Maryland baseball hit three home runs and got a strong bullpen performance to snap its six-game losing streak in a 6-1 victory over James Madison.
The Terps had three crushing losses to Purdue over the weekend, so this was an important game to get back on track, especially without a true starter on the mound.
In Billy Phillips’ first college start, he lasted four innings, the longest outing of his career. Over 12 outs, the lefty held James Madison scoreless, only allowing two hits with four strikeouts on the day. Additionally, Phillips outlasted JMU starter Michael Bechtold, who splits his time between starter and reliever for the Dukes. It was a great moment for Phillips, who beat leukemia before joining the Terps this year. On a scheduled bullpen day, he gave the team exactly what it needed.
Offensively, Maryland got on the board immediately in the bottom of the first. After Marty Costes beat an infield single with two outs, Kevin Biondic beat the outfield shift with a deep fly ball to right field. Biondic ended up with an RBI triple on the play, with Costes scoring from first. Two batters later, Zach Jancarski hit a slow roller to shortstop and was able to leg out a single himself, scoring Biondic for a 2-0 lead.
Three innings later, after James Madison starter Michael Bechtold left the game, Randy Bednar welcomed new pitcher Kevin Kelly with a solo home run to right center field. That marked Bednar’s fifth home run of the year and extended Maryland’s lead to three.
Maryland tried to add on in the fifth when Jancarski doubled to center, but James Madison threw Biondic out trying to score from first on the play. Instead of having two men in scoring position with two outs, the Terps’ side of the inning was over.
In the seventh, the Terps doubled their lead. Nick Dunn hit a solo home run to right field, his eighth of the year and 29th RBI, both of which lead the team. Later in the inning, Will Watson continued his hot hitting with his third home run of the year, a two-run shot to left field, to make the score 6-0.
Mike Vasturia came in to pitch in Phillips’ relief, and despite allowing baserunners in both the fifth and sixth inning, pitched two scoreless frames himself. Then Sean Fisher had the seventh, throwing a perfect inning of his own.
In the eighth, it was Ryan Hill’s turn to pitch. The senior righty made his season debut after dealing with what Rob Vaughn called “some NCAA stuff.” Despite allowing a baserunner, he pitched an easy inning. With Maryland’s middle relief struggles this year, any Hill contributions would be huge for the team down the stretch.
Unlike the rest of the team, John Murphy had an up-and-down day after a rough weekend performance. The righty gave up a double and a walk, then allowed a run to score on a wild pitch. However, he struck out the last two batters he faced to end the game.
Maryland goes back on the road this weekend, opening a series at Michigan State. First pitch between the Terps and Spartans will be Friday at 3:05 p.m. ET.