In the seventh inning, with the game knotted at six, Maryland designated hitter Luke Shliger stepped into the batters box with a runner on first and no outs. With over 50 at-bats, Shliger had yet to see one go past the fence this season.
On a 1-1 count, Shliger hit a two-run shot to left field to give Maryland its first lead since the second inning, one that it would not surrender the rest of the way.
In a high-scoring affair that saw hits and runs come from all over, Maryland made more plays when it mattered most, as the Terps evened the series at one in a 10-7 Saturday afternoon victory.
Maryland saw contributions from all over the roster, as six starters recorded two hits and seven of nine batters got a hit. First baseman Maxwell Costes went 2-for-3 and was hit by two pitches to reach base four times, while Shliger reached three times and shortstop Benjamin Cowles’ two hits were a double and a three-run homer. On the mound, Ryan Ramsey picked up the win, his second of the year, and Sam Bello was awarded the save.
“That was a really gritty win for our guys,” head coach Rob Vaughn said. “Really proud of the grit, the effort and just the really big time team win.”
The Terps opened the scoring in the second inning. Benjamin Cowles hit a grounder down the left-field line that got past the Huskers third baseman, allowing Cowles to take second. The following at bat, left-fielder Tucker Flint singled up the middle, which drove in Cowles from second, giving the Terps an early 1-0 lead.
The third inning was a debacle for Maryland in the field, as the Huskers scored five runs in the inning to take a 5-1 lead. It started with Huskers right-fielder Joe Acker, who doubled to left center to drive in the tying run. As the inning went on, the Huskers strung together multiple hits to drive in runs and the Terps struggled to record outs.
The Huskers put out one of the most potent offenses in the league that can score in a myriad of ways. That was on display in the third inning on Saturday, as Nebraska advanced base runners with bunts, sacrifice flies and double stolen bases. Despite giving up five runs in the inning, starting pitcher Nick Dean remained in the game.
However, the Terps would not lay over. Maryland’s response came in the fifth inning, starting the frame with four consecutive singles, including an RBI knock from Costes that advanced Randy Bednar home from second to cut the deficit to three. Later in the inning, with one out and two runners on base, Cowles stepped up to the plate. The conference leader in homers hit a three-run shot deep to right center field on a 1-1 count to tie the game at 5-5.
In the sixth, with the game knotted at five, pitcher Ryan Ramsey delivered a pitch on an 0-1 count to Huskers designated hitter Max Anderson. Anderson took the pitch and crushed it past the fence for a leadoff solo shot to give Nebraska a one run lead.
The back-and-forth affair at the plate between two elite hitting teams continued in the seventh, when Matthew Shaw hit a solo home run to lead off the inning, once again tying the game. Maryland wasn’t done — Costes followed with a single, then Shliger’s shot out of the ballpark gave Maryland a two-run lead.
“I was just kind of trying to stay through a ball, put myself in a good situation, I think I got into a really good count, and I was just sitting on one pitch, sitting on a heater, and I stayed through it and got it to go,” Shliger said.
Bello entered in the eighth inning to replace Ramsey on the mound. Bello found himself in a jam with two on and two outs, but stayed composed and struck out the batter to end the inning without giving up any runs. He was fired up on his way back to the dugout, pumping his fist and letting out some emotion as his teammates greeted him with excitement.
Maryland got some more insurance at the plate in the final inning as Nebraska had a couple errors with the bases loaded that led to Costes and Shliger crossing home plate, securing the three-run win.
Three things to know
1. Benjamin Cowles continues to be Maryland’s best hitter. While the Terps have strong bats up-and-down the lineup, no one has been more consistent for the Terps than Cowles, including in the win today. Cowles leads the Big Ten in home runs with 10 and RBIs with 28. Against Nebraska on Saturday, Cowles went 2-5, but one of those hits was a three-run homer to tie the game in the fifth inning.
2. The Terps’ freshmen led the way at the plate. Maryland is riddled with experience and talented bats that returned to the team after the shortened 2020 season. However, Vaughn has a ton of trust in some newcomers to give the ball club production. In Saturdays win, freshman Matt Shaw and Luke Shliger both homered in the seventh inning to allow Maryland to take the lead late in the ballgame. The Freshman duo was a combined 4-9 on the day.
“There’s not too many freshman I’ve ever wrote their name in the lineup in the three hole and I have the utmost confidence putting him there,” Vaughn said on Shaw. “And Shliger’s a superstar, man. That kids the best kid in the world.”
3. Sam Bello was huge out of the bullpen for Maryland. Vaughn has often looked to Bello to close games this season. On Saturday, Bello assumed that role and made the most of his opportunity. Bello pitched the final two innings, facing only six batters and not allowing a single hit. He struck out two and finished the afternoon with a 2.57 ERA.
“The game changing story was Bello there at the end,” Vaughn said. “Bello was tremendous and comes out in the ninth and shuts it down, having to go through their 1-2-3 guys.”