The Maryland baseball team got their 2017 season underway on Friday evening.
Despite having a 3-1 lead after five innings, Ball State erupted for a five-run sixth inning en route to an 8-3 victory.
Starting pitcher Brian Shaffer was strong in five innings of work. The junior right-hander only surrendered one earned run on three hits while striking out six.
The big blow came in the top of the sixth inning when the Cardinals brought 10 hitters to the plate. Relievers Ryan Hill and Tayler Stiles each only pitched 0.1 innings, but gave up five earned runs on four hits to go along with a pair of walks.
Three of the five runs came with two outs. Center fielder Matt Eppers sprayed a two-run double down the left field line, which proved to be a huge hit.
Prior to the outburst, Maryland was able to manufacture runs in the fifth inning.
The inning began with catcher Justin Morris getting on base with a leadoff single. Third baseman AJ Lee, who had two of Maryland four hits, knocked a double down the left field line.
The next batter was enter fielder Zach Jancarski and he grounded into a fielder’s choice. However, Morris was able to score on the play to tie the game at ones.
Second baseman Nick Dunn proceeded to get on base with a walk and right fielder Marty Costes reached on an error to load the bases. After designated hitter Nick Cieri popped out, All-American shortstop Kevin Smith was hit by a pitch to bring the second run of the inning across the plate.
Left fielder Madison Nickens followed that up with a walk of his own. Nickens’ walk brought the Terps’ lead to 3-1.
Aside from that banner inning, Maryland struggled to establish any kind of consistency at the plate. The Terps didn’t get a single hit in eight opportunities with runners in scoring position.
Maryland will look to put the season-opening loss behind them on Saturday evening when they face Louisville at 6:00 p.m.