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Maryland baseball drops its first game of the season, falls to Rhode Island, 11-8

Two runs from the Rams in the seventh and ninth innings sank the Terps late.

Maxwell Costes, Maryland, Rhode Island Tyler DeSue | Testudo Times

With Maryland baseball knotted up at 7-7 in the midst of an offensive explosion with Rhode Island, junior infielder Austin Chavis cracked his first home run of the season to right center field to give the Terps an 8-7 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning.

However, the lead didn’t last long. The Rams answered back quickly in the top of the seventh inning with two runs of their own off a costly error from freshman outfielder Troy Schreffler Jr.

After blowing the lead late, Maryland couldn't produce a miraculous comeback against the Rams, losing its first game of the season, 11-8.

For the third time in five games in the 2020 season, Maryland trailed to start off the game. But for the first time, it couldn’t come from behind to steal a win late.

It started to seem like the Terps were performing the same act from the first four games — starting off pretty slow offensively and recover the lead late.

After sophomore infielder Ben Cowles smacked a solo home run in the bottom of the second to put the Terps in front at 2-1, the Rams exploded for five runs in the third to recapture the lead and create some distance between the two team.

In the top of the third, freshman pitcher Nick Dean walked a pair of batters and allowed a single to load the bases with just one out.

Jackson Coutts made Dean pay immediately, knocking in two runs on a double down the left field line. First baseman Xavier Vargas followed that up with a monster three-run homer to right field, bringing in three runs as the Rams put up a five-spot in the frame to take a 6-2 lead.

After scoring two runs in the first two innings due to RBIs from Tucker Flint and Maxwell Costes, the Terps’ comeback began in the fourth and fifth innings.

The Terps pulled within two off of a Matt Orlando ground ball RBI and Chavis’ successful suicide squeeze towards the pitcher in the bottom of the fourth.

Then, in the bottom of the fifth, junior outfielder Randy Bednar started off the inning with a double towards the left field line. He was then brought home by redshirt junior Tavan Shahidi’s two-out double to bring the score to 6-4.

Freshman Troy Schreffler Jr. continued to keep Maryland’s two-out bats alive, cranking a two-run home run to left field and bringing home Shahidi to give the Terps a 7-6 lead — their first since the 2nd inning.

After the Rams tied the game in the sixth inning, Chavis brought Maryland back in the lead once more with a home run to right center field.

But Rhode Island, which entered the ninth with a one-run lead after an error by Schreffler in the seventh, put an end to Maryland’s comeback attempt in the final frame.

With one out, Vargas hit a two-run homer towards center field, extending the Rams’ lead to 11-8 in the top of the ninth inning — a margin the Terps could not overcome in their final inning despite having runners on second and third with only one out.

Three things to know

1. Freshman pitcher Nick Dean struggled in his second appearance. Dean was able to go 4.2 innings this afternoon against the Rams, but he surrendered five runs in the third inning to give Rhode Island an early lead. Despite allowing just four hits on the day, he finished with six earned runs; a pair of walks proved costly, as both came around to score. The freshman struggled with his control throughout, and it cost him and the Terps.

2. Hitting remains a strength for the Terps. Through five games to start the 2020 season, Maryland has scored no fewer than four runs in a game. The Terps hit their first three home runs of the season this afternoon against the Rams. Schreffler, Cowles and Chavis each cracked one home run, respectively, combining for five total RBIs.

3. Maryland couldn’t conjure late magic this time around. The Terps trailed by one run in the bottom of the seventh and then by three in the bottom of the ninth. Maryland was able to produce some runners on base in the bottom of the ninth with a Bednar double, but the Terps were unable to bring anyone home.