Coming off an impressive three-game sweep of defending CAA regular-season champion Old Dominion University and riding a five-game winning streak, the College was ideally positioned to pick up a marquee victory against a major conference opponent Wednesday night at Plumeri Park.
p. After eight innings, a gritty Tribe squad held a precarious 7-6 lead over the visiting University of Maryland. However, the battle-tested Terrapins scored two runs in a dramatic final frame, sending the disappointed Tribe to an 8-7 defeat.
“Tonight wasn’t our night,” Head Coach Frank Leoni said. “We played a good ACC school and we feel like we can stand toe-to-toe with anybody, but we’re just disappointed that we didn’t finish the job.”
p. In what is becoming a recurring theme for Tribe starting pitchers, sophomore Cody Winslow’s evening on the mound began erratically, with Winslow surrendering three runs in the second inning, including an A.J. Casario two-run home run.
After Mike Murphy led off the third with a solo blast to push the Terrapin lead to four, Winslow found his rhythm, going on to pitch five and two-thirds innings, allowing no additional runs.
p. “Cody did a great job competing,” Leoni said. “He did his job and kept us in the game.”
p. A second inning three-run homer off the bat of sophomore catcher Chris Jensen answered the early Maryland salvo. The two squads then traded scores before junior second baseman Ben Guez put the College on top in the seventh inning with a towering two-run homer, pumping his fist in celebration while rounding second base.
p. An inning later, the Tribe had an opportunity to extend its lead, putting two runners on with one out. But the Tribe failed to push across any runs as Maryland third baseman Mike Murphy made a diving stop on junior shortstop James Williamson’s line drive, then doubled up senior leftfielder Greg Maliniak at second base to end the threat.
p. That brought the contest to the ninth, with junior reliever Jeremy Neustifter three outs from picking up a clutch save. The tension did not last long, however, as Murphy led off the frame, drawing the Terrapins even with a towering solo home run. Steve Braun plated the winning run four batters later with a weak grounder to second.
p. Maryland reliever Matt Quinn then completed one and two-thirds innings of scoreless work by retiring the Tribe in order, with senior first baseman Mike Sheridan popping out to conclude the affair, ending his 20-game hit streak in the process.
p. “Tonight we created some extra opportunities for Maryland and I’m sure if we had the chance to get it back again we’d play a little bit better,” Leoni said.
p. A day earlier, the University of Rhode Island visited Williamsburg, falling to the Tribe 9-7. Freshman pitcher Logan Billbrough notched his first collegiate win, backed by a strong offensive effort from Maliniak, who went 3-3 with a home run. The contest was scoreless through three innings before the Rams exploded for six runs in the fourth, prompting a Tribe comeback.
p. “They did everything they could to beat us,” Leoni said. “It wasn’t pretty, but we found a way to win.”