On Friday, it was the Terps who struck first and led the rest of the way.
On Saturday, it was Illinois.
The Fighting Illini exploded for six runs in the bottom of the third and held the lead to win 6-2 over Maryland in Illinois Stadium.
Starter Tyler Blohm got into early trouble, allowing a single to lead off the third, and then another base hit to put runners on the first and second with one out.
A single and a double later, Blohm was looking at runners on the corners with two runs already scored. The left-hander fanned the next batter and had an 0-2 count on catcher Mark Skonieczky, but catcher Danny Maynard was called for interference on the play. Skonieczky earned a free trip to first base and kept the inning alive with the bases loaded.
The freshman pitcher issued a bases-loaded walk to give Illinois a 3-0 lead. Then, left fielder Bren Spillane crushed a third-pitch offering in the zone to left-center field. The double cleared the bases and put three more runs on the board for Illinois.
Facing a 6-0 deficit, head coach John Szefc decided to pull Blohm in favor of sophomore right-hander John Murphy. Blohm lasted just 2.2 innings and allowed six hits and five earned runs. Murphy retired the next batter to end the inning.
The Terps were able to put up one run in both the sixth and seventh innings, but it wasn’t enough. Consecutive doubles from first baseman Brandon Gum and right fielder Marty Costes scored a run in the top of the sixth.
In the top of the seventh, shortstop Kevin Smith beat out a high throw from the third baseman to first. The ball sailed over the first baseman and Smith was able to safely reach second base on the throwing error. Left fielder Madison Nickens slapped a double down the right field line to cut the Illinois lead to four.
Costes and the Maryland bullpen were the Terps’ lone bright spots in the game. Costes was 2-for-4 with a double, while the relievers combined to throw 4.1 scoreless innings. Murphy threw 3.1 innings of relief and allowed just two hits.
Righty Taylor Bloom will take the mound Sunday at 1 p.m. for the rubber match.
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