Despite blowing a 6-0 lead, Maryland baseball rallied late to beat Maine at home on Sunday, 9-6, and secure a weekend series sweep.
The offense provided the early spark with six runs in the first two innings and two home runs and the game looked well in hand for the Terps until the bullpen came in. Maryland struggled at the plate from the third inning on and the bullpen had a tough time keeping the Maine bats at bay. However, in the eighth, the Terps (4-2) plated three runs on four hits to take down the Black Bears (0-7).
Freshman right-hander Trevor LaBonte took the mound for the Terps in his first-ever collegiate start and he was sharp. LaBonte threw five innings of one-run baseball, striking out three and giving up three hits, needing just 71 pitches.
Maryland got on the board first in the previous two games of the series, but on Sunday, the Terps put up a big number in the first inning, a five-spot on the Black Bears. Randy Bednar walked and Taylor Wright reached off a sac bunt after a throwing error from Maine starting pitcher Sam McCarthy. Maxwell Costes doubled them both home to put the Terps up 2-0. Michael Pineiro followed with a three-run home run that barely stayed inside the right field pole, giving Maryland a 5-0 lead.
The Terps added to the lead in the second, as Bednar hit a solo home run to left field, his second homer of the series, to put Maryland up 6-0.
However, Maine fought back a few innings later, cutting into Maryland’s large early lead.It began in the fifth as Colin Ridley went deep off LaBonte, cutting the lead to 6-1. In the sixth, freshman reliever Sean Heine struggled, giving up a three-run opposite field home run to Joe Bramanti to cut the lead to 6-4. Luckily, Billy Phillips came in to shut Maine down and end the threat. The inning started rough as AJ Lee threw low of first on a routine ground ball and things trickled down from there.
Things got worse for Maryland in the seventh, as Maine fought all the way back to tie the game. Elliot Zoellner came in and allowed two hits and an RBI groundout, cutting Maryland’s lead to 6-5. Sean Fisher relieved him but surrendered a game-tying RBI single to Hernen Sardinas. Fisher came out for Andrew Vail one batter later, and Vail got Maryland out of the jam.
The Terps nearly took the lead in the bottom half as Justin Vought roped a double off the top of the left field wall and Costes hit a towering fly ball to the wall in left, just missing a home run. However, Vought was left at third as Maryland failed to put a run across for the fifth straight inning.
It look as if Maine had the momentum in its favor until the eighth, when the Maryland offense woke up. Caleb Walls and Bednar both reached base to begin the inning before Taylor Wright doubled home Walls to put Maryland ahead 7-6, a line drive just out of the reach of shortstop Jeffrey Omohundro. Vought was intentionally walked to load the bases for Costes, who singled home Bednar and Wright, giving Maryland a 9-6 lead going into the ninth.
Closer John Murphy allowed two baserunners in the final frame, but struck out the side to secure the sweep.
The Terps host VCU in a midweek contest Tuesday. Maryland beat the Rams last weekend in Conway, South Carolina.