Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics

Maryland Baseball rebounds from rough game one to take series from Illinois

Maryland baseball took two of three games in a series that was filled with scoring and runs with two outs.

Clutch performances from proven veterans like Maxwell Costes and Jason Savacool allowed them to rebound following a blowout first game loss.

Game One

The Terrapins made the trip to Champaign to take on the Illinois Fighting Illini this weekend. Nick Dean started Friday night’s game, and he was tested early. Illinois loaded the bases in the first inning but didn’t capitalize.

The Illini opened up the scoring in the third inning with a run via a Justin Janas single and followed it up with a three-run homer off of Kellen Sarver’s bat, jumping out to a 4-0 lead.

The Terps got one back in the bottom of the fourth from a sacrifice fly. They wouldn’t reach home again.

Dean was pulled from the game in the bottom of the fifth, where he loaded the bases before recording an out. He threw 80 pitches, giving up four earned runs on seven hits.

Nick Robinson entered the game, and Illinois took advantage. A fielder’s choice gone wrong allowed for two Illini runners to score, pushing their lead to five. Robinson was able to pick up two more outs afterwards to end the inning and prevent any further damage.

Maryland trailed 6-1 heading to the sixth.

Robinson came back out for the sixth and got busy picking his spots in the strike zone. He struck out the first two batters he saw looking but gave up a double to Danny Doligale. The gap grew even larger when Branden Comia knocked a double of his own, bringing Doligale home.

Robinson hit Janas with the first pitch in the next at-bat, and it became clear he was losing control. Any hope the Terps had left disappeared with a swing of Jacob Campbell’s bat. He blasted the third double of the inning, clearing the bases and giving Illinois a 9-1 lead.

A single from Cam McDonald drove in another run, and Robinson was finally pulled from the game in favor of Ryan Van Buren. He struggled out of the bullpen,  walking the first two batters he faced, and loading the bases once again. He threw a wild pitch in the next at-bat, allowing another run to score.

Brody Harding flew out to finally end the inning, but only after Maryland gave up five runs to truly put the game out of reach. The Terps had another three-up, three-down inning in the seventh.

Matt Orlando gave up two more runs in the bottom of the inning, further adding to the Illini lead. Looking ready to get back to the hotel, Maryland failed to do anything offensively for the rest of the game.

Gavin Stellpflug entered the game to pitch for the Terps in the bottom of the eighth, and he put runners on second and third early in the inning. Andrew Kim kept the scoring going when he brought them both home with a three-run shot.

Stellpflug walked the next batter and was pulled for Michael Walsh who immediately gave up back-to-back homers. The score held, with Illinois taking the first game of the series 19-1.

A lack of offensive production, as well as disastrous pitching with two outs, proved to be the downfall of the Terps, who never truly got anything going on either side of the field.

Game Two

Looking to rebound, Ryan Ramsey took the mound for the Terps in the second game of the series and the first of a Saturday doubleheader.

Through one at-bat, the Terps matched their run total from Friday’s game, as Luke Shliger hit a lead-off homer to give them a 1-0 lead. It didn’t take Illinois long to respond, as Doligale hit a home run of his own in the bottom of the first. Troy Schreffler regave the Terps the edge with another homerun in the top of the second, the third home run of the game with less than two innings gone.

Justin Janas drove in an Illinois run in the bottom of the third to knot things up once more. He then scored on a single to give Illinois the lead, 3-2.

Lead changes didn’t stop; Maxwell Costes tied the game at three in the top of the fourth thanks to a single from Ian Petrutz. Coming off a Big Ten Player of the Week nod, Bobby Zmarzlak continued his hot streak, absolutely smashing a ball out of the stadium to give Maryland a 4-3 advantage in the top of the sixth.

The Terps loaded the bases later in the inning and added two more runs off of a Chris Alleyne double, making the score 6-3.

Sean Heine came in to replace Ramsey in the seventh, and he walked two of  the first three batters he faced. After striking out the next batter, he allowed a three-run homer to Janas, tying the game at six.

Once again, pitching with two outs proved disastrous for the Terps.

In the top of the eighth, Kevin Keister launched a ball that bounced off the left-center wall, good for Maryland’s fourth home run of the day. It gave the Terps an 8-6 lead, which they added to in the ninth. Alleyne was nearly tagged out, coming home on a sacrifice fly, but still reached, adding another run to the ledger.

David Falco entered the game to close things out, but it didn’t go according to plan.

He recorded a quick two outs and put two runners aboard, bringing the tying run to the plate. Jacob Campbell hit a double to deep left-center field, clearing the bases and cutting the Maryland lead to one.

Still needing just one out, Falco gave up a single to Cam McDonald, which scored the game-tying run.

The game headed to extras.

In the top of the tenth, Shliger came up big.  With two outs and runners on first and second, he hit a double that scored both runners. Alleyne hit his eleventh homer of the year in the next at-bat, pushing the Maryland lead to four. 

Illinois loaded the bases with just one out in the tenth to bring up Brandon Comia. He grounded into a double play to end the game, as Maryland hung on to win 13-9 in ten innings, setting up a rubber match.

Game Three

In the final game of the day and the series, Doligale got things going early, with a double in the first inning. After hitting the next batter, Jason Savacool gave up back-to-back singles which brought two more runs, giving Illinois a 3-0 early lead.

Costes kept his momentum from the first game rolling, hitting a homer in the top of the second and a double in the third that drove in a run and gave UMD a 4-3 lead.

As was standard for the day, Illinois wasted no time tying things up; Campbell hit a solo homer in the bottom of the third.

In the top of the fifth, Matt Shaw drove in his second RBI of the night to put Maryland back on top.

Savacool loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning, but a 6-4-3 double play prevented any runs from scoring. He came back out for the eighth and sat down the side with ease. Nigel Belgrave finally came in to relieve him in the bottom of the ninth.

Savacool proved to be the highlight of a series marked by poor pitching performances and not being able to close out innings.

Extra insurance runs gave the Terps a 7-4 victory.

Closing

Ultimately, Maryland was able to grab two out of three games in the series, but slow offensive performances and bullpen pitching with two outs almost led to their downfall. Clutch hitting from Costes, Shliger, and Alleyne proved to be the difference in the final two games of the series.

The Terps now sit at 32-8 on the season and 9-3 in conference play.

They will be back in action Tuesday night when they take on Navy in College Park.

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