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Maryland baseball escapes Ohio State, 6-5, clinching weekend series win

Two solo homers in the seventh inning pushed Maryland over the top.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics.

After crawling their way back into the game, Maryland baseball held a 4-3 lead heading into the seventh inning.

In the top of the seventh, Ohio State senior first baseman Zach Dezenzo smacked a two-run homer to regain the lead for the Buckeyes.

With the game winding down, the Terps’ opportunities were running out. Sophomore catcher Luke Shliger kept Maryland alive with a moon shot over the right-center field wall to tie the game at five.

Then, with two outs on the board, junior third baseman Nick Lorusso pushed Maryland over the finish line with a go-ahead home run over the left-center field wall to give Maryland a one-run lead, which it would not relinquish the rest of the way.

“I think we played great, we played a great ball game,” redshirt freshman pitcher Nigel Belgrave said. “All I had to do was throw strikes and trust the defense behind me.”

For the second consecutive day, Maryland’s heroics in the late innings was the difference as it overcame Ohio State, 6-5, in College Park on Saturday, giving it the series victory.

The Terps are now undefeated against the Buckeyes this season and will have a chance to complete the series sweep on Sunday.

Ohio State didn’t waste any time putting runs on the board. The Buckeyes began the top of the first with back-to-back singles. The baserunners advanced to second and third on a bunt. Then, senior third baseman Marcus Ernst scored Ohio State’s first run of the game on a groundout to second.

The Terps failed to get on base in the bottom of the first as sophomore Isaiah Coupet retired the side in four batters, striking out two.

After junior Ryan Ramsey took care of business in the second and third, Maryland’s offense couldn’t buy a hit as the game quickly became a pitchers’ duel.

Ramsey began to crack in the top of the fourth as Ohio State broke its two-inning scoring drought.

Redshirt senior designated hitter Brent Todys got things started with a leadoff single and then advanced to second on a bunt. Shortly after, senior catcher Archer Brookman singled to second base, but a costly throwing error by freshman second baseman Jacob Orr scored Todys.

Freshman shortstop Josh McAlister’s RBI single to left field scored Brookman, pushing Ohio State’s lead to three.

Coupet recorded his second 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the fourth as Ramsey wasn’t given any help from the Terps bats.

Ramsey forced one out in the top of the fifth before graduate student Nick Robinson relieved him, completing the 1-2-3 inning.

Maryland finally generated some offense in the bottom of the fifth.

Junior right fielder Troy Schreffler led the inning with a double, which was Maryland’s first hit of the game. In the ensuing at-bat, junior left fielder Bobby Zmarzlak crushed a two-run shot over the left-center field wall as his ninth-inning magic from Friday night carried into Saturday.

Back-to-back bunts scored the next wave of Maryland runs as fifth-year senior center fielder Chris Alleyne and Lorusso laid them down perfectly to remove Brookman from his post behind the plate. This offensive barrage captured a 4-3 lead for the Terps.

After a 1-2-3 inning from Robinson, Schreffler hit another double, this time down the left field line. Schreffler was left stranded on second as Maryland couldn’t put together consecutive scoring innings.

Dezenzo’s home run over the left-center field wall, his ninth of the season, pushed the Buckeyes back in front.

Maryland’s offense responded immediately with the two decisive solo shots by Shliger and Lorusso. In between these homers was a questionable strike three call on Alleyne that got both himself and head coach Rob Vaughn fired up, tearing into the home plate umpire.

Belgrave forced three straight groundouts in the top of the eighth and was tasked with doing it again in the ninth. The Terps couldn’t give him any more insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth, but it ultimately did not matter.

Shliger’s homer proved to be the difference as Maryland captured the series victory.

Three things to know

1. Isaiah Coupet dominated the Terps for the first four innings. Coupet, who has started every Friday night game for the Buckeyes this season, took the mound on Saturday and was absolutely dealing. In the first four innings, Coupet didn’t allow a single hit or run, while striking out five batters. Maryland finally figured him out in the bottom of the fifth, recording four hits and four runs to take the lead.

“You don’t see kind of a guy from a low slot that’s left-handed that throws the big breaking ball,” Vaughn said. “I was talking about it, he’s like, you know, ‘I’m sitting on the breaking ball, but it’s coming out above my head and coming back for a strike. It’s just tough to pull the trigger on.’”

2. Bobby Zmarzlak’s story-tale-type weekend continues. After crushing a walk-off three-run homer on Friday night, Zmarzlak got right back to work on Saturday. While he only had one hit on the day, it was a massive two-run homer that started Maryland’s four-run fourth inning. After struggling with strikeouts all year long, Zmarzlak needed a series like this to regain his confidence.

“It’s awesome to see him have success,” Schreffler said. “We’re all rooting for him and he’s been putting in the work behind the scenes, so to see him come out here and do what he’s been doing this weekend and [the] midweek last week, hitting lasers all over the place. It’s awesome, good to see him back.”

3. Maryland has the opportunity to take its first Big Ten series sweep. Sophomore stud Jason Savacool will take the mound on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. as the Terps are in position to sweep Ohio State after winning 8-6 on Friday and 6-5 on Saturday. These past two games have been absolute thrillers and it should be no different in the series closer.

“I tell these guys all the time, sweeps are about character,” Vaughn said. “We have to show up and finish.”