Maryland shortstop A.J. Lee swings at a low fastball during the Terps' 4-0 loss to the Northwestern Wildcats on March 30 in College Park. (Richard Moglen/The Left Bench)

Terps fall short on opening weekend

By Will Pitts

Maryland baseball’s 2019 season has opened up on a disappointing note. Following an opening day loss on Friday, the Terps fell again on Saturday, losing 7-2 to the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers. The second of three games for the Terps this weekend at Springs Brooks Stadium in Conway, South Carolina proved to be a mismatch, as the 21st-ranked Chanticleers out-hit Maryland 12-4 and pounced on Terrapin mistakes throughout the day.

Maryland missed opportunities to score from the beginning on Saturday. In the first, with runners on first and third, CCU starting pitcher Anthony Veneziano caught Terps shortstop A.J. Lee looking to retire the side. More chances slipped through their grasp, as Randy Bednar was caught stealing third base with two outs in the top of the third, and left fielder Caleb Walls similarly struck out looking with two runners on to end the fifth.

Today’s game further highlighted the deficiencies in the Terps’ fielding, already on full display in yesterday in the loss to Campbell. In the bottom half of the first, a series of bad throws by Maryland allowed CCU leadoff batter Cory Wood to advance to third. He would score one batter later, on center fielder Cameron Pearcy’s ground rule double, before the Terps had even recorded an out.

Starter Zach Thompson prevented further bleeding by retiring the next three batters, but the game unraveled when Coastal tacked on three more runs in the third. The Terrapins needed length out of Thompson on Saturday after sending six pitchers out on Friday. However, their wishes would not be answered.

After surrendering one more run, Rob Vaughn gave Thompson the hook, but the Terps’ outfield struggles continued with Daniel O’Connor on the mound. The Chanticleers tacked on another run in the fifth thanks to two more Maryland outfield errors, and one more in the sixth on a Kyle Skeels double. While the Maryland bullpen showed promise in shutting out CCU the rest of the way, it was too little, too late.

Randy Bednar finally put Maryland on the board with a two-run single in the top of the seventh, but the Terps missed a chance to cut further into Coastal’s lead. With the bases loaded, designated hitter Maxwell Costes fouled out to first base to end the inning, ending any serious hope of a Maryland rally.

Anthony Veneziano earned the win, pitching five shutout innings and allowing only three hits. Zach Thompson was saddled with the loss, as the Chanticleers chased him out of his first career Maryland start after only 3 2/3 innings. The highly prized pitching prospect allowed five runs on nine hits. Having used eleven pitchers in two days, Rob Vaughn is low on options for Sunday’s matchup against VCU, the finale of the three-game set at Conway.