The Maryland Terrapins baseball team shocked No. 1 seed UCLA with a 2-1 win Monday. The Terps will play Virginia Friday in the Super Regional. (Baltimore Sun)
Getting through an NCAA Division I tournament regional can be a lesson in baseball economics. Pitching is the gold standard.
Maryland found a nugget in Crofton's Taylor Bloom.
Top-seeded UCLA and the No. 3 seed Terps, locked in a struggle of attrition during a weekend that extended into a decisive rematch Monday night, got more than they could've hoped for from their pitching staffs. The Terps got a little more in a 2-1 victory at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
"Tough way to finish," Bruins coach John Savage said after his team became the tournament's only national seed not to win its regional. "They're the best No. 3 seed I've ever seen in my 25 years of Division I baseball."
Bloom, a freshman making his fifth start this season, threw six scoreless innings, allowing one hit and one unearned run. Kevin Mooney (North Harford) went the last three, striking out UCLA's Darrell Miller Jr. with runners on first and third base in the ninth to start the celebration.
Maryland (42-22), which had made the NCAA tournament only three times until last season, will travel to face third-seeded Virginia on Friday in its second straight super-regional appearance. The teams met in the same round last season, with the Cavaliers winning the best-of-three series to advance to the College World Series.
"I'm just really happy for our players, coaches and support staff," coach John Szefc said. "A lot goes into a season, and you hope that at the end of the season, you're in a position like this. Luckily for us, this is the second year we've been in this position. You don't take it for granted because it's so hard to get here. These guys have been tremendous."
For the Bruins (45-16), the defeat was a disappointing finish. They entered as the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament, then lost two of three games to a Terps team that had captured one of the last at-large bids in the field.
Monday night's game was the fifth in four days for UCLA and fourth for Maryland. Wear and tear on the pitching staffs were expected.
"It's one of those games where you're going to have to have all hands on deck," Szefc said.
Bloom was the pick to start a tag-team pitching plan, but he chewed up so many innings that the Terps needed to tap only Mooney, the team's closer, who picked up his 11th save.
UCLA got a good effort from Grant Dyer, who was making his first start of the season. He gave up one run in four innings, allowing only an RBI double to Anthony Papio in the fourth for a 1-0 lead. Maryland went up 2-0 on a walk, single and groundout in the sixth.
Bloom got help in the second when center fielder LaMonte Wade (St. Paul's) threw out Miller at the plate. But mostly, the Bruins were baffled by Bloom, who allowed only six balls hit out of the infield.