Behind a stellar pitching performance from Hunter Parsons and a potent offensive attack, Maryland baseball took the first game in their crucial weekend series against Rutgers, 5-2.
Coming into the weekend, the Terps sat in 11th place in the Big Ten with a 6-11 record, two games behind Michigan State for eighth place. If Maryland wanted to make it to the Big Ten Tournament as one of the eight best teams in the conference, it had to win the series or sweep the Scarlet Knights.
Will Watson, Zach Jancarski and Justin Morris each went 2-for-4 with an RBI. Watson and Jancarski each scored a run. The Terps tallied 12 hits in total, leaving just eight runners on base. Maryland was productive at the plate when it mattered.
Rutgers took the early lead in the top of the first. After Dan DiGeorgio singled to lead off the game, he advanced to third on a steal and an overthrow of second from Justin Vought. Nick Matera then drove him in on an RBI groundout, putting the Scarlet Knights up early 1-0.
That lead didn’t last for long, as Maryland tied the score in the bottom half. Nick Dunn singled, only to get thrown out at second on a fielder’s choice that Marty Costes reached on. Costes advanced to third on a long single from Kevin Biondic, putting runners at third for Watson, who drove home Costes with an RBI single.
Maryland took a 2-1 lead in the second. Like in the first, the action started with a single, this time from leadoff batter Morris, who then got thrown out at second in a fielder’s choice that Taylor Wright reached on. Wright advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on a double from AJ Lee, putting Maryland ahead.
From then on, it was the Hunter Parsons show. Parsons, who has been the best starting pitcher for the Terps this season, showed his dominance on the mound, throwing seven innings, allowing two runs, one earned, striking out seven and walking three.
Parsons got more help from the Maryland offense in the sixth. Will Watson doubled to lead off the inning, advancing to third on a bunt single from Jancarski. Morris drove home Watson with an RBI double to center field and Jancarski scored a run of his own on a Wright sac fly, putting Maryland up 4-1.
Rutgers wasn’t done, threatening in the seventh. Parsons allowed the first two runners of the inning to reach base on a walk and a bunt single. Jack Bowerbank then singled home the lead runner, cutting the Maryland lead in half at 4-2. Dan DiGeorgio then walked to load the bases with two outs, but Parsons retired Kyle Walker to end the Rutgers threat.
Maryland answered with a run of its own in the bottom half. Dunn and Biondic walked, putting two men on for Jancarski with two outs. Jancarski ripped a single into left field, scoring Dunn to put Maryland up 5-2.
Ryan Hill picked up where Parsons left off, throwing one and two-thirds innings of scoreless baseball, but kept made things interesting in the ninth. After recording one out in the ninth, Hill allowed two singles to put runners on first and second with the tying run coming to the plate.
Zach Jancarski saved Hill, making an incredible diving catch in right-center field, saving several runs. Grant Burleson came in with two outs to shut the door on the Scarlet Knights, securing the win for the Terps.
The Terps and Scarlet Knights will meet up back on the diamond Saturday at 2 p.m. ET for game two of the series.