Down two runs and with a storm rolling in, Maryland left fielder Madison Nickens inserted some urgency to the game and dropped a bunt. William & Mary third baseman Zach Pearson picked the ball up but lost his grip on the transfer, allowing Nickens to hustle off to first base.
Just like Nickens’ bunt in the hands of Pearson, the lead quickly slipped away from William & Mary.
Maryland put three runs on the board in the sixth inning to go ahead 7-6, erasing their early 6-0 deficit to beat William & Mary 9-8 in College Park Tuesday just before the rain arrived.
The Terps gave up six runs in the second inning with starter Hunter Parsons struggling to get ahead in the count. But Maryland stole some of William & Mary’s momentum back by scoring four in the bottom half of the frame.
Once the Terrapins were able to exit the inning only down two runs, the team knew it could complete the comeback.
“No one was really down, no one was really frustrated or anything, we knew we were gonna have to grind back,” shortstop Kevin Smith said of the 6-0 hole. “Once we put up that four spot, we knew we were gonna be alright.”
The Terps put their first three batters on in the second, and all would score. Third baseman Kevin Biondic drove in two with a single and crossed the plate on a wild pitch. Biondic’s hit was a “backbreaker” for William & Mary’s psyche, Maryland coach John Szefc said.
“If you’re sitting in that dugout, you’re feeling pretty good about 6-0,” Szefc said. “All of a sudden, it’s 6-4, you’re not feeling so good anymore. Not only is it a lead thing, it’s a mental thing. I thought that was a huge inning right there—it swings from the negative to the positive very quickly.”
The two bullpens dueled for the next few innings, but Maryland rallied again in the sixth. Center fielder Zach Jancarski punished a ball the opposite way to the right centerfield wall, a two-RBI double knotting the score. Second baseman Nick Dunn followed that up with a grounder that skipped over second base and brought Jancarski home with the go-ahead run.
Jancarski’s hit prevented Parsons from getting a loss after the sophomore right-hander struggled with his command and was pulled after giving up six runs while picking up five outs.
Parsons had trouble getting his first offering across the plate, dealing a ball to begin eight of the nine at-bats he pitched in the second.
Facing center fielder Kyle Wrighte with two on and two out, Parsons missed on his first two pitches and stepped off the mound to catch his breath. He then fired strikes on both corners to even the count. But his 2-2 slider was low, and Wrighte crushed the 3-2 fastball over the centerfield wall.
The next four batters all reached for William & Mary, with second baseman Cullen Large smacking a three-RBI double to knock out Parsons.
William & Mary starter Aaron Fernandez didn’t last any longer, also going 1.2 innings.
Reliever Ryan Hill starred for Maryland on the mound, eating 3.1 innings and striking out six while ceding no runs.
“Hill did a great job, putting three-and-a-third scoreless [innings] up, to give our guys some time to come back,” Szefc said. “Because if we don’t stop [William & Mary] there, the end is not gonna be that way.”
Hill was just one of the pitchers who chipped in on a strong effort by Maryland’s bullpen, which covered 7.1 innings and allowed just two runs.
Maryland added insurance in the seventh when pinch hitter Dan Maynard was pegged with the bases loaded. The extra run was made important when a wild pitch from reliever Ryan Selmer allowed William & Mary to trim the deficit.
Selmer came back out for the ninth, again spotted a two-run lead courtesy of infielder Will Watson’s RBI single in the eighth. He gave up one more run, but maintained Maryland’s advantage and picked up his second save.
Its record now an even 5-5, Maryland will play Saint Joseph’s on Wednesday at 4 p.m. in College Park.
Edited by Austin Kleber.