After seeing their pitching staff rocked for seven runs in the twelfth inning against Georgia Tech on Sunday and then pounded by West Virginia Tuesday night, the Maryland Terrapins baseball team was in need of a strong effort from starter Zack Morris as well as a win over the visiting George Mason Patriots to get them in the right frame of mind as they prepare to make the trip to Chestnut Hill for a weekend series with Boston College.
Not the start the Terps wanted
The start was far from auspicious as Mason's Luke Willis opened the game with a line drive single to center on a 1-2 offering from Morris. Brandon Gum followed that by getting out of a 0-2 hole and working a walk. Blaise Fernandez's bouncer to the mound served as a swinging bunt and cleanup hitter Ray Toto picked up the RBI with a sacrifice fly to left. Morris got out of the inning without any further damage but the Terps trailed 1-0 at the end of a half inning.
Bouncing back quickly
The Terps bounced back in the home half of the first starting with Charlie White's single to right. With White breaking for second, Brandon Lowe squared to bunt and was hit by the pitch putting runners on first and second with none out for LaMonte Wade. Wade laid down a perfect bunt down the third base line and Mason's left handed starter, Evan Porcella, threw the ball into right field allowin Wade to reach and White to score. Blake Schmit hit a topper between the mound and third. Porcella picked up the out on the throw to first but first baseman Nick Foley, in an effort to get Wade at second, launched his throw into left field and Lowe came home with the go ahead run. Nick Cieri followed Kyle Convissar's fly out to right with a single to center driving in Wade and the inning ended with Maryland up 3-1.
After each team scratched out a run in the second, Morris settled down to pitch a scoreless third and fourth and the Terrapins put an unearned run on the board against the Patriots' second pitcher of the night (a player not listed on their roster). Tim Lewis reached when Foley mishandled his slow grounder. On a run and hit play, Lewis scooted around to third on Mike Montville's single to left center. He scored on White's ground out to first. White was caught stealing for the second time this season to end the inning.
Done for the night
After struggling through the first two innings and throwing forty-three pitches, Morris settled down nicely holding Mason scoreless over his final three innings and giving the Terps what they needed from him. Coach John Szefc elected to bring in Brandon Casas who pitched two ineffective innings in Morgantown Tuesday night.
Casas lasted just two batters issuing a lead off walk to Evans and a ground ball single to right to Chris Cook. Robert Galligan came on and looked as though he might get out of the inning unscathed after Foley struck out trying to bunt and Willis skied to right. However, shortstop Brandon Gum drove a bases clearing double off the Rawlings sign in left. Galligan induced a Ray Toto ground out to short to end the inning with the Terps now clinging to a one run lead at 5-4.
The Terrapins added to their lead in the bottom of the seventh taking advantage of the pitcher's worst enemy - the lead off walk. and the impact of that walk is compounded when you walk Maryland's Charlie White. On a 1-1 count, White turned the walk into a double when he stole second. Brandon Lowe struck out but LaMonte Wade picked up his second RBI of the night when he drove a single to right center. Wade took second on the throw to the plate.
Blake Schmit was hit by a pitch and both runners advanced on a passed ball. When Convissar was also hit by a pitch, it loaded the bases with one out for catcher Nick Cieri who struck out swinging. Cieri's strikeout left it up to third baseman Mike Rescigno to provide some needed insurance runs and the freshman delivered the clutch single driving in Wade and Schmit to give the Terps an 8-4 lead.
Wrapping it up
After a scoreless seventh inning from Bobby Ruse, Szefc made some defensive changes bringing in freshman Patrick Hisle to take over at third and Kevin Martir coming in behind the plate. Ben Brewster came on to start the inning as the Terrapins' fifth pitcher of the night. Brewster struck out the side sandwiching them around a single by Chris Cook.
The game got out of hand in the bottom of the eighth when the Maryland hitters seemed to morph into pinball machine bumpers - at least in the minds and arms of the George Mason pitching staff. The Terps scored five runs on one hit as the Patriots committed their fourth error of the game and their pitchers hit five Terrapins batters in the inning. I think they may have thrown in a walk and a wild pitch or two but when Alex Robinson came on to mop up in the ninth inning, the Terps had a 13-4 lead. Andrew Robinson closed out the ninth for Maryland and the Terps improved to 25-15 on the season.