After last night's heartbreaking loss, Taylor Bloom and Maryland delivered exactly what the doctor ordered as the Terps dominated Cal State Fullerton, 8-4, on Saturday night to even the series against the Titans. Maryland's Taylor Bloom went the distance for the second straight start, and this time he was the beneficiary of a Terrapin hitting barrage. Marty Costes hit two home runs, Kevin Biondic had a solo blast, and Kevin Smith pestered Fullerton with three lead-off hits. The Terps had a three-run first to go along with a four-run seventh, the latter highlighted by back-to-back home runs by Costes and Biondic.
Costes home run ignites 3-run first
The Terps wasted no time scoring in this game. Kevin Smith led off with a check-swing single to right, and went to second on an errant pick-off throw. With two outs, Nick Cieri blooped an inside pitch just beyond the third baseman's reach for an RBI single. Marty Costes drove a 3-1 pitch over the center field wall to make it 3-0 Maryland.
The Titans returned the favor in the bottom of the second when Chris Hudgins hit a ball just beyond the leaping Costes for a solo home run.
Maryland got the run back in its next at-bat. Smith tripled in the right-center field gap, then came home on a fly ball off the bat of Madison Nickens.
In the bottom of the sixth, Timmy Richards was HBP and Tanner Pinkston singled to center. Dalton Blaser hit a single to shallow left to bring the Titans within two runs. A long fly out advanced both runners into scoring position. Bloom got Scott Hurst to ground out to first.
Dunn's triple, and back-to-back homers put the Terps up 8-2
Maryland came right back to score three runs in the top of the seventh. Smith opened the inning with his third hit of the day, a single to right. Nick Dunn crushed a pitch off of the wall in right for a triple. Cieri laid down a perfect suicide squeeze bunt to score Dunn. Costes then launched a bomb over the scoreboard in left. Not to be outdone, Biondic followed with a home run of his own. The Terps lead was now 8-2.
After the first two Titans got aboard in the bottom of the seventh, Bloom was able to clamp down. He got the next two hitters on fly outs, then recorded the final out on a grounder to Dunn. In the Fullerton eighth, Pinkston flared a double down the left field line. But Bloom retired the next three batters to finish off eight strong innings of work. Yet he was asked to take the bump in the ninth, even though he had thrown 105 pitches. The first batter reached on an error, and three singles brought home two runs. However Bloom was able to finish things out, recording his second straight complete game.
Bloom is now 3-2 on the year, and Maryland improves to 8-10.
Three things to know:
1. When Taylor Bloom pitches, the infielders are busy. In his last start a week ago, Bloom consistently had hitters grounding to the left side. Tonight the ground outs were spread about more evenly, but there were plenty of them.
2. Maryland's weekend hurlers are being asked to go well past 100 pitches. This reflects positively on the starters, but also suggests a lack of faith in the bullpen. Given how the pen has done previously, perhaps that's a sound strategy.
3. The Terps belted out 14 hits against one of the nation's top pitching staffs. Tonight's starter, Connor Seabold, entered the game with an opposing batting average below .100. Fullerton's bullpen has also done extremely well in 2016. Yet Maryland smacked three home runs, two triples, and two doubles.