With the bases loaded and no outs in the top of the fourth, the Maryland coaching staff called for a sacrifice bunt. As shortstop Patrick Hisle squared up for the pitch, every runner took off. But the ball never hit the bat—it was too far outside for Hisle to reach.
Will Watson, the man on third, was caught running back to third for the first out, but every other batter advanced safely. On the very next pitch, Hisle swung and missed to strike out. What looked to be a high-scoring inning for the Terps now looked like a potential missed opportunity.
Then, instead of catcher Justin Morris stepping to the plate, it was head coach John Szefc who walked up. He notified the umpire that Dan Maynard would pinch hit for Morris.
Despite being just the fourth inning, the decision proved crucial in the Terps’ 8-5 victory over Nebraska at Hawks Field in Lincoln. Maryland evened the series and improved to 20-9 and 6-2 in the Big Ten.
Szefc’s call to pinch hit Maynard paid off and the catcher got himself back on track after going 0-for-3 with three strikeouts Friday night.
The sophomore slapped a single to left field and designated hitter Nick Cieri and third baseman AJ Lee both scored to give the Terps a 4-3 lead. The second run turned out vital as Nebraska tied it up in the fifth.
“When stuff like that works out, it makes you look smart, but Danny just did a great job coming up from the bullpen and giving us a good at-bat,” Szefc said on the Big Ten Network broadcast. “He’s been one of the better pinch hitters I’ve ever coached. He has a certain skill with that, which in college baseball is unique.”
The Burnt Hills, New York, native has been a solid pinch hitter this year, knocking in 19 RBIs on 12 hits. He went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and a home run Tuesday against Richmond.
“It doesn’t matter what time in the game, whether [Maynard’s] starting or off the bench, when he comes in, that dude’s a gamer and he’s getting it done,” center fielder Zach Jancarski said Tuesday.
Every Terps player seemed to mimic that mentality throughout the game, as there were four ties or lead changes. Left fielder Will Watson displayed this in the top of the seventh with two outs and men on first and second.
Watson smacked a second-pitch fastball to shallow right field to put the Terps back on top, 5-4.
The Louisiana native continued his consistent production, going 1-for-2 with two walks and a hit by pitch. He’s batting .355 and owns a .446 on-base percentage.
Nebraska threatened in the bottom of the ninth, scoring one and then putting the tying run at the plate. Right-hander Ryan Selmer kept his calm and forced a game-ending double play to seal a Maryland win.
After Brian Shaffer spared the bullpen with a complete game yesterday, starter Taylor Bloom did not have the same stamina. He only lasted 1.1 innings, allowing three runs on two hits. Bloom gave up three walks in the second inning. He never walked three batters in a single game last year.
Ryan Hill was excellent in early relief for Bloom, as he pitched a career-high 4.2 innings. He surrendered just one run on four hits and struck out five.
Lee and first basemen Brandon Gum also had stellar games, each collecting three hits. Gum scored once and drove in a run, while Lee scored twice and plated two runs. Lee also walked and hit his second home run of the year.
Maryland will go for the conference series win tomorrow in a rubber match scheduled to start at 1:05 p.m.
Edited by Connor Mount.
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