After letting Indiana State shrink its lead to 6-5, No. 21 Maryland desperately needed a few insurance runs in the final two innings if it wanted to even its weekend record.
Shortstop Matt Shaw answered the call in the top of the eighth inning with a single up the middle, scoring designated hitter Luke Shliger and center fielder Chris Alleyne. Shaw’s single was his first hit in 18 at-bats, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
The two-run RBI single from Shaw pushed Maryland ahead by three runs, a lead which it wouldn’t give up the rest of the way after piling on a few more runs in the ninth. The Terps took down Indiana State by a score of 12-6 on Saturday afternoon in Greenville, North Carolina, as they shook off their previous loss to Michigan. The Terps improved to 9-1 this season with the win.
“That might have been the toughest lineup we’ve had,” head coach Rob Vaughn said after the game. “Their lineup was pretty relentless.”
For the second time this weekend, the Terps were able to manufacture multiple base runners in the first inning, but were unable to get any of them home. Maryland loaded the bases with only one out, but a strikeout and then a flyout extinguished Maryland’s early scoring opportunity.
After a flawless seven-pitch first inning, junior pitcher Ryan Ramsey’s early inning struggles came to fruition in the second, surrendering two runs, one of which stemmed from Indiana State freshman designated hitter Luis Hernandez’s first home run of his collegiate career.
Alleyne responded with his first home run of the season, but didn’t find much support as the Terps weren’t able to erase the lead entirely as Indiana State’s advantage shrunk to one.
The Sycamores found success yet again in the third. Second baseman Josue Urdaneta sent the first run home with a single down the right field line. Then, with the bases loaded, Hernandez grounded into a double play for the first and second outs of the inning, scoring catcher Grant Magill in the process.
Maryland’s offense absolutely exploded in the fourth, tying the game at four. Freshman second baseman Jacob Orr continued to prove why he should be starting every game for the Terps with a single to center field to load the bases. That was followed by two RBI singles from catcher Riley Langerman and Alleyne and a sacrifice fly from Shliger.
The Terps tacked on two more in the top of the fifth as right fielder Troy Schreffler blasted the ball over the center field wall for a two-out, two-run homer. The home run gave Maryland its first lead of the game as it scored five unanswered runs to take a two-run advantage on the scoreboard.
Despite walking three batters, Ramsey seemed to find more of a rhythm in the fourth and fifth, holding the Sycamores to four runs and allowing no hits.
After neither team recorded a hit in the sixth, left fielder Bobby Zmarzlak started the seventh with a leadoff single up the middle, forcing Indiana State to make its second pitching change of the game. With runners on first and third and an opportunity to expand the lead, Langerman stuck out looking, keeping Indiana State within arms reach.
The Terps found themselves in a tight spot in the bottom of the seventh as junior Matt Orlando replaced Ramsey mid-inning. After walking his first batter, Orlando faced loaded bases with one out. He forced a flyout and then walked another batter, sending a Sycamore home.
That was the only run Indiana State was able to produce, keeping Maryland’s lead intact heading into the eighth.
Shliger led off the eighth with a single and was sent to third on a double to right center field from Alleyne. Shaw sent them home with a single up the middle, his first hit of the weekend.
“The [pitcher] didn’t throw a lot of off-speed strikes,” Shaw said. “I knew he was going to throw a fastball and, you know, it’s all you can really ask for as a hitter, so it made the situation a lot easier.”
Freshman Ryan Van Buren delivered a one-two-three inning in the top of the eighth, maintaining Maryland’s 8-5 lead with one more inning to play.
Van Buren was rewarded with four more insurance runs, one of which being a moonshot over the left field wall by Shaw. The Terps gave up a run in the ninth, but they eventually closed out Indiana State for the six-run win.
Three things to know
1. Ryan Ramsey’s early-inning struggles continue. Ramsey, who is a consistent starter for the first time in his collegiate career, has given up every one of his runs in the first four innings this season, and that didn’t change today. After a strong first inning, Indiana State began teeing off on Ramsey, tallying five hits, four runs and one home run in the next two innings. Similar to the rest of his outings, Ramsey got stronger as the game went on, but he will need to improve in the earlier innings if Maryland wants to rely on him down the stretch.
“I think our starter’s job is to give us a chance to win… and [Ramsey] did that,” Vaughn said. “I think the best thing Ryan’s done in his three starts this year is he’s gotten better as the game’s gone on.”
2. Did Matt Shaw snap his slump with his clutch at-bat? Prior to the eighth inning, Shaw was hitless over the last three games and 18 at-bats. That changed today when he ripped a clutch two-RBI single up the middle to expand Maryland’s lead to three and then when he drilled a home run in the ninth. Shaw is the Terps’ most lethal offensive weapon and if he can get rolling to close out the weekend, East Carolina is in trouble.
“I wasn’t too worried about it, but getting a few hits definitely feels good for the morale,” Shaw said.
3. The Terps dominated the back half of the game. After going down 4-1 in the third, Maryland was unstoppable on both sides of the field. The Terps erupted offensively, scoring five unanswered runs and 12 in total, while only allowing the Sycamores to score two runs in six innings.
“We talk about toughness all the time and responding,” Vaughn said. “Regardless of how it starts, I want us to finish and I want us to be kind of known offensively as the guys that finish games.”