By Megan Smedley
Maryland Baseball opened up Big Ten play this weekend with a series win over the no. 18 Michigan Wolverines. Earlier this week, the Terps split a midweek series with UNC-Wilmington.
Head Coach John Szefc sent his Friday starter Brian Shaffer to open up the series. Shaffer continued his dominance going eight innings, striking out ten and allowing five hits.
After Marty Costes put the Terps on the board with a solo shot in the first inning, Maryland blew the game open with a four-run second inning. Kevin Smith got things started with a leadoff triple to right field. He would then score on a Madison Nickens’ single to first. Michigan began to struggle defensively allowing a stolen base and a wild pitch, turning a strikeout into a base. Catcher Justin Morris smashed a three-run shot to centerfield, putting the Terps up 5-0. The home run was his second of the year.
Shaffer ran into a bit of trouble in the third inning. After a single and a walk, Michigan’s shortstop Michael Brdar stepped up to the plate and ripped a double down the left field line, nabbing two RBI’s. Shaffer would settle down for the rest of game, picking up his third win of the year. Shaffer’s ERA is now at 1.77 with opposing batters hitting a mere .184 against him.
Maryland tacked on a couple of insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. Ultimately, they didn’t need those runs as Ryan Selmer came in to close out the game. The Terps took game one 7-2.
Saturday’s game was not as much of a walk in the park for the Terps. Taylor Bloom was on the mound for the night game. Both teams used small ball to get on the board early in the first inning. In the top of the second, a Michigan sacrifice fly gave the Wolverines a 2-1 lead that they would keep for the next three innings.
Maryland tied the game in the bottom of the fourth. Nickens got things started with a single to centerfield. With a wild pitch from Ryan Nutof, Nickens advanced to second. Kevin Biondic drew a walk and both runners advanced with a heads up double steal. Sophomore third baseman AJ Lee hit an infield single to bring both runners home and tie up the game.
Michigan retook the lead in the fifth with a sacrifice bunt. The run allowed would be it for Bloom as he finished after five innings, allowing four runs on eight hits while striking out three.
In the sixth, Maryland tied things up once again. This time it was Will Watson. Watson ripped a solo shot down the left field line to tie everything up at four.
With time running out, Madison Nickens stepped to the plate. Nick Dunn was on third following his single and smart base running. Dunn advanced to third on Will Watson’s single. Nickens hit a fly ball to right field that had just enough air under it to allow Dunn to cross the plate. The sac fly put Maryland up 5-4.
Maryland’s bullpen kept Michigan off the board for the remainder of the game. Ryan Hill pitched two scoreless innings but it was Andrew Miller who picked up the win, his first of the year.
On Sunday afternoon, Maryland looked to sweep the series and its fourth straight weekend sweep. Tyler Blohm took the mound hoping to accomplish just that.
Once again, both teams got on the board early with one run a piece. For Maryland, Nick Dunn doubled to left field and later scored on a single from Marty Costes.
Michigan took the lead in the top of the fourth inning and after Blohm ran into some control issues. After one run scored on a passed ball, coach Szefc decided Blohm’s day was done. Blohm went three innings allowing four runs on three hits while striking out two. Jared Price came in for relief also struggling with his control. Following a RBI single from left fielder Miles Lewis, another run scored on a wild pitch from Price. After four innings, Maryland trailed 4-1. Michigan tacked on two more runs throughout the middle innings.
Maryland chipped away at the deficit in the sixth inning. Kevin Smith hit a sacrifice fly to right field scoring Marty Costes. Smith picked up his team-leading 19th RBI of the year.
Maryland threatened in the bottom of the ninth with two runners aboard but were unable to capitalize. Zach Jancarski grounded out to end the game and seal with win for Michigan 6-2.
This loss marks the first home loss of the year for Maryland. The team was previously 10-0.
Following this weekend’s series win, Maryland improves to 15-8 on the year. The team has a midweek matchup at St. Joseph’s on Wednesday afternoon before heading up to New Brunswick for a weekend series against Rutgers.