After losing a see-saw battle against Iowa on Thursday afternoon, Maryland baseball outlasted Purdue in the evening to stay alive in the Big Ten Tournament. The Terps are one loss away from being eliminated from tournament play, but a clutch double by Kevin Smith in the second game kept them in it for the time being.
Game 1: Iowa 9, Maryland 8
Both teams’ starters were hit hard, and the expected pitchers’ duel between Brian Shaffer and Nick Gallagher never materialized. Each team had double-digit hits, and three home runs apiece.
The Hawkeyes put up a crooked number in the second inning. Tyler Cropley drove a fastball over the right center field fence for a solo home run. Later in the inning, Mitchell Boe singled in Ben Norman to give the Hawkeyes a 3-0 lead. Shaffer attempted to pick off Boe, but his throw went awry and Boe motored to third. A long fly ball gave Iowa a 4-0 lead.
The Terps grabbed a run back in the bottom of the second inning. A.J. Lee doubled to the gap in right, and Nick Cieri followed with an RBI single.
Shaffer’s uncharacteristically poor outing continued in the next inning. Robert Neustrom drew a leadoff walk and Copley was hit by a pitch. A long fly out allowed both runners to advance a base. Hoeg hit a shallow fly between Nick Dunn and Zach Jancarski, and the two Terrapins collided; Neustrom came home on the bloop single. Another run scored on a sacrifice fly to center, giving Iowa a 6-1 lead.
The Terps battled back and scored three runs in the bottom of the inning. Jancarski singled, as did Gum. However, Jancarski was thrown out trying to reach third. Costes singled through the middle. Dunn then hit a no-doubt home run to right field to bring Maryland back to within two runs. The Terps tied the score in the fourth inning as Cieri doubled and Justin Morris hit a home run. Jancarski singled, stole second, and came around on a single by Gum that gave Maryland a 7-6 lead.
The lead was short-lived. Robert Neustrom led off the fifth with a solo home run to center field. In the sixth inning a home run by Chris Whelan put Iowa on top 8-7. Costes led off the seventh with his 10th home run of the year to tie the score at 8-8. Maryland loaded the bases with one out in the eighth, but couldn’t score the go-ahead run.
In the top of the ninth, a walk and a single put runners on the corners with one out. Ryan Selmer relieved Ryan Hill, who had come on in the seventh inning. Hoeg hit a shallow fly out, but it was far enough to score the runner from third. Maryland went down in order in their half of the ninth to enter the losers’ bracket.
Game 2: Maryland 5, Purdue 2
Kevin Smith’s bases-clearing double with two outs in the eighth inning, along with a superb relief outing by John Murphy, helped Maryland to the win. The Terps kept their Big Ten chances alive, and are also in better position for an NCAA Tournament spot.
Maryland jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second inning. Lee hit an opposite field single, then stole second base. With two outs, Nickens laced a single to right, and Morris followed with a double in the right center field gap.
Taylor Bloom cruised through the first four innings before Maryland’s defense let him down in the fifth. Mike Medej hit a routine grounder that Dunn misplayed. Alec Olund tried to bunt for a hit; Lee came in and picked up the ball, but his throw sailed past Biondic and down the first base line. Costes fielded the errant throw, and threw home to try to nab Medej. However, his throw tipped bounced up off of Morris’ glove and went into the dugout. When the dust had cleared, Purdue had scored a run and a man was on third with no outs. A sacrifice fly tied the score at 2-2.
Bloom did not make it out of the sixth inning. Harry Shipley led off with a single, and Bloom hit Jacson McGowan. John Murphy came in to try to put out the fire. Purdue executed a double steal to put both runners in scoring position. Murphy stuck out the next batter, then issued an intentional pass to load the bases. He proceeded to strike out the next two batters to get Maryland out of a big jam.
In the top of the eighth, Gum walked. Costes was hit by a pitch, but the ump ruled that he didn’t get out of the way. Coach John Szefc came out to argue and was ejected. Costes eventually walked, and Dunn sacrificed the runners over. Lee was intentionally walked to load the bases, and after Will Watson fanned, Smith lined a bases-clearing double down the line to give the Terps a 5-2 lead.
Murphy continued his stellar outing, keeping Purdue off the board for three innings. He allowed just one hit, one walk, and struck out six batters. Ryan Selmer pitched the ninth and allowed a double and an infield single. With two outs, Shipley came to the plate representing the tying run, but Selmer got him to ground out to second, keeping Maryland alive in the tournament.
Murphy got his first collegiate win and Selmer notched his eighth save of the year. Maryland stands at 35-20 on the year.
Maryland will play again on Friday evening against the loser of the Nebraska-Iowa game taking place earlier in the day.