Lefty Tayler Stiles was dominating through five innings of his final career start in College Park. The Maryland coaching staff lifted the senior from the game anyway, and UMBC finally broke through and took a 2-1 lead.
Not to spoil Stiles’ day, the Terrapins made sure the Retrievers’ advantage lasted just a matter of minutes.
Maryland broke out of the offensive doldrums with four runs in the sixth, as the Terrapins prevailed 6-2 over UMBC in their return home on Tuesday.
Stiles turned in five innings, the most by any Maryland midweek starter this year. In holding the Retrievers scoreless, he struck out six while allowing four hits and no walks.
“This was the best I felt all season,” Stiles said. “Basically everything was working.”
He located the fastball on both sides of the plate, kept his changeup down in the strike zone and had good bite on his slider, Stiles added.
Head coach John Szefc said the effectiveness of the changeup in particular was crucial in stifling UMBC, as the Retrievers started the game with eight righties and one switch-hitter in their lineup.
“A left-handed guy is going to need a changeup to kind of keep them off base a little bit,” Szefc said. “He did a great job for us.”
For much of the afternoon, Retrievers starter Jacob Christian kept UMBC close. The right-hander held the Terps to one run over the first five innings, facing the minimum in four straight frames.
UMBC even pulled ahead with Christian in the game when the Terps turned to their bullpen in the top of the sixth. Cleanup-hitting catcher Hunter Dolshun belted his team-leading seventh home run of the season over the center field wall.
“That was their best hitter, that’s what best hitters do,” Szefc said. “I probably should have walked that guy, that’s my fault.”
However, things started to sour in the sixth for UMBC’s starting pitcher, and coach Bob Mumma left Christian in to find a way out of the mess.
It took eight batters for Christian to do so.
Maryland put its first four batters of the sixth on base. Center fielder Zach Jancarski doubled off the wall to tie the game and first baseman Brandon Gum’s RBI single took the lead. Christian briefly regrouped and picked up two straight outs before third baseman AJ Lee added to the Terps’ advantage with a two-RBI single.
Christian finished with five earned runs allowed in six innings and took the loss.
Though he did not factor in the decision, Stiles kept hitters guessing during his time on the mound. While Stiles’ pitches racked up whiffs (one so dramatic the hitter lost grip of the bat), the lefty had one other weapon in his arsenal that hitters could do little about: a brisk pace of play.
With both starters dealing for most of the afternoon, the game wrapped up in two and half hours, about an hour less than normal for a Terrapins’ midweek home game. When Stiles throws a pitch, he intends to make the next one almost as soon as he retakes the hill, he said.
“I get back on the mound as fast as possible. I want the hitter to feel uncomfortable,” Stiles said. “I want him to have to call time because he’s not comfortable.”
Before the game, Stiles instructed pitching coach Ryan Fecteau to get the next sign to catcher Danny Maynard as quickly as possible after the pitch was thrown.
Fecteau obliged Stiles’ tempo-boosting request, but was also quick in pulling the Bowie, Maryland, native from the game. Knowing this would be his last start in College Park, the senior wanted to be on the mound as long as he could. He told Fecteau before the game, “If you want me to go nine [innings], I’ll go nine.”
With the UMBC batting order coming up to face Stiles a third time, Fecteau instead pulled his starter after 67 pitches.
Stiles and the Terps worked with a 1-0 lead for much of the afternoon before Dolshun’s shot. Maryland scored in its first turn up at bat, with second baseman Nick Dunn lining Christian’s first pitch up the middle for an RBI single.
Dunn later added to the Terps’ lead with a solo home run in the eighth inning.
In defeating UMBC, Maryland won its 19th game in 20 tries in College Park. The Terps take to their home diamond again Friday versus Northwestern at 6:30 p.m.