Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics

Maryland baseball picks up gritty series win over Northwestern, 10-5

It was a common sight for Maryland baseball.

The Terps’ bullpen struggled to put away batters and lost the team a lead to disvalue a great performance from the starting pitcher, but an excellent offensive performance powered them to victory. 

This was once again the case Sunday when Maryland defeated the Northwestern Wildcats, 10-5.

Fortunately for starter Nick Dean, Maryland’s offense was more productive Sunday than it was Saturday, making timely plays and adding enough runs — including a four-run spot in the seventh — to win the game despite the bullpen struggles.

Reliever David Falco said the offense’s resurgence played a large role in the team’s victory. 

“[The offense] starts out hot, they might get a little slow, but at the end of the game the guys come together in the dugout and say “hey, listen, we need to put a strong foot forward.”

Dean finished the day having thrown 91 total pitches, giving up one hit in five innings and striking out three.

Neither team was able to get much going early on offensively, but Troy Schreffler Jr. kicked things off with a solo homer in the bottom of the second. A Tony Livermore single in the top of the third was Northwestern’s first hit of the day. 

Dean walked Andrew Pinkston and Anthony Calarco immediately after, creating his first scare of the day. Jay Beshears flew out in the next at-bat, preventing any runs from scoring.

Dean’s pitch count was dangerously close to 60 after just three innings, which was not a good sign for a Maryland bullpen that has struggled as of late. He crossed 70 in the top of the fourth.

Beshears made three straight athletic catches to prevent any Maryland offense in the bottom half of the inning, and the Terps still led 1-0 through four.

Dean came back out for the fifth and still looked fresh. He worked through three batters with just 15 pitches, but Coach Vaughn made the decision to pull him in favor of Nick Robinson. 

“Our starters were outstanding all weekend. 21 innings, no runs. That’s pretty fantastic. Dean was great today,” Vaughn said. “He needed to make some adjustments to what he was doing and he did.”

Schreffler boosted his average and slugging percentage with a double in the bottom of the fifth.

Bobby Zmarzlak brought him home with a base hit to right field, pushing the Maryland lead to two.

Northwestern turned to the bullpen at that point, replacing starter Grant Comstock with Jack Sauser, who was able to get out of the inning. Chris Alleyne nearly made an incredible diving catch, but because he just missed the ball Calarco picked up a hit. 

Robinson walked a batter and hit another to load the bases. One runner scored on an RBI groundout, but Northwestern couldn’t capitalize any further on their golden opportunity.

Luke Shliger led off the bottom of the sixth with a double and a fly-out from Alleyne moved him to third. He scored on a sacrifice fly off of Nick Lorusso’s bat, adding one right back to offset the Wildcats’ run and righting the ship a little. 

Nigel Belgrave replaced Robinson in the top of the seventh, and he didn’t fare much better. He gave up a lead-off single to Ethan O’Donnell, who got to second on a wild pitch.

Belgrave struck out the next batter looking but gave up a double to Pinkston, once again reducing the Maryland lead to one. Calarco was intentionally walked, a decision that proved fatal.

Belgrave walked Beshears, loading the bases for the third time today. Still, with just one out, Belgrave walked another batter, bringing in the tying run. 

At this point, he was pulled for David Falco, who pitched poorly on Saturday. Northwestern took the lead with an RBI fielder’s choice as Matt Shaw picked up the out at second and opted to not risk the throw to first.

Maryland was able to get out of the inning without giving up any more runs, but once again the offense would have to claw their way back into the game. Even the pouring rain couldn’t extinguish Troy Schreffler, who found his groove on the rainy Sunday afternoon.

He singled in the bottom of the seventh, getting one triple away from the cycle. 

“I’ve been struggling a little bit and I wanted to get back into the action and try to help my team win,” said Schreffler on his offensive outpouring, “I was working on a few things today that ended up helping me in the game and I was able to go out there and compete and help us win.”

A beautiful bunt from Zmarzlak which was scored as an error allowed him to reach base, loading the bases with no outs. Ian Petrutz lined a ball right at the second baseman, who had trouble handling it. Petrutz got to first and two runners came home. 

Thanks to back-to-back errors, Maryland regained the lead. 

On another ball put in play in the infield, Bobby Zmarzlak beat a throw home to add to the Maryland lead. Alleyne’s at-bat ended with a productive groundout that drove in Petrutz, and it seemed like the offense was going to be enough to offset the bullpen.

A four-run seventh inning gave Maryland a 7-4 lead. 

Falco came back out for the eighth and appeared more steady, retiring all three batters he faced. The bottom of the eighth started out the exact same as the previous- Maxwell Costes walked and Schreffler singled again. 

“We were just going out there and playing out game adn we were able to execute the bunt today, which is a big reason why we were able to win,” said Schreffler, “we were able to move guys over and being able to do that today was a big reason why we were able to win.” 

Costes came home to score on a very wild pitch, extending the Maryland lead to four. They added two more runs to hit the decade mark and led 10-4 heading into the top of the ninth.

Ryan Van Buren made his first appearance of the weekend looking to close things out. He hit the first batter he faced and gave up a double to the next, prompting Coach Vaughn to bring Sean Heine into his second consecutive game. 

Heine struck out the first two batters he faced before giving up an RBI single. He retired the next batter, securing the W for Maryland. 

Bullpen issues continue to plague the team, costing them the game Saturday and nearly the one Sunday.

Falco and Heine appeared to return to their regular selves long enough to eke out the win.  

Ultimately, the offense came alive, putting up seven runs in two innings to retake the lead and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

“A lot of the time, it’s just who doesn’t give the game away. Today, we didn’t give the game away and found a way when it really mattered to step up and [win].”

With the victory, Maryland moved to 35-9 on the year and 11-4 in conference play.

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