With No. 13 Maryland baseball needing a bounce-back win against South Florida, senior right-hander Nick Dean came up clutch with a stellar performance.
Dean was feeling it from start to finish. He shut down the USF offense, tossing six scoreless innings of one-hit ball.
On the heels of Dean’s performance, Maryland’s offense did more than enough for an 8-1 victory, its first of 2023. The Terps will have a chance to win the series with Sunday’s rubber match set for 1 p.m.
The first two innings were a pitchers duel between USF redshirt sophomore southpaw Nolan Hudi and Dean. Both pitchers allowed a base runner, but neither team was able to take advantage.
In the third inning, Maryland’s bats began to wake up. Sophomore Jacob Orr gave the Terps momentum to start the inning, beating out a ground ball thanks to a throwing error by sophomore Bobby Boser. Senior Bobby Zmarzlak then ate a hit-by-pitch, giving sophomore Elijah Lambros runners on first and second with no outs.
Lambros stayed hot, as he ripped a ground ball through the infield to get the first run across for Maryland. After an impressive double play turned by the Bulls on a hard Luke Shliger ground ball, Matt Shaw crushed a two-out RBI double to the left-center field gap, putting Maryland up 2-0.
Hudi settled back in the fourth, striking out two and still going toe-to-toe with Dean despite already giving up two runs. Dean continued to cook, recording his seventh strikeout and forcing ground balls for his defense to make plays behind him.
In the fifth inning, Zmarzlak hustled out of the box to get a one-out triple that ricocheted off the glove of sophomore right fielder Jackson Mayo.
After a crucial double play initially ruled that Zmarzlak had been tagged out and Lambros out at first, Maryland head coach Rob Vaughn challenged the call on the field. USF would have gotten out of a jam, but video review overturned the double play, putting the Bulls in a jam with runners on first and third and one out.
Zmarzlak then scored after a wild pitch by Hudi, which led to the latter getting yanked from the game after 4 2/3 innings. Freshman Justin Jackson was able to get Shaw to fly out to right field to get the Bulls out of the jam with limited damage.
Despite showing signs of fatigue, Dean was able to continue to keep his shutout alive. He threw his final inning in the sixth, recording another 1-2-3 inning and striking out one. The right-hander threw a gem, allowing only one hit and one walk with eight strikeouts.
“Dean was more than outstanding, and you know that’s why you have a guy like Nick Dean on Saturday,” Vaughn said.
Jackson was also relieved, as freshman Austin Newton came in and allowed back-to-back walks to start the inning, putting Zmarzlak and Lambros on base. Junior southpaw Caleb Pundsack replaced Newton after two batters, and Shliger successfully sacrifice bunted to give the Terps runners on second and third with one out.
The Bulls then intentionally walked Shaw to set up the force out, but Nick Lorusso crushed a ball to deep left field for Maryland’s second grand slam of the series, giving it a commanding 7-0 lead.
Freshman left-handed pitcher Kyle McCoy replaced Dean in the seventh but saw early struggles, as he gave up two hits and a walk in the inning. After a near-triple play by Hacopian, USF redshirt junior Pablo Ruiz crushed a ball off the wall to end Maryland’s bid at a shutout. Ruiz tried to stretch a double into a triple and was thrown out to end the inning, however.
“I’m really glad Kyle McCoy is here in College Park, I can tell you that. Really good arm and he was up to 94 today,” said Vaughn.
In the ninth inning, Hacopian provided some insurance for Maryland with an RBI groundout to knock in Shaw, effectively sealing the Terps’ 8-1 win and knotting the weekend series at one apiece ahead of Sunday’s game.
Three things to know
1. Nick Dean shined in his 2023 debut. After a shaky first game from Jason Savacool, Maryland hoped that Dean would put on a good performance, and he did just that. He had command of all of his pitches, hitting his spots and keeping the USF hitters off-balance during his entire outing.
2. Maryland’s bullpen showed signs of life. McCoy nearly had a relief performance as dominant as Dean did as the starter. The freshman was able to keep the Terps’ lead secure, only allowing one run on three hits, two walks and three strikeouts. Its offense has proven that it can score, so if the pitching is on par, Maryland will be dangerous from here on out.
3. A grand slam played another key role. For the second consecutive game, Maryland pimped a grand slam that played a crucial role in the game. Friday night it was Orr who cut the Terps’ deficit to one, and Saturday it was Lorusso who gave Maryland a commanding 7-0 lead. The Terps were up 3-0 prior to the grand slam but will have to continue to find other ways to get runs across.