Georgia Southern looked likely to spoil Matt Swope’s head coaching debut throughout the first five innings of Friday’s game.

The Eagles held a commanding three-run lead and Maryland struggled to string together any momentum. But Swope’s squad wouldn’t let their head coach leave without his first win.

Kevin Keister cut the deficit to two with an RBI single in the sixth inning and Jacob Orr followed with a two-run home run in the next frame. Catcher Devin Russell tied the game in eighth with an RBI single of his own, setting the stage for the Terps’ to complete the comeback effort in the game’s final frame.

With two outs at the top of the ninth inning, Sam Hojnar drilled a sacrifice fly into center field. The shot was deep enough for Orr to sprint 90 feet from third base to home and give Maryland its first lead of the season.

Nate Haberthier held the Eagles scoreless in the bottom of the final frame to hold onto the lead and secure a comeback victory in Swope’s first game at the helm, 5-4.

“It wasn’t easy, but I felt pretty good the whole time,” Swope said. “I’m just happy for the guys because they stuck with it the whole game.”

Maryland (1-0) entered the 2024 season boasting loads of new additions to replenish the loss of talent from last season. Eleven players transferred into the program, including Hojnar, to join 13 incoming freshmen.

[Matt Swope could coach anywhere. But he’s never wanted to leave Maryland baseball.]

The new-look roster was evident in the lineup for the season opener against Georgia Southern (0-1) with two of those transfers and two freshmen joining the fold.

It was also evident in the cohesiveness of the unit early.

The Eagles took the lead in the fourth inning after a pair of two out runs. First baseman Eddie Hacopian recorded an error to open the frame after a miscommunication with senior transfer Hojnar allowed a leadoff infield single. The single would’ve ended the inning before Georgia Southern’s two runs scored.

Redshirt senior Logan Berrier entered the game to start the bottom of the fifth in relief of Kenny Lippman. Berrier surrendered a single immediately to Josh Tate, who was brought home three batters later on a sacrifice fly.

Tate then crushed a double down the left field line the following inning, which was deep enough to drive home shortstop Luke Odden from first base.

Berrier made himself comfortable after that. Following a single, the right hander retired the next seven batters to keep the Eagle’s offense scoreless. Berrier closed the game with six strikeouts.

“Logan’s just bringing the mentality to the team,” Swope said. “He’s just a bulldog and you can see him out there competing.”

The Terps struggled to bring runners home offensively initially and stranded eight runners throughout the game.

Those struggles began in the second inning after designated hitter Alex Calarco was left on third to close the frame despite leading off with a single.

[Maryland baseball breaks ground on indoor practice facility]

Calarco was left stranded again in the fifth, this time at second base after another leadoff single. The junior designated hitter went 2-for-5 in his Maryland debut.

Freshman Brayden Martin also recorded a hit in his Maryland debut in the fifth inning, but was left at first following his hit.

The Terps overcame the early offensive struggles and scored in each of the last four innings.

Lippman looked sharp in his start on the mound for the Terps, recording five strikeouts in four innings of work. The right hander gave up no earned runs in his time on the mound.

The sixth-year pitcher appeared in 66 games through his career heading into Friday’s game. He led Maryland in appearances last season, but he had never started a Friday night game for the Terps.

Lippman had occasionally struggled to control his pitch in the past and recorded five walks in his outing. He threw a wild pitch past catcher Devin Russell in the fourth inning with bases loaded to gift Georgia Southern its second run of the game, but Berrier’s performance in relief and Maryland’s offensive awakening lifted it to a season-opening win.

“We just knew they would give us our best punch,” Orr said. “We would take it and then we’d punch back.”

The Terps will look to build off the comeback effort and clinch a series victory Saturday afternoon against the Eagles.