Looking skyward, Max Costes threw his bat to the Maryland baseball dugout and took a stroll around the bases. It had been a while since he’d been here, skipping joyously to home plate.
With his first home run of the season, Costes ignited a massive scoring rally for the Terps that helped them claim their first series sweep all season. With a 9-4 victory over Ohio State on Sunday, the first possible picture of Maryland’s potential had come to fruition.
But early on, the Terps had a fight in store with their first chance this season to sweep a Big Ten opponent.
With freshman Jason Savacool on the mound, Maryland looked to be playing the same tune it had for much of the weekend — stellar pitching with scarce hits and gritty offense.
But it fell behind in the third inning.
With one out in the frame, the Buckeyes rallied for four runs, getting after Savacool with four straight hits. Then, Savacool responded and got the Terps out of the inning with a strikeout. Not to be outdone, Maryland responded with a powerful rally of its own in the bottom of the inning.
[Maryland baseball walks off Ohio State, 5-4, in extra innings]
After Bobby Zmarzlak clubbed a towering solo home run, Costes meandered to the plate with two runners on. He pulled a 1-0 pitch down the left field line, tossing his bat aside as the ball sailed over the fence. With the game tied, the Terps weren’t ready to give up their dominant aspirations.
“[I’ve had] some good swings on balls, but not in the way I know I can,” Costes said. “Got a pitch to hit and I didn’t miss it this time.”
Savacool then reverted back to his early-inning prowess — and kept Maryland in the game. In the fourth, Chris Alleyne helped his pitcher out, giving the Terps the lead for good with a go-ahead two-run double down the right field line.
“I got a little uncompetitive with my approach,” Savacool said. “Got right back to it in the fourth inning … really glad to bounce back, and I think it’s a huge turning point for me to learn to … stay in that mentality and attack early.”
[Maryland baseball takes advantage of Ohio State bullpen meltdown in 10-6 win]
And as the game wore on, Maryland kept receiving contributions from the top of its batting order. In the sixth, Ben Cowles placed the exclamation point on the Terps’ rally of nine unanswered runs, banging a two-run homer to establish a five-run lead.
Alleyne, Cowles, and Costes combined for seven RBIs on the day, helping replace an injured Randy Bednar.
“When [Alleyne’s] on base, our offense is different, and that was the key today,” coach Rob Vaughn said.
Savacool’s stellar bounceback had kept the game steady for the Terps heading into the later innings. He struck out six batters in 6.1 innings, then turned things over to Elliot Zoellner as the freshman tired.
And the veteran pitcher closed out the game in dominant fashion. He allowed one baserunner in the final 2.2 innings and punched out six Ohio State hitters, including a whiff of Zach Dezenzo to seal a resounding victory and series sweep of the Buckeyes.
“Takes a lot of character to … not panic, go compete and reel off nine straight [runs] to win on Sunday and complete the sweep,” Vaughn said.