The biggest contributor to Maryland's offensive success in last Sunday's win over No. 12 Miami came from an unexpected source.
Though he had just seven at-bats all season heading into last weekend's series, Korey Wacker found himself as the most pivotal offensive piece in Maryland earning its sixth win over a Top-25 team.
His performance in the win - in which he became the first Maryland player with five hits in a game since 2007 - epitomizes an expression the team has used since preseason training.
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From the beginning of last Sunday's game against Miami, it didn't appear to be a day when the ball would bounce in Maryland's favor.
The Hurricanes, perhaps sensing runs would be at a premium with two talented pitchers squaring off, opened the game by bunting on the first three pitches they saw. The first two went for singles, bringing up catcher Peter O'Brien, who ranks sixth in the ACC with a .388 batting average. O'Brien put down a sacrifice that moved the runners to second and third.
Miami's Brad Fieger followed with a single to center field, and just five pitches into the game, Maryland and ace Brett Harman found themselves trailing 1-0.
Over the course of the next three innings, Miami padded its lead by methodically scoring single runs to go ahead 4-2 heading into the fifth.
That's when Maryland broke through.
Tomo Delp doubled with one out, pinch-hitter Jake Stinnett struck out but reached on a passed ball and Delp scored on a throwing error by O'Brien. Andrew Amaro was inserted as a pinch runner for Stinnett at first, moved to second on a single by Jordan Hagel, and scored the tying run on a single to right by Wacker.
Wacker was again instrumental as the Terps went ahead in the seventh, driving in the go-ahead run with a two-out, two-strike single that was the definition of clutch hitting. The senior added an insurance run by scoring all the way from first on a failed pickoff attempt.
"To me, the fifth and seventh innings were huge, and it was all Korey Wacker," said head coach Erik Bakich.
As important to Maryland's breakthrough offensively, so was Harman's performance in the fifth and sixth. He retired the side in order in the fifth, and then worked around one hit in the sixth to put up a second straight scoreless inning.
"When you score and you can put zeros up the next half-inning, that's a big deal," said Bakich. "Things weren't going our way the first few innings, and that's where we flipped the momentum right on our side."
- - - - - How Fast? That Fast - - - - -
Wacker, who started 53 games in center field in 2011 while also making 17 appearances on the mound, spent the first month of this season focused on pitching. The results were impressive. In 10 appearances spanning 13 innings, Wacker allowed just one earned run and had a 3-0 record.
But last week, with center fielder Charlie White sidelined for the remainder of the year with a broken hand, Bakich became convinced he needed Wacker's defense on ACC weekends.
So he inserted Wacker into the starting lineup to bat eighth against Miami.
Not only did his defense pay off - he made a diving catch on Saturday that saved at least two runs - but he turned a .000 batting average into a .389 mark in the span of three games.
Wacker had two hits on Saturday and went 5-for-5 on Sunday, a truly uncommon performance in baseball.
That ability to flip a switch - to go from no hits in seven at-bats to seven hits in two days - might be traceable to an expression the team is using this season. The expression is "How Fast? That Fast."
It came from Team Elite Performance, a company that has worked with the Terrapins in an intense training program that builds team unity and works to maximize each player's mental focus.
"When we work with Elite Performance, they have different expressions that our team talks about all the time," said Bakich. "How fast? That fast!" is about attitude and perspective, which are things you can control. So when you're feeling frustrated or when somebody recognizes you aren't where you need to be mentally, you're not getting the results you want, how fast can you change your attitude? How fast can you change your perspective? That fast. It's just a mind switch.
"It can happen that fast. That's why I don't worry about when teams get in little valleys and guys get in little slumps. Because a slump can end that fast. A team can get hot in one game, one inning, one pitch, it can happen that fast, and all the sudden they're unstoppable. That was Korey."
Bakich used the phrase on Saturday night, after Maryland had dropped a second game in as many days to the No. 12 Hurricanes, and it seemed to resonate throughout Sunday's victory. Each time Maryland was presented with a challenge, each time Miami tacked on another run, the Terps seemed confident they were one pitch away from turning the tables. They did that, and their sixth victory over a Top-25 team this season was the end result.
"That can be our team," said Bakich. "That can be our team this week. We can be the best team in the nation this weekend, and it can happen that fast."
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Maryland heads to the Northeast Wednesday, when they will face St. John's (13-10) at 3 p.m. The Terps then play a three-game series with Boston College starting Friday at 2:30 p.m.