A spectacular run for Maryland baseball ended with a 9-4 loss to Georgia Tech in the ACC championship game on Sunday afternoon. The Yellow Jackets scratched out a few key hits at crucial times to win their ninth ACC title.
Georgia Tech jumped out to a quick lead off Maryland starter Jake Drossner. After Drossner recorded two quick outs, a single, a double off the wall, and another single put the Yellow Jackets ahead 2-0 before the Terps even came to the plate. However, Drossner then settled down, and Blake Schmit helped his pitcher out. He led off the second inning with a solo homer to cut the lead in half. After Georgia Tech scored in the third, Anthony Papio answered in the fourth with an RBI single. This cut the Tech lead to 3-2. Drossner exited after 5 solid innings. The sophomore pitched well on the big stage, and he will most likely have to start a game in the NCAA Tournament.
In the bottom of the sixth, Papio tied the game with another RBI single. Kevin Martir hit into a double play, but the Terps were able to take the lead on the play. Closer Kevin Mooney relieved Bobby Ruse, but Mooney struggled. After allowing the inherited runner to score and tie the game, Mooney did find a way out of the 7th. However, in the eighth, Tech lead off with a double, and then Mooney threw the ball away on a bunt, allowing the go-ahead run to score. After a battle where he threw some good pitches, Connor Justus took Mooney back up the middle for a 2-run single. It was a great at bat by Justus, and it ended Mooney’s day. Ben Brewster came on, and he was able to work out of the inning, with a little help from his catcher Martir, who picked off Brandon Gold at second to end the inning.
In the bottom of the eighth, some tension began to brew. Blake Schmit led off, and the first pitch from GT pitcher Jonathan Roberts was behind him. Roberts’ second pitch hit Schmit in the neck. Schmit furiously trotted to first after taking a few steps towards the mound. Tech then turned to lefty Benn Parr, who stranded Schmit on second by striking out Papio.
Brewster allowed a run in the top of the 9th to give the Yellow Jackets an 8-4 lead. Tayler Stiles then came in, and he allowed two infield singles and the inherited runner to score before he finally was able to work out of the inning.
Maryland did not go away though. Sam Clay came in to pitch the bottom of the ninth for Georgia Tech. Kevin Martir started the inning with a leadoff walk, and Charlie White drilled a single up the middle to put two on with no outs. However, LaMonte Wade then grounded into a double play, but Brandon Lowe was then hit with a pitch, which brought Jose Cuas to the plate. Clay sealed the victory by striking out Cuas.
In the end, the Terps still had a phenomenal week in Greensboro. They took down two of the best teams in the country, Virginia and Florida State, and they advanced all the way to the championship game in one of the best conferences in college baseball. Maryland will find out where they are heading in the NCAA Tournament tomorrow. The Terps will most likely be a 2-seed. Columbia seems to be a possible scenario, as the NCAA likes to keep teams close to home in the regionals whenever possible. South Carolina will almost certainly host a regional; the Gamecocks have been one of the best teams in the country this year.