After holding the lead for the entire game, No. 23 Maryland baseball suddenly found itself down one in the bottom of the seventh following a three-run inning from Northwestern.
The Terps quickly responded, however, getting their first three batters on base. With a chance to take the lead, freshman designated hitter Ian Petrutz hit a difficult ground ball to Northwestern first year second baseman Patrick Herrara.
The ball bounced off Herrara’s shoulder as junior right fielder Troy Schreffler rounded third and scored Maryland’s second run of the inning. The Terps tacked on two more runs before the end of the inning.
Maryland’s seven runs in the final two innings it went to the plate was more than enough to give Maryland a 10-5 win, its 35th of the season, on Sunday afternoon in College Park.
“Today, we didn’t give the game away and when it really mattered we could step up and get it done,” head coach Rob Vaughn said.
Maryland wil take on Georgetown this Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in College Park before heading to Rutgers for another Big Ten weekend series.
In the first inning, Northwestern first baseman Anthony Calarco walked in the second plate appearance of the game, but junior right-handed pitcher Nick Dean still managed to retire the side in three batters as junior third baseman Nick Lorusso and sophomore second baseman Kevin Keister turned two.
It was another three up, three down situation for Dean in the top of the second as he waited patiently for the Terps offense to warm up.
It seemed as though Dean was going to have to enter the third inning without insurance runs after two flyouts. However, Schreffler refused to let that happen as he drilled a deep solo homer over the center field wall for the first score of the game.
The next inning, a single and two walks loaded the bases for the Wildcats with two outs on the board. Dean was able to protect the Terps lead, though, forcing a flyout to right field.
Northwestern left a man stranded on second in the top of the fourth, and the offensive struggles continued for both teams.
Maryland came close to extending its lead in the bottom of the fourth as fifth-year center fielder Chis Alleyne nearly went yard. However, sophomore right fielder Jay Beshears tracked it down, and the Terps left the inning with no runs.
After another 1-2-3 inning from Dean, the Terps offense finally broke through again. It started with a Schreffler double to right-center field as he was responsible for both of Maryland’s hits. Then, junior Bobby Zmarzlak came up with a timely single to score Schreffler.
After allowing just one hit through five innings, Dean was relieved by graduate student Nick Robinson. Northwestern instantly took advantage as senior first baseman Anthony Calarco ripped a single to left-center field.
Robinson struggled to find a rhythm, walking and hitting consecutive batters to load the bases. He was able to force a groundout to Keister, but the Wildcats scored their first run of the game in the process.
Sophomore catcher Luke Shliger led off the bottom of the sixth with a double to left field. Back-to-back sacrifice flies scored Shliger as Maryland regained its two-run lead.
After an uneventful first four innings, the offensive battle continued as neither team could find a reliable relief pitcher. Redshirt freshman Nigel Belgrave started the top of the seventh, but he was unable to finish it.
With a runner on second, first-year left fielder Andrew Pinkston smacked an RBI double to left field. After walking three straight batters, Belgrave’s day was done with the game tied at three. Redshirt sophomore David Falco entered the game with the bases loaded and surrendered one more run, giving the Wildcats their first lead of the game.
Northwestern’s fielding got sloppy in the bottom of the seventh, making room for the Terps to take back their lead. Maryland freshman designated hitter Ian Petrutz hit a ground ball, but an error by Herrera helped the Terps score two runs.
Back-to-back fielder’s choices capped off the inning as the Terps held a comfortable three-run lead heading into the last two innings of play.
Maryland’s offense continued to give its pitchers insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth. A wild pitch, hit-by-pitch and groundout all contributed to the Terps three runs scored in the inning.
Senior right-handed pitcher Sean Heine tallied the last three outs for Maryland, securing the 10-5 win.
Three things to know
1. Nick Dean thrived in his new role. The junior made his first Sunday start and heavily benefitted from the extra two days of rest and preparation. Dean only pitched five innings, but he was phenomenal, not surrendering a single run and allowing just one hit. After struggling with consistency this season, it will be interesting to see if this change helps Dean return to his beginning-of-the-season form.
“I thought [Dean] was outstanding today,” Vaughn said. “He goes up and hangs out five zeros on a Sunday, and thankfully we got that because offensively we were kind of scuffling a little bit early.”
2. Maryland’s starting pitchers were flawless this weekend. Dean wasn’t alone when it came to shutting out Northwestern this weekend. Junior left-handed pitcher Ryan Ramsey delivered the program’s second perfect game in school history on Friday night and sophomore right-handed pitcher Jason Savacool held the Wildcats scoreless through seven innings on Saturday. Maryland’s rotation has been great all season and continues to improve as the regular season winds down.
“The starting pitchers did amazing,” Falco said. “They did their part and we tried to do ours, and together I think we had a pretty successful weekend.
3. Head coach Rob Vaughn took down his former mentor. The beginning of Vaughn’s coaching career came at Kansas State, where he played from 2006-2009. As a volunteer assistant coach, Vaughn worked under Northwestern head coach Josh Reynolds during the 2011-2012 season. Despite being the protégé, Vaughn guided the Terps to a 2-1 series win over Northwestern this weekend, Maryland’s fifth Big Ten win of the season.
“I will always believe in people first and foremost and Josh Reynolds and Brad Hill are at the top of that list,” Vaughn said.