Though the Creighton Blue Jays seemingly did their very best to try and throw the game away in the bottom of the ninth, it wasn’t enough for the Maryland Terrapins to snap their home losing streak. With their nail-biting 8-6 win Sunday afternoon at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium, Creighton completed a weekend sweep of the Terrapins, whose once-promising season has hit a serious snag with their sixth loss in eight games – all coming at home.
Trouble began immediately for Maryland, as Isaac Collins smacked Trevor LaBonte’s first pitch all the way to the center field wall for a triple. Collins scored on a single by Isaac Robertson, and four pitches into the game, the Terrapins found themselves trailing. After two straight walks, Labonte worked himself into a bases-loaded jam. However, he induced Evan Spry to ground out to short to prevent further damage. After two more walks in the top of the second, Creighton appeared to have broken through for their second run when Jake Holton singled to center. But Chris Alleyne’s spectacular throw allowed catcher Justin Voight to nail Garrett Gilbert at home for the inning’s final out.
For 6 full innings, that first Creighton run held. As has been the case in many Terrapin games this season, a protracted pitching duel ensued only after Maryland fell behind. This time, the opposite number was Creighton’s Evan Johnson, who picked apart Maryland batters all afternoon. Unlike the starters in the Jays’ previous two wins, Johnson did not rely on the K – he only managed 4 on the day – though he succeeded in urging the Terps’ hitters into flyouts. As for LaBonte, he recorded a remarkable eight strikeouts in his 4 ⅔ innings of work – representing over half of the 14 batters he retired. Totally drained of energy after 97 pitches, he staggered off in the fifth to be replaced by Sean Fisher.
Creighton finally added onto their lead in the seventh, when doubles by Ian Collins and Will Robertson brought in a second run. Tuck Tucker, the reliever who surrendered the barrage, was given the hook before even recording an out. Will Glock failed to prevent further damage, as Jake Holton hit a two-run home run one batter later to double the lead to 4-0. Before the inning finished up, Creighton snuck across one more run on a double by Allbery – this one off of Billy Phillips, the Terps’ third pitcher of the inning. The run parade continued in the top of the eighth, as Robertson doubled to bring home Collins and make the score 6-0 – although he would be tagged out trying to stretch his hit into a triple.
Maryland managed to score one run in the bottom of the eighth, in an inning where four Terps reached base entirely on Creighton walks. Voight missed an opportunity to cut further into the Jays’ lead, striking out with the bases loaded to end the inning. For what little that did to spark a possible Maryland rally, Hovey stamped it out in the top of the ninth by smacking a two-run homer which proved to be more important than anybody realized at the time.
During the bottom of the ninth, it seemed a miracle rally was within reach. Creighton made three pitching substitutions in the inning, but watched as the Terrapins whittled away at the seemingly-insurmountable Jays lead. RBI doubles by Chris Alleyne, Randy Bednar, and Taylor Wright, as well as an RBI single by A.J. Lee, brought the Terps to within two. However, it was all for nought. With the tying run at the plate, Dylan Tebrake got Justin Vought to foul out to end the game.
In total, the teams used twelve pitchers throughout Sunday’s contest, eight of whom lasted less than a full inning. Three failed to record even one out.
For his gutty 6 ⅓-inning performance, Evan Johnson got the win, while Dylan Tebrake earned the save for Creighton. Despite an all-around excellent day, Trevor LaBonte was stuck with the loss, dropping his 2019 record to 1-2.