After managing to get out of a tough jam in the bottom of the eighth inning to preserve a tie game, Maryland baseball entered the ninth inning with the chance to take its first lead of the day.
Fifth-year centerfielder Chris Alleyne led off for the Terps and ripped a home run over the right field wall to give Maryland its first, and final lead of the night. The Terps, powered by Alleyne’s blast, completed the comeback victory, 8-7, on Wednesday night in Harrisonburg, Virginia.
Alleyne’s 10th home run blast of the season helped Maryland improve to 26-7 overall. Maryland will take the momentum from its win over James Madison into its next Big Ten series, which will come against Ohio State starting this Friday.
After there was little action through one and a half innings, the game started to heat up for James Madison in the bottom of the second with two outs.
James Madison poured it on when redshirt sophomore shortstop Mason Dunaway hit an RBI single that brought redshirt junior right fielder Carson Bell home for the first run of the game. Freshman catcher Jason Schiavone then connected on a two-run rocket over the left field wall to give the Dukes a 3-0 lead.
Sophomore left-handed pitcher Logan Ott was shaky after just two innings. But, the Terps responded quickly to their starter’s early struggles.
Maryland found offensive life in the top of the third inning when freshman second baseman Jacob Orr hit a crisp RBI double that allowed freshman designated hitter Ian Petrutz to score, putting the Terps on the board. Alleyne was able to send home Orr later in the inning off a sacrifice fly to center field. All of a sudden, Maryland crawled back and trailed by just one.
However, Ott could not pull it together in the bottom of the third despite Maryland’s momentum. He started the inning by giving up two hits, one of them an RBI double off the bat of redshirt junior center fielder Travis Reifsnider. That double tacked on another run for James Madison.
Freshman left fielder Fenwick Trimble notched a fielder’s choice to bring Reifsnider all the way home, which marked the end of Ott’s time on the mound. Freshman left-handed pitcher Ryan Van Buren, who closed out the third inning, replaced Ott. Maryland was once again facing a three-run deficit after the end of the third inning.
However, the Terps were eager to make a statement as they loaded the bases with two outs. Yet again, Orr stepped up in a big moment, registering a two-run RBI single to shrink the deficit to 5-4.
Following Orr’s second hit of the day, junior catcher Luke Shliger hit a double to left field that brought in another Maryland run in the top of the fourth. Maryland’s second consecutive inning with a scoring spurt tied the game up at five, exhibiting the Terps’ ability to fight back.
The Dukes had yet another response as right-handed pitcher Nick Robinson came in for Van Buren after the freshman gave up just a single in the top of the fifth inning. That single would be the difference as Shliger tried catching the runner Dunaway at third but his throw missed Lorusso, letting him score off of the Terps’ third error of the day.
After Nigel Belgrave gave the Terps some much-needed production in the sixth with two strikeouts, he was quickly taken out of the game for right-handed pitcher Sean Heine after hitting a batter in the bottom of the seventh.
Redshirt junior third baseman Trevor Dabney gave James Madison an insurance run in the seventh. Dabney was hit by a pitch, eventually making his way to third before scoring on a Heine wild pitch.
James Madison claimed a two-run lead heading into the eighth inning, but Maryland would punch back with Orr yet again.
With two runners on and two outs in the top of the eighth, Orr came up to the plate and sliced another two-run RBI single that dropped into center field. The freshman came up clutch with another crucial moment to tie the game up at seven. The hit gave Orr his fifth RBI of the game.
After Heine allowed two runners on second and third with only one out, he was replaced with redshirt sophomore right-handed pitcher David Falco in an attempt to get Maryland out of the jam. He managed to do so, striking one out and then forcing a ground to tie the game up heading into the ninth inning.
Alleyne’s go-ahead home run in the ninth was the difference with the Dukes going three up and three down in the bottom of the ninth to seal the victory for Maryland.
Three things to know
1. It was a bullpen day for Maryland. Because of Ott’s poor performance that got him pulled in the third inning, head coach Rob Vaughn was forced to go deep into his bullpen. Six pitchers took the mound for the Terps after Ott with none going longer than two innings. The six pitchers managed to throw just one more strikeout than pitchers who touched the mound, throwing seven combined. Nigel Belgrave had a good cameo, throwing two strikeouts and letting up no hits in 1.1 innings, but he was pulled by Vaughn after walking Dabney on a hit by pitch. But the hero was David Falco, who dragged Maryland out of their eighth-inning jam and closed out the ninth inning with two strikeouts to complete the wild win.
2. Jacob Orr stepped in and stepped up. With sophomore infielder Matt Shaw out for Wednesday’s game at James Madison, Orr was thrust into second base with Keister shifting to play shortstop. The freshman stepped up when the top of the order was struggling, hitting 3-for-4 with five RBIs to help score the majority of the team’s runs. Despite contributing to the team’s anemic fielding with one of the team’s four errors, Orr’s hitting allowed Maryland to keep level with the Dukes and gave Vaughn a reason to give him more opportunity in the future.
3. It was a sloppy defensive performance by the Terps. It wasn’t surprising that James Madison led in seven of the game’s nine innings with Maryland’s multiple defensive lapses proving costly. The home team’s last two runs scored came off of a missed attempt by Shliger to pick off Dunaway at third, and a wild pitch by Heine, which allowed Dabney to trot home from third. Those two sequences resulted in two runs that were given up without a swing of the bat. Even though Shaw was out at shortstop, there’s no excuse for any team to commit four errors, a few of which kept James Madison in the game when it struggled.