COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Returning to action for the first time in nine days, the Tigers (14-14) were limited to only two runs and six hits as the University of Maryland (15-17) dealt them a 7-2 non-conference loss at a cold and windy Shipley Field on Tuesday evening.
The Tigers, who came into the game with a team batting average of .326 and averaging more than eight runs per game, were held to six hits or less for only the third game this season. Four Maryland pitchers held Towson to four singles and two doubles while striking out seven with only two walks.
Originally scheduled as a night contest, the game time was moved up to 5:00 p.m. due to the cold and the 13-25 mile per hour wind gusts. But the earlier start time didn’t bother the Terrapins, who took a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning.
With Tiger lefthander Wes Shifflett making his first start of the season, Maryland put together a three-run rally. The Terps got their first base runner of the game when junior rightfielder A.J. Casario was hit by a pitch with one out. Moments later, senior third baseman Mike Murphy gave the Terps a 2-0 lead when he belted a two-run homer over the right centerfield fence. It was his seventh home run of the season and the 27th round-tripper of his college career. Senior first baseman Will Greenberg followed with a double down the left field line. Greenberg moved to third base when senior Mike Moss flew out to right. Then, he scored the third run of the inning when Shifflett was called for a balk.
Sophomore lefthander Adam Kolarek shut out the Tigers on one hit through the first three innings and took a 3-0 lead into the fourth. In the fourth inning, junior centerfielder Kevin Collins drew a leadoff walk and moved to second base on a balk. With two outs, senior catcher Jason Stifler doubled to right center, scoring Collins to make it a 3-1 game. Kolarek ended the inning by striking out sophomore second baseman Chris Wychock.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, freshman righthander Tyler Austin relieved Shifflett and gave up a one-out double to Jensen Pupa. Austin nearly pitched out of the inning but Matthew Murakami reached base on a two-out error by Tiger first baseman Matt Collins. That led to three unearned runs for the Terps, who extended their lead to 6-1.
With runners on first and third and two outs, junior David Poutier singled to rightfield to score Pupa and give the Terps a 4-1 lead. When Casario doubled down the rightfield line, Murakami scored to up the lead to 5-1. When Murphy reached base on an error by Tiger shortstop Gary Helmick, Poutier came around to score to make it a 6-1 lead. Austin finally retired the side when he got Greenberg to ground out to second base.
Kolarek, who earned his first win of the season, left the game after pitching four innings. He allowed one run on two hits while walking two and striking out three.
Sophomore righthander Brett Harman followed Kolarek and pitched two shutout innings with the help of the Terps’ infield. In the sixth inning, Kevin Collins doubled with one out. He moved to third base on a single by junior third baseman Steve Yarsinsky. However, Harman escaped the inning without allowing a run when Matt Collins grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Yarsinsky’s single extended his hitting streak to 17 games.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Terps added to their lead when they scored a run off sophomore righthander Charlie Cononie, the Tigers’ third pitcher of the game.
Mike Rozak led off the inning with an infield single. He moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Murakami. Poutier’s second hit of the game, a single to rightfield, scored Rozak from second base for a 7-1 lead. The Terps threatened to add to their lead even more. After Cononie issued back-to-back walks to load the bases with two outs, pinch hitter Gerry Spessard was retired on a fly ball to left field.
In the eighth inning, the Tigers tried to rally to get back in the game. Freshman Ben Winter led off with a single to pitcher Ian Schwalenberg. He advanced to second base on Schwalenberg’s error on a throw to first base. After Helmick grounded out to shortstop, Winter advanced to third on a passed ball. He scored the Tigers’ second run when Kevin Collins grounded out to first base.
In the ninth inning, Dan Gentzler nailed down the win when he retired the Tigers in order.
The Tigers, who had their modest two-game winning streak snapped, had six base hits by six different players. For only the second time this season, Helmick was held hitless in a game as he saw the end of his 18-game hitting streak. He entered the game as the leading hitter in the Colonial Athletic Association with a .351 batting average.
Poutier led the Terrapins’ nine-hit attack by going 3-for-5 with two RBI’s. Greenberg also had a pair of hits.
The Tigers return to action on Wednesday afternoon when they host George Washington University at John B. Schuerholz Park at 3:00 p.m.