The 2020 season started about as well as Maryland baseball wanted it to Friday night against Charleston Southern.
Leadoff batter Chris Alleyne roped a double down the right field line off the first pitch he and the Terps saw from left-handed starting pitcher Jaret Bennett. Alleyne would come around to score the first run of the season as last year’s RBI leader, Randy Bednar, drove him home after grounding to the shortstop, giving the Terps a 1-0 lead.
Maryland’s bats went cold after the first, but some small ball in the sixth and seventh innings proved to be the difference in the Terps’ 11-2 opening day win.
All eyes were on Maryland starting pitcher Sean Fisher, making his first collegiate start after working out of the bullpen for the past two seasons.
This off-season, Fisher worked on building stamina to prepare for that starter’s role and on Friday, he had as good of a debut as the Terps could’ve asked for.
Fisher had a career night, allowing no earned runs and striking out five over 92 pitches in 5.2 innings of work. However, he and his defense didn’t help the cause in the second as Maryland quickly gave up the lead.
Errors were costly in the second, as second baseman Ben Cowles committed one to begin the inning on what looked like a routine ground-out. A double play seemed to bail him out, until Shane Kelleher drove in Kyle Horton with an RBI single to tie the game at one apiece.
Charleston Southern took the lead on a Christian Maggio single, as Randy Bednar airmailed Tommy Gardiner at third trying to throw out Kelleher. Instead, he advanced home, putting the Buccaneers up 2-1.
Errors weren’t limited to the Terps, as a costly Buccaneers throwing error in the sixth tied the game at 2-2. Maryland, who hadn’t recorded a hit since the third inning, got things rolling with two outs.
The Terps put two on before the throwing error on an Austin Chavis ground ball to third baseman Reid Hardwick. Maryland then took the lead on a botched pop-up that landed between the second baseman and right fielder.
That two-out, two-run outburst sparked a big seventh inning, where the Terps broke the game open. Maryland got plenty of help from Charleston Southern pitching, who allowed the first four batters of the inning to get on via one walk and three hit-by-pitches.
Maryland got on base in various ways to generate runs: an RBI hit batter, walk, Baltimore chop infield single, and a Chris Alleyne two-run hustle double that put the Terps well in front, up 8-2 after seven innings.
Maryland’s opening day lineup featured five different faces from last season’s opener. Three of them, including freshmen Tucker Flint and Troy Schreffler, contributed in a big way. Flint and Schreffler went a combined 4-for-9 with three RBI and four runs scored.
Schreffler’s big bat came through in the ninth, knocking in two with an RBI triple to center field. Bednar added the cherry on the top, an RBI single, for Maryland’s third multi-run inning in their last four innings of the game.
On the mound, Fisher had some big help from freshman right-hander Sam Bello, who was stellar in relief, throwing 3.2 innings of one-hit baseball, walking one and striking out seven over 58 pitches.
Bello’s extended outing gives Maryland flexibility on the mound for the rest of the weekend as it travels to the College of Charleston to finish the weekend.