In control of its own destiny, Maryland beat Iowa 10-8 on Saturday to complete the sweep and clinch a birth in the Big Ten tournament.
Iowa got out to a 1-0 lead when Tanner Padgett hit a home run off of Tyler Blohm in the second inning. But the Terps would do damage in the bottom of the second when Michael Pineiro and Justin Vought hit back to back solo home runs.
The Terps tacked on two more in the third but Iowa responded in the fourth. Tanner Wetrich hit a three run home run off of Blohm to tie the game at four. Blohm finished the day allowing four runs in 3.2 innings.
The seesaw game continued in the bottom of the inning. Ben Cowles singled with one out and would score on a Randy Bednar single. A Taylor Wright sacrifice fly scored A.J. Lee and the Terps had the lead back, 6-4. In his last career home game, Lee was his typical productive self at the plate going 2-4 with two runs scored.
“When all cylinders are firing, we’re pretty good. When we’re moving barrels and swinging at good pitches and getting our swing off we’re pretty good,” Lee said.
Trevor LaBonte replaced Blohm on the mound and was efficient until the eighth inning. Leading 8-4, LaBonte allowed two singles and a walk to load the bases for Wetrich. Andrew Vail came in to face Wetrich, who drove a fastball over the centerfield fence and the game was tied.
Maryland’s bats would not stay quiet. Maxwell Costes led the inning off with a single, and Justin Vought was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second. Sophomore Chris Alleyne stepped to the plate and delivered the biggest hit of his career. A double down the right field line scored both Costes and Vought and Maryland was back on top 10-8.
“The offensive effort today was unbelievable. There was pressure on them every inning. We made them work their tail off for every single out,” said Terps head coach Rob Vaughn. “That was a gutty, character win for a team that’s growing and learning and starting to put it together.”
John Murphy came in in the ninth to close it out. One of the most decorated Maryland closers in recent memory, Murphy closed out the Hawkeyes in his final home game to get his 11th save of the season.
The Terps were in ninth place coming into the weekend but after sweeping Iowa, and Northwestern dropped a game to Minnesota, the Terps jumped the Wildcats to get into the postseason.
“I’ve been apart of two regional championship teams in ’14 and ’15 and those are special groups but I don’t know if I’ve been more proud of a group of guys than that group of dudes standing out there. With everything they’ve been through the last six months with ups and downs and injuries,” Vaughn said.
The seeding for the Big Ten tournament has not been determined yet because they are awaiting the finish of Minnesota-Northwestern but Maryland will likely be playing at 1 p.m. or 5 p.m. on Wednesday in Omaha.
“It feels good to be back in the tournament because once you’re in there anything can happen and the Terps are hot,” Lee said.