In the top of the eighth inning, Maryland catcher Luke Shliger found himself on base with a walk. Shliger took advantage by stealing both second and third base, putting immense pressure on a Baylor team that already found itself down 2-0 in the game.
With runners on first and third base, Baylor pitcher Hambleton Oliver threw a wild pitch, leaving room for Shliger to make a play on home plate. It became a foot race for home between Shliger and Baylor catcher Harrison Caley, but Shliger came out victorious, pushing Maryland’s lead to three.
Three runs, and then eventually a fourth, was plenty of run support for the Terps after they received seven shutout innings from pitcher Nick Dean en route to a 4-0 win over Baylor. Maryland now moves to 1-0 on the season and it has two games left in its series with Baylor.
“We weren’t perfect today, but we did enough,” said head coach Rob Vaughn. “It’s obviously a great win, but, you know, that’s what we came here to do, that’s what we kind of expect to happen.”
The Terps got things rolling from the very first at-bat as Shliger got on base with a leadoff double into right-center field. After advancing to third on a wild pitch, Shliger found his way home with the help of an off-the-wall triple from centerfielder Chris Alleyne. Alleyne was able to secure Maryland’s second run of the inning before the Bears got things under control and ended the half-inning.
Baylor was able to get a runner on base in the bottom of the first but was unable to respond to Maryland’s strong inning as the Terps held an early 2-0 advantage.
Junior pitcher Nick Dean gave up one hit in each of the first two innings but refused to let them convert into any runs, recording three strikeouts.
The Terps were able to produce two base runners in the top of the third with a Shliger hit by pitch and single by sophomore second baseman Matt Shaw but ultimately couldn’t bring them home.
Baylor sophomore standout Jared McKenzie was the Bears' lone source of offense in the first half, crushing a leadoff double to the wall in the bottom of the fourth. McKenzie didn’t receive any help as the Terps corralled three straight outs.
After a shaky start, Baylor senior pitcher Tyler Thomas caught fire, striking out eight of the first 15 outs and suppressing Maryland’s initial momentum.
The Bears tallied another hit in the bottom of the fifth, but yet again left a runner on base, forfeiting every opportunity to get on the scoreboard thus far with the Terps still maintaining their 2-0 lead.
Maryland had a very favorable start to the top of the sixth with runners on first and third with only one out. Alleyne led off the inning with a walk and third baseman Nick Lorusso advanced him to third with a single into center field. Thomas then forced a pop-up to the second baseman, keeping the runners stationary with two outs. After a seven-pitch at-bat, first baseman Maxwell Costes flew out to left field to end a once-promising inning.
McKenzie found his way on base for the third time with a walk but was yet again stranded on base as Dean struck out the final two batters of the inning.
Dean’s pitching clinic continued in the bottom of the seventh as back-to-back grounders were scooped up by Costes, which was followed by a lineout to right field. Dean allowed only four hits and struck out eight batters as the Bears had no answer for his combination of off-speed pitches.
Maryland’s offense regained life in the top of the eighth inning as Shliger and Shaw both got on base with walks. After stealing third, Shliger advanced to home on a wild pitch. Shaw followed Shliger in thanks to a Bobby Zmarzlak single.
Baylor shortstop Jack Pineda doubled in the bottom of the eighth but it was followed up with two strikeouts, taking the wind out of the Bears' late-game comeback hopes.
Neither team generated much offense in the ninth as Maryland took the 4-0 win.
Three things to know
1. Nick Dean and Tyler Thomas put on a show. Both starting pitchers were nearly perfect in Friday night’s showdown, making it virtually impossible for the opposing offenses to put runs on the board. Dean was phenomenal the entire night and once Thomas got past the first two batters, he was lights out. The two pitchers combined for 17 strikeouts in 13 innings pitched.
“It felt awesome,” Dean said. “It’s definitely a huge confidence builder being that I haven’t been on the mound in quite a while.”
2. Jared McKenzie couldn’t do everything. The 2022 Golden Spikes Award Preseason Watch List honoree met every expectation in the first game of the season. Mckenzie finished the night with two of the Bear’s five hits and one walk, but simply had no one else to assist him on the offensive end.
3. Can Maryland win the series? Maryland won the first of three games on Friday night. Baylor is an NCAA Tournament caliber team and if the Terps can steal two of the three road games they are in very good shape moving forward. Pitchers Ryan Ramsey and Jason Savacool are scheduled to round out the series for the Terps on the mound and they will have to put their best foot forward in order to shut Baylor’s powerful offense down.
“We didn’t come here to win a game,” Vaughn said. “We came here to get after them and take a series.”