One solitary swing could’ve ruined Maryland baseball’s day in either outing of their doubleheader.
The Terps played both games tight and had trouble keeping runners off the bases in later innings.
But in each moment, Vaughn’s squad triumphed. Riding timely pitching, Maryland swept a Saturday doubleheader with Iowa and Northwestern.
Coming off their third loss to Iowa this season, Maryland needed to start strong against the high-flying Hawkeyes.
With two runners on, the Big Ten’s home run leader took care of that. A strong swing on an ideal fastball hanging down the plate later, and Ben Cowles gave the Terps an early 3-0 lead.
Cowles’ 12th homer of the season gave starting pitcher Nick Dean an ideal early cushion to work with. Dean took it and ran. The sophomore would give up ground, but consistently made it right back up.
“That’s Dean’s thing, his heart rate doesn’t go up too high,” coach Rob Vaughn said. “That allows him to be consistent.”
Despite allowing seven hits through his first five innings, Dean managed to keep Iowa to a goose egg on the scoreboard. A mix of only allowing one runner in scoring position until the sixth and a pair of double plays in the middle innings helped Dean to keep the score level.
But, inevitably, the sixth inning happened. Struggles on the mound occurred right on schedule, for the third straight time against the Hawkeyes for Maryland.
Three runs scored for Iowa, two from an RBI double that took a shallow drop in left-field and an error scored one as well. The Hawkeyes had outscored the Terps 13-1 in the sixth inning in their last three matchups.
The one uncommon denominator was that Dean survived the offensive burst and continued on the mound. The last two games featured pitching changes in the inning resulting from or causing the rally.
Maryland wasn’t content with letting history repeat itself.
Tommy Gardiner slammed an RBI double off the wall and Tucker Flint advanced Gardiner home on an RBI single. Reaching for a ball on the outside corner, Matt Shaw finished the scoring run by plopping a ball just beyond the infield that scored two, primarily due to a poor throw home.
By then, it was 8-3, and that’s all the Terps would need. Despite a late scare that pulled Iowa within two, Maryland toppled the Hawkeyes 8-6 in the first game of their doubleheader.
“We were able to do enough in game one to give ourselves a decent lead,” Vaughn said. “[Those] extra runs late, ended up being huge.”
With one more game to go, Maryland put outfielder/pitcher Logan Ott on the mound for his first collegiate pitching start. Ott is the only Terp player to both bat and pitch this season, and he turned some heads against Northwestern.
Ott proved more than just serviceable through six innings, as he allowed a single run, five hits and chalked up five strikeouts.
“I didn’t get to pitch all year,” Ott said. “It’s just a great feeling, having a good defense behind you and throwing strikes … and a win.”
Maryland’s offense remained stalled until the third inning, which saw Cowles start off the scoring again, this time with a ball that thudded through the second and third base hole. Chris Alleyne impressively outran the outfielder’s throw home to score a close tying run.
An error on a ground ball from Max Costes scored Shaw and the Terps took a 2-1 lead.
From there, Ott had the Terps cruising with no more runs allowed and smooth sailing until he was taken out in the seventh.
“Logan Ott was unbelievable, what an unbelievable start for the first time he’s out there,” Vaughn said.
Tyler Blohm nearly let up Maryland’s razor-thin lead in the eighth, letting two men aboard with just one out. David Falco came in to pick up the pieces, however, after a passed ball and a walk, the bases were loaded up with two outs.
David Dunn came up to the plate with a chance to crack open the game. But, rather struck out on three pitches, as Falco escaped with the Terps’ lead intact.
“Our bullpen has been up and down at times this year, but those guys won the game for us today,” Vaughn said.
Falco finished out the ninth inning, letting one man on, but quickly retiring the final two batters he needed to get the second win of the day for Maryland.
“We’re kind of realizing we have a chance to do something special,” Matt Shaw said. “Coming into game two, we just knew we had to win.”