FanPost

Big Road Wins All Around - Baseball Tames Clemson; Softball Gobbles Two From VT

Dateline: A wet Clemson, South Carolina where Maryland took on the twenty-second ranked Clemson Tigers in a series critical to maintaining the Terrapins slim post season hopes. The Terps and Jimmy Reed, proving (since it’s Derby Day) to be “mudders”, got the job done taking the opening game of an ACC weekend series for the fifth time this season. Saturday’s final was Maryland 7 Clemson 2.

After a scoreless first, the Terps jumped in front early in the mist in the top of the second putting up three runs off Clemson’s ace who had not given up more than one earned run in his last three starts. Kevin Martir started things off pulling a one hop double off the fence in left for the Terps ACC leading 106th double of the year. Kyle Convissar, squaring to bunt was hit by the first pitch. The runners moved up on a passed ball. Anthony Papio was caught looking at a third strike and Jack Cleary struck out swinging at a pitch in the dirt the got past the catcher allowing Martir to score and Cleary to reach. Blake Schmit bunted back to the pitcher on a safety squeeze with Convissar getting thrown out at the plate. Jose Cuas walked to load the bases with two out. With the outfield playing very shallow, Charlie White laced a 2-0 pitch through the hole between first and second to drive in Cleary. Hagel walked to drive in Schmit before Wade struck out to end the inning. With one out in the third, mighty Kyle Convissar swinging at the first pitch blasted a no doubt about it home run to left to put the Terps up 4-0. Papio reached when the Tigers shortstop bobbled his slow grounder and when Cleary bounced a ball between third and short and the Clemson ace headed to the dugout for his shortest outing of the year. The Terps left the runners stranded (5 LOB) as Schmit popped out to the third baseman behind the mound and Cuas struck out. Clemson put a runner on second in the bottom of the inning on a single and a passed ball but Reed comfortably pitched out of the mild jam as the rain started to fall harder.

After Charlie White lined out to shallow center to start the fourth, Jordan Hagel shocked the increasingly wet fans launched a laser beam over the fence in left for Maryland’s second home run in as many innings. LaMonte Wade lined a double to shallow left center and, after Martir skied to right, moved to third on Convissar’s bullet to third that Clemson’s third baseman prevented from going down the line for a double that would have easily scored Wade. Papio bounced into a force at second to end the inning (7 LOB). As the rain continued, Reed has his only real trouble in the bottom of the fourth, walking the leadoff batter and surrendering a towering home run to straight away center. These would be the only two runs Reed yielded all day. After leaving two more runners (9) on base in the fifth, the Terps added a pair of insurance runs in the sixth. Wade got the inning started ripping a line drive single to right. Martir forced him at second but Convissar followed with a line drive single through the hole at short. Papio grounded out to second moving the runners up to second and third with two out. Jack Cleary got the clutch hit for Maryland doubling off the left field wall to drive in Martir and Convissar and put the Terrapins up by a 7-2 score.

Conditions continued to worsen as Reed got out of a two on two out scrape in the bottom of the seventh by striking out a career high tying tenth batter. He then retired Clemson in order in the eight ending the inning with his eleventh strikeout setting a new personal best in a Terrapin uniform. Kevin Mooney came on to pitch the ninth and even “Full pack” didn’t make the Terps sweat as he retired the side in order and the Terps racked up their 28th win of the season.

In a side note, I have to give the umpires an assist in this win. By the sixth inning, the weather conditions were so severe that they could have easily and reasonably decided to suspend the game. This would have put Maryland in a position of having to finish the game without Reed who was extremely sharp as he had been at Duke last weekend. That they let play continue was, I think, a benefit to the Terps.

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Halfway (or so) between College Park and Clemson, the Terrapin softball team also faced an important series taking on the Virginia Tech Hokies in a double header in Blacksburg. The Terps created an opportunity for themselves in the top of the first loading the bases after two were out when Lindsay Schmeiser singled and Shannon Bustillow and Lexi Carroll both walked. But, after fouling off three pitches with two strikes, Candice Beards eventually struck out. Maryland did break through in the third starting with a lead off bunt single by Sara Acosta. Acosta moved up a base on a passed ball and reached third on Schmeiser’s infield single to short. The Terps then executed a double steal with Schmeiser taking second and Acosta coming in to score. Bustillos and Carroll were each hit by a pitch loading the bases for the second time in three innings. This time Beards came through pushing a single to left driving in Schmeiser. However, a force at home and a double play ended the inning. After registering a scoreless third and fourth, big sister Kaitlyn Schmeiser, served up a homer allowing Tech to cut Maryland’s lead in half. The Terps had the answer in the form of Nikki Maier who led off the top of the sixth with a solo shot of her own putting Maryland up 3-1. The Hokies threatened in the bottom of the sixth outing their first two runners on but Schmeiser toughened up and retired the side on a force out, a strike out and another ground out. She retired the side on order in the seventh wrapping up the 3-1 victory and registering her 15th win of the year.

If the first game was a pitcher’s duel, the second was more of a slugfest. Sandwiched by two strikeouts, Sara Acosta walked for the Terps in the top of the first. Clean up batter Shannon Bustillos pulled a home run down the left field line. Maryland had a chance to build on the lead when they loaded the bases on a single by Beards and walks to Maier and Carroll but Juli Strange struck out to end the inning. Tech jumped in front in the bottom of the first on a three run home run. The lead held until the top of the third when Maryland effectively put the game away with a seven run outburst. The inning started with the pitcher’s worst enemy – a lead off walk. With L. Schmeiser on first, Bustillos singled between third and short. Beards struck out and Maier walked creating another bases loaded opportunity for the Terrapins. Carroll hit a grounder to third but an errant throw allowed Maryland to recapture the lead as Schmeiser and Bustillos scored and put runners on the corners. Bria Taylor, running for Carroll, stole second and Juli Strange executed a squeeze reaching on a bunt down the first base line driving in Maier in the process and keeping runners on the corners. With Melissa Mancuso at the plate, Strange stole second. Mancuso the bunted and Taylor beat the throw to the plate. For the second time in the twin bill, the Terps executed a double steal with Mancuso taking second and Strange taking home for a 6-3 Terrapin lead. Amanda McCann reached second on an error by the Hokies second baseman and Mancuso scored Maryland’s sixth run of the inning. A wild pitch moved McCann to third and scored on another Hokies error. When Bustillos popped out to end the inning, the Terps had a 9-3 lead. Lexi Carroll, who had come in to relieve starting pitcher Maddie Martin, cruised into the Virginia Tech sixth holding the Hokies scoreless through her five innings of work. Tech scratched oput two runs in the bottom of the sixth to pull within four. While Mooney kept his final inning stint dull, Acosta let her final inning get interesting. After retiring the first batter, the next two Hokies reached base on an error and a single. They both scored on a triple to center cutting the Terrapin lead in half to 9-7 and causing Coach Watten to recall Kaitlyn Schmeiser. After striking out the first hitter she faced, Schmeiser gave up an infield single but the Tech runner held at third. She earned her second save of the year recording the final out on a foul out to Bustillos. The two victories assure the Terps of no worse than a tie for third with North Carolina. A win on Sunday will give Maryland sole possession of second place heading into this week’s ACC Tournament in Tallahassee.

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On a side note, I tried to look at some the permutations needed for Maryland to reach the ACC Tournament beginning with the assumption that they split the remaining two games at Clemson (no small feat since the Terps all time record there is 4-55 or maybe 5-55 including today’s win) and sweep BC. The “easiest” path looks to be Miami losing two of three either at Wake Forest or home against Georgia Tech and being swept in the other series. There may be an alternative if GT is swept by both UNC and Miami. I think the picture changes significantly should Maryland win their last four. No pressure, Brady.

Todd Carton (AKA FHFAN)

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