After struggling offensively in this past weekend’s three game series against Boston College, Maryland’s offense found their groove against George Washington Tuesday night, as a five-run bottom of the sixth helped propel the Terps to an 8-2 victory.
Michael Boyden started the game for Maryland, and allowed two runs (one earned) in three innings on two hits and three walks. Chuck Ghysels came in for the junior after a leadoff walk in the fourth, and struck out four in two scoreless innings. Brady Kirkpatrick came in in the top of the sixth, and struck out five in two scoreless innings. Jimmy Reed got out of a jam in the eighth, and Blair Delean pitched a scoreless ninth to seal the game.
Although the Terps used five different pitchers, coach Erik Bakich said that was a part of their plan to get more players some innings.
“We wanted to get some guys some work,” he said. “And we have to split the games up in the midweek just to make sure that all those guys who threw tonight can still throw on the weekend.”
George Washington took the lead in the second with some shrewd base running. Right fielder Tyler McCarthy led off with a double down the right field line, and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Brett Bowers. After a strike out by Jimmy Best, Ollie Mittag walked to put runners on the corners with two outs. Mittag took off for second during the next at-bat, intentionally getting in a rundown to allow McCarthy to score the first run of the game.
Maryland was able to tie it up in the bottom of the third with a two-out rally. After Matt Marquis struck out and Alex Ramsay flew out, Charlie White walked. The right fielder advanced to second on a stolen base and third on a wild pitch, and scored when Alfredo Rodriguez was just able to poke a single to center.
White spoke of the importance of the win coming off the disappointing weekend series against Boston College after the game.
“Every win is huge, especially when we pretty much beat up on ‘em,” he said. “Losing to BC was pretty tough, but we’ve kind of put it behind us and we’re just trying to get back on track.”
In the fourth, Stephen Oswald walked to lead it off, stole second on a poor throw by Alex Ramsay, and advanced to third on a passed ball. McCarthy struck out looking, and Bowers bunted the ball down the first base line, scoring Oswald and giving the Colonials the lead. On the play, Ghysels went to tag Bowers for the out, and the GW third baseman led with his shoulder, nearly causing a collision. Ghysels was able to get out of the inning, but the score was 2-1 George Washington.
Maryland was able to capitalize on on another two-out rally in the bottom of the fifth to tie up the game. After Korey Wacker lined out to right and Marquis struck out, Ramsay singled off the left fielder’s glove and advanced to second on a balk. White just beat out a grounder to second, advancing Ramsay to third, and Rodriguez was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Ryan Holland then walked on four pitches, scoring Ramsay and tying up the game.
Kirkpatrick got Maryland out of a tough jam in the top of the sixth to keep the score tied. Oswald led off with a walk and took second on a wild pitch. McCarthy walked, as Oswald advanced to third on another wild pitch, and stole second. Bowers struck out looking on a nasty breaking pitch, and Maryland elected to pitch to Best, arguably George Washington’s strongest hitter. Kirkpatrick struck out Best and pinch hitter Kyle Gelling, getting out of the jam with impressive ease.
“Tonight my changeup and curveball were really working,” Kirkpatrick said. “My fastball wasn’t completely there so I really relied on my offspeed stuff. At first I wasn’t being aggressive at all. Then [pitching] coach [Sean] Kenny came out and told me to just go after them, be aggressive and make them hit it, and that’s what I did. I knew I could threw strikes, I just needed to go back to my routine.”
The Terps took their first lead of the game in the bottom of the sixth. After Tim Kiene popped out to second, Kyle Convissar walked and stole second. Wacker singled over third baseman Bowers’ head, scoring Convissar with ease and making the score 3-2 Maryland. Wacker took second on a passed ball, and Matt Marquis hit him to third with an infield single. The Terps then executed a perfect double steal, as Marquis took second and Wacker stole home uncontested, advancing Maryland’s lead to 4-2. After a Brandon Padula (pinch-hitting for Ramsay) walked, Charlie White hit a double, scoring Marquis and advancing Padula to third. Ryan Holland grounded to first, but managed to beat the pitcher to the bag with a headfirst slide. Both Jordan Hagel (pinch-running for Padula) and White (with some heads-up base running) scored, making the score 7-2.
“The first few innings, we didn’t have much going,” Bakich said. “We were hitting too many balls in the air and striking out too much. Then we made an adjustment to get on top of the ball and go the other way and we were able to have a big inning there and put pressure on the defense and create some opportunities for us.”
Maryland had a lot of success on the basepaths during the game, beating out a few infield singles and taking advantage of some defensive blunders made by the Colonials.
“Aggressive is just one of our core covenants, one of the things we do in everything we do,” Bakich said. “It was good to get guys on, that’s been one of our struggles. We’ve struggled to get baserunners on over what seems like the last couple of weeks, and when we do get multiple baserunners on, when we do put pressure on teams, that’s what you see, you see us starting to turn the runners loose a little bit, because we’ve got good speed.”
After scoring just nine runs in the weekend set against Boston College, the Terps nearly equaled that total in one game against George Washington.
“I thought our energy level was much better,” Bakich said. “I thought the way we went about our business, our preparation prior to the game was much better. I thought the attention to detail, the dugout energy, the adjustments we made during the course of the game, I thought those were much improved from the weekend.”
Maryland’s scheduled Wednesday game against St. John’s was cancelled after the Red Storm were unable to make it out of a New York snow storm. The Terps travel to Charlottesville this weekend to take on third-ranked Virginia in what is arguably Maryland’s toughest test of the year (Texas is currently ranked 4th/6th). Maryland’s next home game is Wednesday, March 30th against George Mason.