CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The No. 17th-ranked Virginia baseball team lost its first game of the 2013 season Sunday, falling 4-2 to Maryland at Davenport Field. While the Cavaliers (14-1, 2-1 ACC) had their 14-game win streak snapped, they still claimed the series after sweeping a doubleheader Saturday. UVa’s 14-0 run to open the year was the second-best start to a season in program history (19-0 in 2009).
“We’re not going to win them all,” Virginia head coach Brian O’Connor said. “I don’t know of a college baseball team that has gone 56-0 in the regular season. We have a very good club, and we’ve shown that over the first four weeks of the season. We certainly at times are showing some inexperience in some areas, but our guys fought until the end and that’s the important thing. We were in the ballgame at the end and we were fighting, scratching and clawing there in the ninth inning. We were only a hit away from tying the game and sometimes that’s all you can ask for.”
Virginia had many scoring chances but stranded 15 baserunners, matching a season high. The Cavaliers had runners on base in all but the sixth inning and left at least two runners on base in six different innings. UVa also was plagued by three errors, leading to a trio of unearned runs for Maryland (10-5, 1-2).
UVa starting pitcher Nick Howard (So., Olney, Md.) was tagged with the hard-luck loss after working a career-best 6 1/3 innings and allowing just one earned run. Howard (2-1) gave up four runs as well as six hits. He struck out eight and did not walk a batter. In four starts this year (22 1/3 innings), Howard has allowed just two earned runs while posting a 0.81 ERA.
Kevin Mooney (2-0) earned the win for Maryland with 2 1/3 innings of shutout work in relief of starter Alex Robinson, who walked five batters and hit two more in 2 2/3 innings. Jake Stinnett stranded the potential tying runs on base in the ninth inning to nab his second save.
Virginia finished with six hits, with Brandon Downes (So., South Plainfield, N.J.) picking up a pair. Blake Schmit and Matt Bosse each had two hits for Maryland, which recorded seven hits on the day.
Maryland scored a pair of unearned runs in the first inning. Charlie White led off with a single and moved to second on a Jared Hagel bunt, which was booted by third baseman Kenny Towns (So., Burke, Va.) for an error. Howard hit K.J. Hockaday with a pitch to load the bases with none out, and Kyle Convissar and LaMonte Wade followed with run-scoring groundouts.
UVa scored a run in the second inning without the benefit of a hit. Howard drew a leadoff walk, and Joe McCarthy (Fr., Scranton, Pa.) was hit by a pitch. Reed Gragnani (Sr., Richmond, Va.) bunted the runners over, and Nate Irving (So., Yonkers, N.Y.) grounded out to score Howard.
After Howard had retired 11 consecutive batters, Maryland staged a two-out rally in the sixth when Convissar was hit by a pitch and Wade tripled to left-center. The Terps added another run in the seventh. Schmit singled to center and one out later Bosse hit an infield single, with Schmit moving to third on an errant throw by shortstop Branden Cogswell (So., Ballston Lake, N.Y.). White then laid down a squeeze bunt against reliever Kyle Crockett (Jr., Poquoson, Va.), whose only play was to first for the out.
UVa made things interesting in the ninth, getting a one-out RBI single from Downes to close to within 4-2. The Cavaliers had two runners on with two out, but Gragnani grounded out to second base to end the game.
The Cavaliers conclude their 14-game homestand at 5 p.m. Wednesday when they face Liberty. UVa travels to Clemson next weekend for a three-game ACC series with the Tigers.