“Just keep playing, just keep pitching.”
The Maryland dugout shouted those words of encouragement toward starting pitcher Hunter Parsons in the sixth inning of Sunday’s 5-3 win against Bryant.
Parsons breezed through the first five innings, only allowing one run on Dante Riccardi’s safety squeeze, but ran into some trouble to start the sixth. After Ryan Ward led off the inning with a double, Parsons made a throwing error on James Ciliento’s bunt single with one out, allowing Ward to score and Ciliento to advance to second with Bryant now leading 2-1.
Following a walk to Mickey Gasper to put runners on the corners, Parsons’ demeanor on the mound changed. The confidence from retiring nine consecutive batters between the third and fifth innings was replaced by frustration.
However, Parsons settled down, listened to his teammates, and just kept pitching.
“Next pitch mentality,” Parsons said. “Just being able to say ‘hey next pitch, like so what I gave up a hit, gave up a run, threw the ball away down the first base line. Next pitch you know.’”
The junior right-hander got Shane Kelly to ground into a double play to end the inning and keep the Terps within striking distance.
The play earned a fist pump from Parsons as he walked off the mound, and the confidence was back, as he went the distance and earned his first career complete game win, allowing only three runs on eight hits.
“That was one of the best-pitched games I’ve seen all year, much less just out of him,” said head coach Rob Vaughn.”
Parsons was able to pick up the victory in large part thanks to some late-inning heroics from Marty Costes. Following an RBI-single from Ciliento in the top of the eighth that tied the game at three, Costes, who came into his final at-bat of the game in the eighth batting .077 with runners in scoring position, delivered an RBI-single through the right side of the infield to put Maryland up 4-3.
“I believed in Marty 100 percent,” Parsons said about Costes’ clutch at-bat. “I’ve been saying the past couple games he’s one hit away from breaking out and being the hitter he was last year. I think that was probably the start today.”
Kevin Biondic followed up with a sacrifice-fly, scoring Nick Dunn, giving the Terps their fifth and final run of the game.
Maryland’s offense continues to be a streaky lineup as the season progresses. After struggling to score on Thursday and Friday, the team has now recorded double-digit hits in back-to-back contests. Today, the Terps scattered 10 hits against five different Bulldog pitchers. Bryant starter Vito Morgese, went 4 ⅓ innings allowing one run on six hits, while Bulldog relievers Nathan Wrighter, Tyler Mattison, Logan Lessard and Matthew Stansky allowed a combined four runs and seven hits.
“We got nine good hitters every single day in that lineup that are more than capable of getting it done,” said Zach Jancarski, who had three hits of his own. “Everyone in this dugout is super confident that the person at the plate is going to get it done, and if he doesn’t get it done then the guy after him will. That’s kind of the way our offense works and why we’re good.”
The majority of the damage came from Maryland’s 1-3 hitters. Along with Jancarski three knocks, junior Nick Dunn had three of his own while Costes drove in two runs. After trying Costes at lead-off earlier in the season, Vaughn may stick with this order going forward.
“That’s kind of the lineup we kind of envisioned going into the year,” said Vaughn. “We tried something a little different at the beginning of the year, it didn’t quite have the effect we wanted it to have.”
Although the offense once again put up an impressive hit total, their kryptonite still seems to be hitting with runners in scoring position, as the team left 12 runners on base in today’s contest.
“We couldn’t quite get that big hit today that let us breathe,” said Vaughn, who was still impressed with the way his team swung the bats today.
The Terps, who now sit at 9-6, will look to improve on that part of their game on Tuesday, when they head to Newark, Delaware to take on the Blue Hens for the second time in as many weeks. In the last matchup on Thursday in College Park, Delaware held Maryland to only one run in what would be a 7-1 victory for the visiting team.
Freshman Mark DiLuia will get the ball for the Terps. First pitch is at 3 p.m.