Kenny Lippman started the first nine Friday night games of Maryland baseball’s season. After a skid midway through, he found himself in the bullpen — a role he has flourished in during the past two weeks.

Lippman struck out five in his last appearance against Illinois on April 27, while holding the Illini to only one run over 4 ⅓ innings.

Coach Matt Swope credited the performance postgame with stabilizing the Terps’ pitching staff in their 9-8 victory over Illinois, the first of two wins in the series victory.

“It’s a testament to him,” Swope said. “He’s been pretty good the last couple outings.”

Lippman’s move to the bullpen has given the sixth-year newfound confidence. It’s also provided a boost to an ailing unit.

The right-hander noted after Saturday’s win that coming out of relief has changed his mentality. He has a brief warm-up before entering a game as a reliever as opposed to a week’s wait for one built-up start.

“The nerves that came with [starting] were pretty significant,” Lippman said. “I’m just more comfortable being thrust into a situation [and] reacting to it versus stressing over the start.”

Lippman has recorded a 2.77 ERA through four outings of relief, compared to his 5.83 ERA as a starter this season. The right-hander has struck out 13 batters in the role.

[Maryland baseball snaps four-weekend losing streak with 11-7 win over Illinois]

The position isn’t new for the experienced Maryland pitcher. Lippman tossed the most games for the Terps last year — appearing in 31 games, including three starts. He pitched in 35 games at Division III Denison, including 11 in relief, before transferring to College Park for the 2023 season.

The Terps won three straight Friday night games to open the year with Lippman starting. He averaged a 1.20 ERA in the span.

Lippman’s struggles began in his fourth start this season against Charlotte, getting pulled in the first inning with just one out recorded. He surrendered three runs.

Lippman allowed three or more runs in each of the next five starts to balloon his ERA to 5.83. The Terps lost three of his five outings in the span and dropped three straight Big Ten series.

Pitching coach Jimmy Jackson still wanted Lippman to serve a meaningful role in the pitching staff, but acknowledged a change was needed — moving the right-hander to the bullpen in favor of Omar Melendez.

“He was still striking people out basically at a higher rate than the majority of our pitching staff can,” Jackson said. “It became, ‘Ok well we need another strikeout guy in the bullpen.’”

[Maryland baseball’s late-game comeback falls short in 7-4 loss to Illinois]

Lippman’s addition to the bullpen arrived as injuries piled up in the pitching staff. Trystan Sarcone has pitched just once in the last four weeks while hampered by an elbow injury. Duke McCarron didn’t appear in a game last week after suffering a collarbone injury against Nebraska. Alex Walsh hasn’t pitched in three weeks due to injury.

Swope announced last Thursday that Garrett French would miss the remainder of the season. The right-hander only registered three outings after appearing in 67 games over three years at Rutgers.

“[We’re] just trying to piece it together right now,” Swope said.

Lippman’s long collegiate career enters its waning phases as the season nears its end. Despite a demotion to the bullpen, the veteran’s focus remains solely on extending the season.

“We’re pulling together,” Lippman said. “I think we can get something going here at the end of the year.”