By Ben Harris
The Terrapins (1-2) failed to spoil Alabama’s first series at Sewell-Thomas Stadium, falling in Game 3 by a final score of 5-1. The Crimson Tide took the first and last games in Alabama and Maryland’s first meeting ever.
Maryland, however, was not without offensive chances. The visiting club spread seven hits across their first seven innings, yet was unable to record them in bunches to produce runs. Through seven, Alabama had registered only two hits, but led 2-1.
Just one day after a three-home run explosion, the Terps were held on the ground for the game’s entirety. After six innings, just two Maryland outs were recorded in the air – only a fly out from Madison Nickens to lead off the game reached the outfield. A pair of double plays in the fourth and fifth innings stifled Maryland’s mid-game offense; each time, the Terps responded with a base hit but neither runner scored.
Starter Brian Shaffer (0-1) was handed the loss. A hit batter and double off the bat of Chandler Avant brought home Alabama’s first run. Cody Henry’s single just out of the reach of a diving Nick Dunn put the Tide up 2-0 in the third. They never looked back.
Maryland’s best chance of the afternoon came while chasing Crimson Tide starting pitcher Nick Eicholtz (1-0) from the game in the seventh. Consecutive Anthony Papio and Jamal Wade singles led to an Eicholtz throwing error on a Justin Morris bunt, bringing home the Terps lone run.
With the top of the order due up, a costly signal mix-up diffused the Maryland threat. Wade broke hard from third, but Madison Nickens didn’t lay down a squeeze bunt or hit-and-run. Despite a two-out Nickens walk, he and Morris were left on base. Two days after stranding eight in their season opening loss, the Terps stranded seven runners on base Sunday.
A strong defensive game helped keep the contest close for Maryland, but the silent bats proved too much to overcome. A sliding play from Nickens in center muted two hit batsman from Shaffer in the second, and a sliding catch from Papio in foul territory in right ended Alabama’s two-run third inning.
Nick Cieri followed up his two-hit, three RBI outing Saturday with a second consecutive two-hit performance. He leads the Terps hitting .400 through the season’s first series.
Eicholtz got the win, while the Crimson Tide’s closer Thomas Burrows notched his second save on the year.
Tune in Wednesday for MBN’s broadcast live from Richmond, Virginia as the Terps travel to face the Virginia Commonwealth Rams. First pitch is slated for 3:00 p.m. EST: http://mixlr.com/maryland-baseball-network/