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Eighth-inning explosion lifts Maryland baseball past George Washington, 9-6

A six-run eighth inning erased a three-run deficit, giving Maryland its 12th win of the year.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics
Twitter @TerpsBaseball

Maryland baseball finally got a warm day in College Park to play some baseball, this time against the George Washington Colonials.

Maryland was on upset watch all game, as a grand slam in the second inning gave 5-16 George Washington a two-run lead. Another run in fourth extended the lead to three runs, which Maryland brought back to two in the sixth.

With the same two-run deficit in the bottom of the eighth, senior outfielder Bobby Zmarzlak led off the frame with his third hit of the game. Two batters later, sophomore outfielder Jacob Orr worked a pinch-hit walk to put two runners on with one out. Junior catcher Luke Shliger and senior third baseman Nick Lorusso tied things up at five with a pair of RBI singles. After a strikeout from junior shortstop Matt Shaw, fifth-year outfielder Matt Woods stepped up to the plate with a chance to give the Terps the lead.

Woods connected and hit a no-doubt homer to center, followed by a home run by junior second baseman Kevin Keister, both of which led Maryland to a comeback victory over George Washington, 9-6.

Maryland wasted no time getting the bats going in the first inning. Usual catcher Luke Shliger — starting as the team’s designated hitter for the first time this season — led off the inning with a solo homer. Then Shaw sent a rocket to left field for the second home run of the inning, giving Maryland a two-run lead. Woods kept the rally going with a single, but a diving play by George Washington graduate second baseman Noah Levin ended the frame.

Junior left-handed pitcher Logan Ott got in and out of the first inning in just seven pitches. In the second inning, though, Ott surrendered three straight singles, loading the bases with no outs. George Washington graduate first baseman Michael Kohn made Ott pay early, slamming a grand slam to right field, clearing the bases and giving the Colonials a two-run lead.

Ott surrendered two more hits in the game as the Colonials threatened to extend their lead in the third, but two more putouts by Maryland kept things even. That was it for Ott, who struck out one batter in three innings, allowing six hits and four earned runs.

Maryland couldn’t capitalize with runners on base. In the bottom half of the second, Zmarzlak and Elijah Lambros both got hits, looking to take back the lead. But with runners at the corners and no one out, the offense petered out yet again. Lambros was caught attempting to steal second, and then freshman catcher Devin Russell and Lorusso struck out to end the inning.

Woods walked with one out in the third inning, but Keister immediately grounded into a double play. Maryland put two runners on with no outs in the fourth and yet again couldn’t knock in a run after a double play and a popout.

Fifth-year right handed pitcher Kenny Lippman came in for Ott in the fourth, walking Kohn to start the inning. After a wild pitch, sacrifice fly and a groundout, Kohn went around the bases to score the fifth run of the game for the Colonials, extending their lead to three.

In the fifth, Shliger hit a double and Shaw and Keister walked to load the bases for Maryland for the first time. With two outs, Eddie Hacopian hit a ball to right, but it didn’t have enough carry to get Maryland a run, stranding three more for the Terps.

George Washington fell silent in the sixth, and Maryland chipped away in the bottom half. Zmarzlak notched another leadoff hit to get things going. and Ian Petrutz, who pinch hit for Russell, worked a walk to put runners on the corners with one out. Levin stole another hit from the Terps with a diving play at second, but Zmarzlak still was brought home. Petrutz then took third on a passed ball, but Lorusso struck out, ending the inning.

Lippman and redshirt junior right-hander David Falco Jr. shut down the Colonials in the later innings, keeping Maryland within striking distance.

Brayden Kurtz relieved Colonials starting pitcher Max Haug in the sixth and was electric in his relief appearance in his first 2 13 innings pitched, recording six strikeouts. But in the eighth inning, Maryland torched the Colonials’ bullpen to give it a four-run lead.

Maryland batted around the order and forced two George Washington pitchers out of the game. Lambros almost made it a seven-run inning when he sent a ball to the center field wall, but a great catch by sophomore outfielder Sam Gates ended the monster frame.

Redshirt sophomore right-handed pitcher Nigel Belgrave came in to close the game for Maryland but struggled to put George Washington down easy. He loaded the bases with one out, and gave up an RBI fielder’s choice to cut the lead to three. But Belgrave was able to force a groundout to end the game, giving Maryland the win.

It was a tough battle between the two local teams, as Maryland earned its 12th win of the season. Winners of eight of their last nine games, the Terps face a big test in Orlando this weekend against UCF.

Three things to know

1. Monster eighth inning. For the second time this season, Maryland used a massive eighth-inning rally to avoid a potential upset. In its game against UMBC on March 7, Maryland scored six runs to break a 6-6 tie against the Retrievers. This time, Maryland scored six in the eighth to defeat the Colonials, including back to back homeruns by Woods and Keister.

2. A poor start from Ott. Ott had only one strikeout and allowed plenty of contact throughout the game. The first inning worked well for him, but in the second inning, George Washington had four straight hits, including a grand slam. Ott can give up a lot of hard contact, and Tuesday, those balls didn’t turn into outs.

3. A great day for Bobby Zmarzlak. Zmarzlak was just a homer shy of the cycle. Zmarzlak has had some trouble this season, he has hit several cold streaks during the season and has a high strikeout percentage. But he showed Tuesday that he has the ability to rake and get on base at a high clip, reaching base in four of his five plate appearances.