The Maryland bullpen, when healthy, was one of the team’s strong suits this season, a safety net the starters could fall back on. But Sunday, it was the bullpen that needed backing up.
The relievers combined to allow all of West Virginia’s runs in Maryland’s 8-5 loss in an NCAA tournament elimination game in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Freshman lefty Tyler Blohm started Sunday’s game against West Virginia with three innings of one-hit baseball but loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth inning. Holding just a 2-0 lead, Maryland head coach John Szefc took no chances and pulled Blohm in favor of reliever John Murphy, the team ERA leader entering Sunday.
Murphy struck out the side, retired the Mountaineers in order the next inning and then allowed an unearned run in his third inning. Holding a 4-1 lead, Murphy came out for the seventh but ran into trouble. The sophomore gave up two hits to place runners on the corners with no outs and was pulled. The two runs scored.
He wasn’t the only reliever that struggled against West Virginia.
After Murphy allowed a run in the sixth and then struggled in the top of the seventh, Jared Price took his place on the mound. He made it through the seventh inning, but not before allowing both runners inherited from Murphy to score and cut Maryland’s lead to 4-3. Then, shutdown closer Ryan Selmer came in for the eighth inning and that’s when the Mountaineers made things ugly for the Terps.
In perhaps Selmer’s worst outing of the season, he surrendered four runs on three hits while recording just one out. Ryan Hill and Jamal Wade took the mound with potential runs on base that would be charged to Selmer, but they could not stop the Mountaineers. Worse yet for the Terrapins, Selmer lost the lead, making it a 7-4 game.
The Terps had jumped out in front earlier, thanks to a solo shot from right fielder Marty Costes and a two-run home run from second baseman Brandon Gum, which gave Maryland a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Wade stayed in after he ended the seventh inning but exited after allowing a double in the next frame. Tayler Stiles relieved him but couldn’t stop the run from scoring.
Facing an 8-4 deficit, the bottom of the Terps’ batting order came to the plate and tried to rally. Second baseman Nick Dunn led off the inning with a solo home run on a payoff pitch. Left fielder Madison Nickens and center fielder Zach Jancarski followed suit, putting the tying run at the plate. With the Terps’ remaining hopes in the bats of hot-hitting third baseman AJ Lee and Gum, Maryland seemed destined for another one of its patented rallies.
Those hopes went down swinging with Lee at the plate and then caught Gum looking to end the season. The Terps finished the year with a 38-23 record in the 8-5 loss to West Virginia.
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