After losing the second game of the series, Maryland was back for the rubber match against the Ole Miss Rebels Sunday at Swayze field. Like it had on Saturday, Maryland’s shaky pitching allowed home run after home run for Ole Miss. After five straight walks to begin the bottom of the seventh, Ole Miss’ Calvin Harris launched a grand slam to enforce a mercy rule as the Rebels took down the Terps 18-8.
The game started poorly for Maryland after both Luke Shliger and Matt Shaw struck out and Nick Lorusso was called out on a full count by way of the new batter’s box violation that says, “the batter must keep at least one foot in the batter’s box throughout the time at bat.” Their bad start continued when Jacob Gonzalez stroked one over the right field wall for a leadoff homer that gave the Rebels an early 1-0 lead.
With two outs to start the second, Rivas walked three straight to load the bases for Elijah Lambros. Lambros, just 1-7 in the series but with two RBI’s in the previous game, spoiled the opportunity when he flew out to right field.
Maryland found their stride in the third when a Shliger single gave Maryland their first hit of the game. Soon after, Lorusso cranked a no-doubter to left field to give the Terps the lead at 2-1.
Also featured in the top of the third was Shaw’s second strikeout of the day. Shaw, one of the best shortstops in all of college baseball, had a poor output in the series going just one-for-five on Friday, zero-for-five with four strikeouts, a career-high, Saturday, and zero-for-four with a walk Sunday.
Maryland’s lead did not last long as Peyton Chatagnier sent a first-pitch bomb into the Terps’ bullpen to tie the game at two. Nate Haberthier, Maryland’s starter, somewhat shaken from his second allowed a home run, walked the next two batters which set up Calvin Harris perfectly as he launched a ball over the wall, narrowly missing Bobby Zmarzlak’s outstretched glove.
Haberthier, shaken up again, allowed a single to Kemp Alderman and walked Anthony Calarco before head coach Rob Vaughn made a call to the bullpen for Kenny Lippman. In 16 appearances last year for Dennison, Lippman had a sub-2.00 ERA but faced a difficult challenge with two men on and no outs. After Ethan Lege lined out, TJ McCants, getting his first start of the series, sent a missile over the wall on a 3-1 count to extend the Rebels’ lead to 8-2.
Things got chippy between Shliger and McCants when McCants stayed in the box to watch his home run a little too long for Shliger’s liking. The two had to be separated when McCants crossed home plate and both sides received warnings.
Ole Miss pitchers had trouble all series when it came to issuing free passes and Rivas was no different when he issued his fourth walk of the day to Keister. After Zmarzlak went down, Lambros came up and redeemed himself when sent one into the bleachers for a two-run shot to cut the lead to 8-4. Unfortunately, Shaw struck out once again, his third already on the day.
The home run derby continued when Lorusso slashed his second of the game, a two run blast, to again cut the lead to 8-6. It was at this point when Mike Bianco decided to go to the bullpen for Mitch Murell. Murell, who appeared in the first game of the series, allowed three hits in two innings on the mound on Friday.
After Ethan Groff scored on a Harris double, Vaughn made his second pitching change as he brought in Tommy Kane to relieve Lippman. Harris would score on the ensuing at-bat to extend the Rebels’ lead 10-6.
Shliger got his revenge on McCants later in the fifth when the Maryland catcher sent a two-run blast over McCants’ head to once again cut down the Ole Miss lead to 10-8. Shliger’s long ball was the eighth combined between the two teams as the long balls came early and often for both sides.
Both teams went scoreless in their next at-bats, but on a full count with two outs and Eddie Hacopian on first, Matt Woods was called out on a pitch he thought walked him to first. Woods said something afterward to the umpire who immediately ejected him. Vaughn quickly got in the umpire’s face and was almost thrown out himself.
After a rare offensive lull Sunday for the Rebels, Alderman got things going again when he hit the ninth home run of the game to expand the Rebel lead to 11-8. With an increased lead and three innings left, Biano decided to go to the bullpen again for Brayden Jones to close the door.
Kane, who looked good in his three innings of work with five strikeouts, loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh and was relieved by Eliakim Stowe. Stowe, who only pitched two-thirds of an inning so far this season, had a tall task ahead of him. He walked Chatagnier, the first batter he faced, hit Gozalez immediately after and then walked Groff to walk in three runs to extend the Rebels’ lead to 14-8 with no outs.
After a horrible outing for Stowe, he was relieved by Andrew Johnson with the bases still loaded and no outs. Facing Harris, who already had a home run today and could possibly end it on a grand slam, Johnson’s pitch was taken deep to end the game early as the Rebels forced a mercy rule winning 18-8 in seven innings.
Harris had a phenomenal series. He was the only player to get a hit off of Jason Savacool when he had two before anyone else got one, and on Sunday he had eight RBIs and was 4-5 at the plate with two home runs including the walk-off.
With the loss, Maryland fell to 3-4 on the year. The team will be back home on Tuesday to play Delaware before heading to Minneapolis for the Cambria College Classic.