Rob Vaughn doesn’t fully understand what goes into RPI, a metric the NCAA considers heavily for the postseason. But he was aware of what a three-game sweep at Indiana would do to his team’s standing in the stat.
The coach could sense both the Terps and the Hoosiers felt the significance of the series. The difference between Maryland and Indiana, Vaughn said, was that his team had been there before.
The weight of the moment didn’t crush Maryland baseball like it did its opponent. It had big-game experience to lean on in every contest of the sweep, which was capped by a 14-8 win Sunday.
“It puts the future in our hands,” Vaughn said.
Maryland (30-15, 11-4 Big Ten) outscored Indiana (31-14, 9-6 Big Ten) 43-12 over three games, a reflection on both its explosive offense and masterful starting rotation.
Nick Dean and Kyle McCoy combined to allow three runs in 14 innings in the first two games. Both completed seven innings, Dean’s first time doing so this season and McCoy’s second. Vaughn only needed to use three relievers between Friday and Saturday — they held the Hoosiers to one run in four innings.
Savacool was pushed back to Sunday from his usual Friday spot after going over 100 pitches in each of his last four starts. It let Vaughn save his ace for a potential sweep-clincher, but the pitcher allowed seven earned runs, a season high, on seven hits and made the Maryland offense be the reason it captured its first Big Ten sweep this season.
The Terps scored in every inning except the first on Sunday. Matt Shaw homered for his fourth game in a row to tie the program record for consecutive games with a long ball and six players had a multi-hit game.
Offensive contributions throughout the weekend came from where they typically do — Shaw, Nick Lorusso and Luke Shliger. But it was the middle and bottom of the order that put additional pressure on Indiana pitching.
Eddie Hacopian went 7-for-12 on the series. Matt Woods hit the first grand slam of his life in Saturday’s win. Elijah Lambros had two home runs Sunday and Kevin Keister, hitting ninth, added three extra-base knocks and five RBIs across the three games.
“A lot of lineups, when you survive the top four or five you can breathe a little bit,” Vaughn said. “Our nine-hole guy’s hit four homers this week. … It just lengthens your lineup.”
Sunday’s comeback win was sparked by contributions from the ones who made the order longer. Knotted at seven in the seventh inning, Lambros and Jacob Orr walked and eventually scored to go up two. Orr and Keister added a pair of RBI singles in the eighth to go up four, Lambros crushed a two-run homer in the ninth and a bullpen that essentially had Friday and Saturday off sealed the win.
Maryland caught Indiana in the Big Ten standings and now has sole possession of first place in the conference.
Usurping the Hoosiers was the Terps’ goal. Players knew they had little room for error over the season’s final weeks. Now in first place, something that was unclear before Friday is visible.
“You win the league, they ain’t leaving you out of the NCAA tournament,” Vaughn said.