BLACKSBURG, Va. – Maryland closer Kevin Mooney worked out of bases loaded jams in the seventh and the ninth innings to help secure a 4-2 victory for Maryland over Virginia Tech Saturday afternoon at English Field. With the win, the Terps evened the weekend series with the Hokies at one apiece.
The right-handed sophomore stranded six Virginia Tech runners over the final 2-2/3 innings after relieving Bobby Ruse in the seventh to earn his sixth save of the year.
Mooney inherited a bases loaded situation in the seventh with one out with the Terps (21-12, 7-9 ACC) clinging to a two-run lead. The Forest Hill, Md., native got Phil Sciretta to hit a ground ball to Jose Cuas at third. Cuas gathered himself and threw home to get Saige Jenco. Mooney then got Sean Keselica to ground out to third to end the threat.
"Jimmy [Belanger] kind of made that call [to go with Mooney in the seventh inning]. It was the right decision,” said head coach John Szefc. “You have a chance to win a game you got to go with who you think is your best guy at that point."
After working a perfect eighth, Mooney retired the first two batters in the ninth before giving up three consecutive singles. On a 3-2 pitch, Mooney got Keselica to ground out once again to secure the Maryland victory.
"That is kind of the way he is, nine out of 10 times that's usually the way he is,” said Szefc. “They had some really good at-bats there in the ninth. He just hung in there. That is why you work to get a two-run lead. For us to be good, Mooney has got to be Mooney at the end. He is a big, big part of the pitching staff."
The Terps scored twice in their first at-bat and led by a run after the first inning. Charlie White reached on an infield single that found the hole between the shortstop and the third baseman. After Lowe reached on a walk, LaMonte Wade hit a slow roller to shortstop Ricky Surum. Attempting to get the force at second, Surum’s throw was off the mark and ended up in right field allowing White to score and Lowe to move to third.
With runners at the corners, Blake Schmit laid down a sacrifice bunt and Lowe got under the tag at home to put the Terps up 2-0.
In the home half of the first, Virginia Tech strung together three straight two-out hits capped by a Sciretta RBI single to center to cut the Terrapin lead to one. But Maryland regained a two-run advantage in the second when Lowe doubled down the left field line past a diving third baseman to score Tim Lewis.
Terrapin starter Mike Shawaryn kept the Hokies off the scoreboard until the sixth. After retiring the first batter of the inning, Keselica doubled to left and moved to third on a single by Tom Stoffel. With righty Bobby Ruse on to relieve Shawaryn, who earned the win and improved to 6-2, Surum laid down a sacrifice bunt to score the run. Ruse then got Miguel Ceballos to ground out to third to limit the damage.
The Terps answered in the next half-inning and extended their lead back to two runs with Cuas delivering with two outs. Wade singled to right to leadoff and moved into scoring position on a wild pitch.
After Virginia Tech brought Sean Kennedy in from the bullpen, Cuas ripped a two-out double past the bag at third and into left field. Wade came home to give the Terps a 4-2 lead.
"Our at-bats were better [today],” said Szefc. ”They were much better today even though we only scored four runs. They were more productive for the most part. We still left too many guys on base, but we are getting there."
White finished 2-for-4 with a run scored, while Cuas, Lowe and Schmit each registered a RBI in the win. Maryland and Virginia Tech conclude the series Sunday at 1 p.m. from English Field.