After scoring 23 runs in a two-game midweek sweep at Elon, Maryland baseball looked primed to continue its hot hitting with a weekend series against Creighton.
The Bluejays had struggled to prevent runs all year, with a team ERA of 6.52 in their first 13 games. The three-game set was moved to College Park due to flooding in Nebraska.
But in Friday’s series opener, the Terps’ offense went cold, with just five hits in a 3-2 defeat at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium.
Right-hander Mitch Ragan, who came into College Park with a 6.56 ERA in 23 ⅓ frames, kept Maryland in check over seven strong innings. The Terps had 12 strikeouts against Ragan and three Bluejay relievers after striking out a combined nine times against the Phoenix.
Staff ace Hunter Parsons dug Maryland an early hole, giving up three solo home runs in the first two innings. It was a rare lapse in command from the right-hander, who allowed four home runs total in 2018.
Second baseman Isaac Collins put Creighton ahead with the first swing of the game. After laying off the first four pitches, he blasted Parsons’ 2-2 offering down the right-field line for a solo home run in the first inning.
Leading off the second, third baseman Jordan Hovey went yard to expand the Bluejays’ lead to 2-0. Just two batters later, catcher David Vilches launched the first pitch he saw over the fence in left-center.
From there, Parsons would allow one hit and no runs the rest of the way. He threw 116 pitches to make it through eight innings, finishing with three runs on four hits, no walks and 10 strikeouts.
Still, that wouldn’t be enough for the Terps, who had 10 baserunners on the day but couldn’t get enough hits when they needed them most.
In the third inning, singles from right fielder Randy Bednar and second baseman Tommy Gardiner put two men on for third baseman Taylor Wright, who hit into a fielder’s choice to end the frame. The next inning, catcher Justin Vought went down swinging to strand another two runners.
Bednar finally broke through in the fifth inning, with a two-run homer to left that put the Terps on the board.
After Bednar’s long ball, Maryland wouldn’t put another man on base until the eighth inning, when Wright worked a one-out walk. Right-hander Bobby Kametas entered and walked left fielder Caleb Walls to put the winning run on first, but shortstop AJ Lee grounded out to defuse the rally.
Right-hander Will Glock pitched a clean ninth inning, with a strike-’em-out, throw-’em-out double play erasing a leadoff walk. And the Terps again threatened in the bottom half, as pinch-hitter Benjamin Cowles earned a free pass off Kametas and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt.
But Gardiner struck out swinging for the second out, and center fielder Chris Alleyne hit a grounder to second to end Maryland’s last shot at a comeback.