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Maryland baseball: Mount St. Mary's upsets Terps 3 - 2

Last year's unexpected loss to lowly Mount St. Mary's severely hurt the Terps' chances of post-season play. Unfortunately the Terps couldn't solve MSM again, garnering only 5 hits and stranding 17 runners.

This game scared me. Last year Mount Saint Mary's (MSM) visited Shipley Field and beat the Terps 2 - 1. MSM had an RPI of 293 out of a possible 298, ending up with a 11 - 37 record. That loss to the Mountaineers dropped Maryland's RPI down substantially and severely hampered the Terps' chances of making the NCAA tournament. This year MSM (8 - 11) came in with an RPI of 262. It's a game that Maryland had very little to gain and a substantial amount to lose.

Today's game pitted Bobby Ruse (4-0, 2.56 ERA) vs. MSM  Jr. RHP Scott Nickerson (0-2, 9.28 ERA). Ruse has turned into a reliable weekday starter, along with providing crucial weekend relief work. Ruse last pitched on Sunday, going 2.1 innings in a "hold" situation against Wake Forest, in a game the Terps won 11 - 3. I wasn't sure how many innings he'd pitch tonight given his recent work.

Both teams throwing goose eggs

Ruse sailed through the first three innings, striking out two and allowing just an infield single. Nickerson also looked good through three innings, giving up just two infield hits. The only excitement for the Terps was Charlie White swiping his 18th base of the year.

Brandon Casas came on in the fourth to pitch for the Terps. Ruse had thrown 32 pitches, so his role today was obviously limited. Andrew Frazier grounded a single through the hole between short and third. But Casas induced MSM's leading hitter, Andrew Clow, to ground into a double play. Kory Britton sent a blast that just tailed foul missing a home run. He subsequently grounded out to second.

Kyle Convissar was nipped by a pitch to start the bottom of the fourth. Convissar went to second on a passed ball.  However Nickerson struck out the next two Terps and got Nick Cieri to pop out.

Déjà vu all over again?

Ryan Owens hit a double off the center field wall to start the fifth. After a fly out Owens took third on a grounder to short. Tayler Stiles came in to face left-handed pinch hitter Joshua Lenig, who walked. The Terps escaped falling behind as the next batter grounded out.

In the bottom of the fifth Kevin Martir hit a hard single to left. That was Maryland's first hit that left the infield.  Martir scooted to second on a wild pitch. Rescigno struck out and White flied out to left. Brandon Lowe was HBP and LaMonte Wade walked, loading the bases. But Convissar popped out to end the threat. It was scoreless through five innings, resembling the upset loss a year ago.

In the top of the sixth the Mountaineers got men aboard through two singles up the middle. With two outs Britton hit a hard grounder that Lowe knocked down, but the ball trickled into the outfield, allowing the runner on second to come around and score. Mount Saint Mary's led 1 - 0.

More trouble for the Terps

Nickerson was relieved by LHP Chad Diehl. Maryland could manage only a lone single in their half of the sixth. Alex Robinson started the seventh for the Terps. Chris Del Vecchio hit a worm that went for an infield single. He advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. Robinson walked the next batter, then hit the following batter. That was it for Robinson. Ben Brewster came to face a one-out bases loaded situation. He struck out the next batter. But Andrew Clow lined a single into right field and MSM led 3 - 0.

Michael Montville pinch hit for the Terps in the bottom of the seventh and drew a walk. Then MSM gave the Terps a gift. White hit a routine fly to left that the outfielder dropped. Lowe walked to load the bases. On a 3 - 2 pitch Wade hit a fly to shallow center field. RHP Austin Bonadio came in to pitch for MSM. Convissar walked and Montville scored. Schmit struck out swinging and Cuas flew out to deep left, stranding three Terps.

Kevin Mooney came on in relief and retired the side in order in the top of the eighth..

Terps come close but can't get the big hit

Cieri led off the bottom of the eighth by drawing a walk. Andrew Amaro came in to run for Cieri. Martir also walked, putting the tying run on base. MSM's closer, RHP Nick Riley, came in to pitch. He picked Amaro off second. Krysthian Leal got a pinch-hit walk. Riley induced White to pop up to second. Lowe was HBP to load then up. But Wade lined out to right. Through eight innings the Terps had managed only four hits while leaving 14 men on base.

Mooney got all three batters in the ninth.

The Terps went to the bottom of the ninth trailing by two runs. Convissar struck out. Schmit lined a single to right field and Cuas walked. Tim Lewis pinch hit for Amaro and was HBP. Martir lined out to right; Schmit scored and Cuas moved over to third. Anthony Papio walked, bringing White to the plate. But White grounded out to the pitcher and the Terps lose 3 - 2.