By Ben Harris
Despite posting a season-high 15 hits, Maryland’s short trip up I-95 resulted in a 12-7 loss to the Delaware Blue Hens.
It was a slugfest in Newark as Maryland hit .405 (15-37) on the afternoon, to Delaware’s .400 (16-40). The difference was two-out hitting, specifically with men on base. The Blue Hens hit .375 with two outs, scoring seven runs. The Terps went just 2-9 when facing the inning’s final out, scoring just once. On the day, Delaware hit an even .500 with runners on base.
Maryland seemed to pick up where they left off after Sunday’s four-home run explosion as Madison Nickens opened the game with his third four-bagger on the year. His six RBIs are good for second on the team behind Nick Cieri (8). The Terps scratched across a run in each of the next two innings, but fell behind in the fifth and never regained the lead.
Freshman John Murphy made his first start of the year after being slated to pitch last week’s rainout against VCU. The Merchantville, New Jersey native got off to a hot start, recording an out on his first collegiate pitch and striking out the next batter. But, the young hurler fell victim to the long ball allowing a two-run homer in the first and a solo shot in the third.
The Terps offense was led by freshman Nick Dunn who went 4-5 on the afternoon with a run and an RBI. Prior to his final at-bat, Dunn had reached base in his previous seven trips to the plate. Mirroring Dunn, first baseman Kevin Biondic had also reached base in his previous seven plate appearances before flying out in the eighth. After sitting out Saturday’s game against Rhode Island, head coach John Szefc reinserted the sophomore into the lineup Sunday. Since then, he’s gone 6-7 with four singles, a double, a homer and a hit by pitch, more than quadrupling his average from .077 to .350.
Delaware scored in six of their eight innings, plating five runs in the bottom of the sixth to stretch their lead to 10-4. Murphy (0-1) was tagged with the loss, as Nick Spadafino (1-0) earned the win despite allowing three earned runs in 2.1 innings.
Szefc’s club hasn’t broken .500 on the season, losing all three times they stood on the threshold of a winning record. They have neither won nor lost consecutive games on the year.
Maryland heads to Greenville, North Carolina this weekend for the Keith LeClair Classic hosted by East Carolina University. The Terps will face the Pirates Sunday, who jumped into national rankings after traveling to Charlottesville and taking two of three from the Virginia Cavaliers (ranked fourth at the time) last weekend.