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No. 23 Maryland baseball explodes past Navy, 18-10, in midweek slugfest

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The Terps, winners of eight of their last nine games, are scorching hot.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics.

Maryland baseball found itself tied with Navy in the sixth inning after the Midshipmen came back from a seven-run deficit.

However, fifth-year outfielder Chris “Bubba” Alleyne eradicated any fear of a loss in the bottom of the sixth inning with a bomb right over the right field wall with a couple runners on to take back the lead. It was Alleyne’s second dinger of the day, and it contributed to his special 4-for-5 day with 6 RBIs at the plate.

The Terps wouldn’t look back from that point on, scoring a whopping nine runs from the sixth to the eighth to take a commanding lead and win, 18-10, over Navy on a rainy Tuesday night in College Park. Maryland has now won eight of its last nine games.

“Plenty of things to clean up,” head coach Rob Vaughn said. “But I thought we did a nice job, especially on the offensive side of doing what we need to do tonight.”

It was Navy who got on board first in the opening inning with a two-run RBI single to give the Midshipmen an early lead. Starting pitcher Andrew Johnson settled in from there to limit the damage the rest of the inning. Johnson only lasted through the first innings before he was pulled for sophomore left-handed pitcher Logan Ott.

Maryland responded strongly in the bottom half of the inning, though, as a leadoff walk by catcher Luke Shliger started a rally. Alleyne, the ensuing batter, hit what looked like a routine single up the middle. However, Navy junior center fielder Nick Burch botched the play, and a two-base error allowed Shliger to score and Alleyne to get to third.

Two batters later, Matt Shaw drove in a run with a groundout, and the score was tied at two apiece heading into the second frame.

The scoring continued in the third inning for the Terps. Alleyne blasted a two-run homer that scored Shliger as well. Later in the inning, first baseman Maxwell Costes singled down the right field line to drive home third baseman Nick Lorusso. The Terps left the third inning with a 5-2 advantage.

That advantage would only get bigger in the bottom of the fourth inning, which started with an RBI single from Alleyne on a weird rolling hit that managed to squeeze past third baseman Logan Keller to tack a run on.

To follow that up, shortstop Matt Shaw stepped up with two runners on to clock one deep into right-center field and all the way over the wall to give Maryland a seven-run lead after four innings, 9-2.

However, the Midshipmen had a response for Maryland in the top of the fifth with a three-run shot of their own. Ott ended his time on the mound after giving up the home run to left fielder Christian Policelli, which made it a 9-5 game.

After the Terps went three up and three down to end the fifth, Navy built on its momentum to get the game within reach.

To start the sixth inning, leadoff hitter Eduardo Diaz hit a solo shot to get Navy on the board. Freshman right-handed pitcher Noah Mrotek walked a batter with the bases loaded to end his time on the mound, scoring a run for the Midshipmen to make it a 9-7 ballgame.

Senior right-handed pitcher Sean Heine didn’t do much better in relief. He gave up a deep sacrifice fly to center field that brought a runner home to cut Navy’s deficit to only one.

Capping off the sixth-inning damage, catcher Alex Smith smacked an RBI single down the right field line that officially tied the game at nine; Smith’s hit marked nine unanswered runs from Navy. Heine managed to finally get out of the inning on a catch by Schreffler Jr. in foul territory.

Fortunately for Maryland, it still had answers left in the tank.

The Terps offensive explosion in the latter innings started with Alleyne regaining Maryland’s lead with an absolute three-run bomb in the sixth inning. He saw a pitch that he liked and cleared it over the right field wall with two runners on, putting the Terps up 12-9 after six innings.

“I think being down doesn’t really scare us, we’ve been down a good amount this year. So coming back is just a normal thing for us,” Alleyne said.

Maryland’s bats caught fire from there, with junior left fielder Bobby Zmarzlak hitting a solo shot to left field, followed by a two-run shot by Shliger that extended Maryland’s edge to 15-9 heading into the eighth.

After senior right-handed pitcher Nick Robinson took care of the Midshipmen in the top of the eighth, Maryland kept the runs coming in the bottom half of the inning.

“He was just ahead of the guys. When you’re ahead of guys, you can then work a little bit, when you’re behind, those guys can hit a little bit. If you’re constantly gonna be in a 2-0 3-1 count, they can do some damage. Just gotta do a better job with certain guys just getting ahead,” Vaughn said about Robinson’s performance on the mound.

Costes brought home another run with a sacrifice fly that brought Matt Shaw home, and Zmarzlak immediately followed with a sacrifice ground out to bring Schreffler Jr. home from third.

Second baseman Kevin Keister capped off Maryland’s scoring with a solo home run, which was matched by a second home run from Diaz in the top of the ninth.

The Terps will look to keep it going with a home series starting Friday night against seventh-place Northwestern.

Three things to know

1. It was the Shliger and Alleyne show. Even though Shliger wasn’t catching today, he played the designated hitter role and ran the top of the order with Alleyne. The two had a combined eight RBIs and seven hits in nine at bats. They also smashed a combined three home runs as they kept getting the most of the Midshipmen bullpen. A lot of their games this year have relied on good production from the top of the order, and they definitely bailed their pitchers out tonight by propelling Maryland to an offensive explosion.

2. It was another subpar midweek outing for the pitching staff. Fortunately, Maryland has been able to sustain success in midweek games, but many of them have come in spite of its bullpen. In seven of their 13 games that have not been played on the weekend, the Terps have given up at least five runs. The only bright spot seemed to be Nick Robinson, who pitched two innings and was the only Maryland pitcher to not give up a single hit. Ott nor Johnson have proven to be consistent starters in the midweek spot, and the Terps would welcome stronger performances from them as the regular season enters the home stretch.

3. Maryland has another Big Ten showdown this weekend. The Terps have won eight of their last nine games and are rolling into May. This weekend, they will have another worthy Big Ten opponent when Northwestern comes to College Park for a three-game weekend series. The Wildcats are over .500 on the season and it will be another opportunity for Maryland to build its resume with just a few weeks left in the regular season.