With the bases loaded in the bottom of the first inning, reigning Big Ten Player of the Week Justin Vought was up to bat. Last Saturday, Vought hit three shots out of the ballpark in one game.
The stellar at-bats continued for Vought as he blasted a grand slam to center field on the first pitch he saw to drive in four runs and he extended Maryland’s lead to 5-0 after just one inning of work.
It didn't take long for the Terps to get going on Friday evening, as hits came early and often up and down the lineup in an 11-0 victory over Purdue to open the weekend series, the largest run differential for Maryland this season.
“That was a heck of a game tonight,” head coach Rob Vaughn said. “This is the first time I’m sitting here where I feel like that was a legit complete game, just the way we played.”
Contributions came all over the lineup in one of Maryland’s most dominant performances both at the plate and on the mound this year as eight players recorded a hit and six guys had at least two hits.
This was the first shutout from the Maryland pitching staff this season. The Terps allowed only seven hits and struck out eight batters between starter Nick Dean and relief pitchers Sean Fisher and Zach Thompson.
Shortstop Benjamin Cowles and designated hitter Bobby Zmarzlak were 3-for-5 and 3-for-5 at the plate, respectively. Second baseman Matt Shaw had two hits and three RBIs on the evening.
“That’s what winning baseball looks like,” Vaughn said. “They did a phenomenal job taking care of business.”
At the top of the order in the bottom of the first inning, centerfielder Chris Alleyne took the first pitch he saw and hit it deep to right field. Purdue’s right fielder tracked it down at the warning track, but fumbled the grab, allowing Alleyne to score a triple on the Terps first at-bat.
The following at-bat, Shaw hit another ball to right field. This time the Boilermaker was able to make the catch, but Alleyne tagged third and was able to cross home plate before the throw could get there, giving Shaw the sacrifice fly and Maryland an early 1-0 lead.
The next at-bat Cowles hit a single. Zmarzlak also singled two at-bats later. Third baseman Tommy Gardiner was then walked to load the bases for catcher Justin Vought.
Vought’s ensuing grand slam cleared the Terps dugout as both coaches and players came out to greet the catcher as he rounded the bases. The Terps went through the entire batting order in the first inning.
The runs didn’t slow down in the second. Shaw hit a single down the middle of the field and then stole second the following at-bat. Cowles then recorded an RBI single to bring Shaw home from second. Maryland left the inning with a comfortable 6-0 lead heading to the third.
Once again, Alleyne got things going for the Terps in the fourth as he hit a leadoff double and then stole third on a wild pitch. The following at-bat, history repeated itself as Shaw hit a sacrifice fly to the outfield that allowed Alleyne to cross home.
Later in the inning, Gardiner hit an RBI single to left field that advanced first baseman Matt Orlando home to give the Terps an 8-0 lead.
The Alleyne-Shaw connection continued to click all night. In the fifth inning, Alleyne was hit by a pitch and advanced to first before stealing second. For the third time in the game, Shaw, batting right behind Alleyne at second in the lineup, drove in Alleyne to increase Maryland’s lead to nine. This time it was an RBI double from Shaw that did the trick.
“When Bubba’s [Alleyne] going, our offense is just different,” Vaughn said. “He’s so dynamic on the bases and what it ends up doing is it gets the guys behind him better pitches to hit.”
In the sixth inning, Maryland’s lead grew to 10 as Gardiner singled to left field to drive in Orlando for Gardiner’s second RBI of the game.
The Big Ten leader in homers Cowles put the nail in the coffin with a solo shot that may have yet to land in the seventh inning to extend Maryland’s lead to 11 and kept his streak of hitting a home run in every series this season alive.
While Nick Dean’s day ended after six scoreless innings, senior Sean Fisher replaced him and kept the shutout alive. Fisher dominated the strike zone, punching out four batters in two innings pitched. Zach Thompson then came in to finish the job in the ninth and close out Maryland’s eighth straight win at home.
Three things to know
1. It was a team effort in the batter's box in the absence of Maxwell Costes. Costes is out nursing a leg injury he suffered last Saturday. His timetable for return is unclear, but Maryland had no problem racking up hits in the star first baseman’s absence. The Terps recorded 16 total hits, tied for the second-most in a game this season.
“I think this is the most complete game,” Cowles said. “I mean in every aspect, we played good defense and we hit.”
2. Nick Dean pitched six scoreless innings. It seems the right-handed pitcher gets more dominant with every start. That was no different against Purdue as Dean has transitioned into the Friday game pitcher smoothly the last few weeks. Dean pitched six shutout innings to lead Maryland to its first shutout performance of the season. Dean also allowed just six hits and struck out three batters, while 66% of his pitches were strikes.
“I’m definitely feeling confident just going right at hitters and letting them put the ball in play for guys like Benny [Cowles] to make a play behind me,” Dean said.
3. Maryland was terrific in two-out situations. When Maryland was struggling earlier in the season, one thing coach Vaughn highlighted was its inability to convert with two-outs. The Terps have since improved in that area and were particularly effective with two-outs on Friday. Maryland had seven RBIs with two-outs and was 8-for-17 at the plate with two-outs on the board.