on the roster.

The Terps and Tigers were tied going into the bottom of the eighth, but then AJ Lee launched a solo homer to give Maryland the lead. Will Watson provided an essential insurance run with an RBI single later that inning. Towson cut its deficit to one in the top of the ninth and then loaded the bases, but former right-handed pitcher Ryan Selmer struck out a batter to end the game.

Towson (13-35, 6-12 CAA) has not been great this year, and if the Terps stay focused, it could be an opportunity to get the bats hot and keep the arms fresh before Rutgers comes to College Park this weekend. The Tigers are ranked 266th out of 297 teams in the RPI.

Towson snapped a nine-game losing streak Sunday against the College of Charleston, fending off a two-run ninth inning to win 5-3. During their last 10 games, the Tigers have been outscored 114-35. Towson is 4-8 in midweek games this season.

The Tigers have struggled to match the offense of their opponents. They score 4.7 runs per game with a .233 team batting average, while their opponents average 7.9 runs per game with a .301 average. Towson has conceded double-digit runs 16 times, and three of those occurrences have yielded over 20 runs.

Despite all the troubles, two players have been consistently good for the Towson offense: junior infielder Richie Palacios and senior infielder Billy Lennox. Nobody on the team is hitting above .259 except Palacios and Lennox, who are hitting .322 and .292, respectively.

Palacios became the first Tiger to win the CAA Rookie of the Year back in 2015 and hasn’t looked back. He hit .329 in his freshman season, .338 last year and .322 through 48 games as a junior. He has 16-multi hit games this season, leading the Tigers in runs (50), hits (57), doubles (16), home runs (8), RBIs (30), among other categories. He has 44 walks to only 15 strikeouts and is 22-for-23 on stolen bases.

Lennox played two seasons at Frederick Community College before transferring to Towson, where he hit .256 last season. He’s increased that average to .292 this season, with nine doubles and a triple. He’s one of three players on the team with at least 40 starts this season.

Towson’s pitching is a major weakness, as it has a 7.05 ERA. As a team, the Tigers have given up 493 hits and 288 walks in 407 innings pitched this season. Not one pitcher has found any success; of players with at least 10 innings this season, the lowest ERA is a 4.12.

Starting Pitching Matchup 

Wednesday, 4:00 p.m. EST

Jr. RHP Dean Stramara (2-1, 4.12) vs. RFr. LHP Billy Phillips (1-1, 8.47)

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 Stramara has been the best regular pitching for the Tigers, posting a 4.12 ERA in 43.2 innings this season. This will be only his third start of the season, though, and he isn’t accostumed to pitching deep into games. His season-high for innings is five, and that was back on March 14. Since then, he hasn’t pitched more than 3.2 innings and an outing, so this will likely be a bullpen-heavy game for Towson. Stramara does get into trouble, as opponents are hitting .330 against him. He conceded five runs in 3.1 innings on Saturday.

Phillips will be making his third consecutive midweek start of the season against the Tigers. He had a very successful first-career start two weeks ago, but struggled against West Virginia in his last outing. Phillips allowed eight runs in 1.1 innings, but only five were earned. In the 13 batters he faced, he allowed five hits and walked two to get knocked out early. Phillips is still working his way back in his first season pitching for the Terps, and Towson and its .233 average poses a good opportunity for him to record another successful start.



Maryland’s bats stay cold as Terps drop series to Nebraska

In the top of the fifth inning, the Maryland Terrapins had a chance to even the score at one. Zach Jancarski and Taylor Wright had just singled back-to-back, and for the first time all afternoon, the Terps had a runner in scoring position.

An unassisted double play off the bat of Justin Morris ended the inning and the Nebraska Cornhuskers answered. In the bottom of the frame, Nebraska rallied for three runs against Taylor Bloom, guiding it to a 5-2 victory and a critical conference series win.

Bloom’s fifth inning woes came after the senior right-hander had one of his better appearances of the season. In his first start since an injury he suffered during batting practice a few weeks ago, Bloom retired the first 10 Huskers he faced. A solo home run by Scott Schreiber in the fourth broke the scoreless tie, but Bloom didn’t really falter until the fifth.

In the sixth inning, Bloom allowed a pair to reach scoring position, but got out of the jam without allowing anymore Cornhusker runs. In all, he threw 103 pitches in seven innings, allowing four earned runs on seven hits.

After the Terrapin offense scored 15 runs in Friday’s win and eight runs in the first two innings of Saturday’s contest, it took a step backward to end the series. Maryland failed to score in 15 of the final 16 innings of the series. Both of Maryland’s runs came in the ninth inning of Sunday’s game — one on an RBI single by Morris, the other on a wild pitch.

Maryland’s best chance to break the slump came in the eighth, when a pair of singles by Randy Bednar and Nick Dunn and a peculiar defensive miscue loaded the bases for Kevin Biondic. Facing closer Jake Hohensee, the Terps first baseman lined into an inning-ending double play.

As a team, the Terps finished 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and just 4-for-19 with runners on base.

Seemingly every time Maryland placed a runner on base, he was erased on a double play. The Terps hit into four double plays on the afternoon, including Biondic’s costly one in the eighth.

With a 6-11 Big Ten record, Maryland’s odds of earning a spot in the conference tournament are rapidly decreasing. The Terps have two more Big Ten series remaining — home against Rutgers and away against Indiana — and trail all but two teams in the standings.