Maryland baseball right-handed pitcher Sean Burke took a step off the mound and looked around the infield. The redshirt freshman had worked himself into a jam, with two men on first and second and only one out in the top of the fifth inning. Following a talk with his teammates and coach, the righty stepped back on the mound, took a deep breath, and and wound up for the pitch.
The crack of a bat echoed throughout the Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium, as the ball rocketed towards third baseman Tommy Gardiner. After stepping on third and threw the ball to first for a double play, Gardiner looked over to see his pitcher ecstatic and ready for the next inning.
Burke and the Terps’ defense held Rhode Island without a single run in a 3-0 victory Sunday afternoon to sweep the series, 2-1.
Across 5.2 innings pitched, Burke allowed just four hits — though he walked three batters — and racked up eight strikeouts in a scoreless performance.
The Terps started the game out on a sound defensive note, with Burke only walking one batter before a strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out double play to end the inning.
Maryland then got on the scoreboard early thanks to an RBI groundout. After a leadoff double from outfielder Chris Alleyne and wild pitch that advanced him to third, fellow outfielder Tucker Flint hit a hard groundout to second allowing Alleyne to trot home for a 1-0 Maryland lead in the bottom of the first.
Burke was once again cooking on the mound in the top of the second, striking out two. But the Terps’ defense behind Burke was also on full display with Flint making a spectacular catch against the wall to save a hit.
Despite Gardiner firing a rocket single into the outfield to lead off the inning, Maryland was unable to build offensively and were quickly retired to end the bottom of the second.
After giving up a walk to start the top of the third, Burke struck out another batter before giving up a single to put two on. Not backing down from the challenge, the redshirt freshman struck out his next two batters.
The Maryland bats gave Burke some extra insurance in the bottom of the third when Maxwell Costes hammered 1-1 pitch over the left-centerfield wall for a 2-0 lead.
Burke continued to deal on the mound in the top of the fourth, striking out two and not allowing any hits from the Rams.
In the bottom of the fourth the bats stayed relatively quiet for the Terps. Despite some good pieces in a long at-bat from Michael Pineiro, Maryland went down in order.
After giving up a single and a walk in the fifth, Burke got a visit on the mound for a quick reset in hopes of closing out the inning. Luckily, the righty was able to get out of the inning unscathed thanks to a timely 5-3 double play.
Maryland’s offense hit the ground running the bottom of the fifth. Gardiner kicked off the bats with a rocket past the shortstop hole. Alleyne soon followed with a single of his own — this one being a blooper into a shallow right-center.
After a double play advanced Gardiner to third, Rhode Island starter Vitaly Jangols was pulled for the day. Replacing Jangols was freshman Sean Sposato, who immediately beaned Randy Bednar with a pitch. Despite having men on the corners, the Terps were unable to capitalize on their early inning success and left the fifth without runs.
Despite throwing strikes and working his batters, Burke once again started another inning putting two men on base.(94 pitches) After getting his second out off of a flyout to center field, head coach Rob Vaughn decided to pull his starter after a solid showing in favor of senior Elliot Zoellner.
Freshman Connor Staine then filled in to get the Terps out of the seventh and eighth innings. The righty pitched 2.2 innings, striking out two and surrounding four hits.
The Terps added on some insurance in the bottom of the eighth with another Costes bomb, putting Maryland up 3-0 heading into the final inning.
And junior Mark DiLuia closed out the game, striking out the final Rams batter to secure the series for Maryland.
Three things to know
1. Maryland’s bullpen provided security when the team needed it. One of the more notable performances in Sunday’s game, aside from Burke’s, was that of the bullpen.
Specifically, freshman Connor Staine came up big for the Terps when his number was called. Over his 2.2 innings of play, the righty struck out two and didn’t allow a single run off of four hits. This type of production from such a young arm could prove valuable to Vaughn when Maryland dives into Big Ten play.
2. Maxwell Costes’ two home runs could be a sign of more to come. Sophomore Maxwell Costes homered twice in the Terms final game against the Rams. After a relatively quiet opening series and past two games, the Baltimore native went 3-4 in arguably his best game of the season.
It looks like Costes has shaken off his opening series slump, so it will be interesting to watch how he builds his performance today.
3. Despite the bombs, Maryland struggled with run support. Aside from two solo shots from Costes, Maryland’s offense sputtered throughout the game. The only run provided that wasn’t a home run came in first, off of a Tucker Flint RBI groundout. Despite eight hits from the Terps, only capitalizing off of one double could be a red flag for Maryland’s offense moving forward.