PITTSBURGH, Pa. – One day after delivering a clutch two-RBI triple, second baseman Brandon Lowe stood in with another opportunity to give Maryland a lead. Once again Lowe came through, this time with a single to left field scoring the go-ahead run to help the Terps secure their first road ACC sweep since 1999 in a 6-4 win over Pittsburgh at Charles L. Cost Field.
Lowe’s heroics were made possible by a leadoff triple from LaMonte Wade in the ninth. With the game tied at four, Wade drilled a pitch to the gap in right center. The sophomore first baseman did not hesitate rounding second and slide in with his first three-bagger of the season.
The victory is Maryland’s 15th in conference play, tying the school record set in 1970, and secured its first bid to the ACC Tournament since 2005. The win also extended the Terrapins winning streak to a season-long eight.
Maryland (33-19, 15-14 ACC) carried a two-run lead into the seventh. But Pittsburgh (22-27, 11-16 ACC) scored four runs in the inning and took a 4-2 lead into the eighth. Displaying a newly found resiliency, the Terps came right back and scored twice in their next at-bat to tie the ball game.
"These guys have decided that we want to keep playing and we will play from behind strong and play on the road strong,” said head coach John Szefc. “That's exactly what they have done since that bad 10-day stretch. Recently, it has become our identity. That's not easy playing from behind.
“Our pitching has been very, very good recently. So, when we've been behind they haven't been big deficits. It has been a collective group effort of embracing those two things: playing from behind and playing on the road.”
Three of the first four Terrapin batters reached base to start the eight. With the bases loaded, Nick Cieri hit a chopper off the mound towards second base. The shortstop mishandled the ball allowing all of the runners to reach safely and the run to score. Kevin Martir then hit a chopper towards third with the only play being at the bag which allowed the tying run to come home.
Following Lowe’s go-ahead single in the ninth, Tim Lewis, who finished with a career-high three hits, provided an insurance run with a two-out single to center to score Lowe from second. It marked the Terps eighth come-from-behind win this season, but their first when trailing after seven innings.
Maryland once again received a strong pitching performance from its starter. Left hander Jake Drossner pitched 5-1/3 innings of scoreless baseball allowing only two hits. Drossner retired 11 straight batters from the second into the sixth inning, but did not factor in the decision.
After being held to one hit by Pittsburgh starter Matt Wotherspoon through the first three innings, the Terps cranked out three doubles in the fourth and took a two-run lead. Lewis, who is riding a team-best nine game hitting streak, started the inning with a double to the gap in left center. After Anthony Papio flied out to deep center to move Lewis to third, Cieri hit a sharp grounder to first. The ball bounced off the first baseman’s chest allowing Lewis to reach home safely.
Martir followed with a double to left and scored one batter later when Charlie White slapped a 1-1 pitch past a diving second baseman and into right center.
Pitt struck in the seventh as the Panthers scored four runs on three hits and capitalized on a Maryland error. A hit-by-pitch and consecutive singles to start the inning got the Panthers on the board.
With one run already across, a sacrifice bunt moved runners to second and third. Nick Yarnall then reached on a fielding error by Wade, when he failed to tag the runner. With the bases loaded, reliever Kevin Mooney got Stephen Vranka to fly out to shallow right field to keep the runners in place. But A.J. Lardo then worked a walk to force home the tying run followed by a two-RBI single by Casey Roche to give Pitt the lead.
The come-from-behind effort earned Mooney his first win of the season, while Pittsburgh’s TJ Zeuch suffered his fifth loss. Prior to this weekend, Maryland’s last three-game sweep of a conference opponent on the road came against Duke during the 1999 season.