With both starting pitchers seemingly finding a rhythm, each run became even more valuable in No. 22 Maryland baseball’s matchup against Dallas Baptist.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Dallas Baptist had runners on second and third while holding onto a slim one-run lead. Maryland then brought in senior relief pitcher Sean Heine to replace junior Nick Dean in hopes of shutting down a prime opportunity.
Dallas Baptist left fielder Andrew Benefield got the first crack at Heine and singled to left field, clearing the bases and extending the home team’s lead even further. The once one-run deficit quickly expanded to four soon after for Maryland in the same inning, giving the Patriots’ bullpen some runs to work with.
The Patriots scored two more runs the rest of the game, which was more than enough to take the 8-3 win over the Terps on Friday night. Maryland came away with only five hits in the loss.
Maryland will face off against Dallas Baptist two more times this weekend in an important series that could catapult the Terps in the national rankings. Maryland’s record drops to 17-4 with the loss and it snapped its four-game winning streak.
This highly-anticipated matchup got off to a fitting start with a total of three runs scored in the first inning.
Two walks and one hit-by-pitch loaded the bases up for the Terps, but a groundout and flyout gave Dallas Baptist two outs. Junior right fielder Troy Shreffler didn’t let Maryland’s early opportunity go to waste as he tapped a single through the right side, scoring two runs to put Maryland up.
Dallas Baptist shrunk its two-run deficit in half even with two quick outs on the board and no one on base in the bottom of the opening inning. Fifth-year shortstop Blayne Jones hit a solo home run, gaining one run back before Dean struck out the last batter of the inning.
Sophomore second baseman Kevin Keister kept his streak alive in the top of the second with a single to left field to make it five consecutive games with a hit. Not much followed as a diving catch in deep left field by redshirt sophomore Andrew Benefield ended the half-inning.
Dean had a little bit of a rocky second inning, walking two batters. Benefield, the first of the two, was caught stealing second by sophomore catcher Luke Shliger for the second out of the inning. A groundout to second ended the inning as both teams left a man on with no runs scored.
The Patriots took advantage after Maryland failed to add onto its lead in the third inning. Catcher Nate Rombach kick-started the bottom of the third with a double down the left field line. Center fielder Jace Grady singled to center, scoring Rombach, and then took the lead after first baseman Cole Moore hit him home on a groundout to first base.
Dallas Baptist’s two-run inning gave it a 3-2 lead, its first of the game.
Maryland was unable to respond as it couldn’t produce a base runner in the fourth and fifth innings. Dallas Baptist sophomore pitcher Jacob Meador had found his stride since the first inning, recording three of his five strikeouts over the two-inning span to keep the Terps at bay.
Dallas Baptist added onto its lead in the bottom of the fifth as Grady got on base with a leadoff single. An error by left fielder Bobby Zmarzlak put runners on second and third, and they were brought home with a Benefield single to left center field. Senior Sean Heine allowed the Patriots to score once more before the inning’s end, giving Dallas Baptist a 6-2 lead.
Sophomore shortstop Matt Shaw walked to begin the sixth inning, giving Maryland its first base runner in three innings. But after a Schreffler strikeout, Zmarzlak hit into a double play, erasing the Terps’ lone base runner.
Graduate student pitcher Nick Robinson gave Maryland some stability on the mound in the bottom of the sixth, recording the Terps’ first 1-2-3 inning of the game.
However, in the top of the seventh inning, the Terps were unable to produce a runner on base as sophomore pitcher Brady Rose struck out two batters in his first inning.
Maryland’s offensive struggles made a comeback unlikely. The Terps produced just three hits through seven innings.
The Patriots added on one more in the bottom of the seventh as Dallas Baptist third baseman Luke Heefner smacked a one-run shot over the center field wall, pushing Dallas Baptist’s advantage to 7-2.
Fifth-year center fielder Chris Alleyne walked to start the eighth and Shaw got his first hit of the game with two outs. Schreffler was unable to keep the inning alive, flying out to center field. After conceding another run in the bottom of the eighth, Maryland had just one more opportunity to make a comeback down by six runs.
Maryland made some noise in the top of the ninth, even coming away with a run, but it wasn’t enough as it eventually fell to Dallas Baptist on the road.
Three things to know
1. Nick Dean had another tough outing. Dean entered this matchup coming off a nine-hit, six-run game against Siena through just four innings pitched. Aside from the initial home run in this matchup, Maryland’s ace seemed to have regained his footing in the first inning, striking out two batters. However, Dean began to slip. The junior walked two batters in the second. In the third and fourth innings, Dean let up four hits and two runs. He finished with three earned runs and six hits allowed in 4.1 innings pitched before being removed from the mound. With Big Ten play approaching, Dean needs to figure things out if the Terps want to sit atop the conference.
2. Troy Schreffler’s hitting streak stays alive despite poor offensive performance. Maryland’s whole lineup was sluggish on Friday night, recording just five hits with one of them belonging to Schreffler. The junior remains as the Terps’ hit leader with 29 as his hitting streak eclipsed six games. Schreffler, who finished the game 1-for-4 at the plate with two RBIs, may need to continue his latest stretch of solid hitting if Maryland wants to find a way to win this series.
3. Dallas Baptist snapped Maryland’s four-game win streak and extended its own in the process. Both teams were rolling coming into Friday night’s game as each were on a four-game winning streak. After the two-run first inning, the Terps’ offense fell flat, which opened the door for Dallas Baptist to take the first of a three-game series. Maryland will now need to find some momentum, especially at the plate, in the next two games of the series to rebuild its confidence heading into Big Ten play.