In a game where Illinois and Maryland went a combined 12-for-63 at the plate, it was fitting that the Illini’s eighth inning rally that propelled them to a 4-2 win featured no hits.
Relievers Mike Vasturia and John Murphy each walked a batter to begin the inning with the score knotted up at 2-2. Both pitchers were replaced immediately after issuing the base-on-balls. Kevin Biondic came in for Murphy and promptly walked a batter as well, loading the bases for Illinois with no outs.
Doran Turchin and Jack Yalowitz then hit back-to-back sacrifice flies to put the Illini ahead for good.
In the bottom of the inning, Maryland attempted to answer by loading the bases. However, Joey Gerber was able to strikeout AJ Lee to maintain the 4-2 lead.
“Really that’s the story of the game right there,” said head coach Rob Vaughn. “They executed seventh, eighth and ninth and we didn’t.”
The offense for the visitors was relatively quiet all game, with the lineup recording only four hits. Illinois’ other two runs in the contest did not come off of hits either, as a bases-loaded walk by Hunter Parsons in the fourth and an error by catcher Justin Morris on a dropped third strike in the seventh resulted in the other two scores.
After a strong offensive showing Friday night for the Terps, the bats went cold on Sunday, much like the weather. Vaughn switched up the lineup, sending Zach Jancarski back to the leadoff spot while starting Chris Alleyne, Randy Bednar, Richie Schiekofer and Taylor Wright, all non-staples in the usual starting nine.
The changes did not work in Maryland’s favor, the Terps couldn’t do much while leaving 13 runners on base throughout the contest, aside from an RBI single by Nick Dunn and Schiekofer being hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
“We’re just not finishing the innings,” said Vaughn. “It doesn’t always have to be sexy, it’s just a matter of executing.”
The Terps had chances to execute all game, with at least one runner reaching base in all but two innings. Yet, the season-long struggles to drive in runs continued.
“It’s going to come,” said Nick Dunn about the lack of clutch hitting. “We come out here and compete everyday…we’re getting there.”
Illini starter Ty Weber was solid in his 5.1 innings of work, allowing only two earned runs. However, the arm of Ryan Thompson played a major role in helping Illinois win the rubber match. Thompson picked up the victory in relief, going 2.1 innings and allowing zero runs. Joey Gerber then shut the door on the Terps without a four-out save.
In addition to the loss, Maryland starter Hunter Parsons left the game in the fifth inning with an apparent leg injury after throwing a 1-1 pitch to Turchin.
“His hammy just kind of locked up on him,” said Vaughn.
Parsons had been pitching will up to that point, allowing only only one run and three hits in 5.2 innings. Vaughn said after the game that he does not believe the injury is too serious, but the Terps wanted to take precaution with their dominant Sunday starter.
The Terps will now prepare for a midweek game at James Madison on Tuesday before heading to Ann Arbor next weekend to face a tough Michigan team.
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