CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — North Carolina's lineup knew to look for Maryland baseball starter Mark DiLuia's fastball, and early in Tuesday's contest, the Tar Heels attacked that pitch.
First baseman Michael Busch took DiLuia's second pitch up the middle and later scored in the opening frame. When DiLuia reversed his plan on the mound, starting with off-speed pitches, shortstop Ike Freeman waited for DiLuia's fastball in a full count to single and lead off a three-run second.
North Carolina's early success spurred the Tar Heels to a 13-1 victory, posting 18 hits, the most Maryland's allowed this season. The Terps offense continued their scuffles to extend their losing streak to five games.
"We get a bunch of scouting reports before the game, and we kind of knew that [DiLuia] kind of pitched off his fastball," Busch said. "When we got it, we were ready to hit it and found some barrels and found some holes."
After East Carolina swept Maryland (9-11) this past weekend, coach Rob Vaughn pointed to the Pirates' clean baseball and ability to manufacture runs as an example for the Terps to follow. Facing North Carolina (13-8), the Tar Heels did the little things right to create big innings.
In the second, designated hitter Ben Casparius bunted two runners into scoring position, setting up a two-run single. The next inning, center fielder Brandon Riley singled, and the next pitch Freeman poked a single through the right side on a hit-and-run to advance Riley to third.
DiLuia (1-2, 8.59 ERA) showed promising signs during his four-scoreless innings in a 2-0 win over VCU in February, but he struggled in his two outings against Delaware, allowing eight runs in a combined seven frames. Tuesday, DiLuia surrendered 14 hits and nine runs in six innings.
"We were just able to put the ball in play just enough," North Carolina coach Mike Fox said. "A lot of those balls early in the season for us were getting caught. Now, some of it's a little luck. … More of it is just [being] aggressive early in the count. [DiLuia's] leaving some balls out over the plate early."
When facing the Blue Hens, DiLuia threw two wild pitches, and he struggled from a similar lack of control in the fourth. After third baseman Kyle Datres' leadoff single, two wild pitches advanced the junior to third base with two outs. Then, an infield single scored him. Datres later hit a home run to push the Tar Heels' lead to nine.
Vaughn said for the Terps to start plating runners, they'd have to string hits together. In the fifth, they broke through against Tar Heels starter Rodney Hutchison (2-1, 5.09 ERA). Maryland strung three two-out singles together, capped by shortstop AJ Lee's liner to score second baseman Nick Dunn, marking the first time on Maryland's North Carolina road trip the offense functioned efficiently.
Since Maryland's loss to Delaware last week, the Terps have hit 10-for-74 with runners on base. At one point, Hutchinson retired 13 batters in a row.
"Just pound the zone, throw strikes, make the defense work," Hutchison said. "Nothing too crazy. Just change speeds."
Following DiLuia's exit, left-hander Billy Phillips surrendered a grand slam to Busch. The Terps allowed East Carolina to post 16 hits on Saturday amidst a 18-4 loss, and Tuesday, the Tar Heels topped that hit total while Maryland's offense continued to struggle.
"Hitting's kind of been contagious for us," Fox said.