One day, before the season ends, I have to believe that the Maryland baseball team will play a home game in nice weather. That certainly wasn't the case Tuesday afternoon when the James Madison Dukes came to College Park and the game time weather was 48 degrees and rainy. Sitting in the press box, the phrase, "When will you be back Andrew Kramer," kept rolling through my mind like some prosaic mantra. The Terps came up short dropping a 6-3 decision.
Zach Morris got the start for Maryland and struggled in the top of the first giving up a leadoff single and eventually walking the bases loaded but he got out of the inning without giving up a run. After an uneventful second and what looked to be a routine start to the third, the weather conditions struck and the Dukes got on the board first. Maryland rightfielder Anthony Papio slipped on Connor Brown's one out fly to right and when he couldn't recover in time to make the play, Brown was credited with a triple. Madison right fielder Tyler Gregory lashed a double to the fence in left and a Terrapins' opponent scored first for the fifth time in their last six games.
The wet field became Maryland's friend in the home half of the inning. Kyle Convissar was hit by a pitch leading off the inning and Kevin Martir bunted him to second. After Charlie White struck out and Brandon owe walked, LaMonte Wade lifted a soft liner to center. The Dukes' centerfielder Kevin Husum slipped trying to break in on the ball and, though he dove to make the play, the ball hit the turf and Convissar came around from second squaring the score at one.
Dukes back on top
After retiring the side on order on the fourth, a slumping Terps defense victimized Morris on the top of the fifth. Husum led off with a single and Ty McFarland hit a humpback liner to third for the first out. Brown then hit a sharp grounder to third that should have been a tailor made double play ball but it squirted through Cuas' legs putting runners on second and third. The Terps paid the price when Kyle Weston laced a double down the left field line. This time, Maryland's relatively dormant offense had no response despite putting runners on the corners with two out. Through five, Maryland had left five runners on base.
In an example of how once things start to go wrong mishaps can continue to accumulate, Maryland may have squandered an opportunity in the sixth. Blake Schmit was hit by a pitch to open the frame. With a 2-2 count on Jose Cuas, Schmit broke for second but in a rarely seen play, Cuas was called out on strikes but was also called for batter's interference so Schmit was out at second. Papio drew a walk but was forced at second on Convissar's ground out.
JMU extends the lead
Taking advantage of that Terrapins' miscue, the Dukes picked up an insurance run in the seventh. Connor Brown delivered the clutch hit, a double to the fence in left, after McFarland drew a two out walk off reliever Taylor Stiles. Brown was thrown out at the plate trying to score on Kyle Weston's single to left when catcher Kevin Martir did an excellent job blocking the plate..
Things went from bad to worse for the Terps in the eighth. Jared Price came on in relief of Stiles and lasted four batters. Price walked Tyler Gregory to start the inning and gave up a single to Josh Wyatt. With Gregory breaking for second, the right handed hitting Wyatt poked a grounder into the slot vacated by Terrapins' second baseman Brandon Lowe as he broke to cover second. Gregory raced around to third and scored on a chopper back to the pitcher. When Price walked Szefc had seen enough and brought Ben Brewster in from the bullpen. Brewster promptly gave up a double to Brett Johnson to extend James Madison's lead to 6-1.
Maryland's bats came to life a bit in the bottom of the eighth as Schmit, pinch hitter Mike Rescigno, and Anthony Papio strung together three straight singles with one out. After a long at bat from Convissar that ended in a line out to left, Kevin Martir drove in the second run of the inning with a ground ball up the middle just out of reach of Madison shortstop Kyle Weston. A walk to Charlie White loaded the bases for Brandon Lowe and brought in JMU's eighth pitcher of the day, right hander Trent Cundiff, who got Lowe on a routine grounder to second.
Wade walked to open the ninth but Andrew Amaro who had entered the game earlier as a pinch hitter grounded into a short to first double play. The clung to life when Schmit was hit by a pitch for the second time but the game ended on Rescigno's ground out to third. In the sixth through the ninth innings the Terps left an additional seven runners on base.