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Maryland baseball: No. 22 Terps burn Liberty 6-4

With two down in the ninth, no one aboard, and trailing by a run, Maryland staged a dramatic comeback to beat Liberty 6-4. Kevin Martir's double and Anthony Papio's single were the key hits.

Liberty players invite opposing team for a prayer session following every game
Liberty players invite opposing team for a prayer session following every game

The No. 22 Terps face the Liberty Flames ( #35 RPI ) in a home-and-home series this year. Tonight Maryland traveled to Lynchburg, while in four weeks the Flames come up to Shipley Field. These two midweek games are important ones, as they give the Terrapins a chance to improve their RPI. But the Flames have historically played the Terps tough.

Today's starting pitchers featured  Maryland's RHP Bobby Ruse (4-1, 5.58 era) going up against Liberty's RHP Parker Bean (3-3, 6.14 era).

Terps once again in big hole early

Liberty had a chance for a huge first inning, however Ruse prevailed. Austin Perritt hit a swinging bunt that went for an infield single. Dalton Britt followed with grounder that squeaked through the right side of the infield to put runners on the corners. Ruse struck out the next two hitters, before issuing a walk that loaded the bases. But Sammy Taormina flied out to leave the bases full of Flames.

Things turned out differently in the next inning. Andrew Yacyk led off the bottom of the second with a single. He was brought home by a Clay Keranen double down the third base line. With two outs, Britt hit a double to right-center to put Liberty up 2-0. Through two innings Ruse had thrown 56 pitches.

Ruse got two quick outs in the bottom of the third inning. Then Yacyk poked a single, and Alex Close doubled to right. Keranen lined an opposite field single to put the Flames up by four runs. That was it for Ruse, as Ryan Selmer came on to pitch.

Maryland scratches out three runs

The Terps got on the board in the fourth inning. Jose Cuas walked, stole second, and came home on a single by Jamal Wade.

In the Terrapin fifth, LaMonte Wade hit a Baltimore chopper that he was able to leg out for a hit. Brandon Lowe lined a single to right, and the Terps had something going. After Kevin Smith struck out, the Terps executed a double steal with Kevin Martir at bat. Wade scored when Martir grounded out to second. However, Jose Cuas popped out to end the inning.

The next inning was similar. Anthony Papio walked, and then went to second on a wild pitch. After a ground out, Kengo Kawahara executed a safety squeeze, bringing Papio in to cut the deficit to a single run.

Meanwhile Jake Drossner came on the hill for the Terrapins in the fifth inning. He looked sharp, throwing two scoreless innings.  Alex Robinson came in to pitch in the bottom of the seventh, while Zach Morris pitched the eighth. But the Terps' bats went quiet, and the score remained 4-3 after eight innings.

Maryland's stunning rally 

Liberty brought in their closer, appropriately named Alex Close, to finish off the Terps. Things were looking dire in the ninth, after Lowe and Smith were retired. But Martir drove a pitch past the diving center fielder for a double. Cuas hit a hot shot to the third baseman, who couldn't field it cleanly. With a 1-2 count, Papio singled through the left side, tying the score. Tim Lewis was HBP, loading the bases.  Kawahara walked, giving Maryland the 5-4 lead. It didn't stop. Justin Morris walked to put the Terps ahead by two runs. LaMonte Wade looked at strike three to end the top of the ninth.

Kevin Mooney was back to his usual role as the fireman in the bottom of the ninth. Close singled through the box to lead off. Then Mooney struck out the side to give Maryland the victory.

Zach Morris got the win to go to 3-1, while Kevin Mooney notched his fourth save. Overall, Maryland is now 25-10.