Led by the all-freshman battery of Hank Christie and Nick Paciorek, the Northwestern Wildcats (20-28, 9-11 Big Ten) handed the Maryland Terrapins (33-15, 15-8 Big Ten) their second home loss on the season on Saturday afternoon in College Park, evening up the series with a 11-3 victory.
Christie turned in another impressive start, tossing eight innings and surrendering only three runs for his fifth quality start of the season. The righty struck out three and walked only one. After Paciorek — who started behind the plate — crushed his first college home run to center field in the top of the third, Christie ran into trouble in the bottom half of the frame.
Justin Morris led off the inning with a home run before back-to-back singles put runners on the corners. A fielder’s choice plated the go-ahead run for the Terrapins before Christie retired the next two batters to escape further damage.
The heart of Northwestern’s lineup responded in the top of the fourth. With Joe Hoscheit and Matt Hopfner on base, Maryland third baseman AJ Lee threw away a Jack Claeys ground ball to score Hoscheit. Connor Lind knocked in Hopfner with a RBI groundout and the Wildcats were back on top, 3-2.
With Maryland starter Tyler Blohm knocked out of the game, Northwestern exploded for seven runs in the fifth inning, on only five hits. Alex Erro and Jack Dunn singled before Hoscheit blasted a triple off the wall in center field to extend the Northwestern lead to 5-2. Hopfner followed with an extra-base hit of his own, dumping a flare down the right field line for a double.
The wheels came off for the Maryland pitching staff, as a wild pitch and three consecutive walks, two with the bases loaded, stretched the Northwestern advantage even more and officially put this one away.
Christie cruised for the rest of his start, allowing only an eighth inning home run to Nick Dunn before giving way to Tyler Lass, who pitched a scoreless ninth.
Hoscheit had another multi-hit day, going 3-for-5 with two RBIs. Jake Schieber, Lind and Paciorek each knocked in two runs to pace the Wildcats.
The Sunday rubber match is at noon CST before Northwestern comes back to Evanston for their final home games of the season, which are next weekend against Rutgers.