Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics
It seemed as if Sunday’s game didn’t really start until the sixth inning.
The first five innings of Maryland’s game against No. 24 Missouri were almost scoreless, with a lone run by the Terrapins in the top of the fifth the only exception.
In the sixth inning, the Tigers put seven runs on the board, making it look as if this game would go down like the Terrapins’ two previous late losses to Butler and Stephen F. Austin at the Missouri Tournament.
However, the Terrapins fought back, turning it into a nine-inning seesaw of a game that ultimately resulted in a 9-8 win for Maryland, its second defeat of a top 25 team this season.
But this excitement was a long time coming. For the first four innings, the game moved at a quick pace thanks to efficient pitching from Madison Martin for the Terps and Cheyenne Baxter for the Tigers.
Martin, who has a season ERA of 3.10, the lowest for the Terps, allowed only three hits through the fifth inning.
Both teams failed to prolong innings, as neither was able to send more than four batters to the plate through the fourth inning. This rhythm kept up until Maryland used five batters to score an unearned run in the fifth.
The pace rapidly changed when the Tigers presented a seven-run challenge in the bottom of the sixth. A double to start, coupled with four walks, two singles and a three-run homer from Natalie Fleming gave Missouri a large advantage over the Terrapins.
But, as Maryland proved in the top of the seventh, it wasn’t too large to handle.
Kassidy Cross, Hannah Dewey and Amanda Brashear loaded the bases for the Terrapins. A wild pitch, error and a double from Kristina Dillard tightened the score to 7-5.
The inning wasn’t over yet, and RBI singles from Martin and Juli Strange sent Anna Kufta and Dillard home to tie up the game in the top of the seventh.
After a switch from Martin to Dewey in the circle for the sixth inning, Martin went back in for the bottom of the seventh. A 1-2-3 inning from Martin called for an eighth inning.
In extra innings, each team is allowed to place a runner on second to speed up the game, but the Tigers and Terrapins kept it even in the eighth.
With Cross on second for the Terrapins, a fielder’s choice and sac fly from Skylynne Ellazar gave Maryland an 8-7 edge. The Tigers were quick to play catch-up and, despite two outs against them, added another run to keep the score even.
In the ninth, Dillard was placed on second and a bunt from Kufta sent Dillard to third. She made it home on an RBI single from Cross.
With a one-run lead, the Terrapins’ path to victory hinged on maintaining the lead in the bottom of the ninth.
Despite the pressure, Maryland kept it cool and shut three Tigers down consecutively.
After a foul out, Dillard caught Jolie Duffner trying to steal third to make it two. With one out left, it was critical for the Tigers to put someone on base. A walk lended an opportunity, but a flyout ended the inning and the game to give the Terrapins the win.
Next weekend, the Terrapins face four different teams at the Highlander Classic at UC Riverside.
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