Maryland struggles to overcome early run deficit against West Virginia

Freshman Andrew Vail entered in the fifth, with the Terps trailing 6-0 to the Mountaineers, bases loaded and one out. The righty secured two consecutive outs––a strikeout and a fly out––to get Maryland out of the half.

After a come-from-behind 16-10 victory over William & Mary the day before, Maryland (16-16) struggled in its Wednesday matchup against West Virginia (20-12). Free bases from the Terps’ pitchers and a lackluster offense added up in Maryland’s 8-1 loss to West Virginia in College Park.

“I was like, ‘This is the perfect spot for you,'” head coach Rob Vaughn explained he said to Vail on the mound before the lefty took over in the fifth. “Because that’s all he does, is…put fires out in big spots.”

Vail returned in the sixth, putting up the first 1-2-3 inning for the Terps. The freshman was the fourth pitcher on the mound for Maryland, after junior Nick Turnbull went only a third of an inning in his first start as a Terp.

“[Turnbull} kid of lost the zone a little bit a couple weeks ago,” Vaughn said. “Sometimes you can throw a guy in a little bit different role and give him a little bit different perspective of the game and it allows him to go out there and perform.”

That didn’t happen on Wednesday, however, as Turnbull loaded the bases on two walks and a single and struggled to secure the first out. After he walked a third batter, his day on the mound was done. All four batters who reached base against Turnbull crossed the plate in the first, and the Mountaineers took a lead they did not relinquish all game.

“We gave way too many freebies,” Vaughn said. “We had 14 walks and hit-by-pitches, and 11 of those were in the first four innings. I credit the guys for making some pitches to get out of jams, but just too nay pitches, too many jams, too many base runners early.”

The junior’s outing started a series of relief appearances in which seven Terrapin pitchers gave up a total of 12 walks and hit a combined two batters.

Right-hander Daniel O’Connor finished the first, though an error from shortstop AJ Lee, a hit batter and a single combined with Turnbull’s outing to give West Virginia a four-run lead heading into the bottom of the first.

O’Connor went 2.1 innings, allowing one hit and one run while walking four. Once the righty walked three on two outs in the third, however, the Terps went to the bullpen and called on fellow right-hander Sean Heine.

But Heine talked the first batter he faced, driving in a run before securing the third out that eluded O’Connor.

“I know they’re competing their balls off,” Lee said of the Terps pitching staff. “Being up there you feel like you’re on an island sometimes, but I just try to make sure they know they’ve got a defense behind them and let them keep working.”

Vail was the first Terp to put up three-up, three-down inning, and his string of five consecutive outs was the longest string of outs for a single Maryland pitcher on Wednesday. The only other Terp to record a 1-2-3 inning was closer John Murphy, who shut down the Mountaineers in the ninth.

West Virginia added to its lead with a two-run homer deep to left-center in the eighth, but by that point Maryland was unlikely to mount a comeback, after struggling to drive runs home.

“Where we had a lot [of free bases], [West Virginia] limited it ,” Vaughn said. “And when you’ve just got to line up and hit, hit, hit, it can be a little bit difficult.”

With bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the ninth, Maryland seemed to have finally found its much-needed offense. But, a backward K and a ground out to second ended the potential rally, as West Virginia held on to its 8-1 lead.

“We were a little passive there early,” Lee said. “They guy had good stuff, but we definitely took a lot of pitches that we should have moved on, and just missed a couple opportunities.”

The Terps’ first and only run came in the fifth, as Maryland built off Vail’s momentum in the top of the inning. AJ Lee knocked a one-out sac fly to deep center to plate in Michael Pineiro from third––Pineiro had reached to start the half, after taking a pitch to the knee.

Maryland put at least one runner on base in eight of nine innings, but it wasn’t until the fifth that the Terps were able to driven home. The Terrapin offense finished the day with 11 left on base, after four walks, two hit batters and five hits.

“The biggest thing for us is to just flush it,” Lee said. “We’ve been playing good baseball the last couple weeks. So I think [if we] just flush it, flush this, and get back to what we do, I think we’ll be fine.”

 

 

 

Maryland drops a 16 run bomb on the Tribe

After what seemed like another blowout loss to William & Mary early in the game, the Terps fired back with an enormous offensive performance to post their highest run total of the season, securing a 16-10 victory.

The rally started in the third inning with back-to-back solo home runs from third baseman Taylor Wright and first baseman Maxwell Costes that carried Maryland back from a 6-1 deficit. The Terps then turned to small ball for the remainder of the comeback, something that the Tribe could not contain.

“You got to take what the game gives you,” said head coach Rob Vaughn. “Our offense needs to build around setting innings up. By being able to use the short game, it opens up holes for you, for guys to take good swings.”

Designated hitter Josh Maguire poked a single through the hole into left field to bring in catcher Justin Vought. In the nine hole, center fielder Chris Alleyne then drew a walk with the bases loaded to bring in yet another run for the Terrapins.

AJ Lee continued his domination at the plate with an RBI of his own. The shortstop’s sac fly tied things up as right fielder Randy Bednar followed him up with a single to give the Terps a 7-6 lead. Bednar also delivered another RBI knock in the fifth to break the game open for Maryland with a 9-6 lead, his team-high third hit of the day.

“Hitting in the two spot, you get a lot of quality at-bats,” said Bednar. “We got people on base and into scoring position with some way to execute.”

With the first three innings lasting an astounding 96 minutes, the ballgame was anything but a pitcher’s dual. A total of 26 hits in the contest proved that it was the power of the bats that controlled the game.

“Coach Vaughn always says ‘anyway to get on board,'” said Bednar. “That’s what we do. When we’re not hitting the long ball, we always say pass it on to the next guy.”

To follow up their six run third inning, the Terps brought in seven more in the fifth to make it their highest scoring game of the year with 16 runs.

In the longest inning of the day, 11 Terps stepped up to the plate. Michael Pineiro, who entered the game for Alleyne in the top of the inning, singled to right to bring in the first of seven runs for Maryland.

The inning was highlighted by a grand slam belted over the batter’s eye in center field by Justin Vought, his fifth of the year.

“That one felt good,” said Vought. “Fastball up, that’s what I’m trying to do with that pitch. Like I said, that one felt good for sure.”

Maguire also went deep for the Terps to bring the score up to its final 16 runs. The fourth home run for the Maryland made it the most in a game all season.

“16 runs is great, four homers is great,” said Vaughn. “But the way they attacked the game, they attacked it with a lot of passion, a lot of energy. When you attack the game like that, more times than not, good things will happen.”

A day that heavily relied on the bullpen for Maryland featured a strong outing from sophomore Mark DiLuia. The righty went 4.2 strong innings, striking out four and conceding only two earned runs and four hits.

“Mark DiLuia is the reason we won today,” said Vaughn. “The key to that game is that we’re in the third inning and we need zeros.”

Sean Fisher came in to start the seventh for DiLuia and continued to dominate the Tribe offense. In two innings, the southpaw let up only one hit and a run in 31 pitches.

The Tribe started the afternoon hot, earning seven hits through the first two innings, yet failed to bring in runners for the remainder of the game. A total of 10 runners were left on base for William & Mary in the contest.

With the Terps’ 16 runs in the game, they scored more runs than their last four games combined. After dropping the game 8-1 a week ago to the Tribe, Maryland completed its revenge in a big way, now earning a 6-1 record in mid-week games this season.

In a quick turnaround, the Terps are back on the field Wednesday to take on the West Virginia Mountaineers for a 4 p.m. start.

Maryland defeats Illinois for first series win since March

After struggling offensively against the Illinois Illini (20-10, 1-4), Maryland (15-15, 3-3) showed out with two four-run innings in the second game of the Terps’ doubleheader on Saturday to win 8-4.

With the rubber match victory in Champaign, Illinois, Maryland secured a series win for the first time since its early-March win over the Stetson Hatters.

Maryland’s youth contributed heavily in the series-winning victory, after the Terps put up  four-run innings in both the third and seventh. All but two of Maryland’s eight runs were scored by underclassmen, including two three-run homers, one apiece  from sophomore Randy Bednar and freshman Maxwell Costes.

An RBI-bunt-single from senior AJ Lee brought across the Terps’ first run of the game, after Maryland worked a pair of free bases in the third inning. Then, Bednar went yard, sending a three-run shot to left-field to put the Terps ahead 4-0.

The sophomore’s offensive power proved big in the seventh as well, when he knocked in the Terps’ tie-breaking run on a one-out RBI-single. With two outs, Costes stepped to the plate, looking to give Maryland’s defense some much-needed insurance runs.

It had been almost a month since the freshman had recorded an RBI, but with a three-run blast of his own to left-center, Costes proved he wasn’t done with is dominant freshman campaign. His blast put the Terps up 8-4 with three innings left to play.

Freshman righty Trevor LaBonte put up a solid start for Maryland, just a week after struggling in 2.1 innings of work against Indiana. LaBonte held the Illini scoreless through three, giving up a sole run in the fourth after giving up a leadoff double. He went 5.1 innings and allowed four runs––one earned––on five hits and three walks, but struck out three.

Those three unearned runs came in the sixth inning, when a pair of Maryland infield errors––one fielding, one throwing––combined with a one-out walk to load the bases. A pair of singles and a sac fly drove in three runs for the Illini and tied the game at four runs apiece.

Maryland found itself in an almost-identical situation in the bottom of the seventh. The Terps, leading 8-4, faced an Illini offense that loaded the bases on a single, hit-by pitch and walk, with one out. But, Maryland learned from its sixth-inning blunders, and a 6-4-3 double-play ended the Illinois threat.

Relief appearances from left-handers Andrew Vail and Sean Fisher kept the Terps in the game, after Vail finished the sixth for LaBonte and Fisher entered for Vail in the seventh. Fisher went 2.2 innings, recording eight straight outs to secure Maryland’s series win.

The Terps return to College Park for a pair of midweeks, starting with a Tuesday matching against the William & Mary Tribe, followed by a Wednesday game against the West Virginia Mountaineers. First pitch for both games is set for 4 p.m. ET.

Maryland falls short in game one of doubleheader at Illinois

A pair of free bases seemed to start a Maryland ninth-inning rally for the second time in as many games, as the Terps trailed the Illini 5-1 in the first game of a doubleheader on Saturday.

But, unlike on Friday, Maryland could not pull off a comeback win, falling in the second game of the series in Champaign, Illinois.

After a four-run ninth-inning rally on Friday, Maryland’s offense continued to struggle in game one on Saturday. And, while the Terrapin defense held the Illini scoreless through four innings, Maryland’s inability to score compounded the faltering pitching, and the Terps dropped the first game of the doubleheader 5-1. .

With one double in both the second and third, Maryland’s offense itched to plate a run beat Illinois to get on the board. But the Terps struggled to string together hits. Maryland did not have more than one runner on base until it loaded the bases in the eighth, on a two-out hit-by-pitch and consecutive walks, but the Terps failed to capitalize.

A leadoff home run from freshman Josh Maguire––the second of his career and second in seven days––finally put the Tears on the board in the eighth, but that was it for Maryland’s offense, stranding the bases loaded after a hit-by-pitch and a pair of walks had the Terps threatening with two outs.

Illinois responded to Maryland’s first run with a two-run inning, extending its lead 5-1 on a pair of walks and singles. After throwing five consecutive pitches out of the zone to start the inning, Terrapin starter Zach Thompson’s day on the mound was over. The righty went 7 innings, recording one strikeout and going up four runs on six hits and four total free bases––one hit-by-pitch and three walks.

Thompson shut down Illinois through two innings,  facing the minimum each trip to the mound. The Illini didn’t put up a hit until the fourth inning, though two batters reached base in the third on consecutive free bases from Thompson.

In the fourth, however, Thompson started to fall apart. When Illinois loaded the bases with no outs on a pair of singles and a walk, the Illini seemed prepared to take the lead.

But, a heads-up double play from Taylor Wright and Justin Vought on a ground ball to Wright at third held Illinois scoreless and postponed the Illini’s first run of the game until the following inning.

The Illini broke out in the fifth with a leadoff triple from Grant Van Scoy, after a pair of runners reached in both of the previous two innings. The Illinois senior crossed the plate two batters later, on an RBI ground out, to give the Illini the 1-0 lead. Two innings later, a three-run homer from designated hitter Campbell––the first home run of his career––set the Illini ahead 3-0.

The combination of Thompson and reliever Mark DiLuia struck out only two batters, while walking four total and hitting just one. They allowed a combined  five runs on eight hits in eight innings pitched.

Maryland (14-15, 2-3) faces Illinois (20-9, 1-4) for the second game of the double header at approximately 5:05 p.m. ET on Saturday.

Maryland rallies with four-run ninth to defeat Illinois in series opener

Maryland closer John Murphy walked calmly off the mound on Friday. The right-hander had just sent a strike past Illinois’ best hitter, Zac Taylor, securing the final out of the game and ensuring the Terps’ four-run ninth-inning rally wasn’t in vain.

After struggling against Illinois’ defense, Maryland finally found its rhythm in the top of the ninth, rallying to a 4-2 victory in its series opener against the Fighting Illini on Friday in Champaign, Illinois.

The Terps’ comeback started with consecutive hits from the top of the Maryland lineup, after it entered the final inning trailing Illinois 2-0. Then, back-to-back bunts and a hit-by-pitch brought in the game-tying runs, and left the Terps with runners on first and second and one out.

Pinch-running for Maxwell Costes, who had worked his conference-leading 11th hit-by-pitch of the season earlier in the inning, junior Michael Piniero capitalized on a wild pitch from Illinois closer Garrett Acton. Piniero’s heads-up base-running put two runs across the plate, pulling the Terps ahead 4-2.

The Maryland lineup at the plate for its breakout ninth seemed like an entirely different team than that of the previous eight innings. The Terps’ only base runner through the first four innings came on a two-out hit-by-pitch to Justin Vought in the second inning. The sophomore catcher also put up Maryland’s first hit, a one-out double in the fifth, the Terps’ only hit through eight innings. But it was inconsequential, as a base-running blunder left freshman Josh Maguire at first on a fielder’s choice, and Vought out at third.

Maryland’s senior ace Hunter Parsons put up a solid start for the Terps, holding the Illini to the two runs on six hits and three walks with the help of a few key defensive plays from the rest of the Terps’ lineup.

Parsons found his groove after a rough fourth inning, when a pair of one-out singles and a four-pitch walk loaded the bases. A smooth 5-4-3 double play held the Illini to their two-run lead and kept the Terps in the game.

Building off the double-play momentum, Parsons recorded his first strikeouts of the game in the following two innings, with a strikeout apiece in the fifth and sixth. The two Ks were it for Parsons on the day, but the righty’s composure on the mound provided the Terps’ with the drive necessary to mount their late-inning rally.

Illinois did not waste time pulling ahead of Maryland.  Three consecutive singles from the middle of the Illini order loaded the bases in the second inning with no outs. Then, back-to-back sacrifice flies put Illinois on the board first, as Parsons struggled to keep the Illini off the bases.

The previous inning, Parsons walked two with two outs, throwing eight balls in a row. But, after a brief mound meeting with two of the three Terrapin captains––catcher Justin Vought and shortstop Lee––Parsons finally threw a strike and worked out of the jam with a groundout.

Murphy entered for the ninth, throwing two strikeouts and giving up one walk, recording his sixth save of the season.

With the win the Terps improve to .500, both overall and in the Big Ten. They’ll face the Fighting Illini in a doubleheader Saturday, starting at 2 p.m.

 

Maryland’s struggles continue, losing 8-1 to William & Mary

When junior Brandon Raquet sent a long ball over the fence in the bottom of the seventh, all Maryland center fielder Chris Alleyne could do was look up and watch the ball go over the fence. Raquet’s homer was his second grand slam of the season for the Tribe, and broke open the Maryland-William & Mary midweek, pushing the Tribe to a seven-run lead.

After struggling against the Indiana Hoosiers over the weekend, Maryland’s bullpen struggled against the William & Mary (20-7) lineup, as free bases added up in Maryland’s 8-1 loss at Plumeri Park in Williamsburg, Virginia.

“When you kind of go in a rut and you’re scuffling a little bit,” head coach Rob Vaughn said, “you start thinking ‘well here we go,’ and that’s a dangerous place to be. We tell these guys all the time…when you think is going to happen is probably going to happen.”

Entering the Wednesday matchup, Maryland (13-14) was 5-0 in midweeks, outscoring their opponents 49-23. But, after a week off heading into Big Ten Play last weekend, the Terps struggled to carry their midweek momentum into their matchup with the Tribe.

“The stuff from a pure pitch standpoint is still pretty good,” catcher Justin Vought said. “[We’re] not getting enough first-pitch strikes. Say we have a good inning, guys are sitting down and coming back out and not saying focused.”

Maryland called on six pitchers, after starter Tuck Tucker went four innings, striking out four and allowing three runs on four hits. Tucker also hit two and walked one. After securing the leadoff out in the first, Tucker gave up three free bases, allowing the Tribe to take the one-run lead with a sac fly. Two innings later, the southpaw gave up a two-run homer to Hunter Smith, his Tribe-leading eighth homer of the season.

“We’ve got to minimize freebies,” Vaughn said. “[Tucker] didn’t give us his best stuff, but he competed for us and did fine. [Elliot Zoellner] was fine…and then [Mark DiLuia] made some really good pitches and then let one bleed…and a guy pits a good swing on it.”

Of the six Terrapin relievers, who pitched a combined 5 innings, Sean Fisher put up the most impressive relief outing, going 1.2 innings and giving up one hit and struck out two. DiLuia and Mike Vasturia went an inning apiece. Maryland gave up a total of nine free bases––six walks and three hit-by-pitches––and struck out six.

Maryland reliever Sean Fisher took the mound in the bottom of the fifth with one out, inheriting a 2-0 count against third baseman Zach Pearson. The southpaw walked Pearson, but struck out consecutive batters to get the Terps out of the inning trailing the Tribe 4-1.

Building off Fisher’s momentum, Maryland’s fortune seemed to change heading into the sixth inning, when the Terps loaded the bases on a leadoff hit, a fielder’s choice and a hit-by-pitch. But, Maryland could not finish, and William & Mary recorded three straight outs––two of which were strikeouts––to end the Terps’ rally opportunity.

Leading off the third inning, catcher Justin Vought sent a solo blast over the right-center wall, his fourth of the season. Rounding the bases, the sophomore was the first Terrapin to reach base in any capacity against the Tribe, after William & Mary starter Jacob Haney struck out the side to start the first, and sent Maryland down in order again in the second.

“We just aren’t moving the barrel early in the count,” Vought said. “Today, even last weekend [against Indiana], we’re just not moving the barrel on hittable pitches when we’re supposed to.”

While the Tribe capitalized on free bases from the Terrapin pitching staff, Maryland not only struggled to connect with the ball with runners on base, but also failed to capitalize on three free bases from William & Mary’s own staff.

“If you unwind this thing four of five weeks ago, that’s something we were doing a pretty good job of,” Vaughn said, “getting guys on [and] executing. We have to do a better job of stringing quality at-bats together, and then when we do get in those spots we have to cash in, especially when you gave a runner at third and less than two outs.”

Maryland had chances to tie the game in both the sixth and seventh, but the William & Mary pitching staff came in clutch for the Tribe, and the Terps stranded a total of nine runners on the day.

“I think we’ve proven that we can play with the best teams in the country,” Vought said. “We’re still remaining optimistic, we’re still showing up every day getting our work done. We’re all pretty confident we’re going to get this thing turned around in a hurry.”

“I can live with it when we play hard and when we do things right as far as that goes,” Vaughn said. “But that’s where we’ve really got to step up our game a little bit.”

The Terps hit the road again this weekend, taking on the Illinois I for their first road series in four weeks. Maryland faces the Illinois Fighting Illini for a three-game series in Champaign, Illinois, starting Friday at 4 p.m.

 

Maryland pitching struggles against Indiana in 19-4 loss

Maryland head coach Rob Vaughn made five calls to the Terps’ bullpen on Sunday, as his pitching staff struggled to contain the Indiana lineup for the second consecutive game.

Though Terps dropped the Saturday matchup 20-5, making Sunday’s game a rubber match after Maryland shutout Indiana 2-0 on Friday behind Terrapin ace Hunter Parsons, Maryland (13-13) could not shut down the Indiana (17-10) offense and fell 19-4 in College Park in the series finale.

“We know how good [Indiana] is,” Vaughn said. “That’s a scary lineup…anybody in that lineup can leave the yard at any given time, and I thought it just got us on our heels a little bit . We got a little tentative and didn’t quite believe that we could compete with them on a high enough level.”

The Hoosiers offense, who sent nine home runs over the fence on Saturday,  continued to dominate, putting up 14 hits Sunday, four of which were homers.

“Obviously when you give up 20 and 19 [runs] in back-to-back days you don’t leave the yard feeling good at all,” Vaughn said. “But there were some spots in there that we just got to continue growing as a team.”

Among those decidedly good spots in the Terps’ loss Sunday were some key performances from a few Maryland relievers, who kept the game from turning into even more of a runaway.

Freshman reliever Andrew Vail entered in the sixth, taking over a situation with a 3-0 count, a runner on first and two outs, after Will Glock pulled himself out of Sunday’s game with an apparent arm injury. Vail threw three straight strikes to end the half, keeping Indiana off the board for only the second inning of the game, the fourth in 15 innings.

“Andrew Vail pitched absolutely fearless today,” Vaughn said. “He attacked people, he came right at people. And Will Glock, you know before coming off, I really liked the way he was throwing the ball.”

Vail, who recorded a scoreless seventh as well, was the fifth reliever the Terps called on, after starter Trevor LaBonte lasted 2.1 innings and gave up 10 runs. At the end of the second, LaBonte had thrown 54 pitches and the Terps trailed 6-1.

“[Elliot Zoellner’s] been so good all year,” Vaughn said. “His numbers [are] the most deceiving on our team…when he’s pounding the zone he’s really good, and I didn’t even think he was that sharp today. That just tells you he competed, he competed really hard.”

Right-hander Elliot Zoellner, the first out of the bullpen, went 1.2 innings, recording five outs, all of which were strikeouts. In the fourth Zoellner worked out of a two-on jam, putting up back-to-back strikeouts to end the half.

Freshman Sean Heine finished the game for the Terps, pitching the eighth and ninth. Though the righty allows four Indiana runs in the eighth, he held the Hoosiers scoreless in the ninth, thought a Terps’ rally was near impossible.

A.J. Lee put the Terps on the board in the first, with a leadoff home run on the first pitch of the inning. The blast, over the right-center field fence, marked the senior’s second of the season. Maryland put up three more one-run innings, one in the third, one in the eighth and one in the ninth. Sophomore Randy Bednar scored in the third and eighth, while a solo homer from freshman Josh Maguire put up a one-spot for Maryland in the ninth.

Seven Maryland batters reached base, but only Lee, Bednar and Maguire crossed home plate.

“We’re better than we showed this weekend,” Vaughn said. “I think the fight that we have, the toughness we have is better than we showed. You’ve got to own bad days…we can either make it part of our story moving forward or we can make it part of our excuse.”

The series loss marks the Terps’ third  in a row, and their third series loss at home this season. Maryland suffered consecutive sweeps from East Carolina and Creighton in its last two home series.