Up 3-0 in the top of the fourth, No. 15 Maryland baseball seemed to be running away with the game after a phenomenal start from freshman left-handed pitcher Andrew Johnson.
Suddenly, freshman designated hitter Ryan Dooley got James Madison right back in the game with a two-run bomb to right field.
In the bottom half of the inning, after junior right fielder Troy Schreffler stole second, Maryland’s six-hole hitter, senior first baseman Maxwell Costes, stepped into the batter’s box and crowded the plate. With two strikes on him, Costes drove a breaking ball to deep right-center field that brushed off redshirt freshman right fielder Grant Painter’s glove and sailed over the wall.
The two-run homer was Costes’ 39th of his career, just four away from the school record. The Terps tacked on seven more runs in their final four innings at the plate as they took care of the Dukes, 12-2, on Tuesday in the final regular season game in College Park. With the win, its 42nd of the season, Maryland has tied the school record for wins in a season.
Maryland will head to Purdue for a three-game series this weekend, its final of the season, in hopes of capturing the Big Ten regular season title.
Johnson got his third start of the season and allowed just one base runner in the top of the first.
Maryland’s bats got to work early as sophomore catcher Luke Shliger singled through the right side to kickstart the bottom of the first. After making his way to second, Shliger rounded third and headed home as junior third baseman Nick Lorusso ripped a single to shallow right field.
In the top of the third, with runners on first and second and sophomore left-handed pitcher Logan Ott warming up in the bullpen, Johnson was on the hot seat. However, Johnson collected himself and struck out the final two batters, making it three in the inning and five in the game.
After two quick outs, it seemed as though Maryland was going to go scoreless for the second straight inning, but fifth-year center fielder Chris Alleyne blasted one over the left field wall, tying sophomore shortstop Matt Shaw for first in the Big Ten with 19 home runs. Lorusso made it back-to-back homers as he drilled one to dead-center field, pushing Maryland’s lead to three.
James Madison got two back the next inning as Dooley went yard for a two-run shot to right field. Terps freshman right-handed pitcher Matt Cunningham, who started the top of the top of the fourth, was immediately taken out and replaced by Ott. The sophomore recorded all three outs without surrendering a run, protecting Maryland’s lead.
As junior right fielder Troy Schreffler took a sizable lead off of second, senior first baseman Maxwell Costes blasted a home run over the right-center field wall that barely escaped redshirt Painter’s robbery attempt. After making its first pitching change, James Madison closed out the fourth inning trailing by three.
Thanks to a four-pitch inning from Ott, the Terps were in prime position to expand their lead. Lorusso wasted no time, sending his first pitch over the left-center field wall to leadoff the bottom of the fifth.
Similar to the fifth inning, Ott produced another 1-2-3 inning on the mound. Freshman designated hitter Ian Petrutz led off the bottom of the sixth with a solo home run, Maryland’s fifth of the game.
Unlike the previous inning, Petrutz’s leadoff homer was followed by four additional runs as James Madison dug itself a deep hole. Redshirt sophomore right-handed pitcher Sean Culkin, the third pitcher of the inning, forced the last two outs of the inning for the Dukes as Maryland led 11-2 thanks to a five-run sixth-inning.
The Terps scored one more run in the bottom of the eighth. Sophomore right-handed pitcher Gavin Stellpflug finished the job with a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the ninth to secure the win.
Three things to know
1. Andrew Johnson gave the Terps a great start. Johnson made his 15th appearance and third start of the season, and he came out firing. The freshman pitched the first three innings of the game, striking out five batters. Johnson finished the day only surrendering one hit and shut out the Dukes. With Maryland’s bullpen as its biggest weakness, Johnson’s arm will be key during postseason play.
2. Ian Petrutz has secured his spot in the starting lineup. The designated hitter role and eighth spot in Maryland’s batting order has been a revolving door for most of the season, but Petrutz has run away with the job as of late. He has recorded a hit in each of the last four games, tallying eight hits, seven runs, seven RBIs and two home runs over that span. With junior left fielder Bobby Zmarzlak, Petrutz and sophomore second baseman Kevin Keister rounding up the bottom of the order, the Terps’ offensive weapons never end.
3. Maryland dominated in its last regular season home game. The last time the Terps squared up against James Madison, on the road, it came down to a ninth-inning homer from Alleyne in order to walk away with the win. Tuesday’s game, however, was a much different story. Maryland jumped to an early 3-0 lead and never looked back, defeating the Dukes by 10, the seventh largest margin of the season.