Maryland (13-12 BIG) moved over .500 with an impressive three-game sweep over Ohio State (13-12) at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium over the weekend.
In Game 1, Maryland starter Sean Burke pitched one of his most dominant games of the season. Burke allowed two runs (one unearned) on three hits with nine strikeouts also showcasing better control with just two walks.
“It always starts with your starting pitching,” head coach Rob Vaughn said. “Burke was unbelievable tonight. There was electricity with his fastball, landed the breaking ball. He was really good tonight.”
Burke did allow a solo home run to first baseman Connor Pohl in the top of the second inning that gave Ohio State a 1-0 lead. However, Maryland tied the game at one in the bottom of the first after Ohio State starter Garrett Burhenn gave up an RBI double to designated hitter Luke Shliger, which drove in first baseman Maxwell Costes.
Maryland took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the third when the Terps spark-plug, centerfielder Chris Alleyne walked and proceeded to steal second. Several miscues by Ohio State led to Alleyne advancing to third, later scoring an unearned run on an error by Ohio State shortstop Zach Dezenzo.
“When you have guys like Randy [Bednar], Max [Costes] and Cowles hitting behind you, I know they are going to get a lot of breaking balls,” Alleyne said. “For me it is to try to take advantage of that and put myself in position for them to drive me in.”
Ohio State responded knotting the game at two after third baseman Nick Erwin scored left fielder Scottie Seymour with a sac bunt. However, Maryland bounced back in a big way in the sixth inning scoring seven runs on three hits. The highlight of the inning was a three-run double from Alleyne that scored catcher Justin Vought, second baseman Tommy Gardiner and left fielder Tucker Flint. During that frame, Maryland’s plate discipline was on full display drawing several walks.
“They walked a lot of guys tonight,” Vaughn said. “We took some really good pitches that allowed them to walk us.”
Ohio State didn’t give up as outfielder Mitchell Okuley delivered a three-run home run off Elliot Zoellner in the ninth. Yet, Maryland’s sixth inning explosion was too much for Ohio State to come back from in the 10-6 victory.
Ohio State managed to score on a solo home run by Todys in the seventh to pull within six. But Maryland padded to 10-3 on a sacrifice fly that scored Flint, who reached base on a walk from Ohio State reliever Wyatt Loncar.
Ohio State added three runs in the top of the ninth on an Okuley three-run home run off Maryland reliever Elliot Zoellner.
Building on its momentum from game one, Maryland responded in game two with a 5-4 victory. Starter Nick Dean allowed two runs on four hits gathering eight strikeouts over eight innings. Ohio State Seth Lonsway also found success on the mound allowing just two runs over six innings.
“Guys like [Lonsway] will get his punch-outs,” Vaughn said. “His stuff is really good, and I look forward to the days when we don’t have to face that guy anymore.”
The game remained tied scoreless until Maryland took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning. Alleyne walked, stole second, and advanced to third, and scored on an error by Lonsway. Maryland took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the sixth after Costes doubled and scored on a wild pitch.
However, Ohio State responded on a two-run home run by Pohl evening the score at two in the seventh inning, setting up an exciting final innings. Shortly after, the Terps bounced with solo home runs by Shaw and Shliger giving them a 4-2 lead at the end of eight innings.
With one last chance to comeback in the bottom of the ninth Ohio State capitalized as reliever Sam Bello relieved Dean. After three consecutive singles loaded the bases, the Buckeyes drew closer on a bases-loaded walk. The tying run was scored as second baseman Marcus Ernst grounded into a double play, as the game went into extra innings.
Maryland’s plate discipline continued to pay off in extra innings, as Alleyne drew a leadoff walk. Cowles laid down a sacrifice bunt that set up the Terps with runners on second and third. After Costes worked a work, Shliger also walked giving the Terps the extra innings victory.
In game three, Maryland finalized the sweep with a 9-4 victory. Starter Jason Savacool improved to 5-1 on the season as the Terps stepped up with some run support.
Ohio State starter Jack Neely struggled with Maryland’s lineup only pitching three innings allowing five earned runs, a significant improvement from the first series against the Buckeyes.
“I thought our approach today at the plate against Neely in the first six innings, was as good as it’s been all year,” Vaughn said. “This was a guy that punched us out a ton.”
However, Ohio State struck first putting up first runs in the top of the third inning. Okuley and Dezenzo delivered RBI doubles that scored three of the four runs of the inning. Kern rounded out the frame with an RBI single that scored Dezenzo.
“I got a little uncompetitive with my approach,” Savacool said. “I didn’t have that dog mentality that I usually display on the mound. It was a huge maturing point for me.”
Maryland proceeded to tie the game 4-4 in the bottom of the third fueled by the long ball. Designated hitter Bobby Zmarzlak picked up a solo shot, while Costes absolutely crushed a three-run homer tying the score at four, for his first home run of the season.
“I got a pitch to hit and I didn’t miss it this time,” Costes said.
After a leadoff walk to Gardiner, Ohio State pulled starter Neely for reliever Will Pfenning. Pfenning walked Zmarzlak. Alleyne smacked an RBI double that scored Zmarzlak and Gardiner giving the Terps a 6-4 lead at the end of four innings.
In the bottom of the sixth, Maryland added three more runs. Alleyne stole second and third and scored on a Bayden Root wild pitch for a 7-4 lead. After a walk to Shaw, Cowles hit a two-run homer that extended Maryland’s lead to 9-4.
“Sweeps are about character,” Vaughn said.
Maryland travels to Iowa City for a split four-game series. Friday and Saturday, Maryland faces Iowa (15-10 BIG) and Northwestern (12-12 BIG) on Saturday and Sunday.