Early pitching struggles doom Terps in loss to George Mason

For the eighth straight midweek game this season, Maryland’s starter failed to complete three innings, as the Terrapins fell Wednesday at George Mason, 8-5. Entering the matchup with the Patriots, Maryland’s midweek starters had collectively posted an 18.18 ERA in seven starts this season. Wednesday was no different, as Hunter Parsons lasted just 1.1 innings, surrendering five runs (four earned). Marty Costes and Kevin Smith homered as the Terps (21-11, 6-3 Big Ten) tried to battle back late, but the early hole proved to be too large to dig out of.

Parsons (0-2) looked to be cruising early, retiring the first two Patriots he faced on just seven pitches. But things fell apart quickly, as he surrendered four straight two-out singles and uncorked two wild pitches to put the Terps down two runs early. Looking for a bounce-back inning in the second, Parsons again retired the leadoff hitter, but then allowed two straight singles before a Brady Acker double extended the Patriot lead to 3-0.

This signaled the end of the line for the sophomore right-hander, who was pulled in favor of right-hander Jared Price. For the third time in three starts this year, Parsons couldn’t make it out of the second inning, as his ERA now sits at 11.77 through 13 innings of work.

Price, a redshirt senior, provided little relief when he came in, however, promptly surrendering three more runs on two singles and an error by left fielder Will Watson. A fifth run crossed in the frame on Danny Maynard’s passed ball before Price could close the door on the Patriots with the Terps now down 7-0.

George Mason threatened again in the third, plating a run on a sacrifice fly after Nick Dunn’s errant throw botched a potential double-play attempt. Price subsequently loaded the bases, and Ryan Hill entered to shut the door on the Patriot rally and limit them to just one run.

While the Patriots had no trouble hitting early on, the Terps’ bats were silent through the first two innings, not breaking into the hit column until Zach Jancarski singled with one out in the third. A quick rally got the Terps back into the game, however, as Brandon Gum followed with a single and Marty Costes hit a three-run homer, his eighth of the season, over the left-field wall to cut the deficit to 7-3.

Maryland struck again in the fifth inning, when Kevin Smith lined his seventh homer of the season in his second at-bat back after missing seven games due to injury. The Terps plated a second run in the inning when Costes plated Jancarski on a bloop single to right, driving in his fourth run of the day.

Down 8-5 for much of the game, the Terps tried to rally again in the seventh when Jancarski led off with a single and moved to second on Costes’ one-out base hit. Dunn and Watson both flied out, however, to squander the scoring opportunity. In the ninth, still down three, Maryland loaded the bases with one out on Jancarski’s fourth hit of the day and walks to Gum and Costes. Dunn, who represented the go-ahead run, hit a ground ball to second base, and the Terps’ sophomore appeared to beat out the return throw on the double play attempt for an RBI fielder’s choice. The second base umpire, however, overturned the initial ruling, calling Dunn out to end the game.

After Parsons and Price struggled early, Maryland’s bullpen continued to impress in the latter half of the game. Ryan Hill pitched 2.1 scoreless frames and now leads the team with 27.1 innings pitched in relief. Mike Rescigno, who struggled early in the season, followed with three scoreless innings of his own, allowing just three baserunners while striking out two.

Costes (3-for-3, 4 RBIs), Jancarski (4-for-5, 2B) and Gum (2-for-4) each recorded multi-hit games atop the Maryland lineup.

The Terps will look to get back in the win column Friday when they host Penn State in the first of three games at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium.