When Tyler Pettorini stepped up to the plate to start the bottom of the fourth inning, his Ohio State Buckeyes led 1-0. Freshman pitcher Kyle McCoy was cruising on the mound for Maryland baseball, having retired the last eight batters he had faced after Pettorini’s first-inning RBI double.
When Ohio State’s sophomore third baseman dug into the batter’s box next, it was still the fourth inning. And he put the game away with a three-run home run — part of the Buckeyes’ eight-run frame — effectively sealing what resulted in an 13-8 loss for the Terps.
Maryland (21-14, 6-3 Big Ten) has won all three of its Big Ten series to start the season, but is yet to complete a sweep. It won the first two games at Iowa before a nine-run fifth inning killed any hopes in the third game. A week later, the Terps claimed victory to their first two games against Rutgers, but collapsed in the middle innings in game three after McCoy had to exit due to injury.
Sunday was a dose of déjà vu for Maryland, which saw its chances at taking all three games in Columbus fade away in familiar fashion. The Terps entered the game having allowed the third-most runs in the Big Ten but having scored the second-most in the conference, and Sunday’s showing was a microcosm of those troubles. The last five games Maryland has lost, it has allowed double-digit runs.
Once again, despite a slow start, the Terps’ offense was not an issue — it was their pitching.
What transpired in between Pettorini’s two fourth-inning at-bats was nothing short of a disaster for Maryland. The wheels fell off for McCoy, who walked four straight batters after Pettorini’s leadoff single before he was relieved by sophomore Andrew Johnson.
Whatever refuge Johnson was meant to provide from the oncoming Buckeyes storm, he didn’t.
With Ohio State leading 3-0 and the bases still loaded, the game began to spiral out of hand. An RBI single, balk, sacrifice fly and walk set up Pettorini, who placed the dagger in the heart of the Terps — who were already on life support by this point — with a three-run blast to right field to punctuate the inning.
Even with the potent Maryland offense lurking, the game felt like little more than a formality after the fourth inning finally concluded. The Terps plated eight runs from the sixth inning on to provide a glimmer of hope, but Ohio State managed four more runs to push it over the finish line.
Perhaps the end result would have been different had Maryland taken advantage of its opportunities early. The Terps moved a runner to third in both the first and second innings, but couldn’t bring them home either time. In the second, junior catcher Luke Shliger barreled a ball deep to left field, but was robbed of a potential home run by Ohio State freshman Matthew Graveline.
In the sixth inning, junior second baseman Kevin Keister met a similar fate. With his Terps desperately trying to claw back and two runs already across in the inning, his bid at extra bases was flagged down by sophomore center fielder Trey Lipsey, who made an impressive snag while crashing into the center field wall to end the inning.
A win just wasn’t in the cards for Maryland on Sunday, as it once again came up short with an opportunity to sweep a conference opponent.
Three things to know
1. Pettorini led the way for the Buckeyes. Pettorini went 4-for-5 with two doubles, a home run and four RBIs to lead Ohio State. He finished a triple shy of the cycle and nearly got it in the eighth inning, but had to settle for another two-bagger.
2. Ohio State spoiled McCoy’s return. McCoy had to leave his start last weekend early after being hit by a line drive, and it initially looked like he would be forced to miss time. But, McCoy was back out on the mound just a week later, and while he couldn’t lead Maryland to a win, it was a welcome sight for the Terps to see their freshman southpaw back.
3. Another series win, but another failed sweep. With a disappointing midweek record, Maryland’s NCAA Tournament hopes will likely rest on its ability to finish atop or, at a minimum, near the top of the Big Ten. The Terps have won all three of their conference series so far this season, but Sunday marked another missed opportunity to make a statement.