The Maryland Terrapins baseball team traveled to Hawley Field in Morgantown Wednesday night for their first meeting with West Virginia since the Mountaineers came to College Park in 2012 and was the first of a home and home series between the squads. The game was a quality mid-week test for the Terps against a solid Big 12 opponent ranked thirty-third in the latest RPI and the home team prevailed .
Both managers sent southpaws to the mound to start the game. WVU opened up with Ross Vance. The lefthander was coming off a complete game 4-1 win over Ohio State last Tuesday in which he recorded fourteen strikeouts. Taylor Stles got his second career start for the Terps. The freshman entered the game with a 2-1 record having been pinned with the loss against Mount St. Mary's.
Mountaineers get on top early
Vance got off to a strong start for the home team retiring the side in order in each of the first two innings. Stiles matched him in the first but was bitten by the pitcher's worst enemy, issuing a lead off walk to Ryan McBroom in the West Virginia second. After a sharp line drive our to center, Brad Johnson ripped a double to the fence in left center driving home McBroom. Johnson moved to third on a wild pitch but was stranded at third when Max Nogay attempted a suicide squeeze but missed the ball and had it hit him instead. Stiles was credited with a strikeout and Johnson allowed to return to third. Stiles picked up his second strikeout to end the inning and escape with no further damage.
More trouble in the fourth
Stiles worked through an uneventful third and retired the lead off hitter in the bottom of the fourth. After getting ahead of Ryan McBroom 0-2, Stiles threw two in the dirt and McBroom pulled a double over the bag at third. Jacob Rice then topped a slow roller to third that left Jose Cuas without a play. The red hot Brad Johnson, who had six consecutive hits dating back to the Mountaineers' last series at Oklahoma, came to the plate with another chance to drive in a run. Stile improved his chances for an RBI when he uncorked his second wild pitch of the game allowing the runners to advance to second and third.
Despite trailing by only one run in the fourth inning, Coach Szefc elected to bring the infield in and Johnson took advantage driving what would have been a routine grounder past the outstretched glove of a diving Blake Schmit picking up two more runs batted in for the game. Stiles settled down and got out of the inning with no additional damage and the Terps trailing 3-0.
Double trouble in the fifth
Despite having thrown only 72 pitches, the wheels fell off for Stiles in the West Virginia fifth. The trouble began when Michael Constantini ripped a line drive off the shin or ankle of Maryland third baseman Jose Cuas. The infielder crumbled and Constantini reached on an infield hit. More troubling for the Terps, Cuas had to leave the game and was replaced by Mike Rescigno. Taylor Munden followed with another shot down the third base line for a double. But the inning continued to worsen when Bobby Boyd drove a ball through the wind and over the fence in right that put Maryland in a 6-0 hole and ended the night for Stiles.
Jared Price came in to relieve Stiles and fared little better showing the same inability to close hitters out after getting ahead in the count. Billy Fleming greeted Price with a line drive single to right. He stole second and came around to score on a single to left by Rice. Rice stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on a two out single to center. By inning's end, the line score read MD 0 - 1 - 1 WVU 8 -10 -1.
A wasted opportunity and a deeper hole
Maryland had a golden opportunity to get back in the game when they scratched out their first run of the night in the top of the sixth. Charlie White drew a one out walk and LaMonte Wade drove a single to center after Brandon Lowe flied to to left. Schmit, who had the Terps' first hit of the night in the fourth, drover a double to the fence in left center. White scored easily and Wade held at third. Rescigno was hit by a pitch to load the bases but designated hitter popped out to short to end the inning and leave the bases loaded.
West Virginia continued playing tee ball against the Jared Price. In their half of the sixth, Mountaineers batters started double, double, triple. When Price walked Billy Fleming, Szefc pulled him in favor of Brandon Casas. Casas got out of the inning allowing only one additional run on a sacrifice fly and the home team had tallied eleven.
I trust that anyone reading this will forgive me for metaphorically leaving the webcast on the West Virginia website. I went to the kitchen, put some vanilla ice cream in a dish, and hit my DVD collection to watch the 30 for 30 episode called The Band That Wouldn't Die because I needed to get this sour taste out of my mouth.
The Terps will look to end their two game skid when they return home to College Park to host the George Mason Patriots in a 6:00 pm start before heading off to Chestnut Hill for an important weekend series with the Boston College Eagles.