Maryland baseball wins one of four games in series against Ohio State and Iowa

Maryland DH Bobby Zmarzlak hit a 2-run homer in the top of the 5th in Monday's 9-3 victory over Ohio State (Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics)

Maryland (6-9 B1G) was outscored 25-19 in its four-game split series against the Iowa Hawkeyes and Ohio State Buckeyes. Maryland’s starters were strong for a majority of the series, as redshirt sophomore Sean Burke and freshman Jason Savacool were the best of the group.

On Saturday in the opening game of the series Iowa (6-8 B1G) defeated Maryland 6-4. Burke (1-1) dominated Iowa hitters through six innings, only allowing two runs while striking out 11. Iowa countered with starter Drew Irvine (0-2) who allowed two runs over six innings with five strikeouts.

“Irvine did a nice job. He was throwing two different breaking balls and led early, not throwing any fastballs,” head coach Rob Vaughn said.

Centerfielder Ben Norman put Iowa on the board with a solo home run in the top of the fourth to take a 1-0 lead.

“[Burke] cut a ball to Norman that he made him pay for,” Vaughn said. “That was probably the best start he’s given us all year.”

Iowa built on its lead in the top of the six inning when third baseman Matthew Sosa scored on a groundout to second from designated hitter Tyler Snep. A passed ball that got by Maryland catcher Justin Vought set up Sosa in scoring position.

However, Maryland responded in the bottom half of the inning as shortstop Ben Cowles continued his strong start the season with a two-RBI double driving in Randy Bednar and Maxwell Costes that tied the score at 2.

Burke was pulled for reliever Sam Bello in the top of the seventh inning after 106 pitches. Bello cleared the seventh with no damage. In the bottom of the seventh inning third baseman Matt Orlando gave the Terps their first lead of the game with a solo home run.

The last two innings were a back and forth affair. Peyton Williams launched a two-run shot that put Iowa back on top in the top of the eighth inning, but then Bednar responded in the bottom half of the inning with a solo home run of his own. Yet in the ninth Iowa pounced once again as right fielder Zeb Adreon hit one over the wall as reliever Dylan Nedved closed out the save for the Hawkeyes in the 6-4 victory.

“The bottom line is two two-out jacks from them late was the difference in that game,” Vaughn said.

The second game of the weekend against Iowa was a much more lopsided affair for the Hawkeyes as they won 11-2. Maryland pitcher Connor Staine (0-2) allowed six runs over six innings, while Iowa starter Davitt Duncan (2-1) allowed one run on three hits and struck out five over six innings pitched.

In the bottom of the first inning, Sosa put the Hawkeyes up one with a solo home run. Maryland responded in the second with an RBI single from Orlando that scored designated hitter Bobby Zmarzlak. After Iowa took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the second it remained a close contest until the sixth inning.

To start the inning, Iowa loaded the bases that all started with a leadoff walk to Step. Left fielder Brayden Frazier extended the Hawkeyes lead to 4-1 with an RBI single to left field.

“This first game got away from us within that eight-run inning that got messy with walks,” Vaughn said.

Staine was then pulled for reliever Tyler Blohm. However, Blohm also struggled as the Terps pitchers struggled with command and the Hawkeyes converted with runners in scoring position. First, Sosa delivered a two-RBI double and then Williams jacked a three-run home run giving the Hawkeyes a 10-1 lead. In that inning Iowa scored eight runs on five hits.

Cowles tacked on Maryland’s second run with a solo shot in the seventh, but the Hawkeyes dominant inning was too much to come back from.

“We are four weeks into the year,” Vaughn said. “We can salvage the week tomorrow.”

After losing both games to the Hawkeyes, the Terps took on the Buckeyes in Game 3. However, the struggles persisted as Maryland dropped a close 5-4 contest to Ohio State (8-7 B1G).

Maryland starter Nick Dean (0-0) allowed one run and struck out three in his first game of the season, while Ohio State’s Jack Neely was electric allowing just one run over five innings with 11 strikeouts. Centerfielder Chris Alleyne gave the Terps an early lead with a leadoff home run.

After a scoreless couple of innings, Ohio State regained momentum as shortstop Zach Dezenzo tied the game in the bottom of the fourth with a solo shot. Dean was then pulled for reliever Sean Fisher. Ohio State took a 2-1 lead on an RBI flyout by second baseman Colton Bauer that drove in catcher Brent Todys. Dezenzo added an RBI double that gave Ohio State a 3-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning.

As they did throughout the weekend, Maryland battled back in the sixth with a pair of runs. Bednar scored after left fielder Logan Ott reached on an error, while Cowles drove in catcher Luke Shilger on a bunt single.

In the bottom of the seventh Ohio State regained the lead 5-3 and maintained that lead the rest of the way. Third baseman Nick Erwin lead off the inning with a single and then advanced to second on a bunt by right fielder Mitchell Okuley.

With the Buckeyes threatening reliever David Falco entered the game, but walked Dozenzo. Then center fielder Kade Kern reached on an error by second baseman Kevin Keister, which allowed both Buckeye runs to score.

“The game today kind of came in a ground ball to second base in a tough spot, tough play, not an easy play by any means. But just one we got to make,” Vaughn said.

Maryland tacked on a run in the eighth as Ott proved in Cowles with an RBI single, but Ohio State reliever TJ Brock closed the door on Maryland’s comeback hopes in the 5-4 victory.

In the final game of the weekend, Maryland picked up a 9-3 victory as Savacool continued his impressive start to the season. Ohio State struck first with a pair of runs in the first inning as Okuley and first baseman Conner Pohl scored on a fielder’s choice and wild pitch.

“[Savacool] didn’t have great command today. The sign of an elite level arm is when they don’t, and he gives us a chance to win,” Vaughn said.

Ohio State starter Will Pfenning (0-2) allowed five runs on three hits. and did not make it out of the fourth inning.

Second baseman Tommy Gardiner pulled Maryland within one after a solo shot off of Will Pfenning. However, Pohl responded in the bottom half of the inning with a solo shot of his own giving the Buckeyes a 3-1 lead after three innings. After that home run, Savacool settled in not allowing another run retiring nine of the next 11 Buckeyes over his next three innings.

Maryland scored four runs in the top of the fifth inning to take a 5-3 lead. Zmarzlak tied the score at three on a two-run home run. Then, Bednar drove in Alleyne and Gardiner with a two-RBI single.

“Bob supplies us with a big two-run homer and kind of leads into things falling into place,” said Vaughn.

The Terps continued to find more success at the plate as Cowles and Gardiner ignited the Maryland offense with their speed and bats. Gardiner drove in Ott and Cowles putting Maryland up 7-3 in the sixth inning. That continued into the seventh as Cowles’ single to right drove in Costes and Ott.

Reliever Ryan Ramsey closed it out for the Terps with a four-out save, holding the Buckeyes to three hits and striking out three securing Maryland’s 9-3 victory.

“We are happy to wrap up the trip on the right note,” Vaughn said.

Maryland returns home to split a four-game series against Northwestern on Friday and Saturday and Michigan on Sunday and Monday.