Maryland baseball used a four-run rally in the ninth inning to defeat Illinois, 4-2, to start a weekend series on Friday night in Champaign.
Illinois starting pitcher Andy Fisher dominated the Terps’ offense from the get-go, giving up one run on three hits and struck out nine over 8.1 innings. But closer Garrett Acton came in with one out in the ninth and blew his first save opportunity of the year. He allowed a sacrifice bunt to tie the game at two and later issued a wild pitch that scored two runs, giving the Terps the lead.
Maryland starting pitcher Hunter Parsons got hit around but was able to escape a couple of jams to hold Illinois to two runs. Parsons gave up six hits and two runs with two strikeouts over eight innings. This was his second straight start pitching through eight innings. John “The Sheriff” Murphy came in to close for Maryland; he struck out two batters in his one inning of work.
Fisher sent the Terps down in order in the away half of the first inning, recording all three outs via the flyout. Parsons got two quick groundouts in the home half of the first before walking back-to-back batters, but was able to get out of the inning unscathed. The Terps got their first baserunner of the night as Justin Vought was hit by a pitch in the top of the second, but they were unable to bring him home.
Jack Yalowitz lead off the bottom of the second with a single to right field. Grant Van Scoy followed him up with another single, this time to left. Jeff Korte made it three straight singles as he poked one into center field to load the bases. Michael Michalak drove in the first run of the game via a sacrifice fly to center, and Ben Troike followed with a sacrifice fly of his own, making the score 2-0.
In the top of the fifth, the Terps looked to have something going offensively. Vought drove a double down the left-field line for the first Maryland hit of the night. Josh Maguire hit a ground ball to shortstop in front of Vought, who was running to third base and was thrown out. Vought had an enormous base-running blunder that costed the Terps the inning after they had a runner on second with one out.
It was a pitchers’’ duel almost the entire game, as Fisher and Parsons traded 1-2-3 innings until the ninth inning.
In the top of the ninth, AJ Lee lead off with a single though the left side, then Randy Bednar doubled down the right-field line. Taylor Wright executed a sacrifice bunt perfectly as Lee came home to score the first run, making it 2-1. Fisher exited the game with the tying run on third base as Garrett Acton came on in relief. Acton drilled his first batter, Maxwell Costes, with a fastball. Caleb Walls executed another sacrifice bunt to score Bednar from third and tie the game 2-2 good for Acton’s first blown save of the season. Vought walked on a full count to load the bases.
Then, freshman Josh Maguire stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded. A wild pitch from Acton allowed pinch runner Michael Pineiro to score from third, as well as Walls from second after an error from catcher Korte making the score 4-2.
In the bottom of the ninth, Murphy came in to close the game. He walked Yalowitz on a full count, then struck out Van Scoy and got Korte to fly out to right. Murphy struck out pinch-hitter Zac Taylor on a full count to end the game and secure the victory for Maryland. After nearly being shut out, the Terps climbed their way back from the dead to take game one of the series 4-2.
Maryland looks to take the series as the Terps face Illinois in Game 2 and Game 3 Saturday in a doubleheader with the first game starting at 2 p.m. ET.