Holding a 3-1 lead in the top of the fifth inning against Indiana, Maryland baseball stepped up to plate and took hold of the game.
The Terps chipped in seven runs in the frame, giving them a nine-run lead over the Hoosiers. This was too much for Indiana to overcome, as Maryland took game one of the series, 13-2, to kick off an important weekend in Bloomington.
Maryland head coach Rob Vaughn thought that the offensive output in the fifth was an examples of the team’s improvement during this season.
“Early in the year, we score a couple in the beginning of inning and its almost like alright, we’re good, we scored three or four. But they just kept coming, kept coming, kept coming,” he said.
Friday’s win — crucial in the race for the Big Ten regular-season title — extended Maryland’s winning streak to five games, and it featured some monster performances. Senior right-handed pitcher Nick Dean had a career-high 10 strikeouts and allowed just two runs in seven innings. Junior shortstop Matt Shaw also reached 60 hits on the season with three hits and three RBIs.
Right out of the gate, the Terps made their mark against the top team in the conference. Shaw and senior third basemen Nick Lorusso hit back-to-back solo shots to start the game. Sophomore first baseman Eddie Hacopian then smacked a sacrifice fly, which gave sophomore outfielder Ian Petrutz enough time to tag from third and give the Terps a 3-0 lead in the first inning.
The Hoosiers went to their bullpen almost immediately, as junior right-handed pitcher Sean Manase lasted just one inning before freshman right-handed pitcher Brayden Risedorph was called on to replace him.
Both Risedorph and Dean had it going early. Dean was not Friday’s originally scheduled starter, but after missing last weekend’s series with forearm tightness, he was given the start in place of usual Friday starter Jason Savacool. Dean had four strikeouts in the first three innings, silencing the team with the third-highest batting average in the Big Ten entering the weekend. Risedorph gave up just one hit in his first three innings, and had four strikeouts as Maryland struggled to score after an explosive first inning.
Indiana finally got on the board in the bottom of the fourth, with a solo home run by sophomore designated hitter Carter Mathison making it 3-1.
But Maryland’s offense exploded in the top of the fifth, coming up with seven runs to put the game out of reach. With no outs and the bases loaded, Petrutz hit a sacrifice fly, which was followed up by a masterful Hacopian bunt that brought home Shaw. Reisdorph continued to falter, as he plunked two straight batters, adding another run to the fray.
The onslaught continued when senior left fielder Bobby Zmarzlak hit a two-RBI single to left field and then senior second baseman Kevin Keister hit an RBI double to deep center field to balloon the Terps’ lead to 10-1.
Dean stayed on the mound through the seventh inning, and he continued to quiet the batters for Indiana. He struck out six batters in the three innings following the top of the fifth for a total of 10 on the day. The Hoosiers did score another run with a solo homer from freshman second baseman Tyler Cerny in the bottom of the seventh, but Dean’s performance left no chance for a Hoosier retaliation.
Maryland added an 11th run in the seventh, as a wild pitch from relief senior left-handed pitcher Nathan Ball gave Zmarzlak enough time to slide into home safely. Shaw also came up big again with a two-RBI double in the top of the ninth to make it 13-2.
Junior left-handed pitcher Logan Ott closed out the last two innings and didn’t allow another run, securing the win for Maryland.
Three things to know
1. Dean was excellent after being called to action late. Before the game, head coach Rob Vaughn announced that Dean would pitch on Friday for the first time this season. His response was nothing short of exceptional. He threw his best game of the season in Maryland’s biggest game to date. He struck out a career-high 10 batters and gave up just two runs in seven innings of work.
Vaughn sang his praises postgame, saying “That guy knows how to win big games. The moment doesn’t get too big for him.”
2. The bottom of the order stepped up. Through the first four innings, the last three batters in Maryland’s order had struck out four times and had only one hit. But when the team went on its run in the fifth, it was the bottom of the order came up big. Keister, Zmarzlak and sophomore third baseman Jacob Orr combined for four RBIs in the inning to help put the game out of reach.
3. Maryland struck first in a series that could decide the Big Ten regular-season title. The Terps and Hoosiers are locked in a battle for first place in the conference. After Friday’s game, both teams have a conference record of 9-4. If one team can take the next two, it will be in sole posession of the top spot in the conference. Maryland has had an up-and-down season, but the Terps improved their chances to claim back-to-back regular-season Big Ten titles.