Maryland baseball falls to Rhode Island in slugfest, 11-8

Maryland baseball’s Sean Heine was one out from getting out of a two-man jam in the top of the seventh inning as Rhode Island’s Mark Coley stepped to the plate.

On the first pitch of his at-bat, Coley jumped on a ball and sent a line drive out to left fielder Troy Schreffler. He couldn’t corral the ball, misjudging it as it hit off the heel of his glove and deflected toward left-center field.

Both Rams on the bases came around to score, giving Rhode Island a one-run lead they would protect on their way to an 11-8 win over the Terps in the middle game of their weekend series. 

After last weekend, the pitching matchup looked promising for the Terps, who threw out freshman Nick Dean after he gave up two runs in 4.2 innings against Iona last Saturday.

He was until the third, when Rhode Island came alive, teeing off on the righty for a five-run inning. Two walks and a single loaded the bases for Jackson Coutts, who got the scoring started for the Rams in the first, launching an home run just over the left-center field wall to give Rhode Island an early 1-0 lead.

Maryland tied it later, taking a 2-1 lead on a deep shot from shortstop Ben Cowles, crushed a 2-2 pitch well over the center field batter’s eye. 

However, the Rams got back into the game in a big way, starting with a two-run double from Coutts, putting Rhode Island in front, 3-2. Xavier Vargas followed, hitting a no-doubt three-run home run to straightaway right field, extending the lead to 6-2.

Maryland clawed its way to get back those five runs, starting with two in the fourth. The Terps used small ball to put two runners in scoring position with one out: a walk, hit batter and sacrifice bunt, to bring up freshman third baseman Matt Orlando.

Orlando, making his college debut recorded his first RBI, a ground-out to third base that scored Troy Schreffler. Austin Chavis then excited the crowd with a perfectly executed bunt single that Tino Salgado couldn’t get to first in time, cutting Rhode Island’s lead to 6-4. That lead was erased in the fifth thanks to some new faces. Randy Bednar advanced to third after a double and steal of third. 

Maryland had two outs in the inning, but catcher Tavan Shahidi doubled in Bednar from third, putting him at second for the freshman Schreffler. Having just one hit on the season, he introduced himself to the home crowd with a two-run home run to left field as the Terps took a 7-6 lead.

That lead was far from safe as Rhode Island immediately tied it up in the sixth with an RBI double. Soon after, Maryland responded as Austin Chavis hit a go-ahead solo home run just over the reach of center fielder Austin White. 

Maryland relied on Sean Heine at that point after Dean threw 4.2 innings, giving up six earned runs and striking out five over 81 pitches. Heine looked to have gotten out of a jam in the seventh, but bad luck struck the Terps and Schreffler. 

With some hope of getting back in the latter innings despite not putting a rally together, the Terps were silenced late as Vargas hit his second home run of the day, a two-run shot that iced the game as the Rams went up 11-8. 

Side-arm throwing Tyler Brosius sealed the deal for Rhode Island, throwing three one-hit innings of relief for his second save of the season, striking out three in the process.

The Terps will look to take the series finale, the rubber match tomorrow at 1 p.m.