Maryland baseball led the whole way in its matchup against Indiana on Saturday, but the Hoosiers attempted a rally in the fifth.
Indiana worked the bases loaded, with star freshman outfielder Devin Taylor up to the plate. Down three runs, Taylor hit a ground ball that looked like it was going to bring home a run. But a great defensive play by junior second baseman Kevin Keister, along with a snag by sophomore first baseman Eddie Hacopian, beat out a sliding Taylor at first to end the inning with no runs allowed.
The Terps let their offense do the rest of the work, adding on 12 more runs in a 16-2 handling of Indiana on the road.
Maryland’s offense clicked from the first pitch, as back-to-back hits by junior catcher Luke Shliger and junior shortstop Matt Shaw scored the first of many runs for the Terps. Keister kept his bat hot in the second with an RBI single to take a 2-0 lead.
After a perfect first inning, Maryland freshman left-handed pitcher Kyle McCoy surrendered three straight hits in the second, including an RBI single by sophomore infielder Josh Pyne. After the second, though, McCoy settled in, surrendering only one run in seven innings of work.
“He was simply elite,” head coach Rob Vaughn said of McCoy. “That guy doesn’t flinch, a lot of weak early contact and then he can dial it up when he needs to.”
Both teams looked excellent defensively on Saturday. For the first two outs of the bottom of the third inning, Keister laid out for an impressive out and Hacopian dove at first to beat out the next batter. Indiana also showed off, as Pyne threw a laser to first on a diving play at third to retire senior third baseman Nick Lorusso. A couple of at-bats later, Indiana freshman second baseman Tyler Cerny stole a hit from fifth-year outfielder Matt Woods with a diving play of his own.
Despite the defensive showcase, Saturday’s game was determined by yet another onslaught from the Maryland offense, a near-replica of its blowout win on Friday.
In the fourth, a Shliger home run extended the Terps’ lead to three. The sixth inning saw the Shliger and Shaw connection again, this time on a two-run blast from Shaw that brought his catcher home.
Holding a 6-1 lead heading into the eighth, the Terps blew the game open. A collection of defensive mishaps by Indiana scored two runs before fifth-year outfielder Matt Woods put the game out of reach. He hit Maryland’s 10th grand slam of the season to make it 12-1.
The Maryland bats didn’t cool down after. Two runs were brought in by an RBI double by Keister that put Maryland up 14-1 with no outs recorded in the eighth. Then, a passed ball scored the ninth run of the inning before the Terps’ massive rally came to a close.
The teams traded runs in the ninth inning, finalizing a massive win for Maryland. The victory clinched the series for the Terps and gave them sole possession of first place in the Big Ten. The series finale is scheduled for Sunday at noon, and Maryland will send usual Friday starter Jason Savacool to the mound with a chance to sweep the Hoosiers.
Three things to know
1. Kyle McCoy was brilliant. McCoy only struck one batter out, but he allowed just one run on five hits. He also tossed four perfect innings, forcing weak contact from the Hoosiers that resulted in quick outs. McCoy’s outing kept the bullpen rested for another game, which is crucial in the Terps’ chances of finishing the sweep Sunday.
2. An offensive explosion. All nine Terps in the order collected a hit on Saturday, totaling 20 on the day. On top of that, the Terps had 10 extra-base hits — four home runs — and plated 16 runs against one of the top teams in the Big Ten. Shaw, Keister, and Shliger lead the way, and Woods’ grand slam was the dagger in the eighth.
“Don’t let the pack get hot. Those guys are relentless,” Vaughn said. “We scored some runs early in the year but we weren’t relentless like we are now.”
3. Terps take the lead in the Big Ten. Maryland was an underdog coming into this series — deservedly so. Indiana was ranked No. 14 in RPI and was 22-1 at home. The Terps outscored Indiana 29-4 in the first two games, making a statement in a massive series.
“You win the league, they ain't leaving you out of the NCAA Tournament,” Vaughn said. “We can take this into our hands, and that's what this weekend has done for us. Our future is in our hands now and we control our own destiny.”