In an effort to pick up their third win to start the 2015 season, the Maryland Terrapins broke out the all red uniforms, the pride stirrups and sent sophomore southpaw Tayler Stiles to the mound to face the Old Dominion Monarchs. Unfortunately for its readers, Testudo Times had to send in the 'B' team to cover the game.
Maryland was the nominal visiting team and jumped on ODU starter Crofton, MD sophomore Joey Benitez. As was the case in the first two games, Brandon Lowe was instrumental in getting things started for the Terps reaching base for the eighth time this season when he was hit by a pitch leading off the game. LaMonte Wade wasted no time in picking up Lowe when he smoked a double to the fence in right center. Monarchs center fielder Connor Myers bobbled the ball allowing Lowe to score easily from first. Wade, however, was caught at third trying to take advantage of the miscue. The Terps did no further damage.
Old Dominion evened things up in the bottom half of the inning. Nick Walker led off the inning with a double to the fence over the head of Wade in center. Nick Lustrino followed with a sharp single to left that Walker had to wait on and the right fielder only advanced to third. However, Tim Lewis in left overthrew the cutoff man allowing Lustrino to move up to second. Although Lewis wasn't charged with an error, this miscue would prove the key to the Monarchs picking up the equalizer.
A quick play by Jose Cuas on a chopper to third got Walker at the plate. With runners on the corners, Stiles struck out Josh Eldrige but a passed ball by Nick Cieri, giving Kevin Martir a rest, let Lustrino come in to score. Stiles got Mike Perez on a a swinging third strike to end the inning with the score knotted at one.
Settling in and pitching through the threats
The pitchers dominated the second and third innings with Jason McMurray's one out double in the ODU second the only hit by either squad. Both teams managed to mount threats in the fourth. Maryland put together back to back singles after Cuas skied to center to open the inning but designated hitter Jamal Wade, getting to start with his brother for the first time in their Terrapins careers, bounced into a third to first double play.
Old Dominion also put two runners on in their half of the fourth on a leadoff double and Stiles' only walk of the game. The lefty got out of the inning on a pair of strikeouts although one came on a passed ball that allowed the runners to move up to second and third.
A Case of Deja-vu for Zack Morris and the ODU bullpen
Stiles finished up five innings of work giving up four hits, walking a batter and hitting one while giving up just one unearned run. He also rang up nine strikeouts. Zach Morris came in to open the sixth for Maryland. Just as he had in his first 2014 appearance against James Madison, Morris gave up a home run to the first batter he faced - this time in the person of Josh Eldridge. After giving up a single, he got out of the inning with no further damage.
Okay,so it wasn't the ninth inning and there wasn't a brace of hit batters, but the Terps got the lead back in the top of the seventh. Andrew Bechtold started the rally with an opposite field single to right - his first hit as a Terrapin. Jake Josephs came in as the fourth Monarchs pitcher of the game. Josephs got just what he wanted when Anthony Papio hit a ground ball just to the right field side of second base but ODU second baseman PJ Higgins failed to make the play and the Terps had first and second with one out.
Kevin Smith struck out swinging but the on base machine that is Brandon Lowe, who went hitless for the first time, drew a four pitch walk to load the bases for Wade. Wade smacked a 1-2 pitch into right for a two RBI single. An error on the throw by right fielder Nick Walker allowed Lowe and Wade to advance to second and third but Cuas struck out to end the inning.
More late foot for the Terps
Maryland added two more runs - one unearned - in the top of the eighth to stretch the lead to 5-2. The second late rally again started with a one out single this case an infield single up the middle by Tim Lewis. Justin Morris who replaced Jamal Wade as the DH reached when Monarchs' shortstop McMurray dropped his pop to left. Bechtold struck out but the runners advanced on a passed ball and Anthony Papio ripped a single to right driving in Lewis and Morris.
Alex Robinson saw his first action of the season to open the eighth for the Terrapins. After giving up a leadoff double to the hot hitting Josh Eldridge, Robinson struck out the next two batters. With one on and two out, Szefc replaced Robinson with closer Kevin Mooney who got the last out on a liner to right after opening his stint with three straight balls.
Mooney, as he often does, made things interesting in the bottom of the ninth. He walked Old Dominion's eight and nine hitters to open the inning. But as he has done throughout his Maryland career, retired the next three batters on two fly outs and a pop out to Lowe to end the game and secure the 5-2 win. By virtue or his effort, Mooney picked up his 23rd career save moving him into a tie with Brett Cecil for most all-time saves at Maryland.
Sunday's scheduled game against Coastal Carolina has been cancelled due to impending weather. The Terps will return to action Friday in Mobile against the South Alabama Jaguars.