By Dan Servodidio
An eight-run deficit was not enough for the Terps (17-5) to come back from, losing to James Madison (10-11), 8-5, on Tuesday night in Harrisonburg, Va. The loss is the first for coach John Szefc’s squad since March 7, ending their impressive win streak at 10 games.
Maryland found themselves down early as starter Jake Drossner left the game after allowing four runs in just three innings. By the time the Dukes’ bats cooled off, the Terps faced an 8-0 hole in the sixth inning. It was then, though, that some life entered Maryland’s offense.
The Terps rallied to score five runs in the sixth frame, getting RBI hits from left fielder Tim Lewis (triple), right fielder Anthony Papio (double), centerfielder Kengo Kawahara (single), and shortstop Kevin Smith (single). Despite the offensive surge, though, the eight-run deficit proved too large.
Maryland stranded 13 runners on base throughout the game, including three each in the sixth and eighth innings. Clutch hitting did not come easy tonight for a team that has time-and-again gotten the hits they needed in key situations over the last week-and-a-half.
James Madison ended their six-game losing streak as they held the red-hot Terps scoreless through the first five innings to win the first game of their home-and-home series with No. 11 Maryland. The Dukes’ starter, Mark Gunst, started the game strong allowing just four hits and and two runs before being pulled in the sixth. Ironically, Gunst dominated the Terps’ offense despite coming into Tuesday’s game with a less-than-stellar 8.53 ERA, allowing 14 runs in his 12.2 innings pitched on the season.
Maryland will get a rematch with James Madison next week at home, but for now they have to live with a variety of missed opportunities against the Dukes tonight. The Terps travel to Michigan this weekend for a three-game series with the Wolverines as they look to avenge a tough non-conference loss.