Crimson Tide Take the Opening Series Over Terps

By Ethan Cadeaux (@Ethan_301)

Coming off one of their best seasons in school history, Maryland baseball came into the 2016 season with high aspirations. Yet, the Terps lost five offensive players to the MLB draft and graduation, leaving several holes to fill for this season.

Maryland opened their 2016 campaign with a weekend series in Tuscaloosa, facing an Alabama team that had a disappointing season a year ago – finishing under .500 in Southeastern Conference play. But the Terps offseason departures were missed this weekend, as the Crimson Tide took the series over the Terps.

On Opening Day, the Terps looked to ride the right-arm of last year’s All-American pitcher Mike Shawaryn to start the season with a victory. But the Tide offense was able to muster two runs off of Shawaryn in the five innings he pitched, which was ultimately too large of a deficit for the Terps to overcome, as the Tide took the opener 3 to 1 Friday.

Crimson Tide right fielder Chandler Taylor took Shawaryn deep in the first inning, giving Alabama an early 1-0 lead. Shawayrn would retire eight consecutive batters following the homerun, but the Tide would answer back.

With the score tied at one in the sixth inning, Taylor would get the upper hand on Shawaryn again – singling in shortstop Chandler Avert to regain the lead for the Tide.

The Terps offense struggled the whole game, only recording five total hits. After the Tide added an insurance run in the seventh inning, the game was out of reach for the Terps.

Yet, after a lackluster offense performance in the opening day loss to Alabama, the Terps offense came to life Saturday. Behind a six-run fourth inning, the Terps were able to notch their first win of the season with a 9-5 victory over the Tide.

The Terps hit three two-run homeruns in the fourth inning, one each coming from catcher Nick Cieri, right fielder Anthony Papio, and left fielder Madison Nickens.

In the sixth inning, the Tide would cross the plate three times, trimming the Terps lead to 7-5. But in the eighth inning, first basemen Kevin Biondic would double, scoring Jamal Wade and Andrew Bechtold to increase the Terps lead to four, which they would hold on to.

After both the Crimson Tide and Terps each opened the season with a solid win apiece, a rubber match Sunday afternoon would determine which team would take the opening series of the 2016 season. Unfortunately for the Terps, Sunday would play out a lot more similar to Friday’s loss than Saturday’s win.

The Terps would only score one run on seven hits, falling to Alabama 5-1 to conclude opening weekend.

For the third straight game, the Tide would jump out to an early 1-0 lead. Avant would continue his solid weekend with a double in the third inning, driving in third basemen Chance Vincent for the first run of the game. Two batters later, first basemen Cody Henry would drive in Avant, giving the Tide a 2-0 lead.

After an error would help the Terps notch their first run of the game in the seventh inning, Henry would single in Avant to extend the Tide’s lead to 3-1. After a double by Tide second basemen Cobie Vance, designated hitter Connor Short would double in his own right to score Vance and Henry – extending the Tide lead to four and too much for the Terps to overcome.

Although the Terps outhit the Tide seven to six, the Tide was able to convert their base runners into runs. The Terps left seven runners on base, failing to capitalize on several scoring opportunities.

The Terps are back in action Wednesday, in a rare one game matchup with Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. University of Rhode Island comes to College Park on Friday, the Terps first home series of the year on the brand new turf field at Shipley Field at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium.

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