The Ohio State Buckeyes, who Maryland head coach Julie Wright nicknamed the “home run team,” swept the Terrapins in their Big Ten opening weekend.
“Home run team” is no exaggeration for the Buckeyes, who totaled seven home runs and two grand slams during their series against the Terps, to win all three games and start conference play 3-0.
The homers allowed Ohio State to build large leads in each of the games that made it difficult for the Terrapins to mount a comeback.
Maryland allowed five or more runs in a single inning in each of its three weekend games against Ohio State, including an astonishing 13 runs in the second inning on Sunday.
The first game of the series on Friday evening ended in a 6-2 Maryland loss. The Buckeyes’ big inning in the first game of the series was the third inning, when Ohio State put up five runs in one frame to increase its lead to 6-0.
The game began slowly with an RBI single in the top of the first that gave Ohio State a slight 1-0 advantage.
Despite that first run, Madison Martin bounced back well and recorded two strikeouts in the frame and stranded a pair of runners on base. This solid start didn’t indicate the trouble that the Terps would face just two innings later.
Martin kept up the work in the top of the second, sending the Buckeyes down in order, but Ohio State returned the favor to Maryland in the top of the third.
In the past and again after Sunday’s game, Wright has mentioned the idea of “contagious hitting.” When one batter gets it right, it becomes more likely that the next batter will be able to repeat the performance, stringing hits together to gain momentum.
Contagious is certainly one word to describe Ohio State’s batting in the top of the third. The Buckeyes score five runs in the inning, including one on a Maryland fielding error and three from a Taylor White home run.
That put Ohio State up 6-0. Despite two Maryland runs, including a homer from leadoff batter Juli Strange, the Terps couldn’t recover enough offensively to get the win.
Martin pitched the rest of the game, throwing five strikeouts and sending the Buckeyes out in order once more.
Wright emphasized Martin’s overall solid game, the five-run frame notwithstanding.
“You take that away and she threw a doozy,” Wright said.
Saturday’s game went into extra innings, a near-win for Maryland that ultimately ended in a 10-6 loss when Ohio State tacked on five runs in the eighth.
Although Maryland never held the lead, Ohio State struggled to gain more than a two-run advantage.
After jumping out to an early 4-0 lead, the Buckeyes allowed three runs to Maryland in the third to shrink their lead to just one run. The Terrapins grasped onto the opportunity, eventually tying it up in the bottom of the seventh to force extra innings.
However, another homer from White, this time a grand slam, effectively ended things for Maryland. Combined with a single on a fielding error, Ohio State gained a 10-5 advantage in the top of the eighth.
Although Martin led off the bottom of the eighth with a home run, the single run was far from enough, and the Buckeyes claimed their second victory of the series.
However, these first two games didn’t foreshadow what would happen on Sunday.
Starting pitcher Hannah Dewey walked four batters in the top of the first, allowed two singles and gave Ohio State an early 3-run lead.
That early lead became insurmountable in the top of the second, when the Buckeyes scored an astounding 13 runs.
The Buckeyes went through their entire lineup twice in the inning, and leadoff hitter Anna Kirk came up to bat three times. While a grand slam from Lilli Piper certainly added to the run count, many of the runs came from RBI singles, a sign of Ohio State’s consistent offensive approach throughout the weekend.
Ohio State couldn’t be stopped through the top of the second inning, and it took Maryland three different pitchers to finally stop the offensive juggernaut.
After Maryland failed to score any through the fourth — and the Buckeyes added three more runs to gain a 19-0 lead — the game became more of a practice run for the bench.
At the conclusion of the game, Ohio State had in five non-starters, and Maryland had gone through its entire pitching staff.
“This is not the way that you want to play the game,” Wright said after the loss. “… It’s brutal, we’ve got to clean it up.”
The 22-run loss was Maryland’s second loss by that margin in the past two seasons — the Terps lost 26-4 in April 2016 against Nebraska, a game which also saw Maryland’s opponent score double-digit runs in a single inning.
Next weekend, the Terrapins play Michigan State in East Lansing, Michigan. The Spartans are 3-0 in the Big Ten after sweeping Purdue this weekend.
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