COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Jose Cuas hit his team-leading fourth home run of the season as part of a four-run fourth inning as Maryland overcame a one-run deficit and pulled away from Navy in an 11-4 victory over the Midshipmen Wednesday afternoon at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium.
After registering just one hit through the first three innings, Maryland (22-13) exploded for four runs on four hits in the home half of the fourth. The Terps blew open the game in seventh with five runs on five hits to stake themselves to a 9-2 lead.
Cuas’ home run was a part of a 2-for-4 day for the sophomore. The native of Brooklyn, N.Y., also had a single, scored twice and drove in a career-high four runs. Shortstop Blake Schmit tied a career best with three RBI and recorded three hits including a RBI double in the seventh. Catcher Nick Cieri also added three hits as part of Maryland’s 13-hit effort.
"It was just being patient and having good at bats,” said head coach John Szefc. “That's the way it is supposed to be. We made their pitching staff work for 24 outs.
"You want to go into a weekend series feeling good about yourself, so this is good. This game isn't going to mean a whole lot come first pitch Friday night. We have to have a good start, but this will make it easier going into that game. Wins like this make guys feel better about themselves."
Trailing by a run in the fourth, Maryland got the bats going against Navy’s Kyle Condry, who replaced starter Stephen Moore. LaMonte Wade reached to start the inning on a bunt single and Cieri followed with a base hit to right. With runners at the corners, Wade came in to score on a passed ball moving Cieri to second.
Cieri advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Kyle Convissar. With one out, Schmit laid a perfect bunt down the first base line leaving the Mids with no play scoring Cieri. Four pitches later, Cuas homered off the scoreboard in left center for his fourth of the year.
"Whether you're coming from one down or 10 down you always want to be able to play well from behind,” said Szefc. “We had three bunts in the inning before Jose hit the home run.
“The bunt game, for as long as I've been doing this, has never hurt us. Sometimes you might not execute, but the bunt game certainly got our offense going today."
Navy (18-22) trimmed the deficit to two with a run in the fifth, but Maryland answered with a five-run seventh to put the game away. Szefc and the Terps manufactured the first run of the inning through a double steal. With Charlie White heading for third and Wade heading for second, Navy catcher Nick Paglialonga elected to try and throw out White. But his attempt sailed over the head of the third baseman and into left field allowing White to score.
Two batters later with Andrew Amaro standing at second and Anthony Papio standing at first, Schmit laced a double down the left field line to score Amaro. Cuas then followed with a two-RBI single to left center and Kevin Martir got Cuas home with a double off the wall in left field.
Navy’s two runs in the top of the eight were answered by two runs in the bottom of the frame by the Terps. Papio and Schmit each tallied RBI singles to cap the scoring.
Zach Morris earned the win for the Terps in his second career start. Morris scattered five hits allowing one earned run with a strikeout over five innings. Condry fell to 0-1 for the Mids.
“He made the big pitches when he had to,” said Szefc of Morris. “He left after five and only gave up two runs, so it was a pretty efficient start. It was a start he could progress off of."
Maryland continues its home stand with a three-game set against 25th-ranked Georgia Tech beginning Friday. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m.