With one enthusiastic bat flip after another, Maryland baseball’s batters were getting accustomed to the less-strenuous path to first base. As each passing Terp took their base, Ohio State dug an ever-deeper hole for itself.
Run after run came in, and Chris Alleyne strolled to the plate. Capitalizing on the fortunate inning, Alleyne delivered the dagger.
A long double to the left field fence scored three and capped off a seven-run sixth inning for Maryland. Behind that cushion, the Terps cruised to a 10-6 victory over the Buckeyes Friday night.
Maryland ace Sean Burke turned in a lights out performance. That started with a three up, three down first inning and carried through the rest of the evening.
His lone blemish through the early innings was a solo home run by Ohio State’s Conner Pohl. The fifth inning also brought a bit of unsteady ground, as the junior began to lose command. The Buckeyes managed to place a runner on third and tie the game at two on a squeeze bunt.
Absent those blips, Burke had an ideal outing. The junior kept his pitch count down, something he had problems with in his past few outings. He finished with 96 pitches in six innings, striking out nine while only allowing three hits and two runs — one earned.
“Me and [pitching coach Corey Muscara were] making sure we’re being efficient, putting guys away quicker whether it be strikeouts or weak contact,” Burke said. “I think I did a pretty good job of that tonight.”
On offense, the Terps were quiet to start as well. Like Ohio State, Maryland relied on big hits and lucky breaks for production, and any offense never managed to flow in a linear fashion.
But the Terps kept pace, going blow-for-blow with a solid Buckeyes’ pitching staff. Maryland responded to Ohio State’s early home run with a Tucker Flint RBI double. Then, the Terps managed another score off an infield error.
And they got an enormous amount of help from the Buckeyes’ bullpen in the sixth. After a leadoff double, Matt Shaw advanced to third on a wild pitch. He then came home on another errant pitch to send Maryland in front for good.
With two outs, the floodgates opened. Ohio State walked four batters in the frame and hit another. It seemed the inning would never end for the Buckeyes, as their pitchers continually rotated the Terps’ batters around the bases.
“They walked a lot of people tonight,” Vaughn said. “But I thought we took some really good pitches that allowed them to walk us … we extended the AB and made [Garrett Burhenn] continue to make pitches.”
Alleyne’s three-run double provided insurance, further launching Maryland ahead of Ohio State by five. A passed ball and an RBI single pushed that edge to seven before a groundout ended the frame. Each of the Terps’ seven runs came with two outs and the Buckeyes desperately working to get out of the inning.
The previously competitive match transformed into a game of catch-up for Ohio State. Brent Todys took Sean Heine deep to lead off the seventh, but Tommy Gardiner responded for the Terps with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning.
While the Terps were looking to add to their lead, Randy Bednar grounded out and took a tumble over while he was sprinting to first. He had to be helped off, placing little weight on his left leg.
“Something with his ankle, we don’t know yet,” Vaughn said. “[He] was in good spirits after the game … have him day-to-day and we’ll figure out what we’re working with.”
Though the Buckeyes closed the gap to four with a Mitchell Okuley three-run blast in the ninth inning, Elliot Zoellner got Zach Dezenzo to ground out to third base and seal a series-opening victory for Maryland.
“This is the start of the second half of this season,” Alleyne said. “We made a statement [with] different energy [and] as a whole new team, ready to win.”