Maryland baseball first baseman Kevin Biondic isn’t used to second baseman Nick Dunn showing much emotion.
But as the Terps’ dugout spilled out toward Dunn rounding second and eventually carried him into center field in celebration of the junior’s walk-off RBI double in the 10th inning Wednesday against Towson, Biondic swore he saw Dunn smile.
Dunn leads Maryland in nearly every offensive category, and while the MLB prospect had hit the ball hard earlier in the contest, he was hitless entering the 10th inning. He snapped that with a two-out line drive into the right-field corner that plated third baseman Taylor Wright and capped an 8-7 win in the Terps’ final midweek game of the season.
“We’re never out of the fight,” Dunn said. “No matter who we’re playing, what the score is, that’s how we go about it.”
At times this year, an inconsistent bullpen and lineup has put games out of reach for the Terps, contributing to the team’s 20-27 record entering Wednesday. Out of contention for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, the matchup with Towson (13-36) didn’t have postseason relevance.
Coach Rob Vaughn predicted that the Tigers would be motivated as an underdog against the in-state rival, and by the third inning, the Terps trailed, 3-0, after two home runs and an RBI single off starter Billy Phillips.
“We came out honestly a little bit flat today, and I thought Towson kind of did the opposite,” Vaughn said. “They came out with energy and took some really good swings early in the game and kind of punched us in the mouth.”
Left fielder Will Watson hit a two-run homer in the fourth to narrow the Tigers’ advantage, but they scored three runs over the next two frames to take a 6-2 lead.
Maryland responded with two home runs in the seventh — a solo shot from center fielder Zach Jancarski and two-run blast from catcher Justin Vought — and a no-doubter from Biondic in the eighth to tie the score at six.
Before Dunn could play hero, though, the Terps had to come back yet again.
In the top of the ninth, Vaughn turned to closer John Murphy, who hadn’t appeared since last week’s game against West Virginia, to keep the score level. But Murphy issued a four-pitch walk to left fielder Billy Lennox to begin the frame, threw a wild pitch to move him to second, and surrendered a double that put the Tigers up, 7-6.
“He didn’t have great stuff,” Vaughn said. “I’d much rather figure that out today, let him have a good day of work tomorrow before we strap him up on Friday and figure that out on Friday night.”
Trailing once more, the Terps responded in the bottom of the ninth. After Towson right-hander Matt Watters hit catcher Justin Vought and walked shortstop AJ Lee to begin the frame, Dunn laid down a bunt and reached when Vought beat the throw to third, setting up right fielder Marty Costes’ game-tying sacrifice fly.
The Terps squandered their chance to add more and finish the game in nine, but Dunn’s double ended the game in the next frame, closing Maryland’s non-conference schedule with a win before a critical final home series against Rutgers.
“We came back a few times today, and it just seems like we couldn’t get over that hump, couldn’t get over that hump, and then finally, Dunn gets one down the line and we finally get over,” Biondic said. “We’re just fighting for a spot right now in the Big Ten.”