Maryland baseball had to regain the lead on two separate occasions, but the Terps used some timely hitting and a great performance from the bullpen to beat Nebraska, 8-5.
Coming off what was a fantastic pitching duel last night, the bullpens were the story on Saturday afternoon.
After both starting pitchers were forced out of the contest early, reliever Ryan Hill kept Maryland in the game, only allowing one run in 4.1 innings of work. The gutsy outing gave Hill his third win of the year.
Maryland was also more productive with the bats after collecting only three hits Friday night. The team finished the game with a total of 12 base knocks, which included multi-hit performances from Nick Dunn, A.J. Lee and Brandon Gum.
Maryland got off to a much better start offensively Saturday than in in the series opener. Unlike in Friday’s contest, when the Terps waited until the ninth inning to score their first run, the lineup was on Nebraska starter Derek Burkhamper from the get-go.
Zach Jancarski and Nick Dunn each lead off with a single to put the pressure on early. Then a few batters later, first baseman Brandon Gum ripped a ball into left field to drive in Jancarski, who was absolutely flying around the bases to beat the throw. Unfortunately, Maryland could not capitalize later in the inning after loading the bases, as Nick Cieri grounded into a double play to end the threat.
The Terps continued their offensive production in the top of the second when A.J. Lee led off the inning by launching a ball over the wall in left field. It was the third baseman’s second homer of the season.
However, momentum would soon shift toward Nebraska’s side, as Maryland starter Taylor Bloom seemed to completely lose control of his pitching arsenal after what was a very polished first inning of work.
The sophomore began the bottom of the second by walking a man and hitting a batter. Bloom had a difficult time fighting those early errors off as he eventually would walk in Nebraska’s first run with the bases jammed two batters later. John Szefc pulled his starter after the righty allowed a single to the tie the ballgame. It was Bloom’s shortest outing of the season.
Ryan Hill limited the damage in the second, but not before Nebraska collected another run to take their first lead of the afternoon. Momentum would stay on the Huskers’ side for a few more innings until the Terps finally would get their lineup back going again in the top of the fourth.
Maryland used two walks and a hit batter to load the bases with nobody down. However, in an odd move, manager John Szefc decided to take the bat out of Patrick Hisle’s hands as he called for the suicide squeeze. Hisle failed to connect on the bunt, which led to Will Watson being tagged out at home plate. To make matters worse, Hisle ultimately struck out. Luckily for the Terps, Szefc redeemed himself with a shrewd roster switch.
The Terps manager called for catcher in Dan Maynard, a bigger threat on offense, to replace Justin Morris at the dish. The catcher delivered with a two-run single to put Maryland in front once again.
Nebraska pulled things even in the bottom of the fifth, capitalizing after getting runners on the corners with no outs in the inning. However, Hill did do a good job to minimize the damage and keep the game tied.
Then for the third time in the game, Maryland scored to take the lead when Will Watson drove in his first run of the ballgame in the top of the seventh.
Maryland would extend the lead even further in the top of the ninth inning, using hits from Cieri and Lee for some insurance. Ultimately, the extra runs were huge because Nebraska added a run and got the tying man to the plate in the bottom of the ninth. Still, Ryan Selmer was able to induce a game ending double play to preserve the victory.
With the win, Maryland (20-9) will have a chance to play Nebraska in a series-deciding game on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. Freshman Tyler Blohm will get the start for the Terps.