Maryland baseball took its third-straight series victory on Sunday afternoon, besting UCF 8-6 to rise to 14-9. The Terps rode Kyle McCoy’s eight shutout innings to their second straight victory over the Knights. The freshman collected nine strikeouts without walking a batter for his best performance of the season.
McCoy, undefeated in his three-weekend starts, had yet to give up multiple hits in an outing since March 7 against UMBC when he relented two to the Retrievers. A great deal of his success was rooted in following Coach Vaughn’s advice of staying ahead of batters in the count.
“He just attacked the zone,” Maryland Coach Rob Vaughn said. “Goodness gracious, he was outstanding, because that lineup is good. He did a good job of mixing pitches, he was ahead, I feel like it was 0-2, 1-2 on every hitter, and lots of weak contacts. Couldn’t ask for a better start from a young pup on a Sunday.”
The Maryland offense did what they did last Sunday, which was just enough to support the dominant pitching. Matt Shaw followed up his home run yesterday with two separate two-run dingers to continuously inflate up the score after Matt Woods put the Terps on the board in the first inning. The two Matts combined for 10 RBI over the series in their first weekend hitting back-to-back in the heart of the Maryland lineup.
The bullpen made it interesting in the ninth, with David Falco Jr. responsible for five of six earned runs in the frame. Luckily for the Terps, reliable Nigel Belgrave sealed the close, and Maryland barely avoided what would have been an embarrassing collapse.
“Any time you can go on the road against a good team and take two of three, it’s big,” Vaughn said. “I challenged [the players] on Friday before the game, we can play just one game at a time. I think that’s a lot easier to do when you’re 25-2 versus coming into the weekend wherever we were, but they did a really mature job of that the last two days.”
After being denied a third straight Friday win in a 4-2 loss, the Terps (14-9) came back hungrier on Saturday with a dominant 16-6 showing. Maryland scored in all but two innings, demonstrating its relentless offense en route to collecting 18 hits. Nick Dean was shaky in his start, but the relief core of Kenny Lippman, Tommy Kane, and Ryan van Buren came through with six solid innings.
While McCoy made his third straight Sunday start, UCF (16-8) opted for the more experienced Jacob Marlowe, owner of a 1.16 WHIP. They both came out firing, throwing their best stuff out early to confound all batters. While Marlowe mowed through Maryland’s entire lineup in 19 pitches, McCoy bought himself three strikeouts in the first pair of frames.
After McCoy completed his third inning without a hit, Marlowe stumbled first when the top of the Maryland order got another crack at him. Luke Shliger and Shaw reached base with a walk and a hit, and Woods broke through with an RBI single through the infielders. In his first full series batting cleanup, Woods drove in his team’s first run in all three games (further, Shliger was the scoring run in all three of those occasions).
“Shaw was outstanding today,” Vaughn said. “We say it all the time, sometimes your best player’s gotta be your best player, and he was the best guy on the field today.”
The Maryland starter continued to cruise until well into the fifth inning when he finally lost the no-hit bid on a Lex Boedicker single into shallow center field. The Terps avenged him a few minutes later on their next turn on offense, as Shaw smoked a two-run homer to bump the lead to 3-0.
Much like last Sunday when he dealt a season-high five innings, McCoy topped his personal record with eight fantastic frames to leave the Knights silenced and scoreless by his outing’s end. He collected nine strikeouts with only three batters managing a hit off of him over 94 pitches. Marlowe, who was retired the prior inning, also tied his season record with a six-strikeout performance over seven.
Marlowe’s absence was felt by UCF, as the Knights relievers struggled mightily to close the game quietly. Shaw drilled his second two-RBI homer of the afternoon, and a wild pitch from Chase Centala with a runner on third added a sixth run for the Terps. Jacob Orr stepped up with another RBI blooper, and Shaw brought home Lorusso the very next inning after the pair slapped a pair of doubles to bring the advantage to eight runs.
David Falco Jr. took over on the mound in the ninth but didn’t fare nearly as well as his starter. He gave up a flurry of hits to fumble the shutout, allowing two runs and loading up the bases before being excused. Nigel Belgrave entered to put out the fire but instantly gave up an unfortunate grand slam to Drew Faurot. Nevertheless, the Terps escaped the potential choke with two quick outs, ending the game with a final score of 8-6.
Maryland will return to College Park to host Georgetown on Tuesday at 4 p.m.