After heating up in South Carolina last weekend, the Terrapin bats stayed cold for a second straight evening as Maryland fell to Bryant at home, 7-3. Justin Morris tallied the only Maryland hit, as the Terps fell for the fourth time in five home contests this season after posting a 20-3 record at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium a year ago.
The Bryant Bulldogs sent their usual Saturday starter, left-hander Jack Patterson, to the mound in Friday’s series opener. The southpaw entered the game with a 6.60 ERA in three starts this season, but Maryland couldn’t solve him, tallying three runs on just one hit in 6.2 innings against him. The Terps continued the patient approach they’ve had early this season, drawing nine walks, but just as in many other early season contests, could not come up with the key hit with runners on base.
After a string of three strong outings to open the season, Maryland starter Taylor Bloom faltered early in Friday’s contest. The right-hander showed flashes of his usual dominance but didn’t give the Terps the length he had in weeks past, surrendering four runs – all earned – on six hits and three walks over 5.2 innings of work. Bryant tallied three more runs in the later innings off freshmen left-handers Sean Fisher and Grant Burleson.
In the second, Bryant right fielder James Ciliento roped a one-out double off the batter’s eye in center field. Chris Wright followed with a weak ground ball that snuck past Nick Dunn and Kevin Biondic into right field, scoring Ciliento to put Bryant on the board.
Bryant struck again in the next frame, when Nick Angelini singled and stole second and third. After walking Mickey Gasper, Bloom uncorked a wild pitch as Angelini dashed home for the Bulldogs’ second run of the contest. Ciliento and Wright followed with back-to-back doubles, plating two more to make it 4-0 Bryant.
Bloom (2-2) struggled in the second and third, but settled into a groove after that, retiring the side in order in the fourth and fifth. But he again ran into trouble in the sixth, walking Chris Wright to open the frame. The Terps’ right-hander induced what seemed to be a tailor-made double play, but third baseman Taylor Wright bobbled the ball and everyone was safe.
Bloom then rebounded with two quick outs, but with runners on second and third and the top of the order coming up, Rob Vaughn opted to go to the bullpen, calling on left-hander Sean Fisher. After walking a man to load the bases, Fisher induced a fly out to keep the deficit at 4-1.
The Bulldogs added to their lead in the seventh on Shane Kelly’s RBI single through the left side after two had reached on a walk and an infield hit, but Fisher worked out of further trouble.
After going down quietly in the first two innings, the bottom of the Terps’ order sparked a rally in the third. Down four runs already, Tommy Gardiner drew a leadoff walk and Justin Morris singled, putting runners on first and second with no out for the top of the lineup. Zach Jancarski bunted the runners over, and Dunn grounded out to short, bringing in Gardiner to cut the deficit to 4-1. Marty Costes took a called third strike, however, to end the inning, stranding a runner on third.
Patterson (1-1) lost his feel for the strike zone in the sixth, walking two, but he induced an inning-ending double play off the bat of Kevin Biondic to kill the rally.
His control struggles carried over into the seventh, sparking a Terps rally. The left-hander walked Lee, Gardiner and Morris to load the bases with two out, prompting his exit. Right-hander Matt Stansky entered for Bryant and promptly uncorked a wild pitch, scoring Lee. Jancarski walked to load the bases again, and Bryant Head Coach Steve Owens again went to the bullpen, this time calling on Logan Lessard. The new southpaw balked while facing Dunn, bringing in another run to cut the Maryland deficit to 5-3, but he then got the Terps’ leading slugger to pop out, stranding two.
Grant Burleson threw a scoreless eighth inning for the Terps. After making a diving catch on a bunt to start a double play, the left-hander was pulled with two on and two out in favor of Kevin Biondic. The senior two-way man uncorked a pair of wild pitches, allowing two runs to score and extending the Bryant lead to 7-3.
Maryland went down in order in the ninth inning, losing at home for the second time in as many days. The Terps and Bulldogs meet again Saturday at 2 p.m. in College Park. Left-hander Tyler Blohm (1-1, 2.60 ERA) gets the ball for Maryland against Bryant left-hander Steve Theetge (0-3, 5.27 ERA).