Maryland baseball (2-3) was able to load the bases in both the first and second inning of Friday’s series and home opener against Army (1-4). However, the Terps were only able to get one run out of those situations, leaving six runners on base.
Those stranded runners were the difference between victory and defeat, as the Terps dropped a third consecutive contest by a score of 4-3.
“No question,” head coach Rob Vaughn said about how the Terps inability to get clutch hits hurt them. “That kinda hurts you when you leave those guys on at home, not cashing in for a little bit more.”
In the first, a Will Watson groundout to third base eliminated the Terps’ scoring threat. In the second, a Zach Jancarski sacrifice fly off of Army starter Tyler Giovinco brought home Kevin Biondic to give Maryland a 1-0 lead. Yet, Maryland then opted for cleanup-hitter Taylor Wright lay down a bunt with the bases loaded and two outs. The decision did not pan out, as Wright was retired and the Terps squandered another opportunity.
“He saw an opportunity, it just didn’t work out for him,” Vaughn said, referring to Wright’s decision to bunt. “That’s his game, he can do it, he can kinda be dynamic like that, it just didn’t work in that instance.”
Army quickly responded to Maryland’s score with two runs of its own in the top of the third as Terrapin starter Taylor Bloom ran into some trouble. An RBI-single off the bat of Tim Simoes brought home Josh White to tie the game at one. Simoes was thrown out at second trying to stretch his single into a double. Army then took the lead when Jon Rosoff singled to score Jacob Hurtubise.
The Black Knights did not hold the lead for long, however, as AJ Lee led off the bottom of the third with a solo homerun to tie the game at two, his first of the season.
Bloom found himself in trouble again in the fifth, as a single, a walk, a sacrifice bunt and then an intentional walk to Rosoff brought up Army’s John McKenna with the bases loaded. McKenna, who is coming off of player of the week honors in the Patriot League, delivered a two-RBI single giving the Black Knights a 4-2 lead.
Bloom, who was coming off a flawless first start to the season, went seven innings again, but allowed four earned runs on 11 hits.
As for Giovinco, Lee’s solo homer in the second was the last blemish on his stat line. The left-hander went 6 ⅓ innings, allowing only two runs on three hits. Giovinco retired 13 straight Maryland batters between the fourth and seventh innings.
Black Knight reliever Cam Opp came in when Army’s starter ran into a little trouble in the seventh, and promptly forced Nick Dunn to ground into an inning-ending double play. Once again, the Terps left runners stranded.
In the eighth, Maryland inched closer. With two outs and Taylor Wright at second, Kevin Biondic struck out swinging, but the ball headed past catcher Rosoff. Rosoff was unable to locate the ball, and with some heads-up baserunning, Wright scored from second as Biondic made it safely to first.
With Maryland trailing 4-3 entering the bottom of the ninth, Army reliever Daniel Burggraaff closed the door on a Terps’ comeback, striking out Randy Bednar, Marty Costes and Zach Jancarski and giving the Black Knights their first win on the season.
Maryland and Army will play the second game of the weekend series tomorrow at noon. Tyler Blohm will likely get the start for the Terps.
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