By James Crabtree-Hannigan
Following center fielder Chris Alleyne’s leadoff single in the sixth, William & Mary gifted Maryland baseball two baserunners to load the bases with nobody out — a prime opportunity for the Terps to cut into the Tribe’s three-run lead.
Two strikeouts, one pitching change and a check-swing dribbler later, Maryland had squandered the chance.
In the next inning, the Terps pitchers returned the favor. William & Mary loaded the bases via two walks and a hit by pitch, and center fielder Brandon Raquet ensured the home side wouldn’t miss its chance to put the game out of reach.
Raquet’s grand slam turned it into a blowout, powering the Tribe to an 8-1 win, spoiling Maryland’s perfect record in midweeks and putting the Terps below .500 for the first time since the third game of the year.
The Terps (13-14) surrendered 39 runs in their past two games — both blowout losses to Indiana. But they entered Wednesday with a 5-0 record in midweeks, due in part to a modest improvement in pitching depth from last year.
Maryland was 5-8 in midweeks last season, giving up more than six runs in eight of those 13 games. This season, the team had kept its opponent to six or fewer in all five of its midweek matchups.
Both the winning streak and the string of good pitching came to an end in Williamsburg, though, and two hit batters and a walk from left-hander Tuck Tucker (1-1, 4.76 ERA) in the first inning alone spelled trouble.
William & Mary (20-7) turned those free passes into a sacrifice fly and a 1-0 lead, which catcher Justin Vought erased in the third inning with his fourth home run of the year.
The Tribe responded in the bottom half of the third, with catcher Hunter Smith following a one-out double with a home run of his own to re-establish a 3-1 lead.
Those were the final runs of Tucker’s four-inning start, but the Tribe added another in the fifth after left fielder Owen Socher walked, stole second and took third on an error from Vought, and then scored on a Smith groundout.
Vought’s blast was Maryland’s first baserunner of the day, with the Terps struggling to get to Tribe right-hander Jacob Haney. Haney scattered four hits across 5 ⅔ innings, striking out nine and not issuing a walk.
Staked to a 4-1 lead, Haney ran into trouble in the sixth. He allowed a single to Alleyne, watched as his infield botched a grounder and loaded the bases with a hit by pitch. Facing the heart of the Maryland order, he buckled down. Haney painted the corner to catch first baseman Maxwell Costes looking and fanned left fielder Caleb Walls before giving way to reliever Jamie Sara, who induced a check-swing comebacker from shortstop AJ Lee to end the threat.
In the next frame, two Maryland relievers combined to give up four runs on one hit, two walks and a hit by pitch. Right-hander Nick Turnbull began the frame by hitting Socher and walking Smith. Right-hander Mark DiLuia took over and got two quick outs before issuing another walk and then grooving a fastball to Raquet, who sent it over the left-center field fence.
Maryland put two runners on in the eighth but couldn’t cash them in, and then went quietly in the ninth. The Terps struck out 12 times altogether, while their pitchers walked six and hit three more, a midweek performance reminiscent of 2018 during a campaign that increasingly seems doomed to the same fate.