The first seven innings of the game between Maryland baseball and Ohio State were a pitcher’s duel. But in the top of the eighth, the prolific Maryland offense came to life.
The Terps broke the 1-1 tie with enormous singles by designated hitter Ian Petrutz and first baseman Eddie Hacopian — both sophomores — to put them up 3-1.
The Buckeyes hit a solo home run in the bottom of the eighth, but Maryland was able hold on for a 3-2 victory. The Terps improved to 3-0 in conference series to begin the season.
“It’s been a grind through this year so far, but it’s a tough group of kids, man,” head coach Rob Vaughn said. “They compete really hard,”
Junior catcher Luke Shliger jumpstarted the Maryland offense immediately, as he roped a leadoff double down the line to kick off the game. Despite starting strong, Shliger was caught sleeping on the base paths and got picked off at second.
In the bottom half of the first, the Buckeyes were knocking on the door to get an early lead, but a strikeout from Dean got ended the jam with runners on the corners.
The second and third innings saw little offense, as Dean and Jenkins allowed just three combined hits.
In the bottom of the fourth, Ohio State’s offense found its legs, as its first three batters reached base. Dean, however, once again worked out of a jam by forcing three straight outs to keep the game scoreless.
“[Dean’s] a superstar and I’m really proud of his toughness and what he gave us today,” Vaughn added.
Maryland drew first blood in the top of the fifth, as sophomore right fielder Zach Martin hit a solo home run over the right field fence.
In the bottom of the sixth, Dean began to run out of gas, loading the bases with one out. After battling with sophomore second baseman Josh McAlister in a long at-bat, McAlister got the better of Dean, drawing a walk to tie the game up at one.
Fifth-year right-handed pitcher Kenny Lippman replaced Dean, who finished having thrown 5 1⁄3 innings of one-run ball, to get the final two outs of the sixth inning and keep the game tied.
A leadoff single by junior second baseman Kevin Keister and walk by Shliger gave Maryland runners on first and second with no outs to start the seventh inning. Shaw then drove a fly ball to center field, which was deep enough for Keister to tag up and move to third.
On a 2-2 count, sophomore designated hitter Ian Petrutz then laced a ball through the right side of the infield, scoring the go-ahead run for Maryland. Sophomore first baseman Eddie Hacopian kept the offense going, poking a single of his own to give Maryland a 3-1 lead.
Ohio State was not going to pack it in as senior right fielder Mitchell Okuley blasted a solo home run to cut the Maryland lead to one.
Fifth-year righty David Falco Jr. came in for the save for the second consecutive game, and was once again able to bring home a victory for Maryland.
“Our pitching was absolutely elite today, and it gave us a chance to win a tight one,” Vaughn said.
Three things to know
1. Dean was able to work himself out of jams. Through his 5 1⁄3 innings pitched, Dean allowed the Buckeyes multiple opportunities. He showed his composure, though, working out numerous jams. This was especially key in the third inning, when the Buckeyes had the bases loaded with no outs but couldn’t muster a run.
2. The Maryland offense stepped up when it needed to. After a slow game for both offenses, Maryland’s came alive in the eighth inning. It was able to generate early baserunners to give itself an opportunity to score runs, and it did just that.
3. Maryland clinched its third straight Big Ten series. Maryland improved to 6-2 in Big Ten play. After some shaky play at the beginning of the season and tough losses in midweek games, Maryland finds itself atop the Big Ten standings. If it wants to make the NCAA Tournament, it’ll have to stay there.