The pitching matchup Sunday featured a pair of 6'5" freshman right-handed pitchers making their first collegiate starts: Maryland's Brian Shaffer vs. Arkansas' Keaton McKinney.
Home runs give Arkansas a big lead
Shaffer looked sharp in the first inning, retiring all three batters on groundouts. Brandon Lowe led off the Terrapin half of the first with a line single to right. Unfortunately, he was picked off first, as the next batter, LaMonte Wade, was hit by a pitch. A wild pitch sent Wade to second. Instead of runners on second and third with no outs, there was a runner on second with one out. Jose Cuas hit a chopper to third and Nick Cieri struck out to end the Terrapin threat.
Arkansas went on top in the second inning. Tyler Spoon hit a single up the middle. One out later Brett McAfee launched a two-run homer over the left field wall. Those were the first runs Shaffer had surrendered this year.
The Terps struck back in the bottom of the inning. With two outs Anthony Papio was hit by a pitch. Andrew Bechtold followed with a single. Papio stole third, which turned out to be important, as he came home on a Kevin Smith infield hit.
With two outs, Joe Serrano hit a single to center. A single to right by Andrew Benintendi moved Serrano to third. Chad Spanberger jumped on the first pitch and laced it to right to give the Razorbacks a two-run lead. Tyler Spoon hit a three-run homer to put Arkansas up 6-1. Rick Nomura and McAfee both singled to give the Razorbacks six straight hits. Bobby Wernes grounded out, but for the second day in a row, the Terps were in a five-run hole.
Bobby Ruse took the mound to start the fourth. He pitched much more effectively today, retiring the side in the fourth and fifth, and throwing three scoreless frames. Meanwhile Arkansas' McKinney settled down after a shaky start, allowing only three Terrapin hits through five innings.
Razorback miscues open the door for a major Terp rally
RHP Jonah Patten relieved McKinney in the bottom of the sixth. Cuas got aboard via a throwing error by Arkansas' shortstop. Cieri followed with a single to right. A walk to Lewis put Terp runners everywhere. Sidearm RHP Jacob Stone relieved Patten. Kevin Martir hit a swinging bunt that Stone tried to field and throw out Cuas at home. Instead, he threw wildly, allowing both Cuas and Cieri to score. After Papio fanned, Bechtold hit a slow roller to second that the pitcher fielded and threw wide of first: the score was now 6-4. Smith lined an opposite field single to make it 6-5. Lowe's second single of the game tied the score. A passed ball let Lowe get to second base, which proved to be important, as Wade lined a single to give the Terps an 8-6 lead. One out later Cieri hit a can of corn that the center fielder lost in the sun. Suddenly it was 9-6 Terps. Lewis' double ran the lead up to four. Martir struck out to end the inning, but the Terps had batted around and put up nine runs in the inning.
Terps' bullpen stout
Zach Morris took the mound for the Terrapins in the seventh. Ruse's line: 3ip, 1h, 0r, 1 bb, and 2 so. After retiring the first two batters, Morris walked a hitter. Vaunted freshman Luke Bonfield pinch-hit and hit a sharp grounder through the box. Smith ranged far to his left, scooped the ball up past second base, whirled around and threw out the runner. It was a great play, emblematic of the Terps' strong defense, which stood in stark contrast to that of Arkansas.
With two outs in the bottom of seventh Smith singled for the third time today. Lowe was HBP. Wade's third hit brought both runners home to make it Terps 12-6.
Arkansas now faced the unenviable prospect of trying to come back against Alex Robinson (Kevin Mooney seemed to strain his back while warming up in the bullpen). Robinson pitched a scoreless eighth. The Terps added one more run in the bottom of the inning via a walk to Martir and a double from Papio that almost left the yard.
Robinson set down the side in order in the ninth.
Bobby Ruse got the win to go 1-0. The Terps are now 5-1 on the season.