Big Ten Pitcher of the Year Brian Shaffer kept hitters off balance all season. He found it much more difficult to fool the competition on Friday.
West Virginia homered five times off Maryland’s ace hurler and once more against the bullpen, winning its first contest in the NCAA Tournament 9-1 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Left fielder Kyle Davis took Shaffer deep twice, opening the scoring in the second with a two-run shot. Jimmy Galusky also went yard in that three-run frame and added one more bomb in the eighth inning.
Galusky had just two homers in 56 games before Friday but belted two more against the Terrapins, doubling his season total.
Trying to keep up with the Mountaineers, the Terps filled the bases twice early in the game. They couldn’t capitalize on either opportunity.
After center fielder Zach Jancarski’s RBI single cut it to 3-1 in the third inning, a pair of pitches then clipped Terps batters to load the bases. Starter Alek Manoah coaxed a grounder to second to end the inning without further damage.
The Mountaineers escaped again in the fourth. Reliever BJ Meyers hit Jancarski with a pitch with the bases loaded, but the umpire called Jancarski back to the box for a lack of effort in avoiding the pitch. Jancarski flew out to right and the Terps came away with nothing.
Manoah plunked four Terps batter by the fourth inning and took a seat after collecting 10 outs. Meyers, the team’s Friday-night starter, took over in relief and did not allow a run in 5.2 innings.
Shaffer, after leading the conference with a 1.67 ERA in the regular season, gave up seven earned runs for his second-straight postseason start. He struck out seven, but five of the seven hits he gave up flew over the fence.
Gene Hooks Field plays small down the line, with the walls in both corners 300 feet from home and a distance of 400 feet in center. Only one of West Virginia’s homers cleared the small part of the field though, as the Mountaineers made hard contact the entire afternoon, even when the ball didn’t leave the yard.
Maryland also lost the last time Shaffer took the mound in the Terps’ Big Ten tournament opener against the eventual champion, Iowa. The Terps advanced to the semifinals in that double elimination tournament.
The Terps won three games with their backs against the wall in the Big Ten Tournament. They must find a similar resolve to preserve their season and advance to the Super Regionals.
Maryland will play the loser of the Wake Forest-UMBC game Saturday at 2 p.m. Another loss would eliminate the Terps.