By Megan Smedley
With a series sweep on the line, Taylor Bloom took the mound for the final game pitching against Michigan State’s Keegan Baar. Maryland had already locked up the series win, winning the first game of the doubleheader earlier Sunday afternoon.
Bloom came out firing, retiring the first seven batters he’s faced, while Baar struggled through the first two innings.
In the second, Will Watson hit a bloop double to short right field, the ball falling among three Spartans. Watson got a quick jump on a pitch and was able to steal third. Baar began to struggle with his control and threw a wild pitch through the legs of catcher Matt Byars scoring Watson. After walking Kevin Smith, Baar was yanked from the game. His final line was 1.1 innings, allowing three runs on two hits.
Jake Lowery came in for relief and struggled to find the strike zone. Including Baar’s final pitches, Michigan State pitchers threw 12 straight balls, livening up the Maryland dugout. Players started chanting, “USA! USA!” and cheered ecstatically every time a ball was thrown. After AJ Lee struck out looking, Zach Jancarski hit a single to left, scoring Smith and Nickens. Jancarski extended his hitting streak to 14 games with the single. Head coach John Szefc called the single “the hit of the game.”
“Anytime you can get on base, I know that when I get on base, good things are going to happen,” Jancarski said. “Guys feed of that [the energy] a lot because it’s a tough thing to do sometimes. Anytime one of our guys does it, it’s definitely a good energy swing for our dugout.”
Once again, Maryland had the early lead; this time 3-0 after two.
Lowery settled down after the second. It wasn’t until the fourth inning when Maryland tacked on another run. Catcher Dan Maynard ripped a solo shot straight over the center field wall. The homerun marks the third of the season for Maynard and it pushed the Terps lead out to 4-0.
Bloom was cruising through the game, allowing hits here and there, but always getting out of innings. In the sixth, Dan Durkin got things starts with a single to right. He advanced to second on a passed ball and was easily able to score on a Byars single up the middle. Halfway through the sixth, Maryland’s lead was cut to 4-1.
Maryland quickly expanded its lead in its at bat. Kevin Smith singled to left and later advanced on a Lowery balk. Maynard came up clutch again, this time with a single up the middle scoring Smith. Maynard would then advance to third on a pick off attempt gone wrong and the ball was sent to right field. Two batter later, Jancarski singled through the right side, bringing in Maynard. After six, Maryland led 6-1.
“He’s one of our valuable guys,” head coach John Szefc said about Jancarski. “He gives you tough at-bats each time out. That’s kind of what Zach is. He just gets better and better as the season goes on as we play more games.”
Things got a little tense in the bottom of the seventh inning. Both Michigan State catcher Matt Byars and manager Joe Boss Jr. were ejected from the ballgame for arguing balls and strikes and sent to the team bus for the remainder of the game.
Bloom’s outing would come to an end mid-way through the eighth after giving up a solo homerun to replacement catcher Will Salter. Bloom had another strong performance finishing 7.2 innings – his season-high – allowing two runs on eight hits while striking out four. Both Jancarski and Szefc praised Bloom’s performance calling it, “vintage Bloom.”
“Our pitching was tremendous,” Szefc said. “You could argue that might have been his [Bloom’s] best start of the year…That was vintage Bloom right there. Is that going to continue? I’d like to think so.”
Bloom felt good about his performance, but sees where he could improve in order to have better outings.
“There’s definitely more room for improvement,” Bloom said. “I definitely need to be more consistent. Giving up a few more homeruns than I’d like. I’m letting a few pitches get away from me. It’s really good to get out there and have success again.”
Junior Jamal Wade came in for relief and got out of the inning unscathed.
Wade remained in the game for the ninth inning, striking out the first two batters. He left the game after walking Bryce Kelley and was replaced by Andrew Miller. Miller recorded the final out of the game, sealing the series sweep.
With this win, Maryland improves to 28-11 (12-3) on the year. The team will travel to Virginia to take on James Madison on Tuesday.