In what was a pitching battle for most of the night, the fifth-ranked LSU Tigers were able to break the game open late as Maryland baseball lost by a score of 6-1 on Friday. The loss dropped the Terps to a record of 1-3 on the season.
Starting pitching was the storyline early in the contest as LSU trotted out a highly touted right hander in Alex Lange. The Tigers ace allowed one run in six innings of work, striking at 12 batters in the process. It was clear why the pitcher is so highly thought of as he was working the corners all game and using his curveball to put Maryland hitters away. However, the Terps did manage to put pressure on the junior.
The Terps collected six hits when Lange was on the mound, but just weren’t able to get the big hit to push LSU into a tight ballgame.
Not to be overlooked, Brian Shaffer was very solid for John Szefc on Friday night. After allowing just one earned run during his first start of the year, the senior was stretched out to the seventh inning. He did eclipse the 100 pitch mark on an intentional walk before Maryland turned to its bullpen, which once again fluttered in the late innings, allowing three earned runs between Ryan Hill and Taylor Stiles.
Lange was impressive early after working out of a jam in the top of the first. Known for his ability to get swings and misses, the top draft prospect started his day by racking up five strikeouts in the first three innings of work. However, Shaffer matched him with two innings scoreless innings of his own to open up the series.
Then the wheels came off a little in the bottom of the third. Left fielder Brennan Breaux kicked things off with a hard single up the middle. He was eventually driven in on a triple by Antoine Duplantis for the first run of the series. Two more hits and a sacrifice fly put the Terps in an early 3-0 hole.
The Terrapins were quick to answer in the next half inning, albeit on a slightly smaller scale. First baseman Brandon Gum led off with sharp single up the middle. After a Madison Nickens walk, Kevin Smith got his second hit in as many at bats, hitting a double over the left fielder’s head to bring home Maryland’s first run of the game. Unfortunately for the Terps, they couldn’t bring home anymore runners after Lange hunkered down with one out in the inning to keep the LSU lead at 3-1.
The game settled as both pitchers found a groove. Shaffer was able to get out of the fourth inning after walking two batters. He seemed to find himself after pitching a scoreless top of the fifth and sixth.
Lange was removed after allowing just one run through six innings of work, which seemed like good news for the Terps. Immediately after the LSU starter exited, Maryland got a runner to third with an A.J. Lee single, groundout and balk. But the Terps came up empty once again, as Nick Dunn grounded out harmlessly to first base to end the threat.
Shaffer was able to go slightly further in the ballgame, as he was relieved by Ryan Hill with two runners on and two down in the bottom of the seventh. The junior hurler was able to strike out a batter to strand an LSU runner in scoring position.
The eighth inning was much less kind to the Terps. After failing to score with runners on first and second with one man down in the top half, Maryland’s bullpen began to revert back to the struggles that plagued them in their three games last weekend.
Ryan Hill got the Terps in trouble early after he hit the first batter of the inning, then threw a wild ball on a pickoff attempt to advance the runner. Tayler Stiles would relieve Hill with nobody down in the inning, but he couldn’t right the ship.
The left-hander allowed a single before giving up a backbreaking three-run bomb over the left field wall to give LSU a commanding five-run advantage, which ultimately was just too much to overcome.
The teams are set to play game two of their three-game series tomorrow at 3 p.m. ET. LSU will send out senior Jared Poché, who is coming off a no-hitter against Army last weekend. Junior Taylor Bloom will make the start for Maryland.