NEWARK, Del. — Coming off its first weekend sweep of the year, Maryland baseball traveled to Newark to face Delaware, looking to extend its win streak to five.
Maryland previously played Delaware in February, a matchup the Terps won, 8-3.
After a back-and-forth game between the two teams, Maryland overcame a three-run deficit in the top of the ninth, taking a one-run lead to end the top half of the inning. But a controversial call on a two-out fielders choice by redshirt junior infielder Jake Dunion set the tying run up at third, and a wild pitch by redshirt sophomore righty Nigel Belgrave allowed him to score, sending the game to extra innings.
Maryland scored two runs — courtesy of RBI hits by junior catcher Luke Shliger and sophomore Jacob Orr — in the top of the 10th to slide past Delaware, 13-11, on Wednesday evening. With the win, Maryland swept the season series with Delaware.
In a hushed stadium with cold wind gusts, it wasn’t ideal conditions for a baseball game, but both teams still put on a show.
The Terps started off hot with Shliger, redshirt senior third baseman Nick Lorusso, and junior shortstop Matt Shaw all reaching base. Sophomore designated hitter Ian Petrutz knocked in the game's first two runs with a double, and junior second baseman Kevin Keister extended the lead on a single that brought in another. Every Maryland batter got an at-bat in the first inning and the Terps' lead stood at three.
Delaware struck back quickly, though. Redshirt junior infielder Joey Loynd hit an RBI single to put it on the board, and fifth-year righty Kenny Lippman loaded the bases with one out. A misplay by Eddie Hacopian at first promptly allowed two runs to score, and just like that Maryland’s early lead was extinguished.
A few more defensive mishaps by Maryland loaded the bases again, and a missed opportunity for a double play allowed another run to score, giving Delaware the lead. The Blue Hens capped off a wild inning by capitalizing on Maryland’s second error of the inning, taking home after a missed throw by Shliger on a double steal.
Junior left-handed pitcher Logan Ott came in for the Terps in the second and pitched three scoreless innings. After a disastrous defensive effort in the first, the Terps shut down Delaware on the base paths and turned several double plays.
Maryland chipped away at Delaware’s lead in the third and took over in the fourth. Fifth-year outfielder Matt Woods sent a ball into the right-field woods, cutting the lead to one on a solo shot. After Delaware failed to answer back, Lorusso hit a three-run homer in the fourth that barely went over the right field wall, giving Maryland a two-run lead.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Blue Hens’ batters got the best of Ott. Redshirt junior outfielder Bryce Greenly hit a ball to right field that almost left the yard but fell for a triple. Loynd tallied his second RBI of the game right after, cutting the deficit to one. Then, Dunion hit the second triple of the game to tie it up at seven.
Sophomore outfielder Andrew Amato hit a two-run blast on the very next pitch to give the Blue Hens a two-run lead. It looked like Delaware was going to add to its lead when redshirt sophomore infielder Brett Lesher hit a shot to left field, but Bobby Zmarzlak was there at the wall to keep the lead at two.
Things stood still for the next two innings. Maryland left-handed pitcher Tommy Kane came in and kept the game within two runs. Delaware righty Wyatt Nelson pitched four scoreless innings in 7 1/3 innings pitched.
Delaware got one more run on the board in the eighth after two errors by the Terps and a sacrifice fly gave the Blue Hens a three-run lead.
With one last chance for Maryland to get a rally going, Sophomore outfielder Elijah Lambros doubled, Lorusso walked, and Shaw singled, loading the bases and keeping the Terps alive. That forced Nelson out of the game and Delaware redshirt senior Dan Frake was inserted in for the save opportunity.
Petrutz worked a bases-loaded walk to score one run, and then Kevin Keister hit an RBI fielder’s choice to bring the Terps within one. With two outs, Matt Woods hit a two-RBI single, giving Maryland its first lead since the fifth inning.
Nigel Belgrave got two quick outs for Maryland in the bottom of the ninth inning but then gave up a single to redshirt junior infielder Eric Ludman. Redshirt freshman outfielder Jackson Tyer came in to pinch run for Ludman and stole second, putting a runner in scoring position with two outs.
Dunion then hit a ground ball that went to Lorusso at third base, who tried to tag Tyer to try to get the third out. Tthe umpire ruled that Tyer was safe, which caused a rage in the Maryland dugout. Head coach Rob Vaughn ferociously argued the call and was thrown out of the game. Belgrave threw a wild pitch in the next at-bat, bringing Tyer home from third and sending the game to extra innings.
Lambros led off the 10th inning and was hit by a pitch, which prompted Shliger to bring him in on a long RBI double that gave Maryland the lead back. After two flyouts, Jacob Orr hit a double to bring in Shliger, which extended the lead to two.
Redshirt junior righty David Falco Jr. came in to close the game and shut the door on the Blue Hens, sealing the victory for Maryland, 13-11. It was Maryland’s fifth straight win.
The Terps will host Albany this upcoming weekend, seeking their second straight sweep.
Three things to know
1. Sloppy defense for the Terps. Maryland had five errors in the game, and several other makeable plays that resulted in several Blue Hens runs. Shliger and Hacopian had two errors apiece and Vaughn said that the game was one of the sloppiest games he’s ever been a part of.
2. Big ninth-inning rally. Maryland entered the top of the ninth with a three-run deficit an unlikely scenario for a comeback. But Maryland didn’t falter, as they haven’t all season when in a hole.
3. The weather played a factor. It certainly wasn’t baseball weather in Newark. Not only was it a cold evening in the middle of March, but there were gusting winds that undoubtedly had an impact on the game. Lorusso hit a ball that seemed like a flyout but was carried for a three-run homer by a wind boost in right. In contrast, balls in the left field that would have gone out on a normal day died due to the strong wind gusts.