Coastal Carolina tees off on Maryland baseball in 16-0 series-opening rout

Left handed pitcher Sean Fisher throws a pitch during Maryland's game against Rhode Island at Bob "Turtle" Smith Stadium on Feb. 21, 2020. (Joe Ryan/The Diamondback)

With Maryland baseball trailing by two in the third inning and Sean Fisher staring down the top of Coastal Carolina’s powerful lineup, the left-hander faced a critical juncture. Terps pitching coach Corey Muscara visited the mound to settle down the junior, who fell behind 2-0 to Scott McKeon.

But the meeting was all for naught, as McKeon clubbed the next pitch he saw for a solo home run. The rout was on.

McKeon’s blast was part of a seven-run third inning for the Chanticleers, who rode their bats and a stellar outing from right-hander Zach McCambley to a 16-0 victory over Maryland on Friday in Conway, South Carolina.

[Read more: Maryland baseball has dominated early, but Coastal Carolina poses its first real challenge]

With each team rolling out its aces, the game seemed to be a pitcher’s duel early. Fisher was sharp, allowing one baserunner while striking out two in the first two innings.

Coastal Carolina (5-3) meanwhile, turned to McCambley. The junior entered Friday with a 2.08 ERA and a team-leading 18 strikeouts. He continued racking up the punchouts in the first three innings, sitting down five Maryland hitters while allowing one knock.

The Terps (6-2) briefly threatened in the third, putting runners on the corners with two out. But McCambley erased the threat, getting catcher Justin Vought to pop out and setting the stage for Coastal Carolina’s explosive offense to take over.

With one out and a runner on, center fielder Makenzie Pate launched a two-run homer on a full-count pitch from Fisher to open the scoring. The blast was the freshman’s first of his college career.

[Read more: In hope of returning to the postseason, Maryland baseball knows the value of midweek wins]

And the Chanticleers’ bats continued to rake as their lineup turned over. McKeon drilled a 2-0 pitch over the left-center field wall for back-to-back home runs. Two batters later, left fielder Alex Gattinelli drove in Coastal Carolina’s fourth run of the inning with a double.

After a solid first two innings, Fisher suddenly couldn’t blow anything by the Chanticleers. Three more runs came in to score before the left-hander struck out Zack Beach to end the disastrous 46-pitch inning.

Heading to the fourth down 7-0, the Terps were looking to make an impact and chip away at their largest deficit of the season.

But McCambley continued to dominate. He forced two flyouts and struck out Aaron Perez to squash Maryland’s offense.

And in the bottom of the inning, the Chanticleers’ offense went right back to work against Fisher.

The first four batters reached — three on singles — and Vaughn had seen enough, bringing in right-hander Trevor LaBonte to relieve Fisher. The junior southpaw, who entered Friday having given up one earned run in his first two starts, allowed nine earned runs and 10 hits across three-plus innings. He struck out three and walked one on 79 pitches, taking his first loss of the season.

Despite the pitching change, Coastal Carolina’s bats stayed hot. They tagged LaBonte, as all three runners he inherited scored, while he was charged with allowing two more runs in the inning. For the second consecutive frame, the Chanticleers batted around, and their lead swelled to 13-0.

The evening went from bad to worse in the bottom of the fifth for Maryland. Vought, who caught all but five games for the Terps last season and has sat out just one contest this year, exited with a hip-related injury and was replaced by Tavan Shahidi.

The Chanticleers added another run in the fifth, and with the game out of reach, Coastal Carolina pulled McCambley. The junior allowed two hits in five shutout innings while striking out six and walking three, securing his second win of the season.

Both teams emptied their bullpens and benches after that. Maryland got 3 ⅓ innings of two-run ball from right-hander Mike Vasturia in his first outing of the year, while four pitchers each tossed a clean inning for the Chanticleers to wrap up their win.

Against one of their toughest opponents of the season, Maryland fell flat and turned in a forgettable performance to open the series.

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