With one man on base and two outs in the fourth inning, Tommy Gardiner stepped up to the plate at the bottom of the order for the Terps.
With a strike thrown by Northwestern’s starting pitcher Jack Dyke to get the count to 3-2, Gardiner took a step out of the batters box to take a breath. Gardiner stepped back in and delivered a missile over the center field wall on a fastball to give Maryland a 3-2 lead.
Maryland’s bats came alive in an 8-4 win over Northwestern. The Terps totaled 11 hits on Saturday to sweep Northwestern, their first opponent in a weekend pod-series in College Park.
“I feel like right now everybody’s playing at the best of their ability,” First baseman Maxwell Costes said. “We got our starting pitchers and our relief pitchers doing a great job, our hitting is all coming to round.”
Maryland fell behind early as Northwestern catcher Michael Trautwein hit a two-run shot just over the fence with two outs to get the Wildcats on the board in the first inning.
After giving up those two runs, starting pitcher Nick Dean settled down, taking batters deep into pitching counts before delivering outs for the Terps. Dean gave up two hits in the first, but just three across the next four innings. Although he gave up two homers, Dean finished the day with five strikeouts.
“I say all the time, Nick’s like a video game,” head coach Rob Vaughn said. “He’s got four pitches and he can throw them all in any count, and its just literally like the boys are out here playing MLB The Show.”
In the bottom of the third, senior right fielder Randy Bednar was hit by a pitch, allowing him to take first. First baseman Maxwell Costes followed that up with a base hit on a full count. Third baseman Matt Shaw then stepped up to the plate in the four slot with two on and hit a deep one to right-center field that fell short of the fence. Bednar advanced home from second to put the Terps on the board and cut the deficit to 2-1.
That was all the Terps would get out of the inning as designated hitter Luke Shliger grounded out the next at bat, leaving men on at second and third.
After Gardiner’s home run in the fourth, right fielder Leo Kaplan answered right back with a solo home run in the fifth inning to tie the game at three runs a piece.
Nick Dean’s day ended after five innings as Ryan Ramsey came in for relief at the top of the sixth. Ramsey gave up a solo home run in the inning to second baseman Vincent Bianchina, allowing the Wildcats to regain the lead.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Cowles hit a routine ball to third base, but the Wildcats infielder tripped on the throw, allowing Cowles to advance to first on a fielding error. Later in the inning, catcher Justin Vought walked.
With two on, Gardiner once again produced runs at the bottom of the order. Gardiner singled through the left side, which allowed Cowles to head home, knotting the score at four.
With just one out, the top of the order was due up for the Terps. The following at bat, center fielder Chris Alleyne recorded a hit and then Bednar walked to load the bases for Maxwell Costes. Costes hit the ball to left field for a single, driving in two runs as Maryland took 6-4 lead.
The runs continued to pile on for the Terps in the eighth inning, as Costes once again found himself in the batters box with the bases loaded. As the Golden Spikes award watchlist nominee does, Costes delivered in a big-time spot. For the second time in the game, Costes singled with the bases loaded to drive in two-runs and extend Maryland’s lead.
“When Max is going, he can carry you,” Vaughn said. “You can just see the difference when he starts getting confidence. He was as confident in a batters box today as I've seen him all year.”
Ramsey finished the game with the win, pitching four innings and improving to 1-1 on the year.
Maryland has now won three in a row with two difficult matchups against Michigan, one of the top teams in the Big Ten, coming up on Sunday and Monday.
Three things to know
1. Maxwell Costes is back in the zone. Costes started off the season hot before getting injured and missing some time. Costes returned to the lineup last weekend in Columbus, Ohio, but failed to record a hit all weekend. This weekend, in two games against a good Northwestern pitching staff, Costes is back to his normal self at the plate. On Saturday, Costes recorded four hits on five at bats with four RBIs.
2. Ryan Ramsey has become coach Vaughn’s go-to-guy in relief. There’s few people coach Vaughn trusts more to come in for relief than Ryan Ramsey, who has been terrific on the mound in his last few outings. Today, Ramsey pitched four innings, while striking out six batters and allowing just one hit.
“We have a lot of confidence [in Ramsey],” Gardiner said. “We know he’s gonna come in, fill up the zone and get a lot of swings and misses.”
3. Maryland’s defense was stellar. The Terps were crisp in the field against Northwestern, making few mistakes and limiting the Wildcats opportunities. Maryland had zero errors in the ball game and a fielding percentage of 1.000. Northwestern was just 1-9 with runners on base.
“Free bases kill you,” Vaughn said. “And today, I thought we did a pretty nice job eliminating those. I think we only had two walks on the day and played pretty clean defense.”