Heading into the eighth inning, No. 1-seed Maryland baseball was in desperate need of some magic with the end of its historic season in sight. The Terps trailed No. 2-seed Wake Forest, 5-3, and had only scored one run in the previous five innings.
But, similar to the theme all season, the Terps refused to quit, instead digging their heels in and getting to work with their backs against the wall.
Wake Forest sophomore right-handed pitcher Seth Keener collected the first two outs with ease, before walking freshman designated hitter Ian Petrutz. Then, junior left fielder Bobby Zmarzlak stepped up to the plate and crushed a home run to left field to tie the game at five.
Zmarzlak’s homer ignited the Terps’ offense as they scored four more runs before the inning ended. Two innings wasn’t enough time for the Demon Deacons to make up the deficit as Maryland overcame Wake Forest, 10-5, on Sunday afternoon in College Park to keep its season alive.
Now, Maryland will have another elimination game in just a few hours as they take on No. 3-seed UConn at 7 p.m. tonight, which it lost to on Saturday night. If Maryland wins its rematch against UConn, it will have an opportunity to play for the regional championship on Monday.
The Terps were quiet to begin the game as Wake Forest sophomore right-handed pitcher Teddy McGraw only needed 10 pitches to retire the side in the top of the first inning.
In the bottom of the first, the Demon Deacons were anything but quiet, taking an early 2-0 lead. Freshman right fielder Tommy Hawke led off the inning with a single to left-center field, and then advanced to second on a fielding error. It didn’t take long for Hawke to reach home as redshirt sophomore second baseman Pierce Bennett barely squeaked an RBI double down the left field line.
Wake Forest cleanup hitter and redshirt junior catcher Brendan Tinsman smacked a double to left-center field, sending Bennett home for the final run of the inning.
Maryland quickly responded in the top of the second as senior first baseman Maxwell Costes erased the deficit with a two-run bomb over the left-center field wall.
Maryland starting pitcher Nick Dean and McGraw were dialed in for the next inning and a half as both offenses recorded just two hits.
The stagnant offense on display didn’t last long, though, as back-to-back hits from Costes and freshman designated hitter Ian Perturtz put runners on second and third with just one out in the fourth inning. Zmarzlak and sophomore second baseman Kevin Keister couldn’t take advantage, however, as Maryland left the half inning empty-handed.
Dean kept the Demon Deacons at bay in the bottom of the fourth, recording the first 1-2-3 inning of the game.
A similar result seemed to be inevitable in the bottom of the fifth as Dean struck out the first two batters. Then, Wake Forest regained the lead, 3-2, as Bennett hit a solo home run over the center field wall.
After the fourth consecutive scoreless inning from the Terps, the Demon Deacons expanded their lead to three in the bottom of the sixth. Wake Forest freshman first baseman Nick Kurtz got the inning started with a line drive to center field that was dropped by fifth-year center fielder Chris Alleyne. The error proved to be costly, as sophomore third baseman Brock Wilkin drilled a two-run homer to left field the next at bat to bump Wake Forest’s lead up to three runs.
With Keener relieving McGraw in the top of the seventh, Maryland finally got its bats rolling again. Keister took his second pitch for a ride, absolutely destroying it over the right field wall to make the score 5-3 in favor of Wake Forest.
Junior third baseman Nick Lorusso doubled to center field shortly after, but he was left stranded on second after sophomore shortstop Matt Shaw struck out.
Redshirt sophomore right-handed pitcher David Falco took care of business in the bottom of the seventh as the Terps faced a golden opportunity to make some noise in the top of the eighth. After replacing Dean on the mound, Falco did his job, striking out a season high seven batters.
With two outs on the board in the eighth, Zmarzlak answered the call, crushing a two-run homer to tie the game 5-5 in the top of the eighth.
Zmarzlak’s home run was followed by an RBI double from sophomore catcher Luke Shliger and another two-run homer from Alleyne to give Maryland a three-run lead. Junior right fielder Troy Schreffler Jr. got in on the action, ripping an RBI double down the right field line to cap off the six-run two-out rally.
The Terps added some insurance in the top of the ninth thanks to a solo home run from Petrutz and flawless pitching from Falco, who retired the side to end the game, securing the five-run win for Maryland.
Three things to know
1. Nick Dean and Teddy McGraw had a pitching duel. Both starters came ready to play on Sunday, making it extremely difficult for these prolific offenses to score. The two combined for 11.2 innings pitched, 11 hits, six earned runs and 14 strikeouts. They each gave their squads a chance to move on, but it was ultimately Dean and the Terps who came out on top.
2. The Terps showed up when it mattered. With each team’s bullpen rolling, every run mattered significantly. Maryland hit 6-for-16 (.375) with runners on base and 5-for-14 with two outs (.357). This didn’t change in the top of the eighth when the Terps desperately needed runs with two outs on the board. Maryland rallied for six runs, capturing a four-run lead that they never surrendered.
3. Maryland now has to win two straight against UConn to win the regional. After outlasting Wake Forest’s explosive offense on Sunday afternoon, the Terps will have to defeat UConn’s elite bullpen twice if they want to move on to the Super Regionals. The first game will take place at 7:00 p.m. on Sunday night, just under three hours after the end of the Wake Forest game. The second game, if necessary, will take place on Monday, meaning the Terps’ stamina will be tested.