Maryland baseball’s offense struggled to carry over its strong Wednesday performance, as the Terps fell on the road to Michigan State 4-2 in Friday’s series opener.
The Terps’ offense only collected three hits on the day, two of which by Kevin Biondic. They were patient with the Spartan pitchers, walking six times, but the lack of hits meant they failed to take advantage of the free passes.
Freshman right-hander Mark DiLuia battled all day but ultimately kept his team in the game, allowing four runs, three earned, on six hits with three walks and a strikeout. Michigan State scored in four different innings, and while the Spartans were held to one each time, it was more than enough.
Maryland got on the board first in the top of the second. With two outs, Zach Jancarski worked a walk and stole a base, setting up Taylor Wright to knock him in with a single to right field, giving Maryland a 1-0 lead.
However, DiLuia gave the run right back. He hit Zack McGuire to lead off the inning, and McGuire ended up on third after a groundout and passed ball. Then, with two outs, a single brought McGuire home to tie the game.
Michigan State scored a run in each of the next two innings to take the lead. In the third, Justin Antoncic doubled to right field as Randy Bednar struggled to navigate a hill near the wall. Chad Roskelly then singled to left to score Antoncic. In the fourth, an AJ Lee error allowed Marty Bechina to reach to lead off the inning. Then DiLuia walked the next batter, but with Bechina attempting to steal, Justin Vought overthrew second, allowing Bechina to get to third. A groundout brought Bechina home for a 3-1 lead.
A hectic sixth inning gave Maryland its best chance to tie the game. Marty Costes walked and Kevin Biondic doubled to put men on second and third with no one out. That led to a Michigan State pitching change, ending starter Ethan Landon’s day. He lasted five innings, allowing two runs, one earned, on three hits with five walks and four strikeouts.
With men in scoring position, Maryland attempted a safety squeeze, but Will Watson bunted the ball directly back to relief pitcher Jake Lowery, who flipped it to the catcher to get Costes trying to score. It was a questionable call to bunt with Watson, one of the Terps’ hottest hitters entering the game. Now with men on the corners, Watson attempted to steal second, and second baseman Antoncic missed the throw, as the ball bounced off his glove and allowed Biondic to score from third. After the eventful inning, Maryland only cut the lead to 3-2.
Michigan State answered once again in the bottom of the inning. After a single and a sac bunt, Bryce Kelly doubled to right field to score another Spartan run, extending the lead to 4-2. With two outs in the inning, Rob Vaughn pulled DiLuia out after over 100 pitches. Ryan Hill relieved DiLuia, getting out of the seventh inning with just one pitch, and tossing a scoreless eighth as well.
In each his first two appearances of the season, Hill looked like a solid contributor to the bullpen. Despite Hill’s strong performance, Maryland couldn’t tie the game, as Randy Bednar flied out to deep left field with a man on to end the game.
Maryland will look to bounce back and tie the series Saturday. The Terps and Spartans are scheduled to face off at 1:05 p.m. ET.