CHARLOTTESVILLE — It was only a little more than a month ago, before the Maryland baseball team made program history, when Coach John Szefc wondered if one more loss might be one too many for his players. Now Szefc’s Terrapins are just one win from the College World Series.
Maryland’s incredible postseason run continued Saturday when the Terrapins held off top-seeded Virginia, 5-4, in front of a sold-out crowd in Game 1 of a best-of-three super regional series at Davenport Field. TheACC rivals will play again Sunday at noon, with Maryland (40-21) needing just one win to earn a trip to Omaha. Game 3, if necessary, is scheduled for Monday afternoon in Charlottesville.
The Terrapins’ lineup gave Virginia ace Nathan Kirby fits all afternoon, forcing long at-bats early and forcing his earliest exit of the season. Kirby allowed a season-high five earned runs, tied his season high by giving up seven hits and couldn’t make it out of the fifth inning.
Center fielder Charlie White proved to be the catalyst in Maryland’s first appearance in the super regionals. The speedy senior scored two runs, collected three hits and shut down an early bases loaded Virginia rally with an incredible diving catch in right-center field that turned a potential hit by Cavaliers third baseman Kenny Towns into a double play to end the first inning. When Virginia first baseman Mike Papi tagged late off of third base, the relay beat him to the plate, and the Cavs’ rally was limited to one run.
The Terrapins then put together a three-run fourth-inning, regaining a 4-2 lead when designated hitter Kyle Convissar’s bunt completed a safety squeeze and sophomore Anthony Papio’s RBI double scored left fielder Tim Lewis. White added another Maryland run after leading off the fifth inning with a single, advancing to second on a passed ball and scoring off a sacrifice fly by second baseman Brandon Lowe. White scored on a Lowe groundout in the first inning when he led off the game with a double.
Terrapins starter Jake Stinnett didn’t have his best stuff Saturday either — he hit consecutive batters when Virginia scored an early run in the first inning, gave up an unearned run courtesy of two Terrapins errors and allowed a two-out RBI single by second baseman Branden Cogswell — but battled through six innings and 117 pitches.
The Cavaliers (47-14) were done in by a lack of clutch hitting, although first baseman Mike Papi made things interesting in the bottom-half of the eighth inning with an RBI single off Maryland closer Kevin Mooney.Papi reached base all fives times he stepped to the plate Saturday, but Virginia left 14 men on base and went 2 for 14 with runners in scoring position. Senior Whit Mayberry (St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes) pitched 4 1/3 shutout innings in relief of Kirby.
Freshman Mike Shawaryn (11-3, 2.81 ERA) is expected to start for Maryland in Game 2. The Cavaliers will likely turn to left-handed sophomore Brandon Waddell (8-3, 2.73 ERA).