Troy Schreffler took a strange swing on an outside pitch, leaving it in right field. One run crossed, then another tapped home plate in the first inning.
Maryland didn’t score again until the ninth frame. And the Dallas Baptist capitalized. Rattled by stellar starting pitching that revved up in time to slow them, the Terps lost their way as the Patriots heated up to their standard.
Rocked by eight largely unanswered runs after an explosive start, Maryland baseball fell to Dallas Baptist, 8-3.
Faced with a formidable opponent in Dallas Baptist in its series opener, Maryland found a chance to test its mettle on a national scale against the team with the highest RPI in Division I baseball.
And the Terps competed.
With the benefit of some early command issues from the Patriots’ starter Jacob Meador, Maryland placed a couple of runners on base in the first frame. And, as has been typical this season for the Terps, Schreffler stepped into the batter’s box at the right moment.
Poking an outside pitch to shallow-right, Schreffler found the perfect spot to send Dallas Baptist’s defense scrambling and a pair of Terps home.
“He really settled in,” Dallas Baptist coach Dan Heefner said. “[Meador] wasn’t himself in the first [and] you can tell he didn’t really have his feel.”
The strange two-out hit would be all Meador allowed as the Patriots looked to respond.
“Jacob Meador’s number one trait is that he’s a great competitor, and he gives up two runs in the first and he didn’t like that very much,” Heefner said. “Then he really settled in and started being himself.”
With the sun illuminating Nick Dean’s back and darkening the batter’s box in the stadium’s shadow, Dallas Baptist’s Blayne Jones watched the delivery.
Jones sent the ball screaming into the light and over the ballpark’s left-field wall.
It was a quick response for the Patriots as Dean ended the inning soon after.
But the early duel at the plate quickly changed as Meador took control.
The sub-2 ERA pitcher blanked Maryland at the dish through the next few innings. The typically high-octane Terps offense found themselves quelled and Dallas Baptist took advantage.
Cutting a few Dean pitches into the outfield, the Patriots small-balled their way to a 3-2 lead after an RBI single and RBI ground-out in the third frame.
Dean still looked uncharacteristically vulnerable from his last outing that saw him allow multiple runs.
Or maybe Dallas Baptist got the better of him.
Regardless, Meador gave the Patriots plenty of pressure-free innings to chip away at Dean’s confidence. Tragedy looked inevitable for Maryland against the top-rated squad.
“The approach was [to] hit the fastball ideally,” Dallas Baptist outfielder Jace Grady said. “He was giving us a lot of off-speed so we had to make a change in the middle and started hitting the ball up the middle and waiting back on it a little bit. That fixed the problem.”
With a clean fourth and fifth, Meador opened the way, and Dallas Baptist sprinted through it.
After the Patriots landed runners on second and third, Vaughn pulled Dean for Sean Heine. Dallas Baptist needed just one swipe to grab ahold of the contest.
Smacking a looping Heine curve right after its apex, the Patriots did just that with a two-RBI single.
Adding one more by inning’s end, Dallas Baptist took a 6-2 lead. Six unanswered runs for the Patriots looked plenty crippling for a Terps batting lineup that saw a few abbreviated offensive innings.
Dallas Baptist kept up steady pitching and offense to take an 8-2 lead into the top of the ninth. A little hope sparked as Maryland loaded the bases with some reliever pitching trouble from the Patriots.
It mattered little despite the Terps crossing one more run. Maryland earned their fourth loss of the season against a dominant performance by Dallas Baptist.