Kevin Smith hits a triple in the bottom of the second inning against Michigan, his seventh extra base hit of the season (Photo by Paige Leckie / The Left Bench)

Terps sweep Maine in home openers

By: William Pitts

Even after a hot start, the Terrapins needed to stick it out for the full nine innings to finish off the sweep of the Maine Black Bears in the finale of their first home series of the 2019 season. Maryland would prevail, fending off a furious six-run rally by Maine to win 9-6.

The game couldn’t have gotten off to a better start for Maryland, as starter Trevor Labonte opened with a 1-2-3 inning. The next half-inning was a different story for Maine. After walking right fielder Randy Bednar, everything unraveled for starter Sam McCarthy. A throwing error on Trevor Wright’s sacrifice bunt put runners on the corners for Maxwell Costes, who promptly hit a two-run double. Two batters later, Michael Pineiro extended the Terps’ lead to five with the first home run of his career. McCarthy would exit the game after having allowed five runs – all unearned – in only ⅓ of an inning.

His replacement, Trevor DeLaite, fared little better. Randy Bednar, whose walk opened the floodgates in the first, further twisted the knife with a solo home run in the second to increase the lead to six. Maine put pressure on Labonte in the top of the third, when catcher Ryan Turenne advanced to third with no outs, but Labonte retired the next three to get out of the jam.

The Black Bears started to claw back in the top of the fifth when Jeffrey Omohundro blasted a solo home run to center field. One inning later, Joe Bramanti’s three-run homer brought the Bears to within two, swinging the momentum toward Maine. In one swing, Bramanti made a close game out of what looked to be a Terrapin rout.

As Maine found their stride, Maryland’s offense cooled. With runners on first and third, they missed a golden opportunity to take the lead when Benjamin Cowles struck out looking. In the seventh, Maine scored two off of Sean Fisher to tie the game and complete the comeback, but failed to press further. With two runners on in the top of the eighth, Will Glock – the Terps’ seventh pitcher of the game – struck out Bears center fielder Mike Sabatine to end the frame.

In the bottom of the eighth, the Terrapins found their bats again. With clutch hits from Wright and Costes, Maryland scored three runs off Maine reliever Matt Geoffrion to retake the lead. John Murphy entered for Maryland in the top of the ninth and finished off the Black Bears with three straight strikeouts, earning the save and capping the Terps’ fourth straight win.

“We’ve just gotta stay focused. They’re coming into their game,” Bednar said about Maine’s near-comeback. “After that, you’ve just gotta chip away, and that’s what we did.”

Glock’s 1 ⅓ innings without a hit were enough to earn him the win, while Geoffrion was stuck with the loss.