Old Liners hold on against Aggies for Game 1 win in Fall World Series

Entering the fifth inning, the Old Liners were hitless in Game 1 of the Fall World Series but only trailed the Aggies by one run.

Once that hit came, an RBI-double from sophomore Randy Bednar, the Old Liners’ offense kept coming, and a two-run bottom of the fifth led them to their 3-2 win in the seven-inning contest.

“After something like that, you’re kind of more amped up, kind of more into it,” Bednar said.

The sophomore outfielder also scored the Old Liners’ first run, after a missed throw to first from Aggies freshman reliever Andrew Vail put him on second with no outs in the third inning.

A sacrifice fly from catcher Justin Vought drove home the run to tie the Aggies at one run apiece. The sophomore also pulled through for the Old Liners behind the plate, catching two runners stealing.

Bednar was just one of many underclassmen whose offensive production helped their respective team. For the Aggies, both runs came from freshman. Outfielder Max Costes knocked an RBI-double to right-center in the first frame, scoring first baseman Michael Pineiro from first with one out, giving the Aggies the early lead.

“The young guys have done a really good job this fall of buying in and really getting into what we’re doing here,” said senior A.J. Lee. “We had some big swings from young guys today… [they’re] really stepping into their own and they’re not feeling like freshmen anymore.”

Then, in his second at-bat of the night, freshman Kody Milton singled to second. He crossed the plate two wild pitches and a sacrifice squeeze later, scoring the Aggies’ temporary tie-breaking run in the fourth inning.

The Aggies also relied on freshman power on the mound. Right-hander Trevor LaBonte delivered two hitless innings to start, followed by a solid 2.1 innings from Vail.

“I think [LaBonte’s] going to be really good,” Head Coach Rob Vaughn said. “A little bit of our success this season is going to be dictated on how fast some of our young pups grow up.”

A shutdown bottom of the sixth from redshirt-sophomore Mike Vasturia maintained the Old Liners’ one-run lead, giving the Aggies the chance for a comeback in the seventh and final inning.

“When you can get a 1-2-3 inning there, with us (the Aggies) down one going into the last inning, it’s huge,” said Lee. “The arms we ran out there today are really good. I think [with] the depth of our staff, I think we’re pretty good.”

The Aggies threatened in the top of the seventh, as junior Ben Irvine drew a leadoff walk. He then swiped second and moved to third on a wild pitch with only one out.

But Old Liners right-hander Elliot Zoellner, who came on the for save, kept Irvine 90 feet away. He induced a ground ball with the infield in to record the second out and registered the final out with a strikeout to secure the one-run victory in Game 1.

“That’s the best intersquad game we’ve played (in the two years the current coaching staff has been together)” Vaughn said. “As far as intensity, as far as communication, as far as young guys being involved in executing, that was one of the best we’ve had in two years.”

Game 2 of the Fall World Series will be at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 26, as the Aggies look to even the series.

5 takeaways from Maryland’s exhibition against Southern New Hampshire

Maryland baseball played in one of its two fall exhibitions Sunday afternoon, hosting Southern New Hampshire for a 19-inning marathon.

The Terps scored twice in the bottom of the eighth to secure a 3-2 lead through nine innings. A scheduled 18-inning exhibition went one more, as Maryland scored three runs in the bottom of the last inning to eventually earn a tie after one extra inning.

Here are five takeaways from the exhibition:

1. Justin Vought made a difference in multiple areas.

Sophomore Justin Vought — the team’s only returning catcher — hit a home run, threw out a would-be base stealer and scored the go-ahead to help the Terps secure a lead through nine innings.

In the second inning, Vought launched a solo shot to left-center field to tie the game at 1-1. He hit three home runs last season in his freshman campaign, now poised for a breakout second year in College Park.

With two outs in the bottom of the eighth, Vought worked a walk and later came around to score as the go-ahead run in the first nine frames. Vought continued his success in the latter half of the day, doubling before receiving rest in the last six innings of the afternoon.

2. The relievers shut down the Penmen in the first nine innings. 

Senior right-hander Hunter Parsons and junior lefty Tyler Blohm — two of last year’s weekend starters — tossed the first three innings of the afternoon, each conceding a run. From that point on, though, Maryland’s relievers contained the Penmen through nine innings.

Junior right-hander Nick Turnbull relieved Blohm after the third, tossing two scoreless frames. The transfer from Harford Community College faced the minimum in his first inning before working into a jam in the fifth. He stranded two runners in scoring position to escape.

Sophomore left-hander Sean Fisher hit two batters in the sixth but struck out three hitters to go unscathed before working around a two-out double in his second inning of work. Senior John Murphy also tossed a pair of scoreless innings, which would’ve earned himself a win in a normal nine-inning contest.

3. The Terps battled back throughout the afternoon.

Maryland fell behind early against Southern New Hampshire, which stole home to take a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Vought’s homer in the next inning tied the game momentarily, but the Penmen scored again in the third to reclaim an advantage.

After a slow start offensively to the day, Maryland scratched across two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. Junior Taylor Wright stretched a single into a double to spark a late rally that gave Maryland a 3-2 advantage through the first nine innings.

In the start of the second half of the 19-inning affair, Maryland fell behind four runs to Southern New Hampshire, but responded with four runs of its own in the next half-inning. The Terps had two walks, two singles a double and a three-run homer to climb back into the game. Maryland scored the following inning for its fifth unanswered run.

Down three in the bottom of the day’s final inning, Maryland used singles from sophomore Bubba Alleyne and freshman Bryce Cunningham to get back within a run. Junior Barrett Smith delivered a game-tying sacrifice fly to force a 19th inning and an eventual tie.

4. Michael Pineiro had a standout day at the plate.

The sophomore didn’t step on the field a season ago for the Terps, but he had more hits than any one of his teammates Sunday afternoon. Pineiro went 4-for-5 at the plate with a walk and a run scored, playing in 15 innings

In the first half of the day, Pineiro picked up two hits and stole a base. He reached scoring position twice but never came around to score. In the second half, though, Pineiro singled and doubled in consecutive plate appearances. He touched home for his only run of the day to cap off Maryland’s five unanswered runs in the second half.

Both an infielder and outfielder, Pineiro was used differently in each half of the afternoon. He played in two positions that were left vacated after last season: first base and left field. He began the first half in the infield but switched to left field for the second half of the day, playing solid defense in both spots.

5. Several new players made an impact. 

Maryland brought in a large freshmen recruiting class and a slew of transfers, many of which played well in their first action against an opponent this fall.

Head coach Rob Vaughn began the second half of the game with three first-year Terps in the lineup: Sebastian Holte-Mancera, Benjamin Cowles and Kody Milton. The trio combined for three hits, three RBIs and a walk.

Holte-Mancera, a junior from Ellsworth Community College, blasted a three-run homer to right-center field in his first at-bat to tie the game at one point. Cowles and Milton, both freshmen, singled in limited action.

Junior right-hander Zach Thompson was on the team last season, but had to sit out a year after transferring from St. Mary’s College. He flourished in 2.2 innings, allowing no runs out of the bullpen. He allowed a double and a single in his last inning of work but stranded both runners on base.

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.

 

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.

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.”