Prior to Friday night, Michigan State sophomore left-hander Alex Troop led the Big Ten in ERA, with Brian Shaffer right behind him. It seemed like an ideal setting for a pitchers’ duel. But the red-hot Terrapin bats quickly quashed that scenario, jumping out to an 11-0 lead before cruising to a 12-2 victory. Five Terrapin batters had multiple hits, and Shaffer was in full command throughout.
Terps bash around Spartans’ ace for 8-0 lead
Maryland jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first. With two down, Marty Costes lined a single up the middle. Nick Dunn followed with a double, and then Will Watson lined a single to bring both runners home.
In the second inning, Madison Nickens led off by yanking a double down the right field line. A wild pitch sent him to third. Nick Cieri proceeded to drill a 3-1 pitch over the right center field wall, making it 4-0. After A.J. Lee was thrown out on a bunt, Zach Jancarski and Brandon Gum walked. The Terps successfully executed a double steal. After Costes fanned, Dunn grounded a single through the right side to make it 6-0. The Terps weren’t done. Will Watson singled, and then Kevin Smith laced a double into the left field corner that scored both runners. Maryland led 8-0.
Shaffer hadn’t been getting much run support in his last few starts, but had no problem working with a huge lead. Through four innings, Shaffer allowed only two hits, both singles by Bryce Kelley.
Terps pour it on
The Terps turned the game into a laugher with three runs in the bottom of the fourth. Gum struck out but reached base when the catcher couldn’t handle the pitch. Jancarski walked, and then the Terps pulled off their second double steal of the game. Watson hit a long fly ball to right that brought home Gum, with Jancarski moving to third. Smith walked and stole second. Nickens looped a single into right field to make it 11-0. For some reason Troop remained in the game.
In the fifth inning, Michigan State loaded the bases on two singles and a walk. However, Shaffer was able to get out of the jam by getting Robbie Jones to sky out to Nickens.
The Spartans got on the board in their half of the sixth. An infield single by Dan Chmielewski and then a two-out double by Matt Byars ended Shaffer’s bid for a shutout. Shaffer ended up pitching seven strong innings, allowing just the one run while fanning seven.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Spartans brought in lightly-used righty Caleb Sleeman. He proved to be effective, shutting out the Terps for three innings. He yielded a run in the eighth on a grounder by Dunn that scored Jancarski.
John Murphy came in to pitch in the top of the eighth. He threw a 1-2-3 eighth, before surrendering a run in the ninth.
With the victory, Shaffer’s record improves to 5-2. Maryland is now 26-11 overall and 10-3 in the Big Ten.