One more shot.
With the ball carrying to the outfield and landing clear, Justin Vought advanced Randy Bednar home in walk-off fashion over Charlotte. Each and every Maryland baseball player sprinted and bounced with every ounce they had left to the field in the 2-1 victory over the 49ers.
Maryland’s chances to escape the Greenville regional remained slim, but with its best closer taking the mound for the first time as a starter, coach Rob Vaughn’s squad could live to see another game.
Ryan Ramsey headlined a largely silent early going for the Terps and 49ers at the plate. The sophomore handled each batter and held the 49ers to three hits through eight innings. For both teams, the hits that would’ve carried out of the park in previous days seemed weighted as they continually plopped into outfielders’ gloves.
Ramsey wasn’t perfect. He walked two batters in the second and allowed a leftfield homer to C-USA POY Austin Knight in the fourth. But each time the new starter bounced back and got the Terps back to the plate.
“Postseason baseball is about guys stepping it up and getting it done,” Vaughn said. “… their best player jumps one ball on [Ramsey] early and he’s the story of this game.”
Of the few opportunities the Terps had on offense early, none stood more paramount than when they stuck two runners on for the first time all day. But Justin Vought struck out on five pitches to strand them.
A bunt in the fifth advanced Tucker Flint to first but Troy Schreffler couldn’t make the trek from first to third. Charlotte’s catcher Aaron McKeithan hustled to third to tag the speedy outfielder before he could land a hand on the bag.
“You have Schreffler who looks like the bad decision-maker, I told him, ‘that’s who we are, be aggressive,’ and then he comes up and starts the rally in the eighth,” Vaughn said.
Those mistakes loomed large as 49ers pitcher Matt Brooks locked up the Terps hitters through the top half of the game. As the game wore on, the 49ers’ one-run lead made the field look stretched and distorted, with nothing quite reaching where it needed to.
The Terps scored 26 runs in their past two outings and they stood exhausted by the effort to score one against Charlotte. With time running out, Maryland had two more frames to make up the deficit.
Schreffler drilled an early single in the eighth to get himself on base. With the help of a wild pitch and a bunt that managed to advance him to third, Schreffler was in scoring position.
Schreffler scored on an RBI groundout, but it sent two runners to the dugout on a double play. With time running short, both there were ones on the board with Elliot Zoellner on the mound for the ninth.
“I trust those guys to pull away and get some runs,” Ramsey said. “We did in the last inning and I know Elliot [Zoellner] did a great job of closing out.”
Zoellner found himself in a jam quickly in the ninth frame. Two consecutive singles put a runner in scoring position. Vought caught LuJames Groover stealing and fought off the jam to send the Terps up to bat once more.
And Vought finished the job. With Bednar on third, Vought dropped a single into right field, and the Terps live on to play East Carolina this evening.
“It’s going to be about us stepping up and playing our game,” Vaughn said. “That’s been my message [to the] guys is enjoy the moment and stay present.”