Maryland baseball looked to avenge their series-opening loss to Northwestern on Saturday afternoon. It would require an extra inning, but the Terps (13-14, 1-1 Big Ten) prevailed thanks to a walk-off walk, defeating the Wildcats (8-13, 1-4) 6-5 in 10 innings.
Tyler Blohm took the mound for Maryland, looking to improve on his career-high eight innings against Stetson last Saturday. He didn’t fare as well, giving up three earned runs in 4.2 innings of work, walking three, hitting one and striking out four.
The real story of Saturday’s game was Maryland’s bullpen, namely Sean Fisher and Kevin Biondic, who started at first today. The two combined for five and one-third scoreless innings of three-hit baseball.
On offense, Nick Dunn and Tommy Gardiner had noteworthy days. Dunn went 3-for-5 after being moved to the leadoff spot, while Gardiner was 2-for-4 on the day. They combined for five of Maryland’s eight hits.
Northwestern started hot, scoring three runs before Blohm recorded an out. The lefty walked leadoff batter Jack Dunn and let up a single to Alex Erro, who extended his hitting streak to 13 games. That put two on for Jack Claeys, who wasted no time making his presence known. Claeys took Blohm deep over the batter’s eye in center field, giving Northwestern a 3-0 lead. Willie Bourbon followed with a double of his own, but was stranded at second as Blohm retired the next three batters in order.
The Terps responded back in the bottom half with two of their own. Nick Dunn, moved to the leadoff spot by Rob Vaughn, started off the inning with a walk, and Bionic singled two batters later. That put two on for AJ Lee, who was hit by a pitch, loading the bases for Zach Jancarski, who drove Dunn on a sacrifice fly. Biondic moved up to third on the throw home, scoring on a wild pitch one batter later. Northwestern starter Hank Christie was quickly pulled from the game, recording only two outs, but the Terps were unable to plate any more runs in the inning.
Maryland and Northwestern traded runs in the second. Ben Dickey started off the Wildcats second with a double, quickly scoring on a seeing-eye RBI single from Kyle Burnett Jr. In the bottom half, Will Watson went deep to straightaway left field, pulling Maryland within one at 4-3.
In the third, Claeys took Blohm deep again to basically the exact same spot, just over the tall batter’s eye in center field for his second home run of the day, a solo shot to put the Wildcats up 5-3.
Blohm was taken out in the fifth as Northwestern threatened for more, but reliever Sean Fisher ended the Wildcat threat. The middle innings of the game were quiet as Fisher kept the Northwestern bats at bay, throwing 3.1 scoreless innings, lowing his season ERA by more than an run.
Both teams were held scoreless until Maryland closed the Northwestern lead to one in the seventh. Dunn recorded his third hit of the day and Costes walked, putting two on for Maryland. Two batters later, Lee came up and drove home Dunn on an inside-out RBI single to right field.
In the eighth, Maryland tied the game. Tommy Gardiner led off with a single, advancing to second on a wild pitch. Taylor Wright attempted to advance him on a sacrifice bunt, reaching first as Northwestern reliever Tommy Bordignon threw to third to get out Gardiner, who slid in just before the tag. Watson came up and drove in Gardiner, but grounded into a double play.
Neither team was able to pull ahead in the ninth. In the 10th, the Terps didn’t need to swing the bat to win in extras. The sequence went: walk, hit-by-pitch, sac bunt that the first baseman had no play on, and walk. Northwestern pitching allowed three free bases in the inning, including the walk-off walk to Taylor Wright.
Maryland and Northwestern will face off in the rubber match of the weekend series Sunday at noon. The game will be broadcast on BTN Plus and the Maryland Baseball Network.