Opportunity persistently knocked, but for 8.2 innings, the Terps stayed away from the door. With one out left in the ninth, Maryland finally answered and scored four runs to tie the game.
Illinois quickly slammed the door back shut with a walk-off home run.
Maryland extended the game only to watch Mark Skonieczny deliver a game-ending homer and an Illinois series-clinching 8-6 victory Sunday in Champaign, Illinois.
With Maryland down to its last out in the ninth and trailing by four, second baseman Nick Dunn doubled off the wall to bring in two. Dunn came home a batter later when designated hitter Will Watson crushed his second home run of the afternoon, tying the game.
Before the rally, Maryland began the afternoon 2-for-20 with runners on base and 2-for-15 when they lined up in scoring position.
Reliever Jamal Wade walked the first and only batter he faced in the bottom of the ninth before Andrew Miller entered the game and retired the first two batters he opposed. He worked Skonieczny into an 0-2 count before the catcher sent the ball sailing over the left field wall.
Skonieczny’s blast gave Illinois its third multi-run inning of the day. Meanwhile, Maryland struggled to bring runners home for the first eight innings.
Maryland’s trouble batting with runners on peaked in the eighth inning when it had a chance to tie the game with the bases loaded and one out. Catcher Danny Maynard struck out looking on a full count and shortstop Kevin Smith was sent down on three pitches, leaving the Terrapins with nothing.
The Terps botched a similar situation in the second inning of a then-scoreless game. Stuck 90 feet from home, Dunn could only watch as third baseman AJ Lee and Maynard struck out.
Second baseman Michael Massey made the Terps pay for their missed opportunity by starting the Illinois second with a solo home run. Starter Taylor Bloom left a mid-80s fastball over the middle of the plate, and Massey deposited it over the right field wall.
Bloom allowed just four batters to touch base in the first 4.1 innings, but spiraled out of control when he struck nine-hitter Doran Turchin with a curveball. The righty then allowed three straight singles, two bringing in runs, before Maryland turned to the bullpen.
The junior from Severna Park, Maryland, entered having turned in three straight quality starts of at least six innings and no more than two runs allowed. On this day, Daniel Powter’s “Bad Day” saw him off the field after 4.1 innings, with three of the four runs so far credited to him.
With this loss, Maryland fell to 1-3 in Big Ten Sunday road games, its lone win polishing off a sweep of Rutgers. The team now sits 14-7 in conference play, holding a slim lead atop the Big Ten.
The loss to Illinois wrapped up a 3-4 road trip. The Terps return for a five-game homestand, starting with UMBC Tuesday at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium.