Late home runs drive Terps to second round

The Maryland Terrapins’ 2019 season lives another day. Thanks to yet another quality start from Hunter Parsons and two key eighth-inning home runs from Maxwell Costes and Justin Vought, the Terrapins stormed to a 6-2 upset win Wednesday over the Illinois Fighting Illini in the first round of the Big Ten Baseball Tournament.

The Terrapins’ first run-scoring opportunity came in the top of the third, with one out and the bases loaded. Randy Bednar brought in the game’s first run for Maryland, grounding into a force out at second which Michael Massey could not convert into a double play, allowing Chris Alleyne to score.

Hunter Parsons worked through the Illini mostly without incident until the bottom of the 4th, when he faced runners on first and second with 2 outs and Cam McDonald at the plate. After a 12-pitch at-bat where McDonald fouled off six pitches, Parsons walked McDonald to load the bases. Maryland got out of the jam, however, when Jack Yalowitz grounded out to second to end the inning.

In the 5th, it was the same story, as Illinois again got runners on second and third. This time around, Illinois came through to tie the game on a bizarre play, as Michael Massey his a ground ball deep enough for Grant Van Scoy to attempt to score from second. Benjamin Cowles made the throw to catcher Justin Vought in time to nail Van Scoy by ten feet, but Vought dropped the ball on the attempted tag, giving Illinois the tying run.

Parsons rebounded from the slip-up and retired the next seven Illini batters he faced, ending with only four hits allowed in 7 ⅓ innings. His opposite number, Andy Fisher, had similar success controlling the Terrapins’ batting order in his 6 1/3, notwithstanding the run allowed in the third. While Maryland were able to put runners on base against Fisher, they initially had trouble bringing them home, as their 12 runners left on base would demonstrate.

Hot-hitting designated hitter Josh Maguire, who has now hit safely in nine straight games, started Maryland’s half of the seventh with a ground rule double. However, the Terps were not able to convert this into a run, as Fisher’s replacement, Sean Leland, held top Maryland hitters A.J. Lee and Randy Bednar in check.

One swing of Maxwell Costes’ bat in the eighth inning changed the game dramatically.

“I usually base my at-bats off of Randy [Bednar]…he was getting started off with a bunch of sliders and stuff like that,” Costes told BTN’s Scott Pose after the game. “When I came up with my at-bat, I was thinking I’m gonna see an off-speed pitch. He threw me something I could handle and I just went with it.”

His team-leading 13th home run of the season, a two-run blast to the left field seats, gave the Terps the lead once again. Two batters later, after Nathan Lavender plunked Michael Pineiro to send him to first, Justin Vought hit a two-run home run of his own to make the score 5-1. In all, nine batters stepped up for Maryland in the top of the eighth. In the ninth, Chris Alleyne added some insurance with a daring two-out squeeze bunt, scoring Taylor Wright.

Despite giving up a run in the bottom of the ninth on a fielding error, John Murphy picked up the final two outs – both strikeouts. Parsons, in his last year with the team, won his third straight result and improved his record to 10-3.

Maryland’s tournament run continues Thursday afternoon when they take on the winner of the Ohio State-Michigan matchup. While the two universities may be the most bitter of rivals, they do have one thing in common; both have gotten the Terps’ number this season, combining to win five out of six over Maryland during the regular season. However, there is one Terp who still believes his team is ready for the challenge.

“Everybody has a role on this team,” said Costes. “We have a very dangerous and very electric lineup wherever we come to play.”

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William Pitts

Hello, I'm William Pitts. I'm the Maryland Terps baseball beat reporter for The Left Bench (well, one of them), and I also do some photography for Stories Below the Shell.
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About William Pitts 21 Articles
Hello, I'm William Pitts. I'm the Maryland Terps baseball beat reporter for The Left Bench (well, one of them), and I also do some photography for Stories Below the Shell.