With Maryland baseball starting to connect on a few home runs against Purdue in the sixth inning, designated hitter Bobby Zmarzlak found a way to get in the mix.
On a 2-1 count, the sophomore cracked a bomb to left field for his third hit of the day to give the Terps a four-run advantage on the afternoon.
Zmarzlak’s home run pushed the Boilermakers to the brink, as Maryland continued to assert its dominance as it took down Purdue, 6-1, Saturday afternoon to give the Terps the series win.
“That was another good effort by the boys again today,” head coach Rob Vaughn said. “Obviously, it’s 18 innings and one run, that's a pretty good job by your pitching and defense right there.”
It is Maryland’s fifth straight victory and ninth consecutive win at home. Zmarzlak led the way at the plate for Maryland with a 3-for-4 day that included his home run after a 3-for-5 performance on Friday night.
In the opening game of the weekend series, it was Maryland that got going at the plate in the opening inning. On Saturday, the roles were reversed as Purdue got on board first due to a slew of singles, one of which allowed the Boilermakers center fielder Skyler Hunter to score to give Purdue a 1-0 lead after the first.
However, it didn’t take long for the Terps to drive in some runs. To start the second inning, Zmarzlak singled up the middle, followed by third baseman Tommy Gardiner who hit a single of his own.
The following at-bat, right fielder Troy Schreffler bunted to advance the runners at first and second. What should have been an easy out for Purdue at first was fumbled, allowing Scheffler to take the base and Zmarzlak to advance home to tie the game at one.
Later in the inning, left fielder Tucker Flint also laid down a successful bunt that advanced Gardiner home from third, giving the Terps a one-run advantage after two innings of work.
In the third inning, starting pitcher Jason Savacool found himself in a bases-loaded jam with two outs. On a 1-2 count, Purdue’s third baseman Ryan Howe made contact and hit it in the air to right field in what looked like would be a base hit and advance runners home. However, Schreffler came in for a sliding catch to end the inning and preserve Maryland’s one-run lead.
“That’s what he’s capable of,” Vaughn said. “You guys are finally getting to see Troy do what he’s capable of doing. He’s a supreme level athlete, he can really run and he can really throw.”
In the fourth inning, Zmarzlak continued his hot streak and hit a ball that bounced deep in the outfield before going over the fence, allowing him to take second base on a ground-rule double. He later advanced to third by tagging second on a high fly ball. However, the Terps left runners in scoring positions and were not able to add insurance before the inning was over.
In the fifth inning, Maryland added the insurance it was looking for with two solo shots from the two guys who have been the most reliable at the plate. First, it was center fielder Chris Alleyne who hit a bomb. Later in the inning, the Big Ten leader in home runs Benjamin Cowles hit his 16th shot of the year to give Maryland a 4-1 lead.
Zmarzlak’s home run in the sixth gave Maryland a 5-1 advantage. In the seventh inning, the Terps continued to pile it on. Flint doubled to right center, advanced to third on a bunt from Alleyne and then crossed home on a wild pitch.
“I’m just trying to simple everything down,” Zmarzlak said. “I’ve been trying to hammer the fastball and on two strikes, just really compete and I’ve really been doing a good job of that.”
Ryan Ramsey came in for relief for Savacool after six innings pitched to close out the game for the Terps. Ramsey picked up where Savacool left off, pitching three scoreless innings while allowing just two hits to round out the win.
Three things to know
1. Alleyne has been Maryland’s most consistent hitter as of late. While everyone knows what Alleyne is capable of with his speed once he gets on the bases, Alleyne has also been the most consistent hitter for Vaughn’s group the last few weeks. Alleyne has recorded a hit in his last 13 games as the leadoff hitter and has crossed the plate 16 times during that streak. That was no different on Saturday, as Alleyne had two hits, including a homer in the fifth.
“[Alleyne] the MVP of this offense right now, and I don't think there’s any question,” Vaughn said.
2. Savacool moved to 7-1 on the year. It didn’t take long for the Freshman to make his mark on the Maryland program. Savacool has earned Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors twice this season and has been terrific in his debut year for the Terps. On Saturday afternoon, he pitched himself into multiple jams but kept his poise to allow just one run in six innings pitched while recording three punch-outs.
“When I’ve been backed into a corner all year, I’ve been able to make some big pitches and get out of jams,” Savacool said. “I’m just trying to apply that mentality to all the time, not with just when there’s runners on base.”
3. Maryland only recorded nine hits but had three homers. In the series opener, the Terps had an abundance of hits that led to a plethora of runs. While Maryland had its fair share of hits on Saturday, Purdue matched the Terps’ hit total with nine of its own. However, the Terps laid down effective bunts and hit timely homers that allowed them to continue to extend the lead all afternoon.