Maryland baseball’s run of good play against Big Ten foes has come to a halt in their series against Michigan. Thanks to a disastrous fifth inning where Michigan put up four runs on Maryland despite the benefit of only one base hit, Maryland dropped their second in a row to the conference-leading Wolverines, 10-4.
“At the end of the day, we still hit the ball hard. We still got runners on base,” said first baseman Maxwell Costes. “But I think what killed us was putting free guys on base.”
After a scoreless first, the Terps threatened in the bottom of the second, eventually loading the bases and putting Michigan starter Tommy Henry in a jam. Hot-hitting shortstop A.J. Lee came to bat hoping to give Maryland the lead. However, he never got a chance to even hit the ball into play, as catcher Joe Donovan successfully picked off Caleb Walls at first base to end the inning.
“That could have been a big inning for us,” said Costes. “At the end of the day, we can look back to that pick-off at first base as what killed us.”
In contrast to Maryland’s blunder on the basepaths, productive baserunning helped Michigan gain the lead in the following half-inning when Jordan Brewer stole second base after a walk. This put Brewer in position to score off Jordan Kerr’s single, giving the Wolverines the early lead. Maryland answered with a solo home run from power-hitting outfielder Randy Bednar – his eighth of the year.
In the fifth inning, Terps starter Zach Thompson lost his command, and the Terps lost their hold on the game. After getting two quick outs, Thompson walked the next three batters to load the bases, then plunked left fielder Miles Lewis to force in a run. Another walk, this one to shortstop Jack Blomgren, made the score 3-1 to Michigan and compelled Maryland coach Rob Vaughn to pull Thompson for Sean Fisher. Unfortunately, the decision failed to stem the bleeding. On Fisher’s second pitch, Donovan knocked home two more Wolverine runs, extending Michigan’s lead to 5-1.
The sixth inning brought more carnage. Mark DiLuia took Fisher’s place on the mound, but found himself just as unable to cope with the Michigan attack as the previous Maryland arms. The Wolverines got two quick runs off Lewis’ blooper into shallow right field and a sacrifice fly by Blomgren, before Donovan once again struck, this time with an RBI double that made the score 8-1.
As they had the previous night, Maryland launched a comeback attempt, beginning with Maxwell Costes’ tenth home run of the year. In the seventh, A.J. Lee singled to bring home Michael Pineiro to cut the Michigan lead to 8-3. With runners on second and third, Trevor Wright stepped up with a chance to cut further into the deficit. He smashed a 1-0 pitch from reliever Angelo Smith deep to right field, but not deep enough, and it was caught at the warning track.
With two outs in the top of the ninth, Jesse Franklin put the game out of reach with a two-run home run – coincidentally, to almost the exact spot where Wright nearly hit one himself.
Thompson took the loss for Maryland, dropping his record to 2-5 on the year.