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Fifth-inning meltdown derails Maryland baseball in 12-8 loss to No. 25 Iowa

Maryland surrendered nine runs in the fifth inning.

Photo courtesy of Trisha Duque/Maryland Athetics

Maryland baseball clinched a series win on Saturday against No. 25 Iowa with a 7-4 win. On Sunday, it looked for a big road sweep against the Hawkeyes in its first Big Ten series of the year.

Maryland was in a position to do so. It took a 6-1 lead into the bottom of the fifth inning, and freshman lefty Kyle McCoy was cruising.

But in that frame, two hits and a walk loaded the bases with no one out. A ground ball by Iowa redshirt sophomore utilityman Keaton Anthony was misplayed by junior second baseman Kevin Keister, which allowed two runs to score. It was all downhill from there, as Iowa scored nine runs in the bottom of the fifth on eight total hits. The five-run Maryland lead turned into a four-run deficit.

The Terps couldn’t respond to the Hawkeyes' big rally, dropping the third and final game of the series, 12-8. Maryland still got a road series win, but it couldn't finish off the Hawkeyes.

Sunday’s game started exactly like Saturday’s, as junior catcher Luke Shliger hit a leadoff home run, giving Maryland an early lead. Despite this, Iowa junior right-handed pitcher Ty Langenberg kept the Terps at bay early, striking out six and giving up only one hit in his first three innings of work.

Iowa responded to Shliger's home run with a big hit of its own, as redshirt junior outfielder Kyle Huckstorf hit an RBI double to tie things up in the first.

McCoy and Langenberg traded two scoreless innings, keeping it a tie game after three innings.

In the fourth, a leadoff double by Keister was followed up by a Bobby Zmarzlak no-doubt home run, extending Maryland’s lead to two.

In the fifth, Shliger was hit by a pitch, and senior third baseman Nick Lorusso singled to put two runners on, extending his hitting streak to 26 games. After a strikeout by junior shortstop Matt Shaw, fifth-year outfielder Matt Woods, Keister, and Zmarzlak all hit respective RBI singles to stretch the Terps’ lead to five, which forced Langenberg out of the game. Maryland then loaded the bases with a walk by sophomore outfielder Jacob Orr, but stranded the bases loaded with a strikeout.

The Hawkeyes were unfazed in the bottom of the fifth, quickly loading the bases. After Keister’s error at second, graduate utilityman Brennen Dorighi hit an RBI single and Huckstorf followed with a single of his own that tied the game up. That forced McCoy, who couldn’t record an out in his fifth inning of work, out of the game. Junior righty Nate Haberthier came in for relief, but Iowa’s bats didn’t stop.

Raider Tello gave the Hawkeyes the lead with an RBI single, and sophomore utilityman Sam Petersen walked. Three more runs quickly crossed the plate, as redshirt junior infielder Sam Hojnar subsequently launched a ball over the center field fence. Two more hits forced Haberthier out of the game — he was only able to record one out. Sophomore southpaw Andrew Johnson finally shut down the monstrous Iowa rally with two quick outs.

Maryland chipped away in the sixth, when Shliger and Shaw both reached base on an error and a walk, respectively, and a throwing error put them in scoring position. Woods knocked one in with a single, and Keister walked to load the bases with one out. Zmarzlak drove home his fourth run of the day on an infield single, and the lead was cut to two. But, sophomore first baseman Eddie Hacopian ended the rally by hitting into a double play that stranded the bases loaded.

Johnson and Iowa freshman left-handed pitcher Cade Obermueller traded two scoreless innings, cooling down the red-hot bats for the first time in a while.

In the bottom of the eighth, Johnson was pulled after a walk, and Nigel Belgrave looked to keep the Terps within two headed to the ninth. Iowa woke back up, as Huckstorf hit a single and Tello hit another to give the Hawkeyes some insurance. Belgrave loaded the bases but only surrendered one more run after a passed ball by Shliger.

A four-run ninth-inning deficit was too much for the Terps, as they dropped game three of the series.

The Terps will face William & Mary on Tuesday and Rutgers next weekend.

Three things to know

1. Disastrous fifth inning. Three runs, four hits, and two free passes lifted Maryland to a five-run lead. Iowa erased it in a heartbeat, though, collecting eight hits, nine total runs, and two walks in the bottom of the fifth to turn a five-run deficit into a four-run lead. Maryland couldn’t record its first out till the 10th batter of the inning, a testament to how poor Maryland’s pitching has been at times this season.

2. The bottom of Maryland’s order underperformed. Hacopian, Orr and sophomore outfielder Elijah Lambros combined to go 0-for-12 in the game, with Orr and Hacopian both having a walk. While bad stretches are inevitable, the bottom of Maryland’s order was unable to keep rallies going, either striking out or hitting rally-killing ground balls that hurt the Terps’ ability to match Iowa’s offense.

3. No sweep, but a big series win. Despite rough pitching all series long, Sunday’s game doesn’t take away how massive this road series win is for Maryland. Iowa was the only ranked opponent in the Big Ten headed into the weekend and it had the best ERA in the conference. Despite this, Maryland put up 25 total runs in three games, miraculously overcoming a five-run deficit in game one and getting a big win in game two.