Up 5-3 in the top of the seventh with two outs, Maryland baseball was in a good spot to close out the game to complete the series sweep over Baylor on the road.
Standout shortstop Matt Shaw was not satisfied, however, as he sent a bat-rattling shot into deep left field. Shaw was rewarded with a two-run homer, giving Maryland a comfortable four-run lead, which was more than enough to close out its opponent on the third straight day of competition.
Backed by Shaw and first baseman Maxwell Costes, who collected two home runs each, Maryland was able to finish off Baylor 8-4 on Sunday afternoon.
The Terps are now headed back to College Park with a 3-0 record, where they will have a quick turnaround and take on UMBC on Tuesday.
For the first time in this series, Maryland left the top of the first without a run, leaving starting pitcher Jason Savacool without any insurance.
Catcher Luke Shliger originally found his way to first base with a hit-by-pitch, but after further review, the call was reversed to a strikeout, an unfamiliar sight for Shliger as it was his first of the weekend.
Baylor took advantage of a runless inning by the Terps, tacking on two hits and one run off of a wild pitch to gain its first lead of the series. Savacool was able to get Maryland out of the inning with a runner on third, catching Baylor catcher Nick Balsano looking for his first strikeout of the season.
Maryland got the bats rolling in the second, as Costes absolutely crushed the ball over the left field wall for his first home run of the season, tying the game at one.
Right fielder Troy Schreffler followed the homer up with a line-drive double to right field that was misread by Baylor outfielder Kyle Nevin. Schreffler found his way home thanks to an error by Baylor third baseman Esteban Cardoza-Oquendo, giving Maryland a 2-1 lead.
After back-to-back one-two-three innings, Baylor tied the game up after Cardoza-Oquendo led off with a double and advanced on two consecutive ground balls.
Costes generated the only offense for either team in the fourth inning, recording his fourth extra-base hit of the series with a double to right-center field.
Second baseman Grace Drew started the fifth inning with a double to right field as Nevin was unable to make the diving catch. With Drew advancing to third on a failed pick-off by Baylor catcher Cortlan Castle, Shliger hit a sacrifice fly to deep left field to regain the lead. With two outs, shortstop Matt Shaw drilled a line drive over the center-field wall, providing Maryland with a two-run cushion.
Two tough hits to the right side later and Baylor’s tying run was on first base with two outs. Then, second baseman Tre Richardson roped one to the left side, sending Cardoza-Oquendo home for his second run of the game.
With superstar center fielder Jared McKenzie at the plate and runners on first and second, somebody needed to make a play if the Terps wanted to protect their one-run lead. It was Savacool who got it done himself, striking out McKenzie.
The Terps added another run onto the scoreboard in the sixth Schreffler RBI single to center field, sending left fielder Bobby Zmarzlak home from second.
Maryland continued its run of offensive brilliance in the seventh. With two outs and a runner at first. Shaw blasted the ball way over the left field wall for his second home run of the day, forcing Baylor to make their third pitching change.
“He’s the most disciplined young player I’ve probably ever had,” head coach Rob Vaughn said. “He was obviously phenomenal today, was phenomenal all weekend and that’s going to be big for us.”
The run streak continued in the eighth as Costes also tallied his second home run of the game as Maryland held an 8-3 lead heading into the ninth.
Baylor was able to score a run in the ninth, but it wasn’t enough as the Terps won the game and series convincingly.
Three things to know
1. Maryland’s lineup is deep. Outside of Shaw, all of Maryland’s hits came from the bottom of its order. Costes recorded three hits and two home runs, Schreffler had two hits and one RBI, and in the ninth spot, Drew contributed with a double in which he found home on shortly after. The top of the order performed poorly today and the Terps still had an excellent offensive outing, proving how dangerous this offense can be.
“It’s very easy to hit when you have guys ahead of you and guys behind you like we did… we have an incredibly complete lineup,” Costes said. “All up and down the lineup we have threats.”
2. The Terps shut down Jared McKenzie. Maryland head coach Rob Vaughn put it best earlier this week: “You can’t let their best player beat you in a big spot.” The Terps followed through and didn’t let that happen. In four at-bats, Maryland held McKenzie to just one hit. Savacool also struck McKenzie out in a “big spot” with two runners on base to end the inning.
“We kind of liked the matchup,” Vaughn said. “We just kind of trusted [Savacool] in that situation.”
3. Maryland showed signs of greatness in this series. Despite Baylor being a top team in the nation and one that still projects to make the NCAA Tournament, the Terps absolutely dominated it this weekend. Pitchers Nick Dean, Ryan Ramsey and Jason Savacool all proved to be reliable starters while Shaw and Costes have been offensive anchors for the Terps with two homers apiece today. If Maryland continues to play like this, it can beat anyone.