Lambros’ homerun robbery saves Maryland, salvages series with win in extras

Sam Hojnar blasted a ball deep into right field toward the foul pole in the top of the sixth. The ball was ruled foul after a challenge and Hojnar adamantly disagreed with the official ruling, especially after the at-bat ended with him going down on strikes. Maryland’s second baseman left nothing to chance with his solo homer in the top of the tenth.

Hojnar’s eighth home run of the season squeaked over the left field wall and put the Terps back on top, 9-8, in extra innings. It ended up being the winning run. 

Hojnar’s heroics helped Maryland (23-14, 5-7 Big Ten) salvage its losing week winning the final game of the weekend against Northwestern (12-20, 2-7 Big Ten), 9-8, Sunday afternoon.

Hojnar wouldn’t have been in position to be the hero without the pitching performance of Evan Smith in the bottom of the ninth. 

Smith allowed the first two batters of the inning to reach base on a walk and single, putting the winning run on third base with no outs. Maryland decided to intentionally walk Vince Bianchina, loading the bases for its freshman lefty. Smith responded to the mightiest of challenges retiring the next three hitters in order to push the game into extra innings.

Smith pitched the bottom of the tenth as well, this time throwing with a lead. Smith struck out the first two batters of the inning, but Owen McElfatrick put a good swing on the ball in the third at-bat. The ball appeared destined to add another inning onto the game, but Elijah Lambros jumped along the wall and stuck his glove out, intercepting the ball before it could land outside the stadium. 

Lambros’ game winning play was a luxury amongst another poor defensive performance for the Terps. 

Maryland made two errors in the game that resulted in the Wildcats’ first two runs, both coming in the bottom of the second. Eddie Hacopian made the first error, bobbling a ball hit on the ground to him in left field with a runner on second. The runner scored on the blunder. The second came from Kevin Keister who spiked a throw to first into the dirt allowing a runner on second to score Northwestern’s second run. 

Maryland’s poor defense showed up again in the bottom of the eighth while the Terps held a two-run lead. Maryland reliever Omar Melendez induced a ground ball that was tailor made for an inning ending double play. The feed from Keister to Hojnar went smoothly, but Hojnar’s throw to first went wide allowing the runner to reach safely. The next at-bat Wildcat hitter, Griffin Mills, blasted his first collegiate home run to right field tying the game. 

Despite Maryland’s fielding woes the “Cardiac Terps” emerged victorious in large part due to the play of Eddie Hacopian. 

Eddie was on fire all series batting five for eight coming into the game. Eddie added a three for six day, increasing his hit streak to ten games. Two of Eddie’s hits were two-run homers that notched him his first RBI of the series. It’s the first time in his Maryland career he’s had multiple home runs in a game, both clearing the left field wall.

Maryland’s offense finished the game with 17 hits and five walks a day after it could muster only one run on seven hits and two walks.

The Terps received another solid pitching performance from first-year starter, Joey McMannis. McMannis gave up five hits in his five innings of work watching four runs cross the plate. Only two of those runs were earned due to the errors in the second. McMannis has yet to give up more than three earned runs in a conference game this season in his four starts. 

Melendez took over for McMannis in the sixth and gave up four earned runs in his two and two thirds innings allowing all the runs to score on three home runs. Smith pitched the final two and a third innings giving up only one hit. Smith earned his first collegiate win. 

The win was Maryland’s 14 come from behind victory this season and tenth win in one run games. 

The Terps will try to bring their winning ways into their next week of games, a week they start by traveling to Delaware on Tuesday to take on the Blue Hens.