After coming off a week of rest after a weekday game against Saint Joseph’s was cancelled, Maryland baseball came out strong against Rutgers, defeating the Scarlet Knights, 5-1.
The Terps (16-8, 3-1 Big Ten) rode a stellar pitching performance by Brian Shaffer, who pitched seven innings of one-run ball, striking out four and giving up only four hits. He threw 28 first-pitch strikes to Rutgers (10-15, 0-1 Big Ten) batters, which was the main cause for his success.
The Terps came out strong in the early innings, scoring a run in both the first and second innings. Zach Jancarski got things started in the first by reaching on an error, than moving over from a stolen base and a sacrifice fly. Brandon Gum then drove him in with a single to left field.
In the second inning, Kevin Smith hit a no-doubt home run to left field, giving Maryland a 2-0 lead at that point.
Before Maryland was able to extend the lead, some concerning news hit. In the bottom of the fourth inning, Smith injured his left shoulder while attempting to catch a pop-up in shallow left field. He bobbled the initial catch, and while trying to re-catch the ball, he fell on his shoulder.
Smith stayed on the ground initially, asking for the trainer. He came back onto the field after getting treatment and tape on his shoulder, but he was replaced in the bottom of the fifth.
In the top of the fifth, Maryland put a three-spot on the board. After getting runners on first and second, the Terps scored after a throwing error on what looked like a sure double-play. Marty Costes then hit a triple into center field, scoring Nick Dunn, and then Costes scored on a fielding error by Rutgers to allow Brandon Gum to get on base.
Rutgers looked to get back in the game in the bottom of the sixth, when Christian Campbell hit a solo home run off of Shaffer, but the Scarlet Knights would score no more runs off the righty.
Ryan Hill took over in the eighth inning for the Terps in relief of Shaffer, and pitched two scoreless innings, only giving up one hit, to secure the win for Maryland.
Other than Hill and Shaffer, Jancarski, Smith, and Costes came up big for Maryland. Jancarski went 4-for-5 on the day, finishing a home run shy of the cycle. Costes had the big triple in the three-run fifth inning, and Smith added a solo homer in the second inning.
The Terps will finish the weekend series with Rutgers Sunday, with a doubleheader that starts at noon. Both games will be broadcast on BTN Plus and can be heard on the Maryland Baseball Network.