AJ Lee earns Big Ten Player of the Week honors

Photo Credit: Maryland Athletics

Maryland senior shortstop AJ Lee has been named Big Ten Player of the Week after a dominant four games. It is Lee’s first weekly conference honor of the season.

In one game against James Madison and three games against Iowa this week, Lee hit .588 (10-for-17) with three home runs, two doubles and six RBI. He also worked two walks, stole two bases and came in to score eight times in the four Maryland victories.

Lee homered in each of the first three games of the weekend, including the biggest home run of his career — a walk-off bomb against Iowa Thursday night.

The senior started his great week by snapping an 0-for-25 slump in Tuesday’s 6-5 win over James Madison, recording a hit in his final three at-bats. He singled in the sixth and seventh, and then hit what turned out to be a game-winning solo home run in the top of the ninth.

He followed that up with a 3-for-4 day in Thursday’s opener against the Hawkeyes. Before the walk-off long ball, he singled twice and put down an RBI sacrifice bunt.

On Friday against Iowa, Lee put together a 2-for-4 day. He singled in the fifth and then hit his third home run in as many games with a solo shot in the bottom of the eighth.

In Saturday’s regular season finale, Lee posted another 2-for-4. After reaching on errors in his first two at-bats, he doubled in the fourth and fifth innings. Then, in his final career plate appearance at Bob ‘Turtle’ Smith Stadium, Iowa showed Lee the ultimate form of respect, and sent him to first base on an intentional walk.

Lee and the Terps will now head to Omaha, Nebraska for the 2019 Big Ten Tournament, where they will play their opening game against Illinois at 10:00 a.m. ET on Wednesday. Pregame coverage will start at 9:30 a.m. with Zach Solon on the call live from TD Ameritrade Trade Park on the Maryland Baseball Network.

Terps drop series finale against PSU

Maryland clinched the series win earlier today in the first game of Saturday’s double header but were not able to complete the sweep in a 10-7 loss to the Nittany Lions in Game 2.

Both offenses put on a hitting clinic in the evening game as the Terps tallied 11 hits and Penn State had 13. The difference in the game came by the walk. Terps pitchers allowed six bases on balls while the Nittany Lions staff only allowed two.

The Terps jumped ahead in the top of the first inning after two straight hits off PSU starter Bailey Dees from AJ Lee and Randy Bednar. Taylor Wright bunted them over to move the runners over to second and third base. Penn State then nabbed Lee at home from a fielder’s choice off the bat of Max Costes. Caleb Walls then lined a single to right field to score Bednar and give Maryland a 1-0 lead.

Penn State tied it up in the bottom of the 1st inning and took the lead in the third which was a huge inning for the Nittany Lions. They scored 5 runs on 5 hits. All of the runs driven in were off Penn State singles from Ryan Ford, Ryan Sloniger, Mac Hippenhammer, and Conlin Hughes.

Terps starter Trevor LaBonte was pulled after the second Penn State run came across but was responsible for the three runners left on base when Drew Wilden came into the game, which he all let score. This ended LaBonte’s day with 2 innings pitched, 5 earned runs, 3 hits, and 3 walks.

In the 4th inning, Justin Vought led off the inning with a hit by pitch, Michael Pineiro singled, and Ben Cowles reached on a throwing error from pitcher Mason Mellott to load the bases.

Chris Alleyne was then hit by a pitch to score a run. The next batter, Lee, grounded a ball to the shortstop who flipped to second base for one out, but second baseman Kremer through it past the first baseman which allowed Lee to be safe at first. Pineiro and Cowles scored on the play to make it 6-4 Nittany Lions.

Penn State tacked on another run in the bottom of the 4th off of a double play from Kremer which scored Jordan Bowersox to make it 7-4.

The Terps pesky offense scratched across two more runs in the 5th off a Pineiro 2 RBI single which was set up by a sacrifice bunt by Vought that moved Wall and Costes to second and third base, respectively. That pulled the score to 7-6.

But Maryland pitching just could not hold these Nittany Lion bats quiet after Sean Fisher came in for Mark DiLuia in the bottom of the 5th inning. Derek Orndorff drove a Fisher delivering to right center field for a 2 RBI double to make it 9-6.

Maryland’s final run came in the sixth off of a Wright single that drove in Lee.

Hippenhammer led the way offensively for the Nittany Lions, going 3 for 5 with a triple and two runs scored. Kyle Virbitsky came into pitch for Penn State in the 7th, going 3 strong innings, allowing 0 runs despite 3 hits and 2 walks.

For the Terps, Pineiro was 3 for 5 with 2 RBI in the loss, which moved Maryland to 22-22 on the season.

Maryland’s next game will be Wednesday, May 1 at Villanova. First pitch will be at 3:30 p.m.

Maryland Beats VCU In Convincing Fashion 10-5

On a day highlighted by their offense, Maryland was able to grab a convincing win at home over the VCU Rams. Ten runs on 17 hits helped the Terps put their home struggles to rest at least for now.

The Rams struck quickly with a leadoff home run on Tyler Blohm’s second pitch of the day. Brett Norwood got a fastball and didn’t miss; driving the ball to deep right-center field and over the wall next to the batters eye.

The Terps were able to strike back, however, on a single by freshman first baseman Maxwell Costes scoring Randy Bednar. This gave Blohm a clean slate in the second inning as he set then set down the Rams seven, eight, and nine hitters en route to a 1-2-3 inning. Blohm also struck out the last two batters of that inning looking. Daniel O’Connor came in to relieve Blohm to start the third inning.

Maryland began the second inning with back to back singles from Justin Vought and Michal Piniero before second baseman Ben Cowles reached on an attempted sacrifice bunt to load the bases. Junior Ben Irvine followed with a groundout to first base driving in the Terps second run and giving them the lead.

The great bottom of the second continued when Randy Bednar knocked in both Cowles and Michael Pineiro on a two-RBI single. Taylor Wright followed Bednar and promptly drove him in on an RBI double giving the Terps a convincing 5-1 lead after two innings

O’Connor allowed three earned runs and was able to retire just one batter before he was relieved by sophomore Sean Fisher in the third inning. The Rams refused to give up, getting runners on base and continuing to fight back in the game.

In the bottom of the fourth AJ Lee extended the Maryland lead to 6-4 with a two-out solo shot to left field. This gave him his third homer of the year and put him in a tie with teammate Josh Maguire for fifth on the team.

The Terps continued to put baserunners on in the inning, loading the bases for Josh Maguire and the freshman came through. A single up the middle scored both Randy Bednar and Taylor Wright and extended the Terps lead to 8-4. Ben Cowles followed up the next inning with a solo shot of his own; a towering shot to left center field extending the lead to 9-4.

This gave Sean Fisher a cushion to work with heading into his second full inning of work. Fisher shut down the Rams through the fifth before handing the ball off to freshman Drew Wilden.

Wilden would shut down the Rams in the sixth and got two quick outs in the seventh before allowing a double and a single to Paul Witt and Liam Hibbits respectively cutting the Terps lead to four. Andrew Vail, a freshman, came in to relieve Wilden, inheriting two baserunners but escaping the inning.

The Terps added one more run of their own in the bottom of the seventh inning after Ben Cowles hit the top of the batters eye, narrowly missing a home run. He was then driven in on what was ruled a single for AJ Lee. Lee hit the ball on the ground to the VCU second baseman who was playing in to cut the runner down at home; he was not able to get either out after bobbling the ball.

The Terps will look to add to this win over a good VCU team in their upcoming three-game set this weekend at Penn State. Maryland will also look to continue their success on the road, currently, at 11-8 on the road, the Terps will have a good chance to add to this against a less than spectacular Penn State squad. The Nittany Lions currently sit at 17-18 overall.