My plan was to open tonight’s column with softball’s double run rule sweep of Wednesday’s double header with Delaware State but I have to begin with the game I didn’t attend – baseball’s 16-15 win at Towson - because a 16-15 game must be inherently more interesting than 11-0 and 12-3 results. (And I know the header is so 2009.)
So, here goes. The Terps dug themselves an early hole against the Tigers falling behind 5-0 after two making three errors and giving up three unearned runs. But then came the top of the third. Leading off the inning Jose Cuas reached on an error by Towson’s third baseman. Charlie White and Jordan Hagel followed with back to back walks when up stepped LaMonte Wade. Wade worked the count to 3-1 but unlike his teammates found a pitch to his liking and poked an opposite field home run down the left field line. The grand slam was Maryland’s first in nearly four years. Though the Terps were now back in the game at 5-4, they weren’t through quite yet. Towson pitching issued three more consecutive walks to Kevin Marti, Anthony Papio, and Jack Cleary to load the bases for Andre Amaro. The sophomore didn’t match Wade’s prowess bouncing into a double play but he did drive in a run on the play even the score. The Terrapins took the lead in the top of the fourth when Wade picked up his fifth RBI of the game driving in White on a ground ball out.
The Towson pitchers again lost control in the top of the fifth issuing walks to Papio and Amaro, tossing a wild pitch that moved the runners up to second and third before hitting Blake Schmit with a pitch to load the bases again. Papio score on a sac fly off the bat of Jose Cuas. Maryland’s 7-5 lead would not survive the bottom half of the inning as the Tigers struck back for three runs taking an 8-7 advantage. The Terps shrugged that off with a six run explosion in their half of the sixth. Hagel struck out to open the inning but Wade followed with a four pitch base on balls. Martir’s single down the left field line moved Wade to third. After a Towson pitching change, Papio walked and Maryland again had a bases loaded opportunity. Cleary’s single to left off the shortstop’s glove scored Wade and tied things up at eight apiece. Amaro drew a walk – the eleventh of the day for Towson pitchers – and earned himself another RBI. Schmit’s grounder up the middle forced Amaro but he beat the throw to avoid the double play and Papio scored giving the Terps a 10-8 lead. Cuas pulled a double down the left field line clearing the bases and taking third on the throw to the plate. Charlie White then singled to center and Cuas trotted home to close the scoring for the Terrapins who now led 13-8 but three Tigers runs in the bottom of the inning put both teams in double digits and chopped the Maryland lead to two.
The Terps opened some more breathing room in the seventh scoring twice without benefit of a Towson walk. Neither team scored in the eighth marking the first time in the game that both teams were held scoreless in the same inning. It wasn’t a walk but a hit batter that triggered the final run of the game for the Terrapins. The one out victim was Anthony Papio. He motored to third on Cleary’s single to center. Again, it was Andrew Amaro driving in a run without getting the ball out of the infield using a squeeze but to bring home Papio with what would prove to be the winning run. Closer Kevin Mooney came on in relief of Bobby Ruse in the bottom of the ninth with one run in and runners on second and third. Mooney again made things interesting for Coach Szefc walking the first batter he faced and uncorking a wild pitch with the bases loaded allowing a run to score and letting the Tigers within two. The Terps fourth error of the day allowed two Tigers runs and put the tying run on second with one out. After another Mooney wild pitch, the tying tally was only ninety feet away. But Mooney got the final two outs on a strikeout and a ground out and the Terps held on for the 16-15 win. Next up: a critical three game weekend series in Durham. The Terps likely need to sweep the Blue Devils to have any real hope of overtaking Wake Forest for the fourth spot the Atlantic division and a berth in the ACC Tournament.
Okay, on to the softball sweep. The Terps got the run scoring machine going early against the Delaware State Hornets at Robert E. Taylor Stadium. Sara Acosta blooped a one out single into shallow right field and Lindsey Schmeiser walked. Both runners moved up a base on a wild pitch. Catcher Shannon Bustillos lifted a windblown double into deep left driving in Acosta with Schmeiser, who had to wait to see if the ball could be caught advancing to third. Candice Beards walked to load the bases and an error by the Hornets shortstop allowed Schmeiser to score while keeping the bases jammed. Melissa Mancuso drove in the third run of the inning with a ground out to short. Maryland added to the 3-0 lead in the second. Amanda McCann drove a one out ground ball single to center. She then stole second and third and scored on a passed ball. The visitors nearly broke through against starter Kaitlyn Schmeiser in the fourth after a two out single. The next State batter doubled to the wall in left but the relay went from left fielder Bridget Hawvermale to L. Schmeiser to Bustillos who applied the tag and preserved the shutout.
In what appeared to be an innocuous beginning to the inning, Hawvermale led off the bottom of the fourth with a bunt single. McCann walked and the Terps executed a double steal. Following Acosta’s line out to second, L. Schmeiser smashed a single to left picking up two RBI. She advanced to second on the throw and to third on a passed ball. Following a walk to Bustillos, the Maryland successful executed the delayed double steal with Bustillos taking second and Schmeiser stealing home to push the Terrapin lead to 6-0. Beards then singled to right center driving in Bustillos. Lexi Carroll was hit by a pitch and Mancuso reached on a single off the shortstop’s glove to (in a recurring theme) load the bases. Third baseman Juli Strange drove a double to right center bringing home the fifth and sixth runs of the inning but Mancuso was thrown out at the plate trying to score from first. Strange moved to third on the throw and scored on a passed ball. With an 11-0 lead, all that remained for an early end to game one was for K. Schmeiser to retire Delaware State on three or fewer runs in the fifth. She was better than she needed to be getting two strikeouts as she retired the side in order.
The second game did not have quite as promising a start as the visiting Hornets got off to a three run lead in the top of the first on two singles and a three run homer. Delaware State’s lead did not survive the first as Maryland answered with four runs. Amanda McCann drew a lead off walk. Acosta bunted and reached on a throwing error by the third baseman with McCann racing all the way to third on the play. Acosta stole second and L. Schmeiser walked to: (EVERYONE) load the bases. Bustillos lifted a sac fly to right scoring McCann and allowing Acosta to take third. She was then credited with a steal of home to pull the Terps within one. After a ground out advanced Schmeiser to second, Strange rapped a single to left driving her in. Strange took second on the play at the plate. Beards drover her in with a single to left center putting Maryland ahead 4-3 at the end of one.
After her rough start, freshman pitcher Maddie Martin settled in to shut the Hornets down for the next three innings. The Terrapins were anything but shut down during that span beginning in the bottom of the second when they decided that a four run inning wasn’t sufficient so they scored five. McCann again got the inning started for Maryland lining a single to right. She stole second but Acosta fouled out to first. L. Schmeiser smacked a double down the left field line picking up an RBI in the process. Bustillos followed Schmeiser with a single to left for an RBI of her own and a 6-3 Terrapin lead. Lexi Carroll stepped to the plate and after driving a mammoth fly ball that tailed just foul down the left filed line, she obeyed the directive from the stands and straightened the next pitch just enough to keep it barely inside the foul pole for a two run homer. With two gone and the bases empty it looked like the Terps would settle for back to back four run innings. It looked like that until Juli Strange singled to center and Candice Beards doubled to the fence in left to drive in Strange. Now, the Terps were done for the inning.
Maryland pushed the lead into the eight run window in the bottom of the third starting with Melissa Mancuso’s double off the fence in center. McCann skied to center and Acosta was hit by a pitch. Schmeiser lifted a fly ball into the gap in right center and Mancuso scored all the way from second. When the Hornets left fielder dropped Bustillos’s wind blown fly ball to the warning track, Acosta came around to score and the Terps had their eight run lead 11-3. The visitors mounted a two out bases loaded threat in the top of the fourth but Martin got the final out on a lazy fly to right. Bridget Hawvermale’s squeeze bunt drove in drove in Juli Strange who had reached on a three base error by Delaware State’s left fielder. Lexi Carroll moved to the mound to retire the side in order in the top of the fifth to give the Terps three consecutive run rule wins for the first time since April 15th and 18th 2012 when they beat Virginia and Howard. The UNC Tar Heels come to College Park for the final home series of the year beginning with a double header scheduled to start at 1:00 pm Saturday. Of note, Freshman Lindsey Schmeiser enters the weekend with 53 RBI just three short of equaling the Maryland single season record established by Amber Jackson in 2007.
Todd Carton (AKA FHFAN)