By Will Pitts
The Maryland Terrapins’ lineup received contributions from just about every player in the lineup as they walked over the Stetson Hatters for the first five innings. But in typical Terps fashion, they had to hold on late to secure the victory in the rubber match of their three-game series, 8-4, Sunday afternoon in DeLand, Florida.
A rare televised appearance on ESPN+ gave the Terps the chance to showcase their talents to a wider audience, and in the early innings, they took full advantage.
Maryland put up runs in each of the first five innings, first taking the lead when Taylor Wright doubled home Chris Alleyne in the opening frame. The Terps tacked on another in the second with a sac fly by Randy Bednar which brought home Tommy Gardiner, and Justin Vought doubled to send home Benjamin Cowles in the third.
Michael Pineiro hit his second homer of the series in the fourth; a two-run shot that extended the lead to 5-0, and Vought followed with one of his own in the next inning to make it 6-0.
For the second time in the series, Maryland’s pitching staff delivered a strong start. This time it was Trevor LaBonte, who no-hit the Hatters through his first four innings. Ten of the outs he forced were flyouts, owing to the strength of his fastball. But for LaBonte and Terps fans, the fifth inning brought unpleasant reminders of the middle portion of their Sunday encounter with Maine, when Maryland let a 6-run lead slip away and had to claw back to take the win.
Stetson first showed signs of life in the bottom of the fifth, as Jorge Arenas doubled to score Kyle Ball. Playing against his usual strategy, manager Rob Vaughn kept LaBonte in the game through it all, and the Hatters pounced on the exhausted freshman in the sixth. With no outs, Jon Meola drove home two runs to trim the lead to 6-3. Vaughn immediately pulled LaBonte for the reliable Will Glock. True to form, Glock managed three straight outs to get the Terps out of the jam.
However, Glock’s control left him shortly after, and he walked the bases loaded with one out in the seventh, leaving Nick Turnbull to come out of the bullpen to control the damage. Things went from bad to worse when Vought’s uncharacteristic passed ball allowed the Hatters to trim the lead to 6-4. Andrew Vail took the mound with the bases loaded and the game at a tipping point, but coolly induced a groundout to end the inning.
Mike Materetsky, who struggled in relief on Friday, retired the first eight Terps he faced on Sunday. However, the ninth – Chris Alleyne – would seal Stetson’s fate by hitting his second home run of the year, making the score 8-4 and knocking the spirit out of the Hatters for good.
For the second time in the series, John Murphy came on to make the save, preserving LaBonte’s third win of 2019. Stetson starter Austin Bogart took the loss.