It seemed destined to happen again.
The Maryland baseball team has prided itself on come-from-behind wins at Bob "Turtle" Smith Stadium since it started its midweek slate on March 7 against William & Mary. The Terps produced the offensive bursts expected of the Big Ten preseason favorites.
Even Sunday's 6-5 loss to Northwestern featured a five-run inning. But the Terps couldn't maintain their 5-2 edge. Second baseman Alex Erro's solo home run to left field against left-hander Andrew Miller in the 11th gave Northwestern a lead it wouldn't relinquish. It provided the Wildcats with late life in their pursuit of a spot in this year's Big Ten Tournament.
For coach John Szefc's team, it was the second home loss in as many days after the Terps dropped just one contest in College Park entering their final home series this season. There were wasted opportunities, and though center fielder Zach Jancarski said Maryland felt optimistic trailing by a run in the bottom of the 11th, the dugout was silent.
The Terps looked less like the team that has rallied late to position themselves for a playoff run and more like the team that started 1-5.
"People aren't just going to come in here and lay down," Szefc said. "You have to force the issue and beat them, and we weren't able to do that two days in a row. We kind of got what was coming to us."
Before it was clear a late comeback would be necessary, the Terps rallied against Wildcats right-hander Josh Davis. The Wildcats scored twice in the top of the fifth, but Maryland responded. Right fielder Marty Costes, first baseman Brandon Gum and designated hitter Will Watson all added RBI hits. Third baseman AJ Lee's single pushed Maryland's advantage to three runs.
As a result of a botched pickoff attempt at first base, during which shortstop Kevin Smith threw home with a runner breaking for the plate, the Wildcats scored two additional runs in the sixth. Nonetheless, right-hander Taylor Bloom made it through six innings, allowing seven hits and four runs with five strikeouts.
A day after Szefc used six pitchers, Bloom eliminated the need to do so again.
Right-hander Ryan Selmer, who didn't throw Saturday, pitched a scoreless seventh. In the eighth, though, he allowed an RBI double to third baseman Connor Lind that tied the game at five.
Still, there wasn't panic. But then, Miller entered to pitch the 11th and allowed a go-ahead home run for the second time in as many weekends. Maryland was unable to score again.
"Anytime you get a guy up in a big situation, he wants to get it done," Jancarski said. "When you don't, it's demoralizing. When we struggle, I think we get a little bit tense."
Maryland was 5-for-15 with runners in scoring position, but four of those hits came in the fifth. The Terps had runners on first and second and one out in the tenth, but Smith popped out, and left fielder Madison Nickens struck out to prolong the game.
So, in their final home game of 2017, the Terps couldn't make a comeback, a defining team characteristic through the season's first three months.
"We're just going to work hard in practice," Costes said. "I don't think this is one of the things you overthink. We gave ourselves a lot of opportunities. We should still keep our confidence. I know I will."