Feature photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics.
Starter Tyler Blohm created very little stress with his pitching Sunday, but the Maryland dugout froze with concern as a grounder struck him on the throwing hand in the third.
Blohm shook off the tightness and ended up throwing six innings of three-hit, no-run baseball, leading Maryland to a 4-0 victory and a sweep of Bryant in College Park Sunday.
Prior to the grounder, Blohm quickly carved through the first six Bryant batters. Leading off the third, Bryant third baseman Jacob Marotta chopped a modest grounder up the middle that deceived Blohm with its lack of velocity.
The left-hander recovered and threw out Marotta, but came back to the mound clenching his pitching hand, trying to loosen it up. The infield, coaching staff and trainer gathered around the mound as Blohm took half a dozen warmup pitches, switching between fastballs and breaking pitches to refind his command of the zone on the cold afternoon.
“I was worried he might stiffen a little quicker than normal because of [the temperature],” coach John Szefc said.
But Blohm didn’t. If anything, he started pitching better after being struck, Szefc said.
Content with the results of the practice tosses, Blohm stayed in and continued to deal.
“It hurt obviously,” Blohm said. “It came I’d say a little slower than I expected … [My hand] tightened up for a little bit, but my few warmup pitches looked good, so I decided to stay in the game. And then from there, I ended up throwing harder after that, which was kind of weird, and my curveball was biting more, so maybe it worked out for the best.”
Spotting his fastballs on the lower corners and keeping hitters off balance with his curveball, Blohm struck out six, helping to win his third game of the season in his first start at home.
The offense provided support for the freshman left-hander by running wild on the basepaths.
Maryland stole six more bases after taking four in the first game of the doubleheader. Third baseman AJ Lee’s fourth-inning theft gave the Terps 29 stolen bases in their first 14 games, already surpassing their season total of 28 in 57 games in 2016.
Strong base running helped Maryland manufacture the first run of the ballgame. Center fielder Zach Jancarski and right fielder Marty Costes orchestrated a double steal, allowing Jancarski to score on a sacrifice fly from first baseman Brandon Gum. The ball wasn’t hit deep to left field, but Jancarski’s outran the throw, which was just far enough offline to give the junior time to slide in safely.
“Coach [Rob] Vaughn’s little thing that he always says is not being afraid to crash and burn, and that’s the kind of mindset that we have all the time,” Jancarski said. “The fly ball there to tag up, it would have been easy to just not go, because it would have been a close play. But what’s the worst that happens, I get thrown out?”
Jancarski avoided such a fate and scored his second run of the doubleheader, a pair of games in which he went 5-for-8 with two RBIs and three stolen bases.
The Terps forced another run on the basepaths in the fourth. After shortstop Kevin Smith bashed a two-RBI double off the right-centerfield wall, he moved to third on a passed ball. His presence distracted Bryant starter and caused him to balk Smith home, giving Maryland a 4-0 lead.
Smith added a double later in the game to give him a 2-for-4 game.
The win over Bryant gave Maryland a doubleheader and weekend sweep, along with its eighth straight win after starting 1-5. They head to North Carolina Tuesday to take on the Tar Heels.