Right-hander Taylor Bloom was brilliant at times in his final regular-season start for the Maryland baseball team.
He retired 13 straight Indiana batters at one point, limited the Hoosiers to five runs and became the second Terps pitcher to throw 300 career innings.
But three walks, one to open the game and two in a row in the sixth, displayed a wildness not usually shown by Bloom and led to three runs in a game with huge Big Ten tournament implications. With a batting order reverting to its early-season struggles with runners on base, the Terps couldn’t overcome those runs in a 5-1 loss at Bart Kaufman Field.
As Bloom unraveled, well over 100 pitches to start the eighth inning, coach Rob Vaughn left his senior in despite two solo homers to distance the Hoosiers and Terps, seemingly preserving bullpen arms for Saturday’s series finale, which Maryland’s season rides on.
Should Michigan State win its contest later Friday afternoon, the Spartans will go one game ahead of the Terps and take hold of the final qualification spot toward the Big Ten tournament with one game left to play. Maryland holds the tiebreaker between the squads, so if both teams lose, it will set up a season-deciding Saturday.
Bloom never developed much velocity during his time in College Park and didn’t blow away any Hoosiers on Friday. But he made good use of his changeup, diving down and in to right-handed batters, that shows how the Severna Park native has become a mainstay in the Terps’ rotation.
But he also had uncharacteristically poor control, issuing a leadoff walk in the first inning that came around to score on a groundout.
The 13 straight batters Bloom retired kept Maryland in the game, but the Terps’ offense couldn’t crack Indiana (36-15, 13-9 Big Ten) starter Pauly Milto, who entered with the third-best ERA in the Big Ten, until the sixth.
Maryland (24-29, 9-13) loaded the bases with two outs in the fourth inning, before Milto (7-2, 1.95 ERA) struck out third baseman Taylor Wright with a high curveball. Designated hitter Randy Bednar led off the fifth with a base hit before he was doubled off on a hit-and-run attempt.
Right fielder Marty Costes singled to begin the sixth and advanced to third on wild pitches. Left fielder Will Watson, needing a productive out at least to plate Costes, swung at a 3-0 fastball down the middle and one-hopped the left-center field fence for an RBI double, tying the contest at one.
But just after the Terps drew level, Bloom (3-8, 5.05 ERA) walked two consecutive Hoosiers to start the bottom-half of the frame, and right fielder Logan Sowers’ two-run single gave Indiana a 3-1 lead.
After Hoosiers left-hander Andrew Saalfrank walked the bases loaded in the seventh, first baseman Kevin Biondic struck out, making him 0-for-8 this weekend, to strand even more runners.
With ample opportunity to post more than one run, the Terps’ offense did no favors for Bloom, managing just one run despite nine hits.
Pitching coach Corey Muscara visited the senior on the mound as he tired in the final frame of his eight-inning complete game but didn’t make a pitching change, instead asking Bloom to soak up innings to help ensure Friday’s outing wasn’t his last as a Terp.