By Chris Rogers
In a crucial game in their quest for the NCAA Tournament, the Terrapins (25-22, 10-8 Big Ten) fell on the road to West Virginia, 4-1.
Freshman starter Hunter Parsons pitched well, allowing two runs (one earned) on three hits over six innings, but was tagged with the hard luck loss. Reliever Andrew Green gave up two runs over 1.2 innings of work.
Looking to spark an offense that had struggled in recently, head coach John Szefc completely rearranged the lineup, moving Anthony Papio and Zach Jancarski up to the 1- and 2-spots, respectively. He moved the heart of the order down, including Kevin Biondic, the team leader with a .306 average, who hit seventh against the Mountaineers.
Maryland had an opportunity to get in the board in the top of the first, when Marty Costes singled with two outs and advanced to third on Nick Dunn’s double, but Kevin Smith struck out to end the inning. They had a chance again in the second, when Madison Nickens led off the inning with a bunt single, stole second, and advanced to third on a throwing error. After two strikeouts, Andrew Bechtold walked, but Papio flied out to end the inning.
The Terps finally struck when Nickens walked to open the fourth, stole second, and scored on Kevin Biondic’s bloop single to right field. Biondic was stranded at first however, as the next three batters were retired to end the inning, and the Terps had to settle for a 1-0 lead.
After this it was all Mountaineers, however, while the Terps’ bats fell silent, recording just two hits after the fourth inning, neither of them for extra bases.
West Virginia tied the game up in the bottom of the fourth, when Darius Hill reached on Smith’s error, stole second, and moved to third on a balk, before scoring on an Ivan Vera sac fly. One batter later, Jackson Cramer went deep to right to give the Mountaineers a 2-1 lead.
In the seventh, Kyle Gray’s single off reliever Andrew Green scored Ray Guerrini, who had led off the inning with a double. An inning later, Braden Zarbnisky reached on an error by Dunn, went to third on a single, and scored on Vera’s second sac fly of the game to give West Virginia a 4-1 lead.
The Terps went quietly in the eighth, but got a baserunner in the ninth, when Papio singled with two out to keep the game alive. However, Jancarski grounded into a force out to end the game.
Maryland will return home Friday to face Rutgers, looking for a series sweep to keep their postseason hopes alive.