In tonight's deciding game of the Charlottesville Super Regional round the Terps sent Bobby Ruse (7 - 2, 2.77 ERA) to the mound. Virginia countered with RHP Josh Sborz (4 - 4, 3.38 ERA). Given the gravity of this game's outcome, practically all pitchers were available in some capacity if needed.
Cavaliers dig big hole for Terps with three two-out runs in the first
With one out in the bottom of the first inning Daniel Pinero was HBP. After Mike Papi skied out Joe McCarthy got an infield single. Derek Fisher jumped on the first pitch and drove it into center field for an RBI single. Kenneth Towns followed that by crushing a two-run triple off the left field wall. La Prise grounded out but the Cavaliers had jumped out to a 3 - 0 lead.
It was important for Maryland to respond. But they went down in order in the second, with two batters striking out. In order to keep the game within reach Ruse would need to shut down Virginia in the bottom of the second. He did exactly that, retiring all three Cavalier hitters.
With two outs in the top of the third Charlie White got Maryland's first hit by singling to center. However that was all the Terps could muster against Sborz, who had already fanned four through three innings.
Virginia adds three more in the third to lead by six
Pinero opened off the bottom of the third with an infield hit off of Ruse's glove. One out later McCarthy executed a perfect hit and run by piloting a single through the hole at short. Fisher drew a walk to load the bases. Towns once again delivered, singling in two more Cavalier runs. Virginia was up on top 5 - 0, which completed Ruse's day. LHP Tayler Stiles came on to stem the tide. But he walked La Prise to once again load the bases. Downs hit a seeing-eye single for the sixth Cavalier run. Fortunately, Coman then grounded into a double play. After three innings Virginia was on top 6 - 0.
Sborz keeps the Terps in check
Brandon Lowe opened up the fourth with a single to left. After Jose Cuas flew out, Blake Schmit got a Baltimore chop infield hit. However Tim Lewis and Anthony Papio both grounded out.
Someone was going to have to step up for the Terps and light a spark. But it didn't happen in the top of the fifth. Sborz struck out the side while allowing only a single to White. The Cavalier right hander had his slider working effectively and he looked dialed in.
In the bottom of the fifth it seemed as if Stiles was going to sail through his second consecutive inning. But with two outs Towns singled for his third hit of the day. La Prise walked to put runners on first and second. However Stiles got Brandon Downes to chase a pitch for the third out.
The Terps went quietly in the sixth and time was running out for a dramatic comeback. Meanwhile Stiles kept the game within reach, throwing his third consecutive shutout inning.
In the Terps' seventh Sborz walked Nick Cieri but otherwise was unscathed. While the Terps had two more at-bats, looming in the background was the fact that closer Nick Howard had not yet pitched in the series.
Terps rally for two runs in the eighth
Stiles got three quick fly outs in the bottom of the seventh, the last one on a nice sliding catch by Lewis. In the top of the eighth RHP Austin Young came on to pitch for Virginia. White flew out to center for the first out. LaMonte Wade hit a solid single to left center for the Terps' fifth hit of the game. However Young pulled the string on Lowe for strike three. Cuas kept the inning alive by lining a single to left. Then Schmit lined a double down the left field line and both runners scored. Virginia Coach O'Connor immediately lifted Young for Howard. The Cavaliers' closer got Lewis to hit a grounder to short.
Cavaliers put the game away with another big inning
With one out in the bottom of the eighth the Wahoos put together two straight singles. Coman walked to load the bases. Kevin Mooney came in for Stiles, who was effective in five innings of relief. Cogswell hit one through the box for a two-run single. It was the third time tonight that a hit just eluded a Terrapin pitcher's glove. Pinero then delivered the crusher, a two-run opposite field double to right. Papi scorched a grounder down the first base line for a double. The next two batters flew out, however Virginia led 11 - 2 after eight innings.
In the top of the ninth Coach Szefc let Terps who had not yet seen action in the post-season a chance to swing. Michael Montville skied out to center, Mike Rescigno got aboard via an infield hit, and Krysthian Leal hit a liner right at Downs. White struck out for the final out.
Maryland finished the year 40 - 23 overall. It was a fantastic season for the Terps, which I'll review in an article later this week.