Terps doomed by missed opportunities, swept by LSU

For two-plus innings Sunday, the Terrapins were in control. They jumped out to an early 3-0 lead over the LSU Tigers, and held a 3-2 advantage after two frames. But the Terps surrendered five runs in the third, and despite late rally efforts, they couldn’t claw themselves back into the game, eventually losing 9-5. With the loss to No. 5 LSU, the Maryland was swept for the first time since May 1-3, 2015 against Indiana.

After managing just one hit in a 14-0 loss Saturday, the Terps’ bats wasted no time Sunday. Zach Jancarski hit the fifth pitch of the game over the left-field wall for a leadoff home run, his first of the season. After a Marty Costes single, Will Watson went deep to left-center for his first homer of the year, giving Maryland a 3-0 lead just five batters into the game.

But things went south quickly for the Terps and freshman left-hander Tyler Blohm. After allowing two runs in the second, the wheels came off in the bottom of the third inning for the second time in two days. Cole Freeman reached leading off the inning on an infield pop-up that fell in between Brandon Gum and AJ Lee, and advanced to second on a wild pitch. After Gum dropped a foul pop-up, Kramer Robertson doubled in Freeman to tie the game, and a subsequent walk chased Blohm from the game in favor of Ryan Selmer. After getting the second out on a fly ball to center, Selmer appeared to have guided the Terps out of danger by getting a grounder to third. But Lee booted the ball, and everyone was safe, extending the inning.

maryland-vs-lsuThe Tigers went on to score four more in the frame, and after entering the inning with a 3-2 lead, the Terps left trailing 7-3. All five runs in the third were unearned, as a result Gum’s dropped pop-up and Lee’s miscue at third. Selmer surrendered two more runs in the fourth on Greg Deichmann’s fourth home run of the season as the Tigers extended their lead to 9-3.

It was the second straight game that the Terps’ pitching staff had struggled in the first few innings. Taylor Bloom and Cameron Enck gave up a combined 11 runs in the first three innings Saturday. But even with their early season struggles, players haven’t lost confidence in the staff’s ability to compete.

“Our pitching staff, from what I’ve seen, those guys have a lot of nasty pitches, and it’s all about getting ahead of hitters in this game,” Costes said. “I think the more strikes [they] start to throw, the more [they’ll] put hitters in counts where they’re not comfortable, so that’s where they’ll find success. I have a lot of confidence in them.”

Even down six runs, the Terps weren’t ready to give in, as they plated two in the seventh, the first run coming across on an RBI single by Costes. Watson walked to load the bases, and Madison Nickens followed with a single to right that plated one, but Costes was thrown out at the plate to end the frame with Maryland still trailing 9-5.

Maryland had plenty of other opportunities to score throughout the game, but failed to capitalize on any of them. In the third inning, with the Terps still up 3-2, Jancarski led off with a double to left, but was thrown out stealing third. Costes and Gum both followed with singles, one of which could have scored Jancarski had he not been thrown out.

In the next inning, now down four runs, they loaded the bases with two out in the fourth for Nick Dunn, who represented the tying run. He lifted a fly ball to the track in deep right, but it fell harmlessly into Deichmann’s glove and the Terps came away with nothing.

In the eighth, still down four, the Terps drew three two-out walks to load the bases for Costes, last year’s team leader with nine home runs. But the sophomore outfielder hit an easy grounder to short, and for the second time in the game, Maryland stranded the bases loaded.

“We left too many guys on base, but we got a lot of guys on base,” Maryland Head Coach John Szefc said of the team’s performance, saying that they bounced back well from being nearly no-hit less than 24 hours before.

After struggling in the first two games, the Maryland bullpen impressed on Sunday. Selmer had a rocky outing (1 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 2 ER), but Andrew Miller, Ryan Hill, Mike Rescigno and Tayler Stiles combined for 4.2 scoreless frames to close out the ballgame, allowing just two hits while striking out six.

Over the three game series, the Terps were outscored 29-6, but they were very much in both Friday and Sunday’s contests. They were within two runs for most of Friday’s contest, and outhit the Tigers, 9-8. Sunday, despite losing by four, had several opportunities to cut the deficit late.

Despite getting swept, the Terps know that the scores don’t reflect everything that they gained over the weekend.

“As far as the box score it might not look pretty, but I have full confidence in our guys – our lineup and our bullpen and our defense – pretty much everything,” Jancarski said. “Going forward there’s going to be some ups and downs and nicks and bruises, but as far as the overall experience, playing against top caliber teams in a really hostile environment, I think it’s only going to go up from here.”

Now 1-5 on the season, the Terps return home to College Park for their first home game of the season Wednesday at 4 p.m. against James Madison.