Terps blow lead in wild seventh, get swept by Purdue

Maryland catcher Justin Morris dove for the ball near the Maryland on-deck circle, a desperate attempt to keep it from rolling past him as Purdue’s Nick Dalesandro rounded third and headed for home. Morris couldn’t corral the errant throw, and pitcher Grant Burleson picked it up and threw it home wildly, allowing Dalesandro to score, as Purdue unloaded the bases on a bloop single to tie the game.

One batter later, Skyler Hunter scampered home on a wild pitch, giving the Boilermakers their first lead of the game in a wild seventh inning as Maryland fell to Purdue Sunday, 8-6. The Terps (16-23, 3-8 Big Ten) dropped all three games of an important conference series, getting swept at home for the first time since losing three straight to Indiana in May 2015.

“Coach [Rob] Vaughn kinda said it the best, he said he’s never seen anything like that before, and to be honest, I haven’t in a while either,” Maryland center fielder Zach Jancarski said of the three-run bloop single in the seventh. “The throw was a little bit up the line, communication wasn’t there as far as to cut it off or not, and then it kinda had a negative domino effect from there.”

Desperately needing a victory Sunday to stay relevant in the Big Ten Tournament conversation, everything seemed to be going right for Maryland through six innings. Tyler Blohm, who exited his last start with arm discomfort, was through six innings of two-run ball, and five combined RBIs from Zach Jancarski and Nick Dunn had given Maryland a 6-2 advantage.

But things came apart quickly for the Terrapins in the seventh, as they coughed up five runs on just two hits, highlighted by Hunter’s bases-loaded single and Will Watson’s throwing error. Blohm, who minimized damage through his first six frames, loaded the bases in the inning on a double and two walks with nobody out.

He exited in favor of freshman left-hander Grant Burleson, who induced a ground ball fielder’s choice that scored a run, but set up the potential for an inning-ending double play. But after a walk loaded the bases, Hunter blooped a single into left-center. Two runs crossed, and Will Watson’s throw home skipped past cutoff man Taylor Wright and up the third base line, as Morris sprinted over in an attempt to reign it in. Dalesandro scored on the play, and Hunter crossed later on the wild pitch, completing the Maryland collapse.

“If you don’t play catch, if you let the game get fast, you know it can snowball on you a little bit and that’s what happened right there,” Vaughn said. “One bad throw led to three bad throws and a flail to the outfield ended up being a three-run triple essentially. So yeah, just not taking care of the baseball right there kinda came back to get us.”

This negated a strong outing early on by Tyler Blohm, who allowed just a solo homer and an RBI single while striking out four through his first six frames of work. He was aided by some early run support, as Maryland broke out for four runs in the third, highlighted by Zach Jancarski’s three-run homer.

The Terps took an early lead in the inning when AJ Lee scampered home on a wild pitch to make it 1-0, and Jancarski took Purdue starter Trent Johnson deep over the left-field wall after a missed catch on a pop-up extended the inning. The homer was Jancarski’s fourth homer of the year, setting a new career high for the senior center fielder.

Nick Dunn lined a two-out, two-run double into the right field corner in the sixth, scoring Lee and Brad Barnett, who had both walked earlier in the frame. Dunn’s team-leading 27th and 28th RBIs gave the Terps a commanding 6-2 lead heading into the final three innings of play, before the wild seventh inning turned the game upside down.

Purdue added another in the ninth, when Hunter doubled off Sean Fisher to open the inning, and eventually came around the score on AJ Lee’s error at shortstop. John Murphy came on in relief of Fisher to escape a bases-loaded jam to close out the top of the ninth.

Maryland brought the winning run to the plate in the ninth against Purdue closer Ross Learnard, as Kevin Biondic singled with two out and Watson walked. But Jancarski popped up in foul ground to end the game and ensure the sweep for Purdue. 

“We have to continue to be as consistent as we possibly can, and it doesn’t matter who we’re playing,” Jancarski said. “If you don’t earn those 27 outs and you don’t play as good as you can that day, you’re probably going to lose. That’s just the way [the Big Ten] is, it’s pretty even, and we just gotta do a little bit better job moving forward, but I like our chances.”

With the loss, the Terps drop to 3-8 in conference play, as they drift further from the No.-8 spot in the Big Ten that is necessary for them to make the conference tournament.

“What we can’t control is where we are in the standings, what we can’t control is the last two months of baseball,” Vaughn said. “All we can control is our effort today and what we come out on Tuesday and do. That’s what I’m looking for out of these guys, just come back, bounce back. If we play a clean game of baseball and get beat and we compete our tails off, I can live with that.”

Maryland is back in action Tuesday at home against George Mason at 4 p.m.

Bullpen surrenders late lead as Maryland loses in extras, 4-3

Zach Jancarski stood on the warning track and watched the ball sail over the center field fence as Jacson McGowan began his trot around the bases. McGowan, Purdue’s cleanup hitter, homered in two straight at-bats – in the ninth and the 11th – as the Boilermakers rallied back to defeat the Terps in 11 innings Saturday, 4-3.

Hunter Parsons, who was moved up a day from his typical Sunday role, turned in another magnificent performance, shutting the Boilermakers (18-16, 6-4 Big Ten) down with eight innings of two-run ball. But his shot at his fourth win of the year was erased by Jacson McGowan’s game-tying home run leading off the ninth inning against John Murphy. With the loss, Maryland (16-22, 3-7 Big Ten) has dropped three straight conference series, and five straight games. 

A Maryland offense that struggled mightily with runners on base in the series opener broke out early in Saturday’s contest. An error and a single put two on and one out in the first for Will Watson, who was moved up from the seventh spot to cleanup after a three-hit performance Friday night. Watson singled through the left side to put the Terps on the board first, and Zach Jancarski followed with a double just inside the third base bag to give Maryland a 2-0 advantage.

With the game tied in the seventh, Maryland retook the lead on a heads up play by Tommy Gardiner. With the freshman designated hitter on second, Nick Dunn bounced a ground ball toward the right side. Dunn beat out the throw, and Gardiner never stopped running, sliding across home plate and pumping his fist as the Terps took a 3-2 lead.

This lead held until the ninth, when Murphy surrendered the long ball to McGowan. Murphy has struggled of late, and was later replaced by Kevin Biondic, who entered the contest with a team-best 0.50 ERA. Biondic, who also went 2-for-5 at the plate, shut the door on Purdue in the ninth, and pitched a scoreless tenth, but was handed the loss after McGowan took him deep with one out in the top of the 11th. 

Last week against Michigan, Parsons missed his start due to the weather-shortened series, instead throwing five innings of relief in Sunday’s loss. He didn’t skip a beat in his return to the rotation, dominating in his first career Saturday start. He needed 113 pitches to get through eight innings, allowing just two runs on five hits while whiffing three batters.

His only two blemishes on the day came in the third and fifth. Harry Shipley took him deep for his first homer of the year in the third – his first homer of the year. Two innings later, Parsons had a chance to work out of a first and third, one out jam, but AJ Lee’s relay on a potential double play ball allowed the runner from third to score, tying the game at 2-2.

After giving up the lead in the ninth, the Terps had two chances to walk off, but failed to capitalize. In the bottom of the ninth, Dunn singled with two out, but Biondic flew out to deep center to end the inning. In the tenth, a Watson hit by pitch and a Taylor Wright walk put the winning run in scoring position with one out, but Maryland couldn’t get him the final 180 feet.

The Terps will look to salvage at least one game of the series Sunday at 1 p.m. LHP Tyler Blohm (4-2, 3.99 ERA) will face off against Purdue’s RHP Trent Johnson (1-1, 1.88 ERA).

Missed opportunities prove costly as Terps fall to Purdue in series opener, 7-1

Entering Friday, Mark DiLuia had just seven collegiate starts under his belt. But with normal Friday starter Taylor Bloom still recovering from an injury, DiLuia got the ball Friday night against Purdue, becoming the first Terps freshman to start a series-opening game since Jimmy Reed in 2012.

A four-run second was DiLuia’s only blemish in his six innings of work, but the Maryland bats couldn’t back up the freshman. In a night without middle of the order threat Marty Costes, they tallied 12 hits but went just 3-for-17 with runners in scoring position and left 11 on base. Purdue (17-16, 5-4 Big Ten) added three runs in the ninth to put the game out of reach as the Terps (16-21, 3-6 Big Ten) fell to the Boilermakers at home, 7-1.

After a scoreless first, DiLuia ran into trouble right away in the second inning. With a runner on first and one out, Evan Warden lifted a double down the left field line to plate the first Boilermaker run of the afternoon. A walk put two on for Nick Dalesandro, who smoked a line drive to left center that rolled all the way to the wall, allowing two more to score. Skyler Hunter’s subsequent RBI single to right scored Dalesandro, making it 4-0 Purdue.

Maryland had several opportunities to cut into the Boilermaker advantage, but couldn’t get the key hit off Purdue right-hander Tanner Andrews, who scattered 11 hits over seven innings of work.

“Tonight, our quality at bats were great, we got a lot of hits,” head coach Rob Vaughn said. “We just couldn’t quite – we’d string three together, we’d need four; we’d string four together but need five. It’s tough, I’m proud of the way we competed tonight, that’s the bottom line. I thought we competed as a team, I thought guys ran off a pretty good plan at the plate.”

The Terps plated their lone run in the sixth inning, when AJ Lee singled with men on the corners and two away, to make it 4-1. Zach Jancarski had led off the frame with a double to right, and moved up to third on Will Watson’s single through the left side.

However, other scoring opportunities went by the wayside. Lee doubled leading off the bottom of the first, and tagged up on Nick Dunn’s fly ball to right, but Purdue appealed to second, and the umpire called him out, ruling that he left the base too early. Now with two out and nobody on, the Terps got two more baserunners in the frame, but Randy Bednar struck out to strand them both in scoring position.

A walk, a hit and a sacrifice bunt gave the Terps men on second and third with one out, but they again could not bring Jancarski the final 90 feet to cross home plate. Dunn led off the third with a single and the fifth with a double, but was stranded both times. Watson’s one out double in the fourth put another man in scoring position, but the Maryland outfielder only made it as far as third base before the inning came to a close.

DiLuia settled down after the second-inning blemish, ending his outing with four straight scoreless frames. He allowed his fair share of baserunners – eight hits and five walks in six innings – but a little help from his defense kept the deficit from growing larger. Catcher Justin Vought threw out would-be base stealers in the third and fourth, and Taylor Wright snared a liner with the bases loaded in the fifth to start an inning-ending double play.

“Mark DiLuia was an absolute dude tonight,” Vaughn said after the game. “He came in and competed his tail off. Shoot, we ran a freshman battery out there on a Friday night conference game, and for those guys to work together the way they worked and compete the way they did, I’m really proud of those two.”

Grant Burleson tossed two scoreless innings before Alec Tuohy served up a three-run double to Alec Olund in the ninth to make it 7-1, Purdue. Ross Learnard shut the Terps down with two scoreless innings of relief. 

Watson picked up three hits in the contest for Maryland, while Dunn, Lee, Jancarski and Vought notched two hits apiece.

Vaughn announced after the game that Costes, a junior outfielder, is suspended for the entirety of the weekend series and will rejoin the team Monday.

“Marty didn’t meet some of the team rules we had this week,” Vaughn said. “He’s an unbelievable kid, he works his tail off, he plays his tail off. He’s a great kid that just didn’t live up to the standards that we hold as a program this week.”

The Terps will look to even the series Saturday at 2 p.m. in College Park. RHP Hunter Parsons (3-2, 3.13 ERA) takes the hill for Maryland against Purdue LHP Gareth Stroh (4-2, 5.67 ERA).

Maryland pitchers struggle in midweek loss to VCU

When Maryland baseball shut out VCU earlier this season in a 2-0 victory, five different pitchers shined in scoreless performances. But in the second game of the home-and-home season series on Tuesday, five Terps pitchers conceded at least two earned runs.

Tarnishing redshirt senior Alec Tuohy’s first-career start on the mound for Maryland, VCU scored in its first five trips to the plate, keeping the offensive pressure on throughout the game in a 14-3 victory over the Terps. VCU recorded 13 hits, walked 11 times and reached one on a hit by pitch.

“We’re not playing clean baseball. We’re not responding to adversity very well and that starts at the top. It starts with us,” head coach Rob Vaughn said. “We haven’t prepared these guys to handle some of the things that are being thrown at them.”

With Friday night starter Taylor Bloom’s status for this weekend uncertain, head coach Rob Vaughn decided against throwing typical midweek starter Mark DiLuia, who pitched four innings and struck out seven against the Rams in the February meeting.

Even though Tuohy’s first five appearances for the Terps came in relief, he had plenty of starting experience in his first four years of college. He started 22 games at the University of Buffalo, which he transferred from after the college cut its baseball program after last season.

Tuohy’s best season came during his junior year for Buffalo, starting in all 14 appearances in 2016. In 93.2 innings, he went 7-4 with a 2.93 ERA, but the right-hander’s first start for the Terps wasn’t as successful.

With a runner on first with two outs in the top of the first, shortstop AJ Lee booted a grounder to keep the inning alive for the Rams. The next batter, designated hitter Mitchel Lacey, blooped a single into right field to plate an unearned run.

“We put 12 free guys on base, we don’t make a play in the first inning on a routine ground ball that leads to a run and it’s really what our season’s been thus far,” Vaughn said.

Tuohy then got knocked around and gave up three runs on three hits and a walk in his second and final inning. Head coach Rob Vaughn relieved the right-hander after 42 pitches in two innings, utilizing five more arms to get through the game.

Left-hander Sean Fisher conceded three earned runs on on two hits, three walks and a hit batsman in 1.2 innings before right-hander Mike Vasturia allowed two more runs in less than an inning of work. Maryland’s bullpen allowed two baserunners in five innings in the first meeting this season, but struggled Tuesday following Tuohy’s departure.

“It’s a call for us to be tougher as a pitching staff,” Costes said. “Even from a position player’s standpoint. If we’re limited that means me personally, I have to do more.”

It wasn’t until the sixth inning that the Rams were held to a scoreless inning, when left-hander Billy Phillips got three straight outs after allowing a leadoff single. Phillips allowed two runs in 2.2 innings in relief.

Maryland’s offense tried to keep the Terps in the game early, but Maryland’s bullpen wasn’t strong enough. After senior center fielder Zach Jancarski ripped a double in the second, freshman right fielder Randy Bednar launched his fourth home run of his season to cut VCU’s lead to 4-2.

After the homer, though, the Rams matched the two runs in their next trip to the plate. After Marty Costes hit a deep homer straightaway center fielder to make it 6-3, VCU instantly got that run back the next half inning. The bullpen’s inability to record a shutdown inning hurt the Terps chances from storming back.

The Rams scored the game’s last eight runs, completely taking the Terps out of the game. Four of Maryland’s last six at-bat results in strikeouts.

“They battled against us and things went their way,” Phillips said. “They’re a good team and they came back and did well against us.”

Maryland (16-20) returns to Big Ten play this weekend, hosting Purdue for a three-game set starting Friday at 6:30 p.m.

Michigan beats Maryland after four-hour delay, sweeping shortened series

When Maryland baseball arrived in Michigan for its first conference road series of the season, the Terps didn’t think they’d only play two games and receive just 21 pitches combined from their Friday and Saturday starters.

It was a weekend that featured over six hours of weather-related delays, and both an emergency and abbreviated start from two Maryland pitchers. The Wolverines took advantage of the Terps shortcomings and handled the adversity well at home, winning 6-3 to extend their winning streak to 17 games.

Two days after redshirt freshman right-hander Mike Vasturia made an emergency start Friday afternoon on just 25-minute notice, left-hander Tyler Blohm took the mound for his scheduled start 27 hours after he was was slated to pitch.

With Saturday’s game deemed too cold to play, the Terps and Wolverines planned to begin a doubleheader Sunday at 1 p.m. But with the weather uncooperative for a second consecutive day, it took a four-hour delay for the first pitch to be thrown in what turned out to be the final game of a shortened series.

Blohm, though, made a precautionary departure from the game with arm discomfort after escaping a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the first inning. Coming off a dominant outing last weekend against Illinois, the sophomore felt tightness in his shoulder according to head coach Rob Vaughn.

Third baseman Taylor Wright gave the Terps the lead in the top of the second, launching his first home run of the season to deep right field to give Maryland a 1-0 advantage. Similar to Friday’s loss, though, the Wolverines responded immediately. Upon closer John Murphy entering to pitch the bottom of the second, Michigan used three walks and two hits to score four runs. Back-to-back doubles in the fifth extended Michigan’s lead to 6-1.

With only two games this weekend, right-hander Hunter Parsons was able to come out of the bullpen in relief to keep the Terps in the game. He pitched five innings, allowing two runs on five hits while striking out seven.

The Terps hung around thanks to Parsons’ efforts, but didn’t receive much additional offense. In the top of the sixth, first baseman Kevin Biondic’s hit his fifth home run of the season, cutting their deficit to 5-2.

The Wolverines added run support on their own solo shot in the bottom of the seventh, but the Terps tried to mount one last comeback in the eighth. With a 7:45 p.m. curfew looming and Maryland down four, the Terps loaded the bases for Biondic in what turned into their last trip to the plate. They scored on a balk, but Wright grounded out to end the game after the top of the eighth.

Maryland (16-19) will look to recover from a wacky weekend in Ann Arbor before hosting VCU Tuesday at 4 p.m.

Bloom unable to start in Maryland’s series-opening loss to Michigan

Right-hander Mike Vasturia learned less than 30 minutes prior to Maryland’s series-opener against Michigan that he would be the starting pitcher. Taylor Bloom, the Terps’ typical Friday starter, was struck in the head with a line drive while stretching as the Wolverines took batting practice, and underwent concussion protocol rather than taking the mound.

Vasturia, with little to time to prepare for his second career start, allowed five runs in two innings before the Terps used a committee of first-year Maryland pitchers to get through an adversity-filled 10-4 loss.

Michigan, now on a 16-game winning streak dating back to March 14, wasted no time against the emergency starting pitcher. The Wolverines hit two home runs in the first inning and then used a two-out RBI single in the second to take a 5-0 lead.

Vasturia started on the mound earlier this season when the Terps played back-to-back midweek games against North Carolina and Elon during the team’s spring break trip. The redshirt freshman tossed two scoreless frames in Maryland’s win on March 21 against the Phoenix, conceding just one hit and a walk.

The 6-foot-5 right-hander entered the game with a 3.21 ERA in 14 innings this season, but thrown into an unenviable situation Friday afternoon, couldn’t manage to find a rhythm. Following his exit, Maryland used three freshman—Grant Burleson, Elliot Zoellner and Billy Phillips—to endure the middle innings.

Burleson, who pitched a scoreless 2.1 innings Tuesday against James Madison, entered in relief in the third looking to slow down the Wolverines. The freshman left-hander had another positive outing, allowing just one hit in two scoreless innings to limit the damage.

After four innings innings with just one hit, the Terps fought back offensively in the top of the fifth. Catcher Justin Morris and second baseman Nick Dunn singled and used an error to both move into scoring position with two outs. Junior left fielder Marty Costes doubled them both home to keep the Terps in the game at 5-2.

But the Wolverines responded instantly in the bottom half of the inning, as Burleson was relieved by Zoellner. Michigan scored three runs on four hits in the fifth, knocking the right-hander out of the game after recording just two outs.

Despite how deflating the night started, The Terps battled throughout the game even when deficits grew. Down six in the top of the seventh, Maryland used a two-RBI double from Dunn to make it a 8-4 ballgame.

Phillips—Maryland’s fourth pitcher of the game—surrendered a solo homer in the bottom of the seventh, but only allowed the lone run in 2.1 innings.  Redshirt senior Alec Tuohy pitched the eighth, allowing an unearned run in his inning of work.

Even though Maryland had to utilize five pitchers in the series-opener, it did so without throwing John Murphy and Kevin Biondic—the bullpen’s top arms—and starters Hunter Parsons and Tyler Blohm, who were said to be available in relief Friday with weather potentially canceling Saturday’s game.

Game 2 between the Terps and Wolverines is currently scheduled for 2 p.m. ET on Saturday.

Maryland battles back late, beats James Madison in extras

Maryland baseball had no hits in its last 23 opportunities with runners in scoring position when shortstop AJ Lee stepped to the plate Tuesday afternoon with both the tying and go-ahead runs on base trailing 1-0 in the top of the ninth inning against James Madison.

After fouling off three straight pitches in an 0-2 hole, the shortstop scorched a ball down the left-field line to tie the game at one. Pinch runner Chris Alleyne, representing the go-ahead run, was thrown out trying to score from first after falling in between third base and home.

Despite the blunder, the game was finally tied and the the day’s 0-for-14 slump with runners on base was finally broken. With two runners on with no outs in the top of the 12th, outfielders Zach Jancarski and Randy Bednar recorded back-to-back singles to give the Terps a 2-1 lead. Maryland held on for the win in the bottom half of the frame.

“It wasn’t pretty. It doesn’t have to be pretty all the time,”  head coach Rob Vaughn said. “We figured out a way to score one more than they did and at the end of the day I’ll take it.”

Both the Terps and Dukes had no problem getting on base, but struggled mightily once they reached the basepaths. The two sides started the game a combined 1-for-38 with runners on bases and 1-for-24 with runners in scoring position.

For Maryland, it was an awfully familiar phenomenon. After leaving 30 runners on base over the weekend against Illinois, the Terps continued to struggle to capitalize on their chances. They began the day 0-for-14 with runners on base and 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position, but had two hits in those situations in the 12th inning alone.

Lee got on base fives times, reaching on two errors and a pair of walks in addition to his nine-inning double. The junior also stole three bases. Brad Barnett—making his first start for Maryland—drew a pair of walks in his first three at-bats of the game. He led off the top of the ninth with a leadoff infield single before he was pinch ran for by Richie Schiekofer, who scored on Lee’s double.

Maryland left the bases loaded in the first, sixth, ninth and 12th innings. Taylor Wright had the bases loaded with two outs in the ninth with a chance to give the Terps the lead but, after working a 10-pitch at-bat, struck out looking.

Starting right-hander Mark DiLuia pitched six scoreless frames after allowing a run in the first inning, but the freshman’s second consecutive strong midweek start—an area that has typically plagued the Terps—was spoiled again with sparse run support.

DiLuia conceded a leadoff double to the first batter he faced, who later scored following a sacrifice fly and an RBI groundout. He then tossed six scoreless innings thereafter, finishing with four hits allowed and four strikeouts in seven innings, but received the no-decision.

“He’s went through some growing pains early,” Vaughn said of DiLuia. “He might have some growing pains still in front of him but the thing is he continues to work, he continues to get better. He’s going to be such a huge piece of what we do going forward over his next couple of years here.”

Left-hander Grant Burleson and right-hander John Murphy each pitched 1.2 innings in relief, holding the Dukes scoreless. First baseman and right-hander Kevin Biondic tossed the final 1.2 innings, earning the win for his efforts. The Terps pitchers did an incredible job pitching from the stretch, holding the Dukes 0-for-21 with runners on base.

“That’s a good win for us. That’s really good team win,” Lee said. “You have Mark DiLuia come out and really pitch well for seven innings and then our bullpen comes in and does what it’s being doing all year for us and we find a way to scratch one off there in the end.”

Maryland (16-17) is scheduled to play Michigan this weekend in Ann Arbor for the first conference road test of the season.