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NCAA Baseball Tournament 2017: Maryland falls to West Virginia, 9-1, in regional opener

The Mountaineers hit six home runs and Maryland shot itself in the foot offensively in a disappointing game.

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john szefc
Sung Min Kim/Testudo Times

In its first game of the NCAA Tournament, Maryland baseball allowed six home runs to West Virginia in a 9-1 loss. The defeat puts the Terps on the brink of elimination.

The Mountaineers took advantage of David Crouch Stadium’s small dimensions—300 feet down the line in left and 310 feet in right—to take a huge lead that the Terps wouldn’t come close to erasing. It was the second straight game that Brian Shaffer, Maryland’s ace, was hit hard. Although he was throwing strikes, too many pitches found their way out of the park.

Maryland had chances to score in the early innings. However, the Terps just couldn’t get the crucial hit, and came away with just a single run. B.J. Meyers, the Mountaineers’ usual Friday starter, came in relief in the fourth and held the Terps scoreless over 5.2 innings, allowing just four hits. Hitting into double plays plagued the Terps’ offense.

Zach Jancarski had three of Maryland’s seven hits.

The home runs started early and often for West Virginia. Cole Austin led off the bottom of the second inning with a double. One out later, Kyle Davis went yard to put the Mountaineers on top 2-0. Jimmy Galusky hit a high fly that traveled over the fence to make the score 3-0.

The Terps, meanwhile, hurt themselves early by hitting into double plays in the first two innings. In the third inning, it looked like Maryland might break through. Madison Nickens drew a walk, then went to second on a forceout. Jancarski looped his second single of the game, scoring Nickens. A.J. Lee was plunked by a pitch, as was Brandon Gum to load the bases. But Marty Costes grounded out on the first pitch to end the rally.

In the bottom of the third, Ivan Gonzales reached for a pitch and hit a balloon that sailed for a solo home run.

In the top of the fourth, the Terps left the bases filled for the second straight inning. Will Watson became the fourth Terrapin batter to get hit by a pitch. Kevin Smith followed with a line drive single to center field. That finished freshman right-hander Alex Manoah, in favor of Meyers. Nickens laid down a bunt for a single to fill the bases. However, Justin Morris popped out and Jancarski skied out to leave the bases loaded once again.

In the Mountaineer fourth, Davis hit his second home run of the game, a no-doubter that would have been out in any park. The home runs didn’t stop there. In the fifth inning, Darius Hill singled and went to second when Costes bobbled the ball. Austin then sent a pitch over the center field wall to make it 7-1 Mountaineers.

Ryan Hill came on in relief in the sixth inning; He ran into trouble in the seventh. Two singles and an error by Smith put Mountaineers aboard all bases with no one out. A sac fly made it 8-1.

The Terps looked like they might mount a rally in their half of the eighth. Gum lined a single to right center and Costes walked. Dunn hit the first pitch for a 4-6-3 double play, the third double play for Maryland. Although Watson was hit by a pitch to put runners on the corners, Smith flied out to end the inning.

Jamal Wade came on to pitch the eighth, and gave up Galusky’s second home run of the game, a solo shot to left center field that extended West Virginia’s lead to 9-1.

The loss put the Terps in a big hole. Statistically, the regional winners have won their first game 93 percent of the time. Maryland next plays an elimination game Saturday at 2 p.m. against UMBC.