Maryland baseball lost its 2017 season opener, 8-3 to Ball State on Friday. A strong pitching performance by Brian Shaffer and a three-run fifth gave the Terps a brief 3-1 lead. But last year’s sore spot, relief pitching, was once again disappointing. A five-run inning gave Ball State a lead that it didn’t relinquish, and the Terps managed only four hits, two by A.J. Lee. Ball State’s Colin Brockhouse was stellar in relief.
Ball State takes a 1-0 lead
Ball State had only two baserunners through the first three innings, but the Terps couldn’t score either, even though they got a baserunner aboard in each inning. The Terps had something going in the bottom of the fourth. Marty Costes was hit by a pitch, and Nick Cieri drew a walk to put runners on first and second with no outs. However, they were left stranded there.
Ball State took the first lead of the game in the fifth inning. Seth Freed hit a one-out double to right center field, and came home on a two-out single by Trent Theisen. Matt Eppers followed with a single to right, putting runners on the corners. Shaffer notched his sixth strikeout to keep the score 1-0.
Terps take lead, but Ball State responds
Morris lined a single to center, and AJ Lee hit a double down the left field line. With the infield playing back, Zach Jancarski brought Morris home on a ground out. The bases were loaded when Nick Dunn walked and Marty Costes got aboard via an error. After Nick Cieri popped out, Kevin Smith was in a 0-2 hole before getting hit by a pitch and driving in another run to give the Terps a 2-1 lead. The score moved to 3-1 after Madison Nickens walked. However, three Terps were left on base when Kevin Biondic went down on strikes.
Lefty Tayler Stiles relieved Shaffer in the top of the sixth. Shaffer’s final line: 5 innings, 3 hits, 1 earned run, 2 walks and 6 strikeouts on 82 total pitches.
Ball State came right back in the top of the sixth. A single, walk, and an RBI single by Caleb Stayton made the score 3-2. That brought in righthander Ryan Hill with runners on the corners and one out. Freed hit a shallow fly that fell in between Smith and Nickens to tie the score. A walk loaded the bases, and then Matt Eppers gave Ball State a 5-3 lead with a scorching double down the third base line. Righty Jared Price relieved Hill. A wild pitch allowed in Ball State’s sixth run, before a strike out ended the inning.
Ball State got two more runs in the eighth, as Sean Kennedy cracked a two-run homer off RHP Cameron Enck. Meanwhile the Terps couldn’t solve Ball State’s Colin Brockhouse, who struck out eight batters in 4.1 scoreless innings.
The Terps fall to 0-1 on the year, and Tayler Stiles was saddled with the loss.
Today’s starting lineup:
1. Zach Jancarski cf
2. Nick Dunn 2b
3. Marty Costes rf
4. Nick Cieri dh
5. Kevin Smith ss
6. Madison Nickens lf
7. Kevin Biondic 1b
8. Justin Morris c
9. A.J. Lee 3b
Starting Pitcher: Brian Shaffer