Clear skies, sold-out stadium, Maryland and Virginia in the first game of the Super Regionals. That's what it's all about.
Today's starting pitchers were Jake Stinnett (7 - 6, 2.65 ERA) and. sophomore LHP Nathan Kirby (9 - 1, 1.36 ERA). Stinnett is less than 48 hours removed from being selected #45 overall in the MLB draft by the Chicago Cubs. No doubt Kirby will also hear his name called early next year.
White's spectacular catch avoids a disaster
Charlie White greeted a Virginia pitcher like he did in the ACCT: with an extra-base hit. He sliced a double down the left field line. LaMonte Wade sacrificed White to third. Brandon Lowe hit a run-scoring grounder to short: Terps on top 1 - 0.
With one out Daniel Pinero drew a walk. When Stinnett went to 2 - 0 on Mike Papi, pitching Coach Jim Belanger made a trip to the mound. With Pinero running, Papi stroked a single to center, putting runners on the corner. Joe McCarthy was HBP to load the bases. So was Derek Fisher to tie the score. On a 0 - 2 pitch Kenny Towns hit a liner that looked for all the world that it was going to fall in for a base hit. But White dove for the ball and made a spectacular catch. He quickly threw to Blake Schmit, who in turn gunned down Papi at the plate. It turned out to be a play that may have ended up saving the game.
Maryland's fielding miscues give the Cavaliers a one-run lead
With two outs in the bottom of the third Papi singled through the right side. On the first pitch to McCarthy, Papi was off and running. When Martir's throw skipped into center field Papi took third. Stinnett pitched around McCarthy, eventually issuing a walk. Fisher then lined a shot down third base that looked like it was earmarked for a double. But Jose Cuas dove for and grabbed the liner; however his throw to first was a tad off and went past Wade. Papi scored and after three Virginia led 2 - 1. While a run did score, had Cuas not gotten to the ball it's possible that two Wahoo runs would have come across.
Terps bats chase Kirby and take three-run lead
With one out in the top of the fourth, Cuas singled and Schmitt doubled. Tim Lewis singled through the right hand side to tie the score. Convissar hit a safety squeeze and Schmit scored. Anthony Papio then smacked a double to left center that scored Lewis. (I'm not sure the last time that Kirby was hit this hard. ) The Terps had jumped on top 4 - 2 after three and a half innings.
Virginia wasted a one-out double in the bottom of the fourth. Of note was that when Stinnett struck out Brandon Cogswell struck out for the final out: It was the first K of the game for Maryland's leading pitcher in that category.
White singled to begin the Terrapin fifth, and went to second on a passed ball. Wade bunted White to third. Lowe hit a sinking liner that McCarthy made a shoe-string catch on. White was able to tag up for the fifth Terp run. A lot of Maryland's outs were on sharply hit balls; Virginia was lucky to be still in the game. When Cuas singled to center it finished Kirby's day. It was Kirby's shortest outing of the season and most likely his least effective. RHP Whit Mayberry replaced Kirby. Schmit struck out to end the frame but the Terps were ahead by three runs. The questions was: Could Stinnett find his groove and keep the Cavaliers at bay?
Cavaliers cut their deficit to two runs
The Cavaliers refused to quit. Papi walked with one down and McCarthy lined a smoker that Lowe was able to knock down, keeping Papi from going to third. It turned out to save a run for the Terps. Fisher hit a fly to deep left center that Lewis and White collided on. Fortunately Lewis was able to hang on to the ball. Kenneth Towns skied out to Lewis for the final out of the fifth.
In the Cavaliers' sixth Downes hit a one out double. Nate Irving hit a grounder that Lowe stretched out and made a great play on to throw out the runner. However Cogswill singled to left and the run came home. Cogswill swiped second base to get in scoring position. But Pinero flied out to Papio to end the Cavalier sixth.
Meanwhile Mayberry was baffling the Terrapin batters. Through 2.1 innings he gave up two hits and struck out five Terrapins.
Bobby Ruse came on to pitch for Maryland in the seventh. Stinnett's line: six innings, six hits, three walks, three runs (two were earned), and two strikeouts. Ruse issued Papi a walk to start the UVA seventh. McCarthy popped out and Fisher grounded to Lowe. Towns was hit by a pitch that he might have stepped into. Ruse battled John LaPrince into grounding out to second.
Can Terps hang onto the lead?
The Terps went down in order in their half of the eighth. Ruse got two quick outs in the bottom of the eighth. He walked Cogswill to bring the tying run to the plate. Pinero looped a single to center to put runners on the corners. That brought in closer Kevin Mooney from the bullpen. Papi lined to center for a single and the tying run was 90 feet away. But McCarthy lined out to Papio to end the inning.
In the top of the ninth Papio flew out to right. Martir did likewise. However White singled to right for his third hit today. White swiped second. But Wade struck out.
Derek Fisher hit a grounder to Schmit to start the bottom of the ninth. Towns skied out to center. Then La Prince got on via an infield single. Downes was HBP and both the tying and winning runs were aboard. But Mooney got Robbie Comam on a fly out to Papio. The Terps won 5 -4.
Jake Stinnett got the win to go 8 - 6. Kevin Mooney registered his 13th save of 2014. The Terps are one win away from Omaha.
Post-script: I forgot to add that with the win Maryland garnered their 40th win of the season. Quite an accomplishment!