Heading into the bottom of the seventh, No. 1-seed Maryland baseball was storming back from a six-run deficit, scoring four unanswered runs.
The No. 5-seed Michigan Wolverines weren’t so quick to give up this lead, however, as junior designated hitter Titio Flores led off the bottom of the seventh with a solo shot over the left field wall.
Holding a comfortable 12-8 lead, junior right fielder completely took the wind out of the Terps’ sails with a two-run bomb to right field.
Michigan tacked on one more in the bottom of the seventh, which proved to be more than enough to take down the Big Ten Tournament favorites, 15-8, in Omaha, Nebraska on Friday night.
Maryland will have little time to rest as they will rematch Indiana on Saturday afternoon in a win-or-go-home situation.
The Terps got right to work in Thursday’s first-round matchup against Indiana, scoring immediately in the bottom of the first. That wasn’t the case in this one as Michigan junior left-handed pitcher Jacob Denner shut Maryland out in the top of the first, striking out two batters en route to a 1-2-3 inning.
On the bump for Maryland was junior left-handed pitcher Ryan Ramsey, who saw the mound for the first time in nearly two weeks and was clearly out of rhythm. In his attempt to shake off the rust, Ramsey walked junior right fielder Clark Elliot in five pitches to leadoff the bottom of the first.
Ramsey struck out the second batter, but a check-swing double scored Elliot from second, giving Michigan an early one-run lead.
The top of the second inning marked another rough start for the Terps after back-to-back flyouts.
Luckily, senior first baseman Maxwell Costses got a hold of a low fastball, drilling it to center field. Michigan graduate student center fielder Joe Stewart made a bad read on the ball, allowing Costes to take second. Junior left fielder Bobby Zmarzlak took advantage of Stewart’s mistake, ripping an RBI single up the middle to tie the game at one.
Senior shortstop Riley Bertram led off the bottom of the second with a single, but he was quickly sent back to the dugout as sophomore shortstop Matt Shaw and sophomore second baseman Kevin Keister turned two, assisting Ramsey in a six-pitch inning.
In the top of the third inning, Maryland seized the lead as Keister’s reliable play continued with a solo home run.
This lead didn’t last for long, though, as the Wolverines immediately clapped back with four runs in the bottom of the third. Runners were on first and third when Michigan graduate student third baseman Matt Frey singled to left field and captured his second RBI of the day.
With the game tied 2-2 and two outs on the board, junior third baseman Nick Lorusso made a wild throw to Keister at second, and Michigan regained its one-run lead. The two-out rally didn’t end there as Bertram roped a two-RBI double down the left field line to cap off the inning.
But, the Terps were not going down without a fight. Sophomore catcher Luke Shliger brought home two runs with a single up the middle, slicing Michigan’s lead to one in the top of the fourth.
However, Frey and Michigan’s offense continued to pour it on in the bottom of the fourth. A hit-by-pitch, walk and single loaded the bases for Frey, and he delivered for the third straight at-bat. The graduate student smacked a single to shallow right-center field, bringing in two of the three base runners.
The Wolverines kept rolling as junior catcher Jimmy Obertop hit an RBI double to left field, forcing head coach Rob Vaughn to make a pitching change.
With graduate right-handed pitcher Nick Robinson now on the mound, Michigan continued to have its way, tacking on the fifth and sixth runs of the inning.
Now trailing 10-4 in the top of the fifth, Maryland needed to put some runs on the board if it wanted to avoid a blowout. Junior right fielder Troy Schreffler answered the call, smoking a double down the left field line, scoring Lorusso and Shaw.
Schreffler found home before the inning ended on a Zmarzlak groundout to third, cutting the deficit in half.
Robinson only threw 23 pitches in the bottom of the fifth and sixth innings as he delivered back-to-back 1-2-3 innings for the Terps.
Just when it looked like Maryland was going to be shut out for the second consecutive inning, Schreffler smashed a two-out solo home run in the top of the seventh, the Terps’ second of the day.
The Wolverines all but ended it in the bottom of the seventh after scoring five runs. Junior designated hitter Tito Flores led off the inning with a solo home run and Elliot tacked on two more with a home run of his own.
After a scoreless eighth inning, junior right-handed pitcher Cameron Weston finished the job in the top of the ninth, striking out the side.
Three things to know
1. Ryan Ramsey didn’t have it. With 13 days of rest under his belt, Ramsey was expected to shut down the Wolverines offense, but this wasn’t the case. The junior had possibly his worst start of the season, allowing 10 runs, seven hits and four walks in just 3.1 innings. Ramsey was tasked with the first loss of his collegiate career, despite Maryland’s spectacular offensive performance.
2. Maryland found itself in a shootout. With neither team’s pitchers showing up on Friday, the game turned into a battle of the bats. Maryland was able to put together eight runs, 10 hits and two home runs, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Michigan’s offensive barrage, which included 15 runs, 13 hits and two home runs. If the Terps can get some solid production from the mound, they should have no making it to Sunday’s sleight of games.
3. What’s next for the Terps? With the Big Ten Tournament being double-elimination style, Maryland is by no means out of it, but its path just became much more difficult. The 15-8 loss to Michigan snaps the Terps eight-game winning streak, their longest of the season. Maryland will get right back at it on Saturday against Indiana for the second time in three days. The rematch should be an intriguing game following the team’s 11-inning battle on Thursday.