When Maryland second baseman Austin Chavis blasted a fly ball to right-centerfield in the sixth inning of Saturday’s game with Rhode Island, it was initially unclear whether Rams’ center fielder Austin White had brought it back or if it had cleared the fence for Chavis’s first career homer.
When it became clear that White had come up short, the Maryland bench exploded, as the Terps’ ninth hitter had just put them back in the lead for the third time in a back-and-forth slugfest with the Rams.
But the euphoria was short-lived, as the lead changed hands for the sixth time in the very next inning, when two Rhode Island runs scored on an error by Troy Schreffler, giving the Rams a 9-8 lead they never relinquished en route to an 11-8 victory.
The Rams jumped out in front almost immediately, when three-hitter Jackson Coutts took Nick Dean deep over the left-centerfield fence for a two-out solo homer in the first. The lead was short-lived, as Maxwell Costes ripped a single back up the middle in the bottom of the frame to bring Chris Alleyne in from third and tie the game.
Ben Cowles put the Terps ahead in the second with the first home run by any Terrapin this season, depositing a 2-2 pitch over the batter’s eye in center field.
Coutts struck again in the third inning. After Rhode Island loaded the bases with two walks and a single, the designated hitter laced a 2-0 fastball from Dean down the right field line for a go-ahead two-run double. The Rams broke it open on the very next at-bat, when Xavier Vargas ripped a three-run home run to right field to push the score to 6-2.
Coutts and Vargas carried the Rams’ offense, combining for six hits and driving in 8 of Rhode Island’s 11 runs. The Terps relied on a more balanced attack, with six different players driving in at least one run. Maryland also made the most of its opportunities. Five of their seven hits went for extra bases, and the Terrapins went 4-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
The Terps closed the gap in the fourth, scoring on an RBI groundout by Matt Orlando and a run-scoring bunt single by Chavis to cut the Rams’ lead to 2. Tavin Shahidi, making his first start of the season, closed the gap to just one in the fifth with a two-out, RBI double to dead centerfield.
One batter later, Maryland’s comeback was complete, as Troy Schreffler blasted his first collegiate home run, scoring Shahidi and putting the Terps up 7-6. However, the lead was short-lived as Rams’ second baseman Joe Fortin re-tied the game with two-outs in the sixth with an RBI double off the top of the wall in right field.
After Chavis’s blast and the run-scoring error, the game briefly settled down, as neither side scored in the eighth. Vargas’s second homer, a two-run blast in the ninth, gave the Rams some breathing room and Tyler Brosius worked three scoreless innings for Rhode Island to slam the door on the Terps and hand them their first loss of the 2020 season.