Maryland’s chances of making the Big Ten Baseball Tournament took a severe blow Saturday night. Despite a decent performance from Zach Thompson, the Terps’ batting lineup did not make an impact until it was too late, letting Minnesota come away with a 9-3 win in the second game of their three-game series.
The Terrapins started off on the back foot, allowing runners to reach on perfectly fieldable balls and make singles out of what could have been outs. Before Zach Thompson had even recorded an out, Minnesota were up 1-0 on Eduardo Estrada’s R.B.I. single. Two batters later, McDevitt singled to left to bring home Cole Raabe, who previously reached on an error, then Estrada scored on a weak single into center by third baseman Jack Wassel, increasing Minnesota’s lead to 4-0. Maryland committed two errors in the inning, after having played error-free in their win on Friday night over these same Gophers.
As usual, the Terrapins could count on Maxwell Costes to provide a needed spark, and his solo home run – his eleventh of the year – got them on the board in the second. The Gophers snuffed that spark out in the following inning when catcher Eli Clark hit a solo homer of his own to give the Gophers a 5-1 lead.
Thompson eventually settled in enough to keep his place on the mound, but the Terrapins offense could not capitalize on the momentum of Costes’ homer. In both the fourth and sixth innings, they blew key opportunities to cut into their deficit by grounding into inning-ending double plays – the former with runners on first and second.
Maryland’s failures in the clutch were all the more aggravating since, as he has been wont to do throughout the year, Zach Thompson caught fire in the middle innings. Minnesota only managed one more hit off of Thompson after the first inning’s five, leaving their lead vulnerable to attack.
In the eighth, the Terrapins’ bats finally came to life. In a sequence that would chase Horton from the mound, they broke through for their second run when Bednar singled to bring home Caleb Walls. Reliever Brett Schulze then had the unenviable task of facing Costes, who once again came up big, this time with a single to lower the deficit to 5-3.
But it was all for naught, as Minnesota’s own offense reignited in the bottom half. Thompson’s replacement, Nick Turnbull only made one out, allowed a single, and walked another before being himself pulled for Sean Fisher. The move backfired, as Easton Bertrand doubled to bring home Jordan Kozicky, making the score 6-3. The game unraveled from there, as Kozicky came in to score on a wild pitch, and Drew Hmielewski doubled home Bertrand seconds later. Zach Raabe capped off the scoring with an R.B.I. single.
Jeff Fasching picked up a two-out save for Minnesota. As a result of the Terps’ collapses in book-ending the game, every Gophers position player, plus designated hitter Eduardo Estrada, finished with either a hit, a run scored, or both.
With the loss, Maryland has dropped to 9-11 in conference play, tied with Rutgers for eighth place in the Big Ten and the final tournament seed. The rubber match of the series with Minnesota starts at 2:00 PM Eastern time Sunday.
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