Maryland baseball ended its run in the Big Ten tournament, and likely its season, on Friday evening, as what looked to be a close affair against Michigan turned into a 10-4 Wolverines victory in Omaha, Nebraska.
The Wolverines jumped out to an early lead, but Maryland was able to keep it close. However, pitching mistakes and defensive lapses proved to be critical down the stretch, as Michigan outscored Maryland 6-2 after the fifth.
Tyler Blohm, who had thrown the ball well in limited innings since returning from shoulder problems, had a short afternoon. The junior lefty failed to record an out in the second, giving up two runs and walking two in 1-plus innings. Maryland benefitted from Elliot Zoellner, who came in after Blohm and threw 3.1 scoreless innings, striking out four. But the rest of the bullpen struggled and Michigan gained separation down the stretch.
Michigan’s Tommy Henry was the stopper the Wolverines needed, throwing six innings of two-run baseball, striking out seven on 108 pitches. Leadoff hitter AJ Lee went 4-for-5 with a home run, but the rest of the Maryland lineup had just five hits on the day.
The Wolverines lit the scoreboard up first, scoring two in the opening frame. A leadoff Jordan Nwogu walk was killer as he came around to score on a wild pitch. Jesse Franklin followed him home on a Jack Blomgren RBI groundout.
The Michigan lead doubled in the fifth. Blomgren walked, but on the same play, Franklin tried to advance to third after stealing second. In the ensuing rundown, AJ Lee hit Franklin in the back of his helmet, allowing him to round third and score. Jimmy Kerr then singled home Blomgren to make it 4-0.
It wasn’t over for the Terps, as a lucky break in the bottom half led to a power surge. After Lee singled, Randy Bednar hit a pop fly, and third baseman Blake Nelson gave way to shortstop Blomgren. But Blomgren collided with third-base umpire Dave Condon, allowing the ball to drop foul. Bednar took advantage and deposited one into the left field bleachers to cut Michigan’s lead to 4-2.
The Terps ran into more trouble in the seventh, though, as Michigan put another pair of runs on the board, extending its lead back to four. A leadoff hit-by-pitch and two singles scored Blomgren and Kerr scored two batters later on a sac fly. Maryland squandered a chance in the bottom half as AJ Lee was stranded on third with two outs.
Blomgren continued his stellar day at the plate, singling up the middle to score Jordan Nwogu, putting Michigan up 7-2. Maxwell Costes answered in the bottom half with a solo home run, his third of the tournament, but the Terps couldn’t extend a rally after a Michael Pineiro single.
The ninth wasn’t kind to the Terps, as senior closer John Murphy gave up four straight doubles, the last three of which drove in runs. That gave Michigan a 10-3 lead, and the Wolverines reached double digits in all four games against Maryland this season.
Maryland wouldn’t go down quietly in the ninth, as Lee hit the third home run of the day for the Terps, a solo shot to cut the lead to 10-4, but the one run wasn’t nearly enough to spark a miracle ninth inning comeback.
The Terps aren’t expected to hear their name called as part of the NCAA Tournament field, which brings their season to a close with a 29-29 overall record. Maryland will graduate four seniors, but bring a lot of its roster back in 2020.