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.”

Maryland beats Rutgers behind Parsons’ masterful first-career Friday start

With right-hander Hunter Parsons over 100 pitches in his first-career Friday night start, pitching coach Corey Muscara visited the mound in the middle of a 2-0 count to tell his starter the next two batters were his regardless of the result.

Parsons threw two more balls to walk the hitter, but with the confidence instilled in him, the junior then induced an inning-ending flyout on his 118th pitch to cap off his two-run, seven-inning performance in Maryland’s 5-2 win against Rutgers.

Center fielder Zach Jancarski perhaps saved the game in the top of the ninth, making a full-extension grab with the tying-run at the plate. After losing eight straight series openers, the Terps have now won their last two as they continue to vigorously hunt down the final spot in the Big Ten Tournament.

“This is the playoffs from here on out. We’re playing for our lives right now and it’s time to step it up,” Jancarski said.  “I think our guys did a great job not letting the pressure get to them, but being ready when their number was called.”

Rutgers scored in the very first frame, taking advantage of multiple Maryland miscues. Parsons allowed a leadoff single after getting ahead 0-2 in the count, and Justin Vought’s throwing error on a steal attempt moved the runner to third. With an RBI groundout following, The Scarlet Knights took a quick 1-0 lead.

From that point on, though, it was all Hunter Parsons and clutch hitting from several Maryland seniors to stay in postseason contention. After retiring 11 straight hitters at one point, Parsons conceded a run in the seventh before loading the bases. But the coaching staff decided to live or die with their ace on the mound.

“That guy’s been so dang good. He deserved a chance to try to finish that inning,” head coach Rob Vaughn said. “So just try to give him a deep breath and just reset everything and good execute some pitches and kill some of their momentum.”

In the midst of Parsons’ standout start, all four seniors in Maryland’s starting lineup recorded multi-hit games in clutch situations to pull away from the Scarlet Knights. Kevin Biondic, Will Watson, Justin Morris and Jancarski went a combined 8-for-15 with two runs scored and three RBIs.

“This is the last time we’re going to be putting the Maryland uniform on this field,” Jancarski explained. “The blood, sweat and tears that these guys — especially the seniors — put into this, just so much stuff behind the scenes. There’s nothing else we know.”

Biondic extended the bottom of the first with two outs with a single, granting an opportunity for Watson to deliver the game-tying RBI hit. The following frame, Morris led off with a single before junior shortstop AJ Lee hit a two-out RBI double to give Maryland a 2-1 lead.

The bottom of the sixth belonged to Maryland’s senior hitters, too, doubling, singling and doubling again to spark a two-run inning to extend the Terps’ lead to three heading into the seventh frame. After Parsons allowed a run in the seventh, Jancarski grabbed the run right back with an RBI single in the next half inning.

Kevin Biondic was the designated hitter, unable to play defensively with a bruised foot. Morris, therefore, was given the task of playing first base for the first time this season. He made several great plays, including a foul grab against the wall with a runner in scoring position and two inning-ending picks.

“This was his first week of practice at first base,” Parsons said. “He’s played 50 games either behind the dish or [designated hitter] and just to see him over there … it looks so natural for him.”

Ryan Hill, also a senior, held the score at 5-2 by striking out two hitters in a scoreless eighth inning. He recorded the first two outs of the ninth, but let the tying-run get to the plate. Left-hander Grant Burleson sealed the game, coming on to get the last out.

“We’re going to enjoy this for about 15-20 minutes and then it’s back to the basics. It’s back to square one,” Jancarski said. “We got a 0-0 game and we have to take care of business tomorrow.”

Nick Dunn delivers walk-off hit in extras to beat Towson

Maryland baseball is still fighting to extend its season, and while Wednesday’s midweek matchup with Towson would neither help nor hurt those chances, erasing two late deficits before second baseman Nick Dunn’s walk-off single in extras was representative of the team’s challenge to make a late push into the Big Ten Tournament.

First baseman Kevin Biondic hit a game-tying home run in the bottom of the eighth and right fielder Marty Costes hit a game-tying sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth to force extras, keeping Maryland alive. All this happened before Dunn delivered the walk-off hit in the bottom of the 10th to cap off Maryland’s 8-7 comeback win in its final midweek game of the season.

The Terps were never truly out despite trailing the majority of the game, similar to the team’s position two games back of the final spot in the Big Ten Tournament with two weekends left to play. Mathematically, Maryland still has a chance.

“Belief is a huge thing. That’s the one thing in this dugout. There’s a lot of people that believe that we’re not done yet,” head coach Rob Vaughn said. “I think that goes for every game we walk in to. Having guys come through in big spots like they did today can be a big thing to carry into the weekend.”

The Terps fell behind 6-2 in the top of the seventh, but used a late offensive power surge to even the score. Zach Jancarski and catcher Justin Vought each homered in the bottom of the seventh inning to cut the Terps’ deficit to 6-5.

Right-handed reliever Elliot Zoellner recorded a much-needed shutdown in the eighth, just in time for first Biondic to hit a game-tying home run to deep left field. It was Maryland’s fourth homer of the afternoon.

“We were just locked in at the plate today,” Dunn said. “We were seeing the ball well and running off good ABs.”

Trailing since the second inning, the Terps were even with the Tigers, who used similar home runs to claim their lead.

Starting pitcher Billy Phillips worked a scoreless first inning, but allowed three runs over the next two frames. Junior third basemen Richard Miller hit his seventh home run of the season over the batter’s eye to give Towson a 1-0 lead. The Tigers went up 2-0 later in the second inning, and senior left fielder Billy Lennox snuck a ball over the fence the following in the third to put the visitors up 3-0.

“I thought we came out, honestly, a little flat today and I thought Towson kind of did the opposite,” Vaughn said. “They came out with energy and took some really good swings early in the game and kind of punched us in the mouth a little bit.”

After three scoreless frames, Maryland cut its deficit to two in the bottom of the fourth. Biondic legged out a leadoff infield, preceding a two-run home run from Will Watson.

Towson added two important insurance runs in the top of the seventh off left-hander Grant Burleson, extending its lead to 6-2 with just nine outs left to record. But another late Maryland push ensued, tying the game after scoring four runs in the next two trips to the plate.

Closer John Murphy entered in the top of the ninth, but allowed a leadoff walk and a go-ahead double before departing after recording one out. Redshirt senior Alec Tuohy recorded a double play to get out of the inning, and later pitched a scoreless frame in the top of the 10th.

Dunn delivered the walk-off hit down the right field line with one out, scoring Taylor Wright from second. A mob followed, as Dunn was lifted and carried into the outfield in celebration. It was the most emotion on the baseball field Dunn has expressed, according to Biondic.

“It feels pretty good,” Dunn said. “I was just looking to put a good swing on the ball. He kind of left one up and that was it.”

The Terps, who have six conference games remaining, will return to Big Ten play this weekend when they host Rutgers. Maryland trails Nebraska, Rutgers and Michigan State for the No. 8 seed in the tournament.

“We’re just fighting for a spot right now in the Big Ten,” Biondic said. “We start with Friday. Win Friday and go on from there.”

Maryland’s bats stay cold as Terps drop series to Nebraska

In the top of the fifth inning, the Maryland Terrapins had a chance to even the score at one. Zach Jancarski and Taylor Wright had just singled back-to-back, and for the first time all afternoon, the Terps had a runner in scoring position.

An unassisted double play off the bat of Justin Morris ended the inning and the Nebraska Cornhuskers answered. In the bottom of the frame, Nebraska rallied for three runs against Taylor Bloom, guiding it to a 5-2 victory and a critical conference series win.

Bloom’s fifth inning woes came after the senior right-hander had one of his better appearances of the season. In his first start since an injury he suffered during batting practice a few weeks ago, Bloom retired the first 10 Huskers he faced. A solo home run by Scott Schreiber in the fourth broke the scoreless tie, but Bloom didn’t really falter until the fifth.

In the sixth inning, Bloom allowed a pair to reach scoring position, but got out of the jam without allowing anymore Cornhusker runs. In all, he threw 103 pitches in seven innings, allowing four earned runs on seven hits.

After the Terrapin offense scored 15 runs in Friday’s win and eight runs in the first two innings of Saturday’s contest, it took a step backward to end the series. Maryland failed to score in 15 of the final 16 innings of the series. Both of Maryland’s runs came in the ninth inning of Sunday’s game — one on an RBI single by Morris, the other on a wild pitch.

Maryland’s best chance to break the slump came in the eighth, when a pair of singles by Randy Bednar and Nick Dunn and a peculiar defensive miscue loaded the bases for Kevin Biondic. Facing closer Jake Hohensee, the Terps first baseman lined into an inning-ending double play.

As a team, the Terps finished 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and just 4-for-19 with runners on base.

Seemingly every time Maryland placed a runner on base, he was erased on a double play. The Terps hit into four double plays on the afternoon, including Biondic’s costly one in the eighth.

With a 6-11 Big Ten record, Maryland’s odds of earning a spot in the conference tournament are rapidly decreasing. The Terps have two more Big Ten series remaining — home against Rutgers and away against Indiana — and trail all but two teams in the standings.

Nebraska scores 16 unanswered runs to stun Maryland

With an 8-1 lead after an inning-and-a-half, it looked as if the Maryland Terrapins were well on their way to a fourth-straight Big Ten win.

But their best starting pitcher, Hunter Parsons, faltered, and the relief core flirted with trouble until it was too late. Seven earned runs against Parsons, followed by a three-run seventh inning against Sean Fisher, gave Nebraska the 17-8 victory, and its largest come-from-behind win of the year.

Maryland’s offense feasted in the first two innings against Nebraska starter Luis Alvarado. After he threw a career-high eight innings in his last start, the senior right-hander could not control his pitches on Saturday. He walked six of the 12 batters he faced, and allowed seven earned runs.

After loading the bases with a pair of walks and a single by Will Watson, Zach Jancarski launched a grand slam over the left field fence to put Maryland ahead 4-0. The blast marked the Terps’ second grand slam in the last week.

After a solo shot by Cornhusker superstar Scott Schreiber (his Big Ten-leading 17th) in the bottom of the first, Maryland put together a second straight four-run inning. Three straight walks chased Alvarado out of the game, and against reliever Nate Fisher, Will Watson and Taylor Wright each drove in a pair.

Once the rally concluded, the Maryland bats went cold for the first time all weekend, and the Huskers were able to chip away. The Terps only had three hits after the second inning, both singles. As a team, Maryland was 0-for-6 with runners on base in the final seven innings, and never advanced a runner into scoring position.

Nebraska scored three in the second to cut the deficit to four. Then, a two-run fifth inning and a three-run seventh gave the Cornhuskers their first lead of the series. They ended scoring 16 consecutive runs

With two outs and one on, it looked as if Fisher would elude further damage for the third straight inning, and keep the Terps clinging to a one-run lead. Then, Nebraska center fielder Jaxon Hallmark belted his first career homer, a two-run shot off the foul pole, to give the home team a 9-8 lead. It tacked on another run on an RBI single by Carter Cross.

The collapse was shocking for the Terps, who have counted on Parsons to give them a reliable outing for the past few months. The junior right-hander hadn’t allowed more than three runs in a start since his season opener.

Nebraska even got to senior Kevin Biondic, Maryland’s most reliable relief pitcher. The senior gave up five runs in the eighth inning, all but sealing the come-from-behind win for the Cornhuskers. The final blow was a two-run homer by Alex Henwood that gave Nebraska its 17th run, the second-most it has scored in a game all year.

The two Big Ten foes will meet in the rubber match on Sunday, a critical meeting, as both teams are just out of the Big Ten tournament race. Maryland will send Taylor Bloom to the hill. The senior will be making his first start since his unfortunate injury, when he was struck by a foul ball in batting practice last month. He did enter as a reliever last weekend against Michigan State.

Costes stays hot, guides Maryland to Friday win

A dominant Friday performance and a couple of Marty Parties. The Maryland Terrapins’ series-opening 15-7 victory over the Nebraska Cornhuskers felt a lot more like a 2017 performance — and a much needed one.

Marty Costes was in 2017 form, and with three homers in his last three games, he may be re-shaping the narrative on his 2018 season. Just under a week after his go-ahead grand slam against Michigan State, the Terps left fielder belted a pair of solo home runs, and had a pair of run-scoring base hits.

Costes, who hit a moonshot in Maryland’s most recent trip to Lincoln, Nebraska, rebounded well from his 0-for-4 performance in a midweek meeting with West Virginia. He finished 4-for-4 with two home runs, a walk, an RBI single, and a two-run single on Friday.

The Terps needed someone to step up offensively, as their second-leading hitter, first baseman Kevin Biondic, was not in Nebraska for the game; he was in Chicago taking his Chicago Police Academy test. In his absence, Maryland got contributions from several starters. Five Terps drove in runs, eight scored runs, and a pair hit home runs.

The 15-run total was Maryland’s most of the season, and the first time it has reached double-digits since March 21.

Costes’ two homers bookended a lengthy second inning, during which Randy Bednar drove in a run with a double, and Justin Morris with a sacrifice fly. The Terps’ big offensive outburst came in the seventh.

AJ Lee got the rally started with a double that nearly cleared the fence in left-center field. He scored on a triple by Nick Dunn, who then scored on Costes’ single. Taylor Wright put an exclamation mark on the frame with a three-run homer, giving Maryland a nine-run lead, and plenty of cushion for its bullpen.

Mark DiLuia had a lead for the entire time he was on the hill, and his third career weekend start was arguably his best. The freshman completed six innings for the third straight time, but was more effective with his pitches. He allowed just four hits and two earned runs, walked four and struck out four.

Maryland tacked on four more in the eighth inning with two-run hits from Dunn and Costes.

The Terrapin bullpen struggled, but was not helped out by its defense. Ryan Hill allowed two unearned runs in the seventh after a Costes error. Then, after Hill loaded the bases, Mike Vasturia came in to clean up the mess, and did so without allowing a run.

He didn’t fare as well in the ninth, when he gave up a three-run homer to Luke Roskam. Ultimately, it didn’t have much of an impact, as the Terps held on to win by eight. Alec Tuohy relieved Hill, and recorded the final two outs.

Maryland will send Hunter Parsons to the hill on Saturday, as he looks to bring the team’s conference win streak to a season-best four games. The junior right-hander will face Nebraska’s best pitcher, senior Luis Alvarado.