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Maryland baseball escapes Michigan in extra innings, 11-8

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The Terps once led 8-0 but had to go two extra innings to pull out the win.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics

After surrendering an 8-0 lead to Michigan, giving up five runs in the ninth, Maryland had its backs against the wall. However, the Terps didn’t waver as they were on the brink of an epic collapse.

Bednar was hit by a pitch to open the eleventh inning, allowing him to take first. The following batter, designated hitter Bobby Zmarzlak, was walked. Bednar stole third to give first baseman Matt Orlando an opportunity to drive in the winning run with runners on first and third.

Orlando did just that, hitting a deep double on a 2-2 count to drive in Bednar and bring home the leading run. The following at-bat, third baseman Tommy Gardiner laid down a bunt to advance Zmarzlak home and Orlando to third.

A passed ball from Michigan’s pitcher allowed Orlando to cross home plate, giving Maryland a three-run lead in the eleventh.

After a hot start from Maryland, fielding errors and cold at-bats empowered Michigan to climb all the way back from an eight-run deficit to force extra innings. Nevertheless, Maryland persevered in extras, coming away with an 11-8 victory in a thriller in Ann Arbor.

“We’ve got a tough group of guys,” catcher Justin Vought said. “Nothing’s gonna rip us apart. We’re just gonna keep on fighting until the last out is done.”

The game started off as a pitching duel, with Maryland’s Nick Dean and Michigan’s Steven Hajjar allowing one hit each through four innings. It wasn't until the third inning that either team got on board.

In the top of the inning, Maryland’s top of the order was due up. Center fielder Chris Alleyne advanced to first on a walk. Once Alleyne got on base, he did what he’s done all year. He used his exceptional speed to steal second and third base.

Second baseman Matt Shaw reached first on a throwing error by Michigan’s catcher Griffin Mazur. With runners on first and third, the league leader in home runs, Benjamin Cowles, laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance Alleyne home as the Terps got on the board first with a 1-0 lead.

The following batter, outfielder Randy Bednar hit a line-drive single to center field, which allowed Shaw to score from second base, giving Maryland a 2-0 lead in the third. As Bednar reached first with an RBI single, he had an ear-to-ear smile as the senior recorded his first hit in his first game back since he was injured on April 16.

In the bottom of the fourth with two outs and two runners on, Michigan’s Mazur smacked a ball deep to left-center field that looked like it was going to drop and bring home a few Wolverines. Instead, Alleyne was able to track it down and use his speed to make a sliding catch and end the inning.

The fifth inning quickly turned into an onslaught that started when Vought hit a solo shot for his seventh home run of the year that allowed the Terps to take a 3-0 lead.

Alleyne doubled to right center field the following at-bat and then Shaw followed it up with a single of his own. Later in the inning, Bednar doubled to left center field that bounced off Michigan’s brick wall in the back of the outfield, bringing Alleyne home from third.

The array of runs in the fifth continued as first baseman Matt Orlando reached second base due to two fielding errors from Michigan’s third baseman and left fielder, who both fumbled the ball. Shaw and Bednar crossed home plate on the errors. Maryland took a comfortable 6-0 lead through five innings of work.

Maryland’s offensive explosion continued into the sixth inning when right fielder Troy Schreffler got on base with a single through the right side.

In the sixth inning, with Maryland already holding a 6-0 advantage, right fielder Troy Schreffler reached first base with a single through the right side to keep the Terps’ momentum rolling. Next up to bat was Vought, who had already hit a home run earlier that day.

The incredible power from Vought continued to shine as he took a slider deep to left field for a two-run shot to give Maryland an 8-0 lead.

“The first six innings was about as dominant as a performance we’ve had all year,” head coach Rob Vaughn said. “I mean it was an absolute clinic on how to compete.”

Michigan avoided the shutout in the seventh inning with consecutive singles, one of which drove in Mazur from second. Dean struggled in the inning, allowing four hits before he was replaced by senior Sean Fisher.

Fisher stepped into a bases-loaded jam and walked in a run on the first batter he faced. Michigan’s first baseman Jimmy Obertop then hit a fly out to right field, but the runner at third tagged up and crossed home plate before the throw was in. Maryland’s lead was cut to 8-3 at the end of the seventh.

In the final two innings, the Terps closed the game with Elliot Zoellner and Sam Bello on the mound. Zoellner allowed one hit, but no runs in the eighth.

Bello allowed four hits and five runs in the ninth in what turned into a debacle for Maryland. Bello was replaced with two outs in the ninth by David Falco.

Falco gave up a walk to the first batter he faced, which loaded the bases for Michigan as they trailed by only two runs and had scored six unanswered. The following batter, designated hitter Joey Velazquez singled to center field, driving in two runs, including the tying one that sent the game into extra innings.

“There was a lot of tightness, a lot of fear of making a mistake, whether it was on the mound, whether it was on defense,” Vaughn said.

Maryland’s strong eleventh inning allowed them to gain a three-run advantage with just three outs to go. While the rest of Maryland’s bullpen collapsed, relief pitcher Ryan Ramsey came in in extra innings and delivered in a big-time spot. Ramsey pitched both extra innings, facing seven batters and striking out six of them to finish the job for the Terps.

The Terps entered the contest trailing Michigan by half of a game in the Big Ten standings for third place. After Friday, Maryland and Michigan are tied for that three slot with two games on Saturday and Sunday that will determine the teams’ positions with one series to go in the regular season.

Three things to know

1. Bednar returned to the lineup in style. If anyone thought there might be some rust in Bednar’s game after not playing in a contest since April 16, they were very wrong. He picked up exactly where he left off over a month ago with productive at-bats and giving juice to an already strong Maryland lineup. Bednar was two-for-four at the plate which included two RBIs.

“I’ve been waiting for that moment,” Bednar said. “Just really, really excited before hand just to be out here and contribute on the field.”

2. Vought’s power has been incredible all season. Vought hasn't been a consistent piece in Vaughn’s lineup, but when he’s written in, he constantly impresses. Vought has 12 hits on the year and eight of those have been home runs on 54 at-bats. Two of those home runs came at opportune times for the Terps on Friday evening as Vought added insurance in both the fifth and sixth innings.

“I’m just going up and hitting and kind of being relaxed,” Vought said. “I’m just trying to get something over the middle of the plate and do some damage with it.”

3. Maryland’s bullpen struggled down the stretch, except for Ryan Ramsey. In the eighth and ninth inning, Maryland used three relief pitchers to try to close the deal for the Terps, who held a five-run advantage. The three pitchers combined to give up six hits and five runs, forcing the game to extra innings. Maryland’s bullpen has been solid in recent outings but collapsed in the ninth inning. However, Ryan Ramsey was phenomenal for Maryland in extra innings, striking out six of seven batters he faced.

“Ryan came in and slammed the door,” Vaughn said. “He had to earn that win tonight. Ryan was absolutely fantastic.”