The Maryland baseball team (22-27, 7-11 Big Ten) opened its last home series of the season on a high note, defeating Rutgers (24-21, 7-12) by a 5-2 score to inch closer toward a Big Ten tournament berth.
Coming off an 8-7 win against Towson on Wednesday, the Terps scored five runs to keep their offense rolling. Their 12 hits tied for their third-highest total of the season.
“It’s a great start to the weekend, winning on Friday,” said head coach Rob Vaughn. “We’ve just got to do a good job of staying the course.”
Rutgers got out to an early lead in the first inning. Dan DiGeorgio led off with a single, then advanced to third when Maryland catcher Justin Vought airmailed a throw to second base trying to catch DiGeorgio stealing. With the throw ending up in center field, DiGeorgio made it to third with only one out. A groundout by Nick Matera brought him home.
The Terps responded with a run of their own in the bottom of the frame. Junior Nick Dunn started the rally with a one-out single up the middle. Junior Marty Costes replaced him on the basepaths when he reached safely on a grounder that forced Dunn out at second. Senior Kevin Biondic laced a single to left-center to put Costes in scoring position, and senior Will Watson drove him home on Maryland’s third single in the frame.
AJ Lee put the Terps up in the second with a scorching RBI double to right-center field. He plated junior Taylor Wright, who reached on a force out and advanced to second on a wild pitch.
The Terps had another opportunity in the fourth when the lineup mounted a two-out rally. Wright singled and Vought smoked a double down the left field line to put two runners in scoring position for Lee. However, Rutgers pitcher John O’Reilly snagged a comebacker to end the threat.
The Terps chased O’Reilly from the game by leading off the sixth with three straight hits. Watson doubled to left field, senior Zach Jancarski bunt singled and senior Justin Morris laced a double to straightaway center for his second hit and first RBI of the evening. They would add a fourth run on a Wright sacrifice fly.
The Scarlet Knights got a run back in the top of the seventh, but Maryland responded in the home half to reclaim a three-run lead. Nick Dunn walked to begin the inning and eventually came around to score on Jancarski’s single to left field.
Junior Hunter Parsons has been the Terps’ most consistent starter all season, entering the game with a 3.67 ERA in 76 ⅓ innings. He impressed in his first Friday start, allowing just two runs on five hits to go along with seven strikeouts.
“It was pretty incredible,” Parsons said. “I just went out there and tried to compete as hard as I could, get hitters out as quick as I could.”
Senior Ryan Hill, who had only pitched 7 ⅓ innings this season due to NCAA eligibility issues, threw 1 ⅔ scoreless innings. He has yet to allow a run. Freshman Grant Burleson entered in the ninth to get the final out.
Maryland’s seniors made the most of their last Friday game in College Park — Biondic, Watson, Jancarski and Morris combined for eight of the Terps’ 12 hits and four out of five RBIs.
The Terps currently sit in tenth in the Big Ten standings, needing to jump two more spots to qualify for the eight-team tournament. Friday’s win was a step in the right direction to reaching that objective, but Jancarski said there is more work to be done.
“This is the playoffs from here on out,” he said. “We’re playing for our lives right now and it’s time to step it up. You either rise to the occasion or you sink, and I think our guys did a great job.”
First pitch on Saturday is at 2 p.m.