Control issues from pitching plague Maryland baseball against West Virginia

Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics

A five-run first inning from West Virginia created a hole in which No. 13 Maryland couldn’t climb out. The Terps lost their home opener 8-6 to West Virginia. 

The Terps came into this midweek matchup after a 2-1 weekend series against USF. Maryland hit a grand slam in each game of the series and in total, outscored the Bulls 24-14.

The top of the first was a nightmare half-inning for the Terps. Starter Ryan Van Buren struggled to find the strike zone, walking two batters. When he did pitch in the zone, he got hit. Van Buren gave up three hits and five runs, four of them earned. 

“Just bad counts, not enough strikes. I think that’s the reality. Ryan has been so, so good so it’s a blip in the radar,” said head coach Rob Vaughn. 

West Virginia’s big hits came from Caleb McNeely and Logan Suave. McNeely struck a double to the left field wall, scoring two. Suave’s two RBI came from a single up the middle. 

West Virginia added to the lead in the second and third innings, scoring one run in each. The two runs created an even larger hole for the Maryland offense to try and battle back.

“They’re up for the challenge; they’re built for that,” said Vaughn.  

The Terps finally found their offense in the bottom of the third. Bobby Zmarzlak walked and Luke Shliger had a base hit to put runners on the corners. Nick Lorusso did the rest, smacking the ball to right field, just barely keeping it fair and scoring both base runners. 

Maryland escaped danger in the next two innings. West Virginia loaded the bases both times, but Maryland pitchers were able to get the key outs to avoid West Virginia increasing the lead. 

Neither team scored again until the seventh inning when Tevin Tucker hit a home run off Tommy Kane on the first pitch. The hit increased the West Virginia lead to six.

The Terps cut that lead in half in the bottom of the inning. After Bobby Zmarzlak reached on an infield single Elijah Lambros belted the first home run of his collegiate career. Luke Shliger hit a home run in the next at-bat. 

“I’m surprised it got out. I didn’t think I got it, but thank you Jesus,” said Lambros. 

The Terps threatened again in the eighth inning, implementing two runners on. The threat dissipated when Shliger flew out to center to end the inning.

Maryland pushed across one more in the ninth, due to clutch two-out hitting from Eddie Hacopian and Kevin Keister. Hacopian doubled, and Keister drove him in with a single.

In total the Terps had to use seven pitchers in this game. Those seven pitchers walked a combined ten batters and gave up a total of eleven hits. 

“You’re trying obviously not to use three guys in the first. That’s not usually a recipe for success on a Tuesday, but it’s what we had to do,” said Vaughn. 

Maryland will have to put this loss behind them before they head into the weekend to face the reigning College World Series winners in Ole Miss. 

“I think everyone in that locker room knows we belong in those series. I don’t think there’s any doubt in the locker room,” said Shliger. “So we’re gonna go down, have a good series, take two, take three from them and come back and win a midweek. I don’t think this game hinders anyone’s confidence at all.”

Maryland will start the series against No. 4 Ole Miss on Friday.