Yesterday's baseball game between Maryland and George Mason, with its late-inning drama and chilly conditions, was one that would have been more fitting if played in October.
It was a game that came down to the final pitch, as Patriots ace reliever Steve Kann struck out the last two batters of the game with runners on second and third to preserve a 4-3 victory at George Mason.
The save was his sixth this season, and it came after the Patriots erased a 3-2 deficit in the eighth inning with two unearned runs.
But the Terrapins, who had been devastated by George Washington the previous day, 21-8, were not ready to relinquish what had been their game an inning before. Terrapins Coach Jack Jackson competed so vigorously that he was ejected with two outs in the ninth by home plate umpire Wilson Warner for arguing a called third strike.
Anthony Hicks led off Maryland's ninth with a line single to right field, then moved to second when third baseman Tim McGrath made an error on Brent Flynn's bunt. After Chris Stark sacrificed, Kann relieved J.R. Perdew.
Kann threw a strike to Jeff Bengtson, then struck him out with two straight inside pitches, which brought Jackson off the bench to argue. A minute later, Warner literally led Jackson from the ballpark, and Kann struck out Paul Schager for the final out.
Jackson was still hot after the game. "I don't want to talk," he said.
George Mason is 17-12 and has won 13 of its last 17 games. Maryland is 7-13-1. Although the Patriots' staff earned run average is just over six, Kann lowered his from 1.80.
"We brought in Steve Kann, and when we bring him in, we expect to win," said designated hitter David White, who scored the tying run in the eighth inning. "He throws hard and he throws strikes."
Said George Mason Coach Bill Brown: "If he throws strikes, he's as good a short man as there is around. He pitched better this game than all year. He had better velocity."
It appeared the Terrapins might pull this one out when they scored once in the eighth to take a 3-2 lead. To make things look even better for Maryland, starting pitcher John Bell had allowed only one hit since the first inning while using a marvelous curve ball. "As he got sharper, he took the game away from us," said Brown. "Honestly, I didn't think we'd score again."
The Terrapins got their run in the eighth by using baseball acumen, as Perdue relieved starter Rob Michael, whose only blemish was a two-run homer by Scott Patterson in the fourth inning.
Schager reached on an error, advanced on Pete McHugh's sacrifice and moved to third when Patterson smartly grounded an outside pitch to the right side of the infield. Chris Burdick singled, and the Terrapins led, 3-2.
Although Bell had shut out the Patriots since the first inning, Ed Krivak relieved in the eighth. After White doubled, left fielder Anthony Hicks saved a run with a catch running toward the foul line for the second out.
But Terrapins shortstop Mike Melowsky threw high to first base on Ray Mikell's routine ground ball, and the Patriots had runners on first and third. White scored while catcher McHugh failed to catch Mikell stealing. Mikell continued to third after McHugh got the ball back, then scored after McHugh threw wildly to third.
"We knew better than anybody that a team can come back after getting killed," said Kann of Maryland's loss to George Washington the day before. "It's a matter of integrity."
*George Washington 16, Catholic 0: Greg Ritchie went three for three with a home run and scored four runs to back Rob Gauzza's two-hitter at Catholic. Gauzza struck out 11 in George Washington's 12th straight victory.
Senior Kevin Fitzgerald had two hits and two RBI for the Colonials, who broke the game open with five runs in the fifth inning and seven in the next three innings.
George Washington is 22-9, Catholic 8-17.
*UMBC 16, Navy 9: After trading five runs with Navy in the first inning, the Retrievers (17-4-1) coasted past the Midshipmen (16-8) at Max Bishop Stadium, thanks to their 21 hits.
*Virginia 12, VMI 9: Mike Basara and Brad Marwitz homered for the Cavaliers (17-14) in the victory over the Keydets (12-14) at VMI.
*Lacrosse: Loyola beat Georgetown, 20-1, as Pat Lamon scored eight goals at Loyola. The Greyhounds are 5-2, the Hoyas 1-9. Sophomore Charlie Cacciabaudo had Georgetown's goal.