By Jake Eisenberg
The Maryland Terrapins (5-5) entered Sunday afternoon with a chance to sweep the 13th annual Keith LeClair Classic but fell to the host East Carolina Pirates 4-3.
The Pirates (8-3) were the first ranked team the Terps faced this season, earning the #16 ranking after taking two-out-of-three from the defending national champion Virginia Cavaliers last weekend.
The Terps put nine hits on the board—their fifth-straight game with at least nine—but failed to string them together Sunday, stranding a season-high 14 runners on base. The Terps also struck out a season-high 15 times, including nine by reliever Joe Ingle, the winning pitcher.
Maryland hitters were frustrated with the strike zone all afternoon, as more than half of the Terps’ strikeouts (8) were looking.
Both starting pitchers, senior RHP Jimmy Boyd and sophomore RHP Brian Shaffer were strong through the start of the game, but were chased in the fifth and sixth innings, respectively.
Kevin Smith began the scoring on the afternoon, smacking a solo home run over the left field wall—hit first of the season—in the fifth inning to give the Terps an early lead. Maryland would get another run in the inning as Madison Nickens walked on four pitches, moved to second on a wild pitch, and was subsequently driven in by freshman Nick Dunn.
Dunn finished the game 2-3 with two RBIs, bringing his average up to a team-best .417 on the season. Both Dunn and Nickens have reached base safely in all ten games this season.
The Pirates would respond in the sixth inning, beginning the back-and-forth scoring. After Travis Watkins led off with a double, Shaffer surrendered a two-run home run to Eric Taylor, which tied the game at 2. ECU would take on another in the seventh, when Smith, trying to complete a 3-6-1 double play, threw wide of pitcher Rob Galligan who was running over to cover first base.
Shaffer went home with his second no-decision of the season, tossing 5.1 innings, giving up two runs on five hits, striking out five and walking none.
Ingle came on in relief for the Pirates in the sixth, and would go the distance. He faced the final 18 batters—striking out half of them in his 3.2 IP, including recording the final three outs via the strikeout—allowing just two hits and a run.
The lone run against Ingle came in the eighth. Trailing 3-2 with two outs, Nickens struck out swinging but reached first base on a wild pitch. The outfielder would steal second base, putting himself in scoring position for Dunn, who laced a double down the left field line for his second hit and RBI of the afternoon.
But, ECU would pull respond in the bottom of the frame, taking a 4-3 lead after Dwanya Williams-Sutton doubled to bring in Tyler.
Ryan Selmer was tagged with the loss after allowing the decisive run, falling to 1-1 on the season.
Both the Terps and Pirates finished 2-1 on the weekend, while Tennessee and Southeastern Louisiana left the 13th Annual Keith LeClair Classic with 1-2 records.
The Terps return to action on Tuesday, when they face Delaware for the second time this season. The matchup will take place at Harford Community College, with first pitch set for 4:00 p.m.