Terps take early lead, win series opener against Rutgers

The Maryland Terrapins got on the scoreboard early and were in full control throughout the entire game in a 5-1 victory against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.

The Terps advance to 16-8 (3-1 Big Ten) with the victory while Rutgers falls to 10-15, losing its Big Ten regular season opener.

Maryland opened the scoring in the first inning when it capitalized on a booted ground ball by Scarlet Knights third baseman Christian Campbell. The error placed Zach Jancarski on first base and the leadoff hitter came around to score on a hard-hit single by Brandon Gum.

Jancarski’s afternoon was just beginning, as the junior center fielder recorded a career-high four hits, becoming just the second Terp to accomplish that feat this season.

The self-inflicted blunders by the Scarlet Knights did not end there. Rutgers committed three errors in the game, increasing its Big Ten-leading total to 44.

The Terps then extended their lead in the second inning when Kevin Smith crushed a ball over the left field wall for his team-leading sixth home run of the season. It was Smith’s first homer since his red-hot series against UNC Wilmington, when he belted four long balls in two games.

Later in the game, Maryland had a scare when Smith went down clutching his left shoulder after a dropped pop-up in shallow left field. Smith returned to the game, but was replaced by senior Patrick Hisle just a half inning later.

The early lead was exactly what starting pitcher Brian Shaffer needed, as the junior struggled to keep his pitch count down early. Despite not having his best stuff early, Shaffer settled in and put together another solid start. Maryland’s ace threw seven innings, allowed just five hits and one earned run but only struck out four batters, his season-low.

Maryland finally pulled away in the fifth inning with a two-out rally that was aided by a pair of Rutgers errors. A potential inning-ending double play was thrown away by shortstop Kevin Welsh, scoring AJ Lee. Then, Marty Costes drove in Nick Dunn with an RBI triple. A second error in the inning scored Costes.

Ryan Hill worked a scoreless eighth and then finished off the Scarlet Knights with a 1-2-3 ninth inning.

The Terps and Scarlet Knights will be back in action on Sunday, as the two newest members of the Big Ten will play a doubleheader starting at 12:00 p.m. Maryland will send Taylor Bloom to the hill in Game 1 and Tyler Blohm in Game 2. Rutgers will pitch John O’Reilly in Game 1 and Gaby Rosa in Game 2.