Starter Brian Shaffer tied a career-high with seven strikeouts in Maryland’s 2-1 win over Illinois on Thursday night. (Mandatory Credit: Hannah Foslien/Associated Press)
It began as a mixed bag from starter Brian Shaffer.
However, Shaffer rebounded to find his command and Maryland beat Illinois 2-1 on Thursday. For the second consecutive night, the Terrapins got sensational starting pitching and won yet another low-scoring affair.
The win snapped Illinois’ 27-game winning streak and gave Maryland their second consecutive victory in the Big Ten Tournament.
Shaffer surrendered a run in the first inning, but was able to work out of a jam with two runners aboard. On the evening, the freshman stranded xx baserunners. He tossed seven innings, only allowing the one run on six hits to go along with seven punch-outs (a career high) and just one walk.
After back-to-back singles from Ryan Nagle and third baseman Reid Roper, Illinois was threatening against Shaffer in the first inning. Catcher Jason Goldstein ripped a base hit past a lunging Jose Cuas at third base to give the Fighting Illini a 1-0 lead.
However, Shaffer settled down and wiggled out of the first inning jam. He got Casey Fletcher to fly out to center fielder Lamonte Wade for the second out and Pat McInerney lined out to second baseman Brandon Lowe to end the threa
Maryland struck back in the second inning when catcher Kevin Martir started off the frame with a bloop single that was just out of the reach of shortstop Adam Walton. Cuas followed by reaching first base on a dribbler back to pitcher Drasen Johnson, who fired to first baseman David Kerian. Kerian couldn’t handle the throw, allowing Cuas to reach and Martir to scurry over to third base with no outs.
Right fielder Anthony Papio plated Martir on an RBI single to left field that was just underneath the diving Walton. The scorching single tied at game at one.
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Designated hitter Nick Cieri hit a ground ball back to Johnson, who threw out Cuas at third base. Roper attempted to throw out at Cieri at first, but it was a low throw to Kerian. Papio came all the way around from first base to score, which gave the Terps a 2-1 lead and the eventual game-winning run.
The rest of the way, it was Shaffer and the Maryland bullpen that closed the door for the Terps. Lefty Robert Galligan tossed a hitless eighth inning, which included an impressive curveball on a 3-2 count to Fletcher to end the inning.
Maryland did have the bases loaded in the eighth inning with a chance to pad their lead. However, shortstop Kevin Smith grounded into an inning-ending double play.
With just one run separating the team, closer Kevin Mooney toed the rubber for the save. Mooney had a clean final frame, which included a punch-out of the Big Ten’s Player of the Year in Kerian.
The Terps will face the winner of No. 2 Iowa and No. 6 Indiana on Saturday at 10 a.m.
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