Smith’s second-straight two-homer day helps propel Terps to first road win

After homering twice in Tuesday’s loss, Kevin Smith went deep twice again Wednesday to lead the Maryland offense in a 10-6 win over UNC Wilmington. The victory secured the Terps (13-7) a split of the tw0-game series and gave them their first road win of the season.

Marty Costes got the Terps on the board early with a two-run homer in the first, and Smith added a third run in the frame with an RBI groundout. After the Seahawks cut the lead to one run with a two-run third, Maryland responded with a four-run fifth inning. Nick Dunn and Costes led off the frame with back-to-back singles, and a walk to Will Watson loaded the bases for Madison Nickens. He hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Dunn, and one batter later, Smith’s fourth homer of the season brought three more home.

The Terps were robbed of a chance to add on further in the seventh, when Seahawks center fielder Robbie Thorburn robbed Watson of a potential two-run homer, and doubled Costes off first to squander Maryland’s scoring opportunity. An inning later, however, Smith hit an 0-2 pitch over the left field fence for his second homer of the afternoon, giving Maryland an 8-3 lead.

“I just think he’s playing with confidence,” Coach John Szefc said. “The more at bats he accrues, the more comfortable he gets, the more productive he gets.”

Over the two games in Wilmington, Smith collected four hits – all home runs – seven RBIs.

“I was seeing pitches a little better this weekend, I worked a little bit with coach Vaughn.” Smith said “The big thing is not trying to hit singles anymore, really trying to get a ball [I] can drive and do some damage in the gaps with.”

The Terps added two more insurance runs in the ninth on throwing errors before sealing the victory in the bottom half of the frame.

Meanwhile, Maryland’s starter struggled early in the game for the second straight day, as left-hander Tayler Stiles failed to complete three innings. He worked out of a jam in the first and cruised through the second before again running into trouble in the third inning. After surrendering two runs on a single and a two-run homer, he loaded the bases on a hit batsman, a single and a walk. Stiles got the second out of the inning on a pop out, but then was pulled in favor of Ryan Hill, who escaped the jam with a strikeout. Hill (2-0) worked 3.1 scoreless innings of relief with six strikeouts to pick up his second win of the season.

“Whatever they want me to come in and do I’ll do it.” Hill said after the game. “I know my job is to get the defense off the field and get their bats going like they did today.” He said his cutter and curveball were “really working well” today and credited those pitches for his success.

Jared Price relieved Hill in the seventh, allowing a run after Casey Golden singled and ultimately came around to score on a double play. He let up another run in the eighth in the form of a Daniel Stack RBI double before Maryland brought in Andrew Miller to end the threat.

Miller was shaky in the bottom of the ninth, letting up his first two runs of the season on a Nick Feight home run as the Seahawks cut the Terps’ lead to 10-6. Ryan Selmer came in and picked up two strikeouts to close out Maryland’s first road victory and 12th win in 14 contests.

“I thought it was a good answer from our guys today,” Coach Szefc said of his team that lost 10-7 yesterday. “Today was just a matter of minimizing damage and stranding runners. We didn’t give up a big inning the whole day, that was the difference in the game.”

The team combined for 17 runs in two games, keyed by Smith and Costes, who collected five hits and hit two home runs in the series.

Maryland’s offense will look to stay hot this weekend. They will come home to play their first Big Ten game of the season against no. 18 Michigan on Friday at 6:30 p.m.