Maryland center fielder Zach Jancarski sauntered to the plate in his usual relaxed manner, despite coming into a bases-loaded situation with two outs. He wasted no time, swinging at the very first pitch he saw and driving the ball into shallow left field to score two runs.
The two-RBI single gave the Terps a 3-0 advantage over Michigan State in the bottom of the second inning, a lead they would not surrender in their 6-2 win to sweep the Spartans on Sunday at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium in College Park.
“That might have been the hit of the game right there because a three-run lead is a huge difference from a one-run lead, especially when these guys are trying to go out there and not get swept,” Maryland head coach John Szefc said.
Going 2-for-5 on the day with three RBIs, Jancarski extended his hitting streak to 14 games, a stretch that has seen nine multi-hit games. The junior is batting .475 during the streak, with 16 runs scored and seven RBIs.
“He’s gives you tough at-bats each time out. That’s kind of what Zach is,” Szefc said. “He just gets better and better as we play more games.”
Shortstop Kevin Smith and catcher Dan Maynard also logged multi-hit games. Smith scored two runs on two hits and a walk. Maynard reached base every time he went to the plate, drawing two walks to compliment his two hits. One of those hits was a solo home run that was absolutely crushed to left-center field , which put Maryland up 4-0 in the bottom of the fourth.
The early lead gave starting pitcher Taylor Bloom a lot of breathing room, something that the right-hander said helps take the pressure off for him to focus on pitching.
After struggling early in the season, Bloom returned to the form he showed last season, throwing 7.2 innings of two-run ball.
“Every time he goes out there I feel like our guys know we have a pretty good chance to win,” Jancarski said. “He’s got some good stuff and I think he went out there and was vintage Taylor Bloom today.”
That vintage version of Bloom owned a team-leading 2.46 ERA in 2016. Right now, his ERA sits at 4.08. The start was his best since he went seven innings in a win over NC State on March 4, where he allowed two runs on five hits.
Pitching coach Ryan Fecteau worked with him recently on giving more direction toward the plate in his delivery. The junior said the approach worked.
“It really clicked, it really helped me get back to where I was,” Bloom said. “After a couple tough outings and West Virginia, me and Coach Fecteau went and looked at some things, just to try and change some things mechanically to get back where I was last year.”
Bloom limits his time between pitches and tries to induce soft contact, which can make for quick innings when he’s pitching well. His pitch count reached only 93 in close to eight innings.
Szefc said one of the more impressive things he saw from Bloom was his ability to go back out on the mound and stay in the zone after long offensive innings.
“He got in his rhythm and he’s a guy that works fast, so he’s easy to play defense behind,” Jancarski said. “It was awesome to see and we kind of expect that every time he goes out there, regardless of the past, just because of how he is as a pitcher and how he’s had so much success here.”
The win gave Maryland their seventh straight victory and improved their impressive home record to 18-1. Many of the Terps’ improbable comeback wins have happened in College Park.
“Every day we’re here, we bring a lot of energy. It’s a tough place to play against us,” Jancarski said. “We kind of feed off of that, we know it’s a tough place to play.
The Terps will need to translate that energy to the road, however, as they won’t be back in Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium until May 9. Their first test during this stretch of eight away games will be at James Madison on Tuesday at 6 p.m.
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