Maryland clinches series victory with Friday win over Iowa

For only the second time in 2019, Maryland (27-27, 11-12) clinched a Big Ten series win, pulling ahead early and staying ahead in the Terps’ 8-4 win Friday night over the Iowa Hawkeyes (30-21, 12-11) in College Park.

With the victory, the Terps head into Saturday’s game controlling their own destiny with regards to a Big Ten Tournament appearance. A Maryland win or a Northwestern loss against Minnesota would clinch the Terps a postseason berth.

“We’re playing our best baseball right now, in my opinion,” Thompson said. “Everybody wants to play another week with each other, so if we win tomorrow we can do that.”

Maryland’s offense stayed hot on Friday, powered by big hits from throughout the Terps’ lineup that backed an at-times faltering defense, giving early run support to starter Zach Thompson.

“I’ve told these guys from the get-go, moving barrels are dangerous,” head coach Rob Vaughn said. “When we’re moving barrels and hunting stuff elevated out over the plate, usually we have some success offensively.”

Freshman Maxwell Costes put the Terps on the board first, with a two-out, two-run blast that soared over the wall in right center for his 12th homer of the season. The first baseman leads all Big Ten freshmen in home runs.

After Thompson worked out of a one-on jam in the second with back-to-back strikeouts, Iowa eventually got its first run on in the third inning. Tanner Wetrich doubled to left field, the ball falling between Michael Pineiro and the wall, as the left climbed and reached for the hit but failed to snag it for an out.

Though the missed out didn’t have a huge impact on the outcome of the game, Wetrich scored Iowa’s first run later in the third, on a two-out single from Izaya Fullard that bounced into center field, just past a reaching A.J. Lee.

Maryland responded quickly, however, tacking on three runs in the bottom of the inning after a pair of singles and a walk left the bases loaded with two outs for Maguire.

“When a good team like that gives you opportunities you have to cash in,” Vaughn said.

With a 1-1 count, Maguire send the third pitch of his at-bat flying to right field, where the ball fell in front of Zeb Adreon, bouncing over the right fielder before rolling to the wall. Maguire flew around the bases, landing on third with a bases-clearing triple, his second three-base hit of the year. 

Two more Maryland runs crossed the the fourth. The first, a solo shot to left-center from sophomore Randy Bednar, his first hit of the three-game series after the outfielder went 0-for-4 in the Terps’ Thursday victory.

Senior Taylor Wright crossed the plate later in the half, after he walked, made it to second on a wild pitch then came around to score on a throwing error from Iowa second baseman Mitchell Boe, prompting the Hawkeyes to pull Boe from the game between innings. Wright’s run put Maryland ahead 7-1 heading to the fifth.

But the Terps’ offense slowed, as the Hawkeyes slowly began adding on runs, though Maryland held Iowa to one run an inning in both the fifth and seventh, pulling out solid plays to negate defensive struggles in each of the innings.

When Izaya Fullard doubled into the left field corner, it seemed the Hawkeyes were about to add their second run of the inning, after Chris Whelan hit an RBI sacrifice fly the previous at-bat to cut the Terps to a 7-2 lead.

But Maryland left-fielder Michael Pineiro fielded the hit and threw down the line to shortstop A.J. Lee, whose throw to catcher Justin Vought made it just in time to catch Tanner Wetrich at the plate, leaving the Iowa senior sitting in the batter’s box in shock, helmet in hand.

Then, Thompson walked Sher with one out, who made it to second when the right-hander included a groundout. With that, junior Elliot Zoellner relieved the starter, who went 6.2 innings and struck out seven, allowing only two earned runs on six hits.

“To me,” Vaughn said, “That’s maybe the most complete game, against a really good team, [Thompson] has put together.”

“We’re a dangerous team,” Maguire said. “We gave [Zach Thompson] a 5-1 lead…if he has that comfort, you saw what he did tonight, he just goes out and attacks and gives a great performance.”

Zoellner, however, struggled against the Hawkeyes offense, walking the first batter he faced then committing a fielding error, which allowed Sher to cross for Iowa’s third run, putting Maryland ahead 7-3.

But Maryland wasn’t done yet. Right-hander Mark DiLuia relieved Zoellner after his error, inducing a fly out to end the seventh before retiring the Hawkeyes with three strikeouts in the top of the eighth.

A solo homer from Lee put the Terps up 8-3, his second in as many games, after sending a walk-off bomb deep over the left-field wall Thursday.

Iowa responded with a run in the ninth, but DiLuia got the game-ending strikeout to secure Maryland’s 8-4 win. The righty threw 2.1 innings, allowing one run on one hit, walking one and striking out five.

Maryland and Iowa face off in the series finale Saturday at 2 p.m.

“We’re coming out, we’re focused,” Maguire said. “We’re going to try to get a sweep and then the Big Ten. [It’s] Senior Day so we’re going to play our hearts out for those guys because they’ve been nothing but great to us.”

Lee walk-off homer secures series opener victory for the Terps

Maryland’s dugout emptied as A.J. Lee tossed his bat to the side and started his trot around the bases in the bottom of the ninth inning. Lee, and the rest of the Terps, knew the ball was going out of the park as soon as it left his bat.

In the opener of Lee’s last regular season series as a Terrapin, Lee secured Maryland’s 8-6  victory over Iowa (30-20, 12-10) on Thursday in College Park, the walk off two-run homer marking the Terps’ first walk-off of the 2019 campaign.

“It’s really special for this team,” Lee said. “We’re been through a lot of adversity as a team, had ups and downs, good days and bad days. But at the end of the day, we’re all brothers and we’re out here trying to fight for a spot in the post season.”

“Regardless of what happens in the next two days,” head coach Rob Vaughn said, “that’s a moment that that young man’s never going to forget. He deserves it.”

After Maryland (26-27, 10-12) took the lead early, a late-inning Iowa comeback––headlined by the Hawkeyes’ four-run top of the ninth––necessitated the Terps’ bottom-of-the-ninth rally.

When Hunter Parsons exited his final regular season start as a Terrapin in the top of the ninth, greeted by a standing ovation from Maryland fans in the stands of Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium, Vaughn handed the ball over to senior closer John Murphy to finish out the game, the Terps ahead 6-2.

But Murphy struggled to shut down the Iowa offense, walking his first batter and giving up a bunt single to load the bases, after third baseman Taylor Wright struggled to field the slow roller.

The Terps turned a double play, but a Hawkeyes runner still crossed. Then another, and another. With three consecutive hits, Iowa cut Maryland to a one-run lead. Then, a single up the middle from Ben Norman tied the game at six runs apiece, before Murphy got his first strikeout of the night to end the inning.

Before freshman Josh Maguire stepped into the box in the ninth, Vaughn told him to “let the guy behind [him] be a hero.” That’s exactly what the freshman did, as he singled to the mound then moved to second on a sacrifice bunt from fellow freshman Ben Cowles.

Then, Lee’s home run and bat flip.

“I had a pretty good idea [it was going out],” Lee said. “But [the bat flip] was just out of pure excitement. I knew pretty much it was going to be gone.”

Lee scored Maryland’s first and last runs of the game, after he smacked a leadoff single into center field, then stole second and made it to third on a wild pitch. A one-out single up the middle from fellow senior Taylor Wright, which bounced off second base and into center field, plated Lee and put the Terps on the board first. Wright crossed the plate two batters later, on an RBI-single from Pineiro, giving Parsons wiggle room with a 2-0 lead.

Maryland put up two more runs in the third, when Maxwell Costes belted his 11th home run of the year to left field. The two-run shot put the Terps ahead 4-0, and secured Costes’ team-high in home runs. The first baseman also leads all Big Ten freshmen in home runs.

After a solid four innings of work from Parsons, who worked out of multiple jams on the night, the senior and his defense began to falter against the Hawkeyes’ offense at the same time Iowa kept Maryland’s offense, for the most part, out of scoring position.

Second baseman Benjamin Cowles made Maryland’s first error of the night to start the fifth inning, dropping a Ben Norman line drive. Then, with Norman at third, Cowles dove but couldn’t stop an RBI-single from Chris Whelan, and Norman crossed the plate as the Hawkeyes’ first run of the game.

Cowles then redeemed himself, turning a double play to end the inning and strand two Hawkeyes on the base paths. Then, the freshman led off the bottom of the inning with a single right up the middle, his first hit of the night. A fielder’s choice left Cowles trotting off the field, out at second, and the Terps stranded one runner in scoring position to end the inning.

“We talk about resiliency a lot,” Vaughn said. “What I’m proud of [Cowles] for…he didn’t feel bad for himself, he didn’t pout, he said, ‘Hand me the next one,’ and turns a huge double play.”

With Hawkeyes on first and second in the sixth inning, right fielder Randy Bednar climbed the wall in foul territory, reaching over to grab a huge first out for the Terps. Iowa plated one runner, cutting into Maryland’s lead, after Norman knocked the ball into left field, dropping just inside the foul line and past a diving Pineiro before it bounced into the Terps’ bullpen for a ground rule double. The one run was it for the Hawkeyes in the half as Parsons worked out of the jam, holding on to the Terps’ 4-2 lead.

But the Terps seemed to find their rhythm after the seventh inning stretch. A Lee sacrifice bunt plated Chris Alleyne from third, Maryland’s fifth run of the night, setting up Parsons to work out of the jam in the eighth.

With the 5-2 lead, Parsons gave up a pair of singles to put Hawkeyes on first and second. But, after a mound visit from head coach Rob Vaughn, the senior stayed in the game, throwing a career-high 123 pitches and recording his fourth strikeout of the night.

Before Lee’s ninth-inning walk-off, Maryland’s sixth run came across in the eighth, after Wright doubled to start the inning, crossing the plate on a Pineiro sacrifice fly. 

After his brief outing in the ninth, Parsons ended the night having thrown 127 pitches in 8.0 innings of work, giving up three runs on nine hits and two walks, striking out four. Murphy went 1.0 innings, allowing three runs on five hits, one walk and recording the one strikeout and earning the win.

“Murphy competed really hard,” Parsons said. “He gave up a couple runs but he [ended up] getting the strikeout to get us back in in a tie game, and then A.J. comes up in the bottom of the ninth, hits a walk off. Just a great team victory all around.”

Both looking to secure a playoff berth, Maryland and Iowa face off in College Park for game two of the three game set on Friday at 6:30 p.m.

Maryland’s late offense propels the Terps over James Madison

Trailing 4-3 in the top of the seventh, sophomore Randy Bednar dug into the box with two outs and one on. After three straight balls, Bednar got the green light and smacked the next pitch over the left field wall to give Maryland a 5-4 lead.

The Dukes took an early lead over the Terps thanks to their baserunning and defensive mistakes by Maryland. Freshman catcher Zach Doss got his first career start, but two passed balls in as many innings hurt the Terps.

After a leadoff double by freshman Trevon Dabney, he was able to advance on a passed ball and would later score on an RBI groundout to give the Dukes an early 1-0 lead. In the second inning, junior Matt Dipasupil led off with a single and stole second. A few pitches later, another ball got passed Doss, allowing Dipasupil to advance to third. The following batter, freshman Travis Reifsnider hit one passed Freshman Maxwell Costes to plate the second run of the game.

Sophomore Drew Wilden got the start for the Terps, tossing two innings and allowing three hits. Both runs that were scored during Wilden’s two innings were both unearned. Junior Elliot Zoellner came into the game in the third inning and worked back-to-back 1-2-3 innings, while picking up two strikeouts.

On the other side of things, James Madison got a great start from sophomore Justin Showalter. The righty pitched five scoreless innings, allowing just four hits, while recording five strikeouts.

The Terps were threatening in the top of the fifth, after a bunt single by sophomore Chris Alleyne and a single by freshman Benjamin Cowles. With two outs and runners on first and second, Doss came to the plate, but was called out on strikes to end the inning. The Terps were just 4-for-18 against Showalter.

Showalter was taken out of the game after the fifth and the Terps’ bats got going in the sixth against senior Christian Bourne. Senior AJ Lee led off the inning with a single, which snapped his 0-for-25 streak. Bednar followed up with a single of his own and senior Taylor Wright drew a walk to load the bases.

With no outs and the bases loaded, Costes grounded into a 5-2-3 double play and it seemed like the Terps scoring hopes were cut down. But with runners on second and third, sophomore Michael Pineiro ripped a two-run double into right field to tie the game, 2-2 in the sixth.

After the Terps bullpen did a good job of quieting the Dukes’ offense, sophomore Sean Fisher ran into some trouble in the bottom of the sixth. After picking up two quick outs, Fisher allowed a single and a walk. With runners on junior Brady Harju roped a liner off the back of Fisher and it bounced into the outfield allowing one run to score. The following batter, Dipasupil slapped a ground ball into left field to give James Madison a 4-2 lead.

In the top of the seventh, Alleyne drew a leadoff walk and put himself into scoring position after stealing second and later swiping third. With two outs, Lee squeezed a ground ball between the third baseman and shortstop for an infield RBI to cut the deficit to 4-3. The following batter, Bednar belted a homer over the left field wall to retake the lead, 5-4.

For the bottom of the frame, sophomore Grant Burleson made his season debut on the mound. The left-hander picked up a quick strike out, but then walked two consecutive batters, forcing freshman Sean Heine to come in for relief.

With runners on first and second, Heine induced a ground ball to Cowles to setup an inning ending double play to preserve the Maryland lead.

In the bottom of the eighth, Heine remained in the game. With one out, freshman Kyle Novak hit a single and Harju followed up with a long fly ball out that brought Alleyne all the way back to the warning track.

In the top of ninth, Lee belted an insurance run over the left center field wall to give the Terps a 6-4 lead. In the bottom of the frame, senior John Murphy came in for the save. The right-hander picked up back-to-back strikeouts, but then plunked freshman Callaway Sigler. 

With one on, Murphy walked another batter. In a two-out jam, Dabney hit a grounder into the outfield scoring one run to cut it to 6-5. Murphy induced a ground ball up the middle, and Lee made a nice play behind second base to throw out the runner at first for the final out.

With the 6-5 win, the Terps split the season series with the Dukes and are now 25-27 on the season, which is more wins than the 2018 season.

 

Minnesota Takes the Series in Crucial Game Three

Maryland’s bats went ice cold in a loss to Minnesota in the rubber match of a crucial three game series in late-May Big Ten play. On the day, the Terps lineup went 4-29 from the plate in the 2-1 loss.

Coming into Sunday’s game, Maryland sat at eighth place in conference standings. After the loss, the Terps drop to 10th and have a big hill to climb if they want to reach the postseason.

In what was a pitcher’s duel for most of the contest, Maryland junior Tyler Blohm made his fourth start of the season and threw a scoreless three before surrendering two runs, one earned, in the fourth, his last inning on the mound. In 72 pitches, the southpaw fanned four batters and walked two in his first outing since May 1.

The Terps’ usual Sunday starter, freshman Trevor LaBonte, came out of the bullpen in a big way and kept his team in the game, with 4.2 innings of scoreless work.

With Blohm on a short pitch-count coming off an injury, LaBonte expected to be called upon and did not disappoint in his tenure on the bump. After letting up a hit to his second batter faced in the fourth, the righty sat down 13 straight into the ninth inning.

Minnesota’s starter, Joshua Culliver, tossed 5.2 innings in dominating fashion, conceding only two hits and no runs. The Terrapins could not figure out the Gopher starter and failed to get a hit until the fourth inning.

The Terps almost made a comeback in the final inning of the game when Randy Bednar led off with a home run to center field, his ninth of the season. Third baseman Taylor Wright  followed Bednar with a double into the gap, putting the tying run on second with no outs.

With two on and none out, left fielder Michael Pineiro struck out, followed by catcher Justin Vought’s strike out of his own. Freshman Josh Maguire grounded to short to end spoil the comeback and end the game.

On a day where virtually nothing went their way at the plate, the Terps now look to next weekend’s Big Ten finale against Iowa to push them to the postseason. With the top eight teams in the conference making the tournament, Maryland needs multiple wins at home against a top team in the conference for a shot to play another day.

 

Maryland fails to finish in loss to Minnesota

When Maryland starter Zach Thompson exited the Terps’ Saturday game against the Golden Gophers in the seventh, Minnesota led 5-1, and the right-hander hadn’t given up a run since the second inning.

Then, the Terps put up a two-run eighth inning, closing in on the Golden Gophers, who led 5-3 entering the bottom half.

But Maryland’s bullpen failed to complete Thompson’s start, calling on three relievers in the inning and giving up four runs on four hits and two walks, eventually falling 9-3 to Minnesota in Minneapolis.

Though the Terps controlled Friday’s game en route to their 7-3 win over the Golden Gophers, Maryland (24-26, 9-11) failed to carry momentum from its series opener into Saturday’s matchup with Minnesota (23-24, 12-8). The Terps lost, 9-3, after early defensive struggles and inconsistent pitching combined with a lackluster offense.

Maryland’s troubles started in the first, after the Terps fell in order––the only inning the Maryland didn’t get a runner on base. Then the Terrapin defense, let by the right-hander Thompson, gave up four runs on five hits and two errors in the bottom of the first.

After a leadoff single from Minnesota, an error from Maryland left-fielder Caleb Walls set the tone for the inning, when the ball fell out of Walls’ glove in what should have been a sure out. Then, later in the half, second baseman Benjamin Cowles bobbled the ball and failed to secure an out on a ground ball, loading the bases with two outs. Thompson got our the bases-loaded jam with a pop-up to first base, but not before giving up four runs, two earned, on the two errors and five hits (all singles).

But, while Thompson bounced back, giving up only one additional run on a solo shot from Wilson in the second inning, putting the Golden Gophers ahead 5-1. Maryland’s only run through seven innings came in the second, when Maxwell Costes led off the inning with a solo home run to left field, his tenth homer of the season.

When Costes returned to the dugout, after trotting around the bases, he went over to Thompson and placed his hands on the righty’s shoulders, grinning and seemingly attempting to pump up Thompson and boost the starter’s confidence.

It worked, and the solo shot in the second was the only additional run Thompson allowed in his 7.0 innings of work. He finished with four strikeouts, allowing five runs––three earned––on six hits and one walk.

Maryland committed another error in the fourth, when shortstop A.J. Lee fielded a ground ball and threw the ball short of the bag for an E6. But Thompson worked around Lee’s error, and kept Minnesota from adding to its lead.

Though the Terps struggled defensively, after the first inning Maryland had a chance at a comeback, largely thanks to Thompson’s comeback on the mound. But the Terps couldn’t convert base runners into runs: in six of the first seven innings, Maryland had at least one base runner. And, in two of those innings Minnesota turned a double play to end the half.

Like Thompson, Maryland’s offense started to bounce back. After the right-hander put up a three-up, three-down inning in the seventh, the Terps came out hot to start the eighth. Caleb Walls led off the inning with a double, the first multi-base hit of the game.

A Randy Bednar single brought Walls across the plate, the first of two Maryland runs in the inning. Bednar scored two batters later, after Taylor Wright and Costes both singled.

But the Terps stranded both base runners, unable to finish the eighth-inning rally. Then, Maryland’s bullpen also failed to finish. Nick Turnbull, Sean Fisher and Sean Heine each pitched a third of an inning to pitch the eighth. Turnbull and Fisher gave up two runs apiece. Turnbull got one strikeout, the only K of the inning.

Minnesota’s pitching, led by right-hander Patrick Fredrickson, contained Maryland. Fredrickson lasted 4.2 innings, throwing 69 pitches in his first start since the end of March. The righty allowed one run on two hits, two walks and one hit-by-pitch, while striking out seven.

A combined effort from Bubba Horton, Brett Schulze and  Jeff Fasching finished out the last 4.1 innings, striking out four total Terps and allowing two runs, on five hits and one walk.

Maryland faces Minnesota for the rubber match Sunday at 2 p.m. ET.

Maryland takes advantage of free bases, defeats Minnesota in series opener

After suffering a sweep at home last weekend, Maryland (24-25, 9-10) ensured it wouldn’t leave Minneapolis, Minnesota, under the same fate. Capitalizing on freebies from the Golden Gophers, the Terrapin offense pulled ahead early, a lead Minnesota (22-24, 11-8) tied, but never overcame in Maryland’s 7-3 win in Friday’s series opener.

The Terps got on the board first, taking advantage of a short-lived outing from Golden Gophers’ starter Max Meyer. The right-hander gave up two free bases––a hit-by-pitch and a four-pitch walk––to start the day, before Maryland loaded the bases on a Taylor Wright single.

But when Meyer ran to cover the plate on a Michael Pineiro sacrifice fly, which brought across the Terps’ first run of the night, giving Maryland a lead…, the right-hander seemed to trip and hurt his left ankle, ending his outing at 0.2 innings.

Starting with the two free bases from Meyer in the first, Maryland continued to make the most of freebies from the Minnesota pitching staff. A leadoff walk to Randy Bednar in the third set up Pineiro’s second RBI of the night, a ground-rule double that bounced over the left-field wall.

Then, with reliever Nick Lackey tiring in the fourth, the Terps strung together a series of hits and free bases, putting up three runs in the half to pull ahead 5-2, after the Golden Gophers tied the game at two runs apiece in the third on two singles and a double from the bottom of the lineup.

Of those three runs from the Terps in the fourth, two came from RBI freebies: Pineiro walked in a run with the bases loaded, and catcher Justin Vought took a pitch inside, working the RBI hit-by-pitch.

Once Minnesota put up a run in the sixth––after Parsons gave up a walk and a double to start the inning, and the Golden Gophers put a run across with an RBI groundout from Jack Wassel––Maryland pulled further ahead with a two-run top of the seventh.

After a pair of leadoff walks, a fielder’s choice put runners on first and second with one out as Ben Cowles stepped to the plate. Cowles singled to load the bases, and after a sacrifice fly from freshman Josh Maguire put the Terps up 6-3, Bednar sent an RBI single to left-center field for Maryland’s seventh and final run of the night, securing Maryland’s 7-3 victory.

Minnesota called on five pitchers Friday night, as its bullpen struggled to keep Maryland off the bases. They gave up a combined seven runs on eight hits, six walks, five HBPs and one error, striking out 15 Terps.

For the Maryland, senior Hunter Parsons continued his dominance as the Friday starter.  With five scoreless innings, the righty gave up only three runs on six hits in seven innings, working out of multiple jams while recording eight strikeouts and walking only three. Andrew Vail and John Murphy combined for two scoreless innings, striking gout a combined three and allowing a walk apiece.

Maryland and Minnesota face off for the second game of the series on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET.

Michigan Pours Runs on Terps in Series Finale

A heavy rainstorm hit College Park Sunday afternoon, which provided the setting for a 13-1 loss for Maryland as they got swept at home for the third time this season. The story of the game – yet again – was the dominating offense of the Wolverines as they hit the gas pedal early and often for the third-straight game against Maryland pitching.

In fact, they slammed on the gas right out of the gates with leadoff hitter Jordan Nwogu. Nwogu took the first pitch for a strike from freshman Trevor LaBonte — who was desperately searching for a bounce-back start — but then turned on the next pitch for a solo shot that just got over the wall in left-center field.

For a second, it seemed like this could be a closely-contested game when Maxwell Costes smoked one up the middle to drive in Randy Bednar, who reached second base on a fielding error by Nwogu in left field.

Michigan made sure that it wouldn’t be closely-contested when in the third inning, LaBonte would run into a pile of problems after walking in two runs. Drew Wilden would enter the game after a 45-minute long rain delay to get Maryland out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam, but surrendered an RBI sacrifice fly in the process, giving Michigan a 4-1 lead.

Another pair of innings later, Michigan pushed their lead to five runs when Miles Lewis, who was in the game to pinch hit for junior Dominic Clementi, crushed a two-run home run off of Terps reliever Andrew Vail – the first long-ball he’s given up all season long.

Then, a torrential downpour of scoring would drown the Terps just an inning later when the Wolverines whacked back-to-back two-run doubles to give themselves 10 runs on the day for the third time this weekend.

A softly-hit single and a couple of errant throws later, and Michigan left the inning satisfied with a 13-1 lead after Maryland burned through three relief pitchers before junior Nick Turnbull was able to stop the carnage.

Turnbull along with John Murphy, who pitched the eighth and ninth, were able to shut out Michigan for the remainder of the game, but the offense failed to carry its own weight down the stretch, allowing the first-place Wolverines to cruise their way into a road sweep — Michigan’s seventh of the season.

Just like the two starters before him, Michigan’s Criswell absolutely shredded the Terps lineup. The lone run that Maryland scored on him went unearned due to an error, but despite four walks on the day, Criswell escaped with five three-hit innings with no earned runs.

The Wolverines bullpen was nearly untouchable, allowing just one hit, although walking three Terps in their four innings of work.

With only two conference series remaining on Maryland’s schedule — both against teams over .500 in Minnesota and Iowa — the Terps will need to shake off this rough weekend set as they continue to cling onto a playoff spot.