Maryland baseball was seeking to extend its win streak to seven with a Saturday matchup against Albany. Despite an 18-3 rout the day prior, Maryland’s offense fell silent.
Even though senior right-hander Nick Dean had command issues, Maryland sported a 2-1 lead going into the fifth inning and had an opportunity to make up for its fizzled-out offense.
But the Maryland defense made several mistakes. Fifth-year outfielder Matt Woods misplayed a ball in right field that turned a hit by freshman infielder Victor Mazzara into a triple, and junior second baseman Kevin Keister made an error at second that tied the game up with no outs.
A missed opportunity by the Terps on a potential double play kept a runner on first with one out, and another walk put two runners on.
A struggling Dean then faced junior outfielder Dan Tauken, who launched a ball over the wall for a go-ahead home run. Albany used Tauken’s blast to beat Maryland, 6-3, taking the second game of the series and earning its third win of the year.
After a great first start against South Florida on Feb. 18, Dean has not performed as well as advertised. Holding a 6.00 ERA coming into the game against Albany, he struggled even more Saturday.
Junior right-hander Conner Eisenmann was on the mound for Albany and kept things relatively civil early on. Maryland started things in the first with senior third baseman Nick Lorusso and Woods each hitting singles. A missed play by Eisenmann on a Kevin Keister infield hit loaded the bases with two outs, but sophomore designated hitter Ian Petrutz followed with a groundout to end the inning.
Maryland’s offense stagnated in the second inning, keeping Eisenmann’s outing scoreless.
Dean walked two batters and gave up a hit to load the bases in the second. With one out, redshirt senior catcher Carson Dunkel flew out to center to bring in a run from third and put Albany up a run early on. Dean limited the damage with two runners in scoring position, striking redshirt senior infielder Will Feil out to end the inning.
Dean settled down in the third, getting a quick flyout. He seemed to get a second quick out on a infield ground ball by Tauken, but the umpire ruled Tauken safe, a call that received plenty of backlash from the Maryland crowd. Junior catcher Luke Shliger responded almost immediately, catching Tauken stealing.
Maryland finally put runs on the board in the bottom of the third. Lorusso and Shliger both worked walks to start, and a passed ball moved them both into scoring position with no outs. A ground ball by Matt Shaw was enough to bring in a run, and Keister brought Shliger home with an RBI single to take the lead.
A tough fifth inning marked the end of day for Dean, who has yet to find his footing as this year’s Saturday starter. Fifth-year right-handed pitcher Kenny Lippman came in to end the rally for the Great Danes, but the Terps trailed by three.
Maryland looked to chip away in the sixth, getting Petrutz on base with a hit by pitch and Lorusso on with a single. A throwing error by redshirt senior shortstop Devan Kruzinski moved Petrutz to third, putting runners on the corners with no outs. Senior outfielder Bobby Zmarzlak brought in a run on a fielder’s choice — cutting the deficit to two — but Maryland couldn't get anything else going. Eisenmann tossed 102 pitches in six innings, limiting Maryland to just three runs.
Junior lefty Tommy Kane came in to relieve Lippman in the seventh. Kane surrendered the second homer of the game to Will Binder, giving Albany a three-run lead. He fanned down the rest of his batters with four strikeouts in two innings of work, three of which were three-pitch at-bats.
Both teams stagnated the rest of the game, and Albany sealed the game with a 1-2-3 inning in the ninth. It was a disappointing loss for the Terps, who were looking for a second straight sweep ahead of an important series at Central Florida next week. They will face Albany on Sunday with a chance to take the series.
Three things to know
1. Nick Dean has continued to struggle this season. Even with five strikeouts, it was not a great outing from Dean, who surrendered four earned runs and five walks. Dean gave up a three-run blast in the fifth to give Albany a three-run lead and struggled with his command all game.
2. Maryland’s second straight tough Saturday. Maryland steamrolled Maine last Friday, 25-10, and had to gut out a win the following day. On Friday, Maryland clobbered Albany, 18-3, and this time it ended up losing the day after. Maryland will get one more shot at the Great Danes on Sunday, and after that every weekend series will be tough.
3. The offense fell completely silent. Maryland scored 18 runs Friday — 10 runs in a single inning. Maryland couldn’t get a rally going to save its life Saturday, with key players like Shliger, Elijah Lambros and Petrutz all going hitless. Eisenmann had an ERA near 10 going into Saturday’s matchup but kept the Terps within the yard all game.