Aggies beat the Old Liners, 16-1, in Game 3 to complete Fall World Series comeback

With the Old Liners leading by eight runs in the Fall World Series after winning the first two games, Aggies captain Kevin Biondic asked head coach Rob Vaughn to put the number “8”  in their opponent’s run column on the scoreboard prior to Game 3. The senior knew his team would have to win by nine runs to claim the series victory.

Because this year’s fall finale incorporated a point-system comprised of wins, run differential and various objectives, the Aggies had a chance to win the series, despite losing the first two games.

Biondic swung and missed on a two-strike count in the first inning, ending his streak of eight straight times reaching base to start the series. Despite being retired for the first time in three days, Biondic quickly responded to spark a seven-run Aggies rally in the third inning, eventually helping blowout the Old Liners, 16-1.

Biondic’s request to visually see his team down eight runs on the scoreboard mentally sparked the Aggies, as they went on to win the entire series, 16-9.

“What that tells you, you start talking about leadership,” head coach Rob Vaughn said. “You start talking about grit and the things that great championship teams do. That’s what Kevin Biondic exhibited today.”

Following freshman Tommy Gardiner’s leadoff walk to start the third, Biondic launched an 0-1 pitch to the right-center field gap for a double off right-handed reliever Ryan Hill. Four runs came across before Biondic stepped back up to the plate with two outs as the Aggies batted around.

Battling tough, Biondic drew an 11-pitch walk to reload the bases against right-hander Mike Vasturia, who relieved Hill after he didn’t record an out. Senior Will Watson took advantage of Biondic’s at-bat by delivering a bases-clearing triple to cap off the Aggies’ seven-run inning.

“I don’t want to say that sealed the deal right there, but that boosted our confidence even more than what it was already at,” Biondic said.

Sitting on the bench while watching his team provide a surplus of run support, sophomore transfer Zach Thompson returned to the mound in the bottom of the third after setting down the first six batters he faced.

Thompson, who pitched at Archbishop Spalding High School prior to spending his freshman season at St. Mary’s College (Md.), allowed just one earned run, while striking out three in four innings of work. His counterpart and former high school teammate, Old Liners left-hander Tyler Blohm, allowed just one hit and struck out three in two scoreless innings.

Although the Older Liners scored a run in the bottom of the third to make it 7-1, the Aggies offense went back to work in the fourth. After falling behind 0-2 in the count, Biondic snuck a ball down the left-field line for a two-run double. The senior finished the series 7-for-9, reaching base in 11 of his 13 plate appearances.

“I think I’ve come a long way from where I started,” Biondic said. “I think of lot of it comes from the pitching. I understand what pitchers are doing and what they think and what pitches are going to be thrown and in what counts.”

The Aggies scored an additional six runs in the fourth inning, including RBI singles from Barrett Smith and Zach Jancarski, to make it a 15-1 Aggies lead. After the half inning, The Aggies took control of the series run differential for the first time of the week, 15-9. Smith provided the last run of the game in the top of the fifth on a sacrifice fly. He finished the afternoon 1-for-1 with three walks, a sac fly and three RBIs.

“All the guys came ready today,” Biondic said. “I was very surprised in how positive everyone was today. It was almost like we knew we were going to come back.”

Right-hander John Murphy closed out the game for the Aggies in the last inning, clinching both the game and Fall World Series victory over the Old Liners. The fall season is now over for the Terps, and they will return to game action in the middle of February for the start of the 2018 season.

“If we want to do what these guys want to do and do something special in the spring,” Vaughn said, “then now is really when the work starts.”

Old Liners explode for 11 runs to beat Aggies in Game 2

The Old Liners held a three-run lead with the bases loaded and no outs before right-hander Mike Vasturia recorded three straight outs to clinch a victory over the Aggies in Game 1 of the Fall World Series.

One day later, it was the Old Liners offense with three runners on with nobody out in the third inning.

Catcher Justin Morris, who had 13 RBI last season, cleared the bases with a double down the right-field line to put the Old Liners up 3-0. Three more runs came across in the inning, helping the Old Liners to an eventual 11-6 win.

“Capitalizing on big situations with runners in scoring position was big for us today,” Old Liners second baseman Nick Dunn said. “We just kept having good at-bats.”

Aggies starting pitcher, right-hander Mark DiLuia, allowed just one baserunner in his first two innings, but conceded five earned runs in the top of the third. Dunn doubled and singled off the center field wall in the inning, as the Old Liners batted around.

Aggies’ freshman left-hander Grant Burleson, who pitched two scoreless innings in Game 1, recorded the final two outs of the third to put a halt to the six-run inning.

Old Liners starting right-hander Hunter Parsons didn’t allow a hit to the first nine batters he faced, but gave up a single and a home run to back-to-back hitters in the bottom of the third. Following freshman Tommy Gardiner’s single, Kevin Biondic hit a two-run blast over the center field wall to cut the deficit to 6-2. Biondic has now reached base in all eight of his plate appearances in the Fall World Series.

“It’s been a crazy fall for him so far,” Dunn said. “He’s by far our best hitter this fall and it’s just really special to see that.”

Parsons pitched four innings, allowing just the two runs on two hits with a pair of strikeouts.

“It was good to get back out there,” Parsons said. “The Fall World Series is always a fun to to compete so I was glad to be able to go out there and just have some fun with it.”

After the Old Liners pushed across two runs in the top of the fourth, Biondic took the mound for the first time of the series. The senior picked up pitching over the summer, similarly to former Terps Mike Rescigno and Jamal Wade. He allowed two inherited runners to score on a  sacrifice fly and a Marty Costes RBI-single, extending the Old Liners lead to 10-2 in the fourth.

Dunn hit an RBI-double off Biondic in the fifth for his third hit of the afternoon. After his home run in Game 1, Dunn has three extra-base hits in the Fall World Series.

“The pitching I saw this summer [in the Cape],” Dunn said, “that’s helped into the fall and into the spring.”

Old Liners freshman right-hander Sean Fisher pitched 1.2 scoreless innings in relief, allowing just one hit. Left-hander Jon Dignazio came on to record the last out, but allowed four runs before clinching the Old Liners second win of the series.

The Fall World Series will conclude Friday at 4 p.m. at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium.


Maryland gives up lead, falls to WVU

The Maryland Terrapins were leading West Virginia 4-3 heading into the eighth inning, just six outs away from advancing to the regional final. The eighth inning was a different story than the rest of the game though, and Maryland was sent home packing after losing to WVU 8-5.

The eighth inning was just as surprising as it was devastating for Maryland. The Terps pitching had been very solid in the game, and one of their most dominant pitchers, Ryan Selmer was coming in for a six-out save attempt. Selmer ended up going just .1 IP, while giving up four runs.

The Terps, having just blown a lead, did not go down without a fight. Nick Dunn lead off with a home run, and Maryland soon had two runners on with one out, bringing the tying run to the plate, before eventually falling to WVU. MBN Logo

Early on, it was Maryland who was scoring. Marty Costes unleashed a bomb to left in the second to give the Terps an early 1-0 lead. One inning later, it was Brandon Gum who doubled home Justin Morris, putting Maryland up 2-0.

That looked to be good run support for Tyler Blohm, who again did not allow many runs or hits, but struggled to give Maryland length. Blohm went just three innings, not allowing a run while striking out four.

He was relieved by John Murphy, who was thrown in a tough situation in the fourth. Murphy inherited a bases loaded, nobody out situation in just a two-run game. Murphy showed why Head Coach John Szefc has so much trust in him, as he struck out the side to end the inning, and was understandably fired up.

“I felt Murphy was really tremendous today,” Head Coach John Szefc said. “I give him credit, he pitched three innings right in the middle of the game and kept us in it.”

Murphy then was given some run support himself, as Brandon Gum snuck a two-run home run inside the left field foul pole, plating A.J. Lee.

“Yeah, that was big, got a little help from the wind,” Brandon Gum said. “When you can go up 4-0 with our guys on the mound, you definitely feel good about it.”

WVU added one run in the sixth, and two in the seventh to get within one. It looked like they were going to tie the game or take the lead, but Justin Morris came up big behind the plate.

WVU was attempting a suicide squeeze play, but the pitch by Jared Price went array. Morris made a great play to nab the wayward pitch, and also was alert enough to tag out the runner trying to get home.

Maryland, conversely, was struggling mightily offensively. The Terps had success off starter Kade Strowd, who gave up 4 ER in 4.1 IP. Jackson Sigman, the senior reliever for WVU, shut down Maryland until the ninth. He pitched 4.2 innings, striking out seven while allowing just one run.

WVU had plenty of offensive success in both games in the regional against Maryland, scoring nine and eight runs respectively in the two games. They did their scoring in much different ways though, as in the opening game of the series, the Mountaineers hit six home runs, but Sunday’s game they played small ball, not hitting one long ball.

Maryland’s season is over with the loss to WVU. The Mountaineers will go on to face Wake Forest in the Winston-Salem Regional Final.

Maryland explodes for 16 runs, stays alive by beating UMBC

UMBC starter Matt Chanin retired the first seven Maryland batters of the game and it looked like the Terps’ offensive struggles from the day before were going to continue. But the eighth batter for Maryland, Kevin Smith, drew a walk, and there was no turning back.

The Maryland Terrapins came into the game against UMBC having squandered plenty of opportunities to score the day before against WVU. They needed a spark, and Justin Morris teeing off of Chanin for a two-run blast, was just that, as the Terps went on to beat UMBC 16-2.

“That was a really big hit for us,” Head Coach John Szefc said. “We go down early, and we answered quickly.”

Morris gave the Terps a 2-1 lead at the time, and allowed Taylor Bloom to breathe. Bloom gave up a home run to Zack Bright in the second, but was lights out after that. He finished going eight innings, giving up just two runs.

“It’s always good to get that comfort of a lead,” Bloom said. “It’s very settling in my mind that I can just go out there, no pressure.”

He got all the support he needed in the fourth, which was the inning that Maryland had MBN Logobeen looking for. They scratched and clawed their way to a six-run inning, while recording just one hit.

Nick Dunn and Will Watson started the frame by walking, and after an error, Kevin Smith was at the plate with two on base.

Smith tattooed one to center to blow it open. The Terps had settled down and could finally take a deep breath. They added two more in the inning to take an 8-1 lead.

Maryland was not done, as just one inning later they extended the lead to 11-1. On a single by Brandon Gum in that inning that drove in two, Maryland set a program record for runs in an NCAA tournament game.

A memorable moment came when the game was all but decided. Team-favorite Pat Hisle got an at bat late and made the best of it. He lead off the eighth inning with a double to left, and scored soon after on Kevin Smith’s second home run of the day.

Danny Maynard started his first ever game in left field against UMBC, and the bold move by Head Coach John Szefc payed off. Maynard was one of two Terps to record multiple hits on the day.

The Terps took a patient approach to the plate Saturday against the Retrievers. Maryland finished with a whopping 13 walks, three of which came from Brandon Gum.

“We are always stressing to the guys to have good strike zone discipline,” Szefc said. “Technically it is hard to lose a game when you have that many freebees.”

Maryland with the win stays alive in the Winston-Salem regional, and eliminates UMBC. The Terps will take on the loser of the Wake Forest vs. West Virginia game Sunday at noon.

Shaffer struggles, Terps fall to WVU in NCAA Tournament opener

Entering the NCAA Tournament, Maryland ace Brian Shaffer had given up just six home runs all season. But the junior right-hander struggled Friday, surrendering five more long balls as the Terps fell to West Virginia, 9-1, in the opening game of the Winston-Salem Regional.

Shaffer, who labored through his last start as well, lasted just five frames, surrendering seven runs on seven hits, while striking out seven Mountaineers. His struggles with the home run ball put the Terps in a hole that, despite loading the bases twice in the early innings, they couldn’t climb out of.

“His last three outings he has not really located as much as he has the whole season,” Head Coach John Szefc said about Shaffer. “It’s tough, he has been very consistent for us all year.”

The Mountaineers got the scoring started early against the junior righty with three runs in the second. WVU started the inning with a double, and Kyle Davis hit a two-run home run two batters later. Jimmy Galusky soon followed with a long ball of his own to make the score 3-0.

Alek Manoah, who the Terps saw earlier this year when the Mountaineers traveled to College Park, started Friday for West Virginia. The big freshman right-hander did not have his best stuff, but was able to work around his wildness and minimize damage in the early frames. 

Manoah hit four batters and allowed three hits in 3.1 innings, but only allowed one run. Madison Nickens walked with one out in the third, and after moving up on a ground out, scored on a bloop single to right by Zach Jancarski, who collected three of Maryland’s seven hits Friday. 

The Terps loaded the bases later in the inning after Manoah hit AJ Lee and Brandon Gum. Only down 3-1 at the time, they had a chance to pull even, but Marty Costes grounded out to end the threat. 

After Will Watson was hit by a pitch and Kevin Smith singled, Manoah was pulled with one out in the fourth in favor of West Virginia’s usual Friday starter, BJ Myers. Nickens greeted him with a perfectly placed bunt up the third base line to load the bases, but Justin Morris fouled out, bringing Jancarski to the plate with two away. The Terps’ lead off hitter was hit by a pitch, but it was ruled that he did not get out of the way, and was sent back to the batter’s box. He went on to fly out and the threat was squandered for the Terps.

After this, Maryland struggled to mount any rally against the West Virginia ace. At one point, Myers set down eight in a row, and finished going 5.2 innings, not allowing a run.

“I think our at bats were okay for the most part,” Jancarski said. “We just did not capitalize in big situations.”

West Virginia added two more runs in the fifth on a Cole Austin home run. The Mountaineers finished the scoring in the eighth, as Jimmy Galusky hit his second home run of the day.

Ryan Hill came into the game to relieve Shaffer, and went two innings allowing one run. Jamal Wade pitched the eighth for the Terps, and allowed one run.

Maryland will go on to face the loser of Wake Forest vs. UMBC in an elimination game Saturday.

Gum hits a grand slam, but Terps fall in Big Ten semis

After surviving three elimination games in three days Maryland finally ran out of gas on Sunday.

The Terps fell behind early and never recovered as their Big Ten Tournament run came to an end at the hands of a Northwestern team that will now play for the title.

The Wildcats pushed across three runs in the first and three more in the second, putting enough distance between them and the Terps to overcome a seventh-inning Brandon Gum grand slam in a 6-5 Northwestern victory at Bart Kaufman Field in Bloomington, Ind.

Maryland (37-21) got its first opportunity to put runs on the board in the top of the first when leadoff hitter Zach Jancarski got hit by a pitch and reached third on an errant pickoff throw. Northwestern starter Cooper Wetherbee struck out Marty Costes and Nick Dunn back-to-back, both looking, to end the threat, setting the stage for the Wildcats to grab the advantage in the bottom of the frame.

Hunter Parsons got the first two Wildcats (27-29) in the opening inning on ground balls before giving up a soft single up the middle to Joe Hoscheit. The next hitter, Matt Hopfner, rolled a grounder to short that could have ended the inning, but Kevin Smith hesitated, looking to second before throwing late to first, allowing Hopfner to reach.

Catcher Jack Claeys batted next and made the Terps pay. The 6-foot-2 junior drilled his third home run of the season over the left-field fence to give Northwestern a 3-0 lead. Claeys entered the game slugging just .368 for the season, but the home run was a no-doubter.

The Wildcats added three more runs in the second inning on a procession of soft singles off Parsons and then reliever Ryan Selmer. Northwestern piled up eight hits in the first two innings, but only Claeys’ home run could be classified as “hard-hit.” Still, the Wildcats led 6-0 after scratching across five runs off Parsons and another off Selmer.

“When a three-run deficit turns into a six-run deficit quickly, it’s not just more difficult to come back from it, but it’s also a bit of shot in the chops mentally to your team,” Head coach John Szefc said. “It just blew up on us really quick.”

That cushion would be more than enough for Wetherbee, who pitched one of the best games of his career. The left-hander escaped jams in the first and second and then dominated over the next four innings, allowing just one hit over those four frames. Wetherbee equaled a career-high with nine strikeouts, including three in the fifth when he set down the Terps in order on nine pitches.

“He’s a senior, he’s throwing what could be the last start of his college career, he had a lot of urgency to pitch well,” Szefc said of Wetherbee. “I give him credit on three days rest he was really good. That’s what you hope to get from a senior and that’s what they got.

“He commanded the zone, he attacked hitters, he threw his breaking ball for a strike and we struggled with him, big time.”

Maryland finally got to Wetherbee as he tired in the seventh. Smith started the rally with a single to left, Maryland’s first base knock since the third inning. Pinch-hitter Danny Maynard reached on a walk and after one more hitter, Wetherbee’s day was done. He hurled 6.2 innings and left runners on second and third for reliever Pete Hoffman. When the Wildcats hung on, Wetherbee got the win, running his record to 4-3.

Hoffman walked Zach Jancarski and then went 2-0 to Gum. Perhaps thinking the Maryland first baseman would be taking all the way, Hoffman tossed a fastball right down the middle and Gum deposited it over the left-field wall, adding some drama to the final innings.

“[Lawrence] had just walked Janc[arski] and he was struggling to find it,” Gum said of the at-bat. “His best pitch was a slider and it looked like he didn’t have it, so I was just really looking for a fastball. I didn’t think there was any chance he was throwing a 2-0 slider in that situation, so I was just sitting dead red and got a pitch up over the middle of the plate.”

The graduate transfer’s grand slam was his fourth homer of the year and closed the gap to 6-4.

“It’s a big moment, but you can’t get too high on it,” he said. “Obviously we’re still down two, so we still had a lot of work to do at that point. But it was definitely a sigh of relief, like, ‘We can still win this thing.'”

Gum entered the game hitting .328 for the season before a 2-for-5 performance against the Wildcats that included not only the grand slam, but also a double. His .440 OBP is the best on the team.

“I know some of the questions, I don’t like to read too much into the media stuff, but a lot of the things being said [before the season] were whether I could transition to Big Ten pitching after being in the Atlantic-10 [at George Mason], so it was good to prove I could hit, it doesn’t really matter what conference it’s in,” Gum said.

Maryland rallied again in the eighth off a battered Northwestern bullpen. Hoffman and left-hander Sam Lawrence allowed the first four Terps to reach on two walks, a bunt hit, and a sharp single to right, slicing the Wildcat lead to 6-5. With the bases loaded and one out, though, Lawrence got Jancarski to ground into a 6-4-3 double play. Jancarski dove head-first into the bag, but he was out at first and Maryland’s best chance to even the score slipped away.

Still, Gum says Maryland’s ability to battle back from such a large deficit is indicative of the team’s mental toughness.

“We’re just tough in the box, it doesn’t really matter who’s throwing,” he said. “We’re just never really out of it until the last out is recorded. That’s more mindset than ability because pretty much anybody can hit at this level, it’s whether you’re mentally strong enough to do it.”

Maryland was able to get so close because of stellar work from reliever Ryan Selmer. The tall right-hander entered with one out in the second and, after giving up one run in that inning, held the Wildcats at bay until the eighth.

“When I first started, they were sitting on my fastball and I noticed that after I gave up the two hits to score those runs,” Selmer said. “I started mixing in my slider a lot more and a lot of the time they were biting at it or hitting weak contact.”

He pitched 5.2 innings in his longest outing of the season, allowing just a single run on four hits.

Parsons took the loss to drop to 0-3 this season, while Lawrence picked up his second save of the year.

Northwestern will take on Iowa tonight with a spot in the NCAA Tournament on the line.

Three solo homers, four-run seventh help Terps survive and advance

Maryland has battled through delayed games, 10 p.m. starts and three elimination contests, but their hopes for a Big Ten Tournament title remain alive for at least a few more hours.

The Terps hit three home runs in the first two innings and plated four runs in the seventh to break a 5-5 tie en route to a 9-5 win in the Big Ten Tournament Saturday at Bart Kaufman Field in Bloomington, Ind.

Maryland rallied in the seventh without a hard-hit ball. Brandon Gum started the inning with an infield single in the 5.5 hole and right-fielder Marty Costes followed with a four-pitch walk. Second baseman Nick Dunn tried to sacrifice the runners to second and third, but his bunt was perfectly placed in no-man’s land between the third baseman and the pitcher for a base hit.

AJ Lee batted with nobody out and the bases loaded and Northwestern reliever Josh Levy nailed him in the shoulder to bring in the go-ahead run. Levy exited after that, but the story was the same for the next Wildcat reliever, JR Reimer. He walked Will Watson to force in another run and extend Maryland’s lead to 7-5. The Terps also scored on a Kevin Smith sacrifice fly and Justin Morris ground ball to take a commanding lead.

Maryland reliever John Murphy shut down any thoughts of a late comeback with his second superb performance of the tournament. He threw the final three innings, striking out two without allowing a run. Overall in the tournament, he’s pitched six scoreless innings and allowed just two hits while punching out eight. Maryland’s seventh-inning explosion made Murphy the winner, his first decision of the season.

Levy took the loss to drop to 4-2 in 15 appearances.

Maryland came out hitting like a team that planned on winning a third consecutive elimination game. Costes gave the Terps an early lead with a solo home run over the short porch in left in the first inning. The homer was Costes’ 11th of the season, giving him (temporarily, it turned out), the team lead in long balls.

In the second inning, Will Watson doubled the Terps advantage to 2-0 with a home run of his own. It was Watson’s fifth homer of the season and the next hitter, Kevin Smith, followed it up with a third homer of the first two innings to extend the lead to 3-0. Smith’s homer was his 11th of the season, as well, equaling Costes’ total.

Maryland pounded five extra-base hits in the first two innings off Northwestern starter Josh Davis. Davis settled in after the second, however, and retired seven Terps in a row during one stretch.

In the fourth, the Wildcats got even. Joe Hoscheit got the rally started with a one-out base hit, but the rest of the uprising happened with two outs. With two away, catcher Jack Claeys walked against Maryland starter Tayler Stiles. Third baseman Connor Lind followed with a ground-rule double to left that hopped over the fence to bring one run home. Leo Kaplan hit next and completed the comeback with a single over  Smith’s head into left to knot the score at 3-3.

The three earned runs he surrendered in the fourth were the first he had given up in 12.1 innings for Stiles, who was making his third start of the year. Kaplan’s hit ended his day after 3.2 frames.

The fifth inning was a long, strange frame that took over an hour to play, but ended with the teams still tied. With two outs in the top of the inning, Hoscheit parked his seventh home run of the season over the left field wall off reliever Ryan Hill to give his team a 5-3 lead. Hoscheit went 2-for-4 and continues to be one of the hottest hitters in the country. His .468 average in Big Ten play was the highest in the league since 1998.

Later in the inning, a Hill fastball clipped home plate umpire Daniel Jimenez and Jimenez was forced to exit the game. A lengthy delay followed as the teams waited for a fourth umpire to reach the field.

When play resumed, Davis seemed to have lost his rhythm. He surrendered a single and a double to the first two Maryland hitters he faced in the fifth, ending his day. Reliever Tommy Bordignon threw a wild pitch to score Justin Morris from third and allowed a Brandon Gum single that plated Zach Jancarski with the tying run. Maryland loaded the bases again later in the frame, but Levy fanned Smith to end the inning and keep the score at 5-5.

Northwestern’s bullpen struggled finding the strike all afternoon. In all, the Wildcat relievers threw 72 pitches and just 33 of them were strikes.

Three Maryland hitters collected multiple hits, including Jancarski, who doubled twice. Lee did not get a hit, stopping his 14-game hit streak, but he did get hit by pitches twice.

Maryland will play Northwestern again tonight, with a scheduled start of 8:30 p.m. that is likely to be pushed back significantly. The winner of that game will earn a spot in the Big Ten Tournament final tomorrow.