Maryland baseball pulled away from Northwestern in the seventh inning on Saturday to remain standing in the Big Ten Tournament.
Things looked good early for Maryland, thanks to three solo home runs. But Northwestern scored five unanswered runs with two-out rallies in the fourth and fifth innings to grab the lead. A bizarre break in the game due to an umpire being injured swung momentum back to the Terps, who came around to score six runs and win the game 9-5.
Maryland banged out 11 hits, six for extra bases. Northwestern didn’t help themselves by issuing four walks and hitting four batters.
The Terps’ win helped them avoid elimination in the Big Ten tournament and likely cemented their place in the NCAA Tournament.
Maryland jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. With two down, Marty Costes hit a solo home run, his 11th of the season. The Terps extended that lead in their next at-bat. Will Watson jumped on the first pitch and sent one out for the fifth time on the year. Kevin Smith made it back-to-back home runs as he drilled a shot over the right center field fence. It was his 11th, tying Costes for the team lead. Suddenly, the Terps were up 3-0.
Tayler Stiles cruised through the first three innings, allowing just two singles. But Northwestern was able to knock the southpaw out of the game in the fourth. A single by Joe Hoscheit, a walk, and a two-out ground-rule double by Connor Lind plated a run. Leo Kaplan singled to left to tie the score, which brought on Ryan Hill in relief of Stiles. Hill fanned Grant Peikert to end the inning.
Northwestern took the lead in the fifth inning. With two outs, Jack Dunn singled and Hoscheit followed with a two-run blast. A pitch to the next batter struck the home plate umpire’s hand, and he had to leave the game, prompting a 20-minute delay. Jamal Wade came in for Hill when play resumed.
Northwestern right-hander Josh Davis settled down after surrendering the three home runs, retiring the side in order in the third and fourth innings. But the delay might have affected Davis when he took the mound in the bottom of the fifth. Justin Morris singled, and Zach Jancarski doubled into the left field corner. That ended Davis’ day. A wild pitch to Brandon Gum and a single up the box tied the game.
The Wildcat relievers had trouble with plate location in the seventh, and the Terps took full advantage to score four runs. Gum singled and Costes drew a walk. Dunn laid down a beautiful bunt to load the bases. A.J. Lee was hit-by-pitch and the Terps took the lead. Watson walked to force home the second run of the inning. Smith hit a long fly out to score Dunn. A walk to Nickens once again loaded the bases. Morris hit into a fielder’s choice to make the score 9-5.
John Murphy was once again stellar in relief, throwing three scoreless innings to notch his second win of the tournament. The win moved the Terps to 37-20 on the year, and Maryland won its third straight game after starting tournament play with a loss.
The Terps face off in an elimination game against Northwestern later Saturday night.