Late rally comes up short as Terps fall to High Point, drop series

For the second time in as many nights, the Maryland Terrapins had the tying run in scoring position in the ninth inning, but couldn’t cash in, as they lost to High Point, 7-4, Friday night. Maryland (33-19, 15-9 Big Ten) has now lost four straight for the first time this season, and falls to 4-6 in the month of May. The Terps have lost four straight series, with their last series victory coming Apr. 21-23 in a sweep of Michigan State at home.

The High Point bullpen held the Terps in check for most of the ballgame, as they managed just three hits through the first seven innings. Maryland’s bats came alive late, plating three in the eighth and one in the ninth, but Will Watson struck out with two men on in the ninth as the Terps couldn’t complete the comeback.

Maryland starter Tyler Blohm struggled for the third straight week, allowing three runs, all earned, over just four innings. The freshman left-hander was in a hole early, as Josh Greene’s RBI groundout gave High Point a 1-0 lead in the first. The Panthers struck again in the second, when Hunter Lee tripled to lead off the frame and scored on a wild pitch. Blohm, looking for his first scoreless frame, retired two in the third on a double play before Carson Jackson drove a pitch deep over the left-field wall to put the Panthers up 3-0.

Ryan Hill, who relieved Blohm, worked a scoreless fifth, but ran into trouble in the sixth after the Terps had cut the deficit to 3-2. The right-hander surrendered a walk and a single, and worked a 2-1 count on the next hitter, Jordan Sergent, before John Murphy replaced Hill. Murphy walked Sergent, but after allowing one run to score on an infield hit, struck out the side.

Murphy struggled opening the seventh, however, allowing two to reach on a walk and an error, and Ryan Selmer came in but provided little relief. The normally reliable right-hander surrendered three runs on a single, a perfectly executed squeeze bunt, and another single as the High Point lead swelled to 7-2.

While Maryland’s pitching struggled throughout, High Point’s dominated early on. Starter Drew Daczkowski baffled Maryland through the first three innings, allowing just one baserunner, Watson, on a hit by pitch. With the Panthers gearing up for the Big South tournament Tuesday, however, the freshman right-hander was pulled after three frames due to an inning limit.

Happy to see Daczkowski gone, the Terps jumped on his replacement, left-hander Cooper Jeffers, in the top of the fourth. Brandon Gum led off the frame with a single to right, and Marty Costes followed with a one-out single, putting a Terp in scoring position for the first time in Friday’s contest. After Nick Dunn flied out, Watson walked to load the bases for Kevin Smith, the team leader in home runs this season. Jeffers promptly uncorked a wild pitch and Gum scampered home, putting Maryland on the board, but Smith struck out, stranding two in scoring position.

Down 3-1 in the fifth, Maryland struck again off Jeffers. Madison Nickens was hit by the first pitch of the frame and Kevin Biondic, making his first start since March, flared a single into shallow right to put runners on the corners. Gum followed with a rocket to deep left that found Austen Zente’s glove for a sacrifice fly, cutting the deficit to just one run. Biondic advanced to second on a balk, but AJ Lee struck out swinging to end the frame.

The High Point bullpen held the Terps silent until the eighth, when, down by five, Gum again led off with a single against Muhammed Eid. AJ Lee followed with a two-run homer to left, his seventh of the season and just the second extra-base hit of the series for the Terps. With the deficit now just three runs, Nick Dunn singled with one out, prompting Eid’s exit. The new pitcher was Rion Murrah, who dominated Maryland for two innings Thursday night. Watson greeted him with a single, the third time the outfielder had reached base in the contest, bringing the tying run to the plate in Kevin Smith. After a fly out, pinch hitter Nick Cieri drove home Dunn to make it 7-5.

Still trailing by two in the ninth, Biondic opened the inning with a single to right and moved up on a wild pitch. Gum popped out, and Lee followed with a rocket to right-center field that Greene made a diving catch on, but Biondic tagged and advanced to third with two outs. A second wild pitch brought him across to cut the Terps’ deficit to just one run. Costes and Dunn both reached, putting the tying run in scoring position, but Watson struck out on three pitches to end the game.

Maryland is back in action Saturday at 1 p.m. against High Point, looking to avoid being swept for the second time this season.

Bats go silent as Terps fall to High Point for third straight loss

In a season marred by shaky pitching, Brian Shaffer has been the one consistent Maryland starter, leading the Big Ten in innings pitched and ERA. The Terrapin ace turned in another strong start Thursday, tossing an eight-inning complete game, but a late rally fell short as Maryland lost 2-1 on the road to the High Point Panthers. The Terps (33-18, 15-9 Big Ten) have now dropped three in a row for the first time since being swept by LSU Feb. 24-26 in Baton Rouge.

Shaffer (7-3) struggled early, surrendering runs in the first and fourth, but settled in, retiring the last 15 hitters he faced and completing eight innings for the third straight start. The junior right-hander struck out seven Panthers, pushing his season total to 98, while allowing five hits and throwing just 93 pitches.

Meanwhile, a Maryland lineup that had scored at least five runs in three of the last four contests was held to one run or less for just the third time this year. The Terps managed just four hits on the day, and plated their lone run of the game in a late ninth-inning rally.

Down 2-0 with just two outs remaining, AJ Lee lined a sharp single to center and Marty Costes followed with a walk. After Nick Dunn flew out, Will Watson put the Terps on the board with an RBI single. With the tying run on third and the go-ahead run on first, Nick Cieri flied out to center to end the game.

The Terps’ only other scoring opportunities came early in the game, as they had a runner in scoring position with less than two outs in each of the first two innings. Brandon Gum, making his first start of the season in the leadoff spot with Zach Jancarski out of the lineup, reached on a hit by pitch to open the game. Lee, moved from sixth in the lineup to the two-hole, then struck out, but the ball got away from High Point catcher Spencer Brown, allowing Gum to advance to second. Costes and Dunn then flied out and grounded out, respectively, to strand Gum at second.

Will Watson led off the second with a line drive double into the left-field corner, putting himself in scoring position with no out. Danny Maynard struck out, but a Kevin Smith groundout moved Watson to third with two out. Madison Nickens came up and tried to drive in his fellow Louisiana native with a bunt, but was thrown out at first to end the inning.

Gum hit a one-out single in the third but was subsequently picked off to end the rally. High Point starter Andrew Gottfried was pulled after just three shutout innings, but the bullpen shut down the Maryland lineup for the next five frames. Matt Hodges, Rion Murrah and Austin Heinz set the Terps down in order for four of the five frames, with the only blemish being Nick Dunn’s one-out walk in the seventh. Heinz was replaced by Garrett Letchworth in the ninth, but he was pulled after walking Costes, and left-hander Jeremy Johnson closed out the game to pick up the save.

Meanwhile, High Point jumped out to an early lead in the first inning. Conner Dunbar lined a double over the first-base bag with one away and moved to third with two out. Josh Greene then hit a ball that Dunn made a diving stop on, but the Maryland second baseman threw to first just too late to get Greene, and the run scored. The Panthers struck again in the fourth, when Green and Carson Jackson led off with back-to-back singles and moved up on catcher Justin Morris’ throwing error. Shaffer retired the next three, however, starting his string of 15 straight, although one was a Jordan Sargent groundout that plated Greene for High Point’s second run.

With the loss, the Terps fall to 4-5 in the month of May, and 8-13 on the road. They take on High Point again Friday at 6 p.m. looking to even the series.

Series Preview: High Point Panthers

After losing two of three to Northwestern in their final home series of the season, the Maryland Terrapins wrap up the regular season with a three-game road series at High Point, starting Thursday. With the series loss to Northwestern, the Terps (33-17, 15-9 Big Ten) have lost three straight weekend series dating back to April 29-30 at Indiana, and own a 4-4 record in the month of May.

Despite recent struggles, Maryland’s offense has been strong for most of the year. The Terps have scored 300 runs this season, good for fourth in the Big Ten, and their 51 home runs trail only Illinois and Indiana. They have also been a threat on the basepaths, stealing 92 bases in 50 games, their highest total since swiping 94 in 2013.

The top three in Maryland’s order – Zach Jancarski, Brandon Gum and Marty Costes – have been instrumental in the team’s success, as each ranks in the top ten in the conference in on-base percentage. Costes leads the team with a .343 average, .430 on-base percentage and 37 RBIs, while Jancarski is hitting .324 with a team-high 19 steals. Infielders AJ Lee and Kevin Smith have also come on strong of late. Smith leads Maryland in homers (10) and slugging (.550) while Lee collected multiple hits in each game against Northwestern to raise his season average to .336.

While the offense has been solid for the most part, the Terps’ pitching has been shaky recently. Friday night starter Brian Shaffer continues to dominate, leading the Big Ten in ERA and innings pitched, but the bullpen struggled over the weekend. Jamal Wade and Ryan Hill, two key relievers, allowed a combined seven runs in .2 innings Saturday, raising both of their ERAs above four. Ryan Selmer and Andrew Miller, John Szefc’s go-to guys at the back end of the bullpen, each surrendered a run in Sunday’s loss, but still own sub-3 ERAs. Miller has posted a 1.96 ERA in 20 innings out of the bullpen with a .153 opponent’s batting average, while Selmer is tied for the team lead in appearances (22) and leads the team with seven saves. John Murphy has figured into the bullpen rotation recently, and the right-hander leads Maryland pitchers (min. 20 innings) with a 1.27 ERA.

Maryland has struggled of late, but High Point has been hot. The Panthers (27-20, 12-11 Big South) dropped two of three at Radford over the weekend, but won five straight prior to that. They also own a 15-8 record at home, and have won four in a row on their home field. High Point has been solid, but not spectacular, both offensively and on the mound this season, hitting .257 as a team and pitching to a 4.33 ERA.

Junior Blake Schunk leads the team with a .338 average, and has hit safely in six of his last seven contests. Despite not boasting the high average that Schunk does, the trio of Josh Greene, Austen Zente and Carson Jackson has been the heart of the Panther lineup this season. Greene leads the team with 18 steals in 23 attempts, and is tied with Jackson for second in RBIs (27). The senior outfielder owns a .293/.374/.453 slash line and has appeared in all but four of the team’s games this season. Zente leads the Panthers in homers (9), slugging percentage (.500) and RBIs (31), but is no slouch on the basepaths, swiping 13 bags. Jackson leads the team in hits (50) and doubles (13) while going a perfect 11-for-11 in stolen base attempts.

High Point’s pitching, while not flashy, has gotten the job done this season, as six of the eight Panthers that have tossed at least 20 innings have ERAs under four. Right-hander Rion Murrah and southpaw Matt Hodges are the go-to guys out of the bullpen for High Point, as they have combined for 38 relief appearances. Murrah leads the Panthers with a 2.86 ERA and opponents are hitting a paltry .218 off the junior. Hitters fare even worse off Hodges, managing just a .204 average, as the sophomore lefty leads the High Point bullpen with 41 innings pitched, 42 strikeouts and five saves. Other notable relievers include Jeremy Johnson (3.75 ERA, 36 innings) and Cooper Jeffers (3.96 ERA, 20.2 innings).

The Terps and Panthers last faced off in College Park a year ago, on April  1-3, 2016. High Point took two out of three in that series, winning Friday and Sunday, while Maryland claimed Saturday’s contest, 13-5.

Starting Pitching Matchup 

THU 6:00 p.m. EST

Jr. RHP Brian Shaffer (7-2, 1.72 ERA) vs. So. RHP Andrew Gottfried (3-2, 3.96 ERA)

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Right-hander Brian Shaffer continues to dominate opponents. The Terps’ Friday night ace threw another gem last time out against Northwestern, allowing just one run over eight innings while striking out eight. He leads the Big Ten in ERA and innings pitched (89) and ranks second in strikeouts (91).

High Point will counter Shaffer with right-hander Andrew Gottfried. The sophomore struggled last time out against Radford, allowing five runs on seven hits and four walks over six innings. His previous outing, however, was a gem, as he tossed six shutout innings with seven strikeouts to pick up the win over Charleston Southern. The right-hander only has 40 strikeouts in 50 innings, but he doesn’t give up hard contact, as opponents hit just .202 off him.

Starting Pitching Matchup 

FRI 6:00 p.m. EST

Fr. LHP Tyler Blohm (8-5, 3.25 ERA) vs. Fr. RHP Drew Daczkowski (5-4, 2.96 ERA)

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Friday is a matchup of freshmen, with Tyler Blohm taking the hill for the Terps. The southpaw has gotten a decision in all 13 of his starts this season, and leads the Big Ten with eight wins. He ranks eighth in the conference in ERA, and has fooled opponents, allowing just a .219 average against him. He struggled his last time out, however, allowing three runs (two earned) in just four innings. He allowed just two hits, but walked two and threw 75 pitches.

Blohm will share the rubber with freshman right-hander Drew Daczkowski, one of two freshmen in the High Point rotation. Daczkowski has been the Panthers’ best starter this season, leading the team in ERA, innings pitched (70) and strikeouts (67), despite compiling just a 5-4 record. He does struggle with the long ball however, as he has surrendered a team-high nine homers this season. He got tagged with the loss against Radford last weekend after giving up three runs (two earned) over six innings, but threw a complete game the week before.

Starting Pitching Matchup 

SAT 1:00 p.m. EST

Jr. RHP Taylor Bloom (5-2, 4.41 ERA) vs. Fr. RHP Trevor Holloway (3-5, 4.08 ERA)

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2017 has been an up-and-down season for Taylor Bloom, who has failed to replicate his dominant 2016 (2.46 ERA, 102.1 IP). The right-hander ranks second on the Terps in innings pitched, but has allowed 82 hits in 69.1 frames for a .300 opponents’ average. He pitched well enough to win last time out, surrendering four runs in six innings, but was tagged with a no-decision after the Terps blew a late lead and lost in extra innings.

Like Bloom, Trevor Holloway has shown signs of brilliance this year but struggled at other points. His 57.1 innings pitched are second only to Daczkowski, but he has struggled with control, walking 33, hitting seven and uncorking 11 wild pitches. Holloway has not been efficient, as he has completed five innings in just one of his last four starts, and hasn’t completed six since April 2 against Gardner-Webb.

Rankings Update: Week of 5/15/17

After a strong start to the season and Big Ten play, the Maryland Terrapins (33-17, 15-9 Big Ten) have struggled of late, losing their last three weekend series. Over the weekend, they dropped two out of three to Northwestern at home – just their second and third losses in College Park this season. They currently sit fourth in the Big Ten, but with their regular season conference schedule over, their final position in the Big Ten standings will be decided by the rest of the conference next weekend while the Terps scoreboard watch from High Point, North Carolina.

Maryland entered the week ranked in just one national poll (Perfect Game, 25), but after a 2-2 week and with two home losses to Northwestern, the Terps have dropped out of all major rankings. They have also fallen to 36th in RPI, a drop of 12 spots since last week.

While the Terps can no longer influence their finish in the Big Ten standings, they will look to close out the regular season strong when they face off against High Point. The Panthers are not ranked in any national poll and sit 132th in RPI.

Big Ten: 4

D1Baseball.com: Unranked

Baseball America: Unranked

Perfect Game: Unranked

RPI: 36

 

Crumbs—Maryland’s resident rally squirrel—keys four-run frame as Terps defeat UMBC at home

In the sixth inning of a tie game, Crumbs, the rally squirrel, climbed up the netting behind home plate. Moments later, Zach Jancarski stole third, and subsequently scored on Brandon Gum’s single to left field, giving the Terrapins a 3-2 lead. The Terps added two more in the frame and another in the eighth en route to a 6-2 victory over the UMBC Retrievers Tuesday in College Park.

For most of the season, the Terps’ midweek starting pitching has been their downfall, but Tuesday, left-hander Tayler Stiles turned in a gem. In the senior’s final career start in College Park, he tossed five shutout innings, allowing just four hits and striking out four. It was the first time this season that Maryland’s midweek starter pitched long enough to qualify for the win.

“This was the best I’d felt all season long,” Stiles said. “Basically everything was working. Fastball was locating in, locating out, changeup was down, slider was good, so luckily everything felt really good today.”

Maryland struck early against UMBC starter Jacob Christian, who entered the contest with a 6.29 ERA in 44.1 innings. Gum drew a one-out walk, and after advancing to second on an error, scored on Nick Dunn’s sharp single to center to put the Terps up 1-0. They had a chance to strike for more in the frame, as Will Watson came to the plate with men on first and second with one away, but the junior grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.

Christian (3-3) shut the Terps down over the next four frames, as they didn’t get another man into scoring position until the sixth inning. He traded zeroes with Stiles, who set the Retrievers down quickly in the first two frames. Stiles surrendered a hit leading off the third, but a strikeout-caught stealing double play erased the runner. This proved important for the Terps as the next Retriever to the plate, leadoff man Andrew Casali, roped a two-out triple to right, but Stiles worked out of the jam to keep the game scoreless.

“He threw a lot of strikes and was getting ahead of hitters,” Head Coach John Szefc said of Stiles. “He did a great job for us. We needed a good midweek start and he gave it to us. It was a very well-pitched and defended game.”

After five shutout frames, Ryan Hill (4-1) came on in relief of Stiles, with Maryland clinging to a 1-0 lead. The right-hander allowed a leadoff single to Casali, but appeared to settle down, retiring the next two, bringing him one out away from getting out of the frame with the lead intact. The next hitter, however, Hunter Dolshun, cranked a two-run homer over the wall in left-center field for his team-best seventh long ball of the year, and the Terps now trailed 2-1.

But the Terps are no strangers to trailing in the latter half of midweek contests. Down one run in the sixth, Madison Nickens lined an 0-2 pitch into left field for a leadoff single. Jancarski followed with a rocket to left, just missing his fourth homer of the year as the ball hit high off the wall. Nickens scored all the way from first and Jancarski trotted into second with an RBI double. Now, with the score tied 2-2, Crumbs appeared on the netting next to the visiting first-base dugout, and right on cue, Gum’s ground ball single between short and third put the Terps ahead, 3-2.

After Marty Costes was hit by a pitch, the runners moved up on a groundout, and AJ Lee lined a two-run single to left, extending the lead to 5-2. It was a script similar to so many other midweek games this season: rallying back after the opposing team took the lead.

“When a team scores on us, we want to hit them right back,” Nickens said. “We want to let them know that we’re not going to go down easy, we’re gonna come right back at you, and that makes them uncomfortable.”

Maryland added another run in the eighth on Dunn’s second home run of the season, a solo shot to the right of the center field batter’s eye. John Murphy pitched a scoreless eighth and ninth, allowing just one walk, to pick up his first save of the season. Dunn, Jancarski and Nickens all finished with two hits, and Dunn and Lee both drove in two.

The win, which improves the Terps to 19-1 at home this season and 32-15 overall, comes after they lost two of three at Illinois over the weekend, including a walkoff loss Sunday.

“Getting back out here and getting another win gets us going in the positive direction again,” Nickens said of the victory to open the homestand. ” We’ve got a big series this weekend, but you don’t want to look past any games. An immature team… would come out here and not really give it their all, but we were able to focus and get a good win. It just gets us rolling.”

Game Preview: UMBC Retrievers

After losing a road series for the second straight weekend, the Maryland Terrapins are back in College Park this week for their final five home games of the 2017 campaign. The Terps (31-15, 14-7 Big Ten) will kick off the homestand Tuesday with a midweek contest against a local foe from up I-95: the UMBC Retrievers.

Maryland opened the weekend at Illinois with a resounding 9-4 victory, scoring eight runs in the first three frames to back up another strong  strong start from Brian Shaffer (8 IP, 2 ER, 8 K). However, Tyler Blohm and Taylor Bloom could not replicate Shaffer’s success on the hill against a struggling Illini team that entered the weekend 5-10 in the Big Ten. Blohm surrendered six runs over just 2.2 innings in the Terps’ loss Saturday, and Bloom gave up four runs without completing five frames Sunday, in a game the Terps tied in the ninth inning only to lose on a walk off.

After a 4-for-12 weekend at the plate, Marty Costes continues to lead the Terps in most offensive categories, including slash line (.351/.440/.573), homers (9) and RBIs (34). Along with Costes, Zach Jancarski, AJ Lee and Brandon Gum all boast averages over the .300 mark, while Kevin Smith’s .548 slugging percentage and eight homers rank second on the team.

Maryland’s bullpen also turned in a solid weekend, with John Murphy, Tayler Stiles and Jamal Wade combining to throw 5.1 scoreless innings of relief Saturday. Despite surrendering the walkoff home run Sunday, left-hander Andrew Miller still leads the Terps with a 1.47 ERA in 18.1 innings of work, holding opponents to a paltry .138 average. Murphy (1.56 ERA in 17.1 IP) and Ryan Selmer (2.48 ERA in 29 IP) have also pitched well out of the bullpen of late.

Meanwhile, UMBC split a doubleheader at Maine on Sunday after the first game of the series was cancelled. The Retrievers (18-19, 10-7 America East) have won seven of their last nine contests, but have struggled on the road, posting a 10-11 mark on opponents’ fields. They have thrived on offense this season, posting a .299 team average and 6.1 runs per game, but their pitching has let them down, as their 6.05 ERA ranks second to last in the America East.

Outfielder Collin Stack is one of the major forces in the UMBC offense, as his .345 average leads the team and ranks third in the conference. The junior has hit purely for contact, knocking just four extra base hits, but teammates Hunter Dolshun and Jamie Switalski have picked up the slack in the power department. Dolshun leads the Retrievers with six homers and 27 RBIs, while slashing .318/.406/.564. Switalski leads the conference with 17 doubles, and his four homers and 26 RBIs trail only Dolshun on the Retrievers. Andrew Casali has also put together a solid season offensively, hitting .320 with 14 doubles and a team-best 10 stolen bases.

But while the Retrievers have thrived offensively this season, so have their opponents. The UMBC rotation has been a revolving door this season, as five pitchers (Matt Chanin, Michael Austin, Jacob Christian, Mitchell Wilson and Joe Vanderplas) have made at least five starts this season. Only Chanin has started every game he has appeared in, and the junior right-hander leads UMBC starters with a 5.03 ERA, 48.1 innings pitched and two complete games.

Of the 14 pitchers who have appeared on the mound for the Retrievers this season, only a pair of southpaws, Andy Rozylowicz and Connor Staskey, boast ERAs under five. Rozylowicz leads the team with a 3.94 ERA, but has spent much of his time on the mound this year pitching out of the stretch, posting a 2.25 WHIP in 16 innings of work. Right-handers Patrick Phillips and Cory Callahan have eaten innings out of the bullpen for the Retrievers, pitching 23 and 22.2 frames respectively. Both own ERAs north of six, but Callahan has been the team’s de facto closer, notching three of the team’s five total saves.

This is the first meeting between the Terps and Retrievers since March 19, 2014, when Maryland defeated UMBC 6-0 at Harford Community College. Nick Cieri, Jared Price and Mike Rescigno were the only current Terps to appear in that contest, and Rescigno, now a reliever, made the start at first base.

Starting Pitching Matchup

TUE 4:00 p.m. EST

TBA vs. TBA

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Neither Maryland nor UMBC has announced a starter for Tuesday’s game.

Lee’s late homer leads Terps to Ripken Cup victory over Towson

AJ Lee walked to the plate to lead off the bottom of the eighth inning of a tie game with one thing in mind: be aggressive. With no hesitation, the Maryland third-baseman unloaded on a first-pitch fastball, driving his sixth homer of the season deep over the left-field wall of Ripken Stadium to give the Terrapins a 5-4 lead. They plated another in the inning en route to a 6-5 victory over the Towson Tigers in the third annual Ripken Cup Wednesday.

“I was just trying to attack something early, stay aggressive and get into an advantage count,” Lee said.  “He just left me a good first pitch and I hit it pretty good and gave our team the lead.”

In a season with midweek pitching struggles, Maryland Head Coach John Szefc turned to right-hander Ryan Hill for a second straight non-conference matchup. The junior transfer tossed three hitless innings in his only other start this season, a 6-0 Terps victory at William & Mary on April 19.

This time out, Hill turned in two shutout frames, aided by a Jancarski-Smith-Cieri relay to gun down Billy Lennox at the plate to end the second. John Murphy followed Hill with 1.2 scoreless frames, but the bullpen then ran into trouble. Jamal Wade allowed one run in 1.1 innings before Tayler Stiles and Jared Price combined to surrender three runs in the seventh inning.

It was a back-and-forth affair, as seemingly each time one team scored, the other had an immediate response. Maryland struck first in the fourth inning when Madison Nickens led off the frame with a triple off the base off the right-center field fence and scored on Kevin Smith’s first sacrifice fly of the game. Towson tied it in the subsequent frame when Richie Palacios singled, moved to third after a stolen base and a wild pitch, and scored on an infield single by Colin Gimblet.

Maryland took a 3-1 lead in the sixth on Brandon Gum’s bases-loaded double over the third base bag, but this lead was short-lived. Stiles put two men on in the seventh, and Price provided little relief as the Tigers plated three runs on two RBI singles and an RBI ground out to take a 4-3 lead.

But late rallies have been the key to many of Maryland’s midweek victories this season, and Wednesday’s contest proved no different. Down one in the bottom of the seventh, Will Watson worked a leadoff walk, moved to second on a soft ground out by Nickens and advanced to third on a wild pitch. This hastened the exit for Towson starter Matt Allen, who completed 6.1 innings, in favor of Bo Plagge (0-3), who had previously served as the designated hitter. Kevin Smith greeted Plagge with a sharp line drive to center, which Watson tagged up and scored on to knot the game at 4. After a short deliberation, the umpires ruled that the center fielder caught the ball, giving Smith a sacrifice fly rather than an RBI single.

An inning later, Lee’s homer gave the Terps the lead. Walks to Zach Jancarski and Marty Costes and a Nick Dunn single loaded the bases in front of Watson’s sharp single to left, which plated what was ultimately the decisive run, putting Maryland up 6-4.

“He gives you good at-bats,” Szefc said of Lee. “He’s clearly been one of our best players in the second half of the season.”

The late rally came after the Terps squandered several scoring opportunities early in the game. Dunn led off the second with a walk and Watson followed with a frozen rope double to left, putting men on second and third with no out. Nickens struck out and Smith popped out, however, and after Nick Cieri walked, Lee’s line drive to left field was caught and the Terps stranded the bases loaded. An inning later, a Gum single and a Costes double again put Terrapins on second and third, this time with one out, but Dunn popped out and Watson flied out to end the threat.

Even when the Terps scored, they often left men on base. Towson intentionally walked Costes to load the bases after Gum’s sixth inning two-run double, but Dunn’s fly ball to left ended the threat. In the eighth, after Watson’s RBI single made it 6-4, Nickens struck out and Smith flied out to strand the bases-loaded yet again.

“We left eight guys on base, we left the bases loaded twice, which usually as the home team is the kiss of death, but it’s not like they were off bad at-bats,” Szefc said. “We lined out a few times, and you figure sooner or later something’s gonna fall. We just put ourselves in a bad spot because early in the game we had a guy on third base with less than two outs twice and we were 0-for-3 in that situation.”

Looking to close the game out in the bottom of the ninth, Mike Rescigno (2-1) retired the first hitter before giving up a single to Colin Gimblet, bringing the tying run to the plate. Richard Miller hit a sinking liner to left that Nickens dove for and missed, plating Gimblet to cut the Maryland lead to one run.

Ryan Selmer came on in search of his seventh save of the season, but the Tigers refused to go quietly, loading the bases on a catcher’s interference and an infield single. Selmer struck out Colin Dyer, however, to end the game and secure Maryland’s third straight Ripken Cup. With the victory, Szefc is the first coach in Maryland history with five straight 30-win seasons.

Now back in the win column, the Terrapins travel to Illinois this weekend for a three-game set with the Fighting Illini, beginning Friday at 7 p.m.