In Maryland baseball's midweek games last year, the Terps relied on a heavy-hitting lineup to counteract their suspect pitching.
Maryland had capable weekend starters but lacked enough depth to send out a consistently competent arm during the week. The Terps held opponents to under five runs in just two of their 11 midweek games last year.
After its 10-4 loss to William & Mary on Wednesday in the first midweek contest of 2018, it appears Maryland will have similar struggles this year.
The Terps couldn't sustain the hot hitting they showed in a season-opening series win over Tennessee, and which would've been required to stay with the Tribe. Maryland employed six different pitchers and managed just 4 hits.
"It was the first day in a while I've seen us kind of leave the strike zone," coach Rob Vaughn said, helping explain his team's 12 strikeouts. "There were some good at-bats, but not enough strung together, and that's what ended up getting us."
William & Mary designated hitter Hunter Smith and right fielder Ryan Hall led the Tribe with a combined five hits and five RBIs.
Maryland center fielder Zach Jancarski hit two solo home runs.
After right-handers Mark DiLuia and Elliot Zoellner — apparent candidates to be Maryland's fourth starter — compiled five innings over the weekend, Vaughn decided to rotate on the mound rather than rely on a starter to go deep into the game.
"It kind of depends on how the weekend shakes out," Vaughn said. "I think there's Tuesdays and Wednesdays we'll roll out there with more of a set starter and roll it out that way, but I think a lot's dictated by how the weekend goes."
Despite inheriting a one-run lead via a home run from Jancarski, Zoellner (0-1, 6.75 ERA) couldn't maintain the advantage, picking up the loss. In the first inning of the sophomore's first start of his career, a leadoff walk came around to score and tie the game.
In the second, an error from shortstop AJ Lee put William & Mary (1-4) first baseman Jason Waldman on first, and Zoellner was pulled after allowing a ground-rule double. But left-hander Billy Phillips didn't repeat his season-opening success in his 1.1 innings Wednesday. He surrendered three hits and three runs, including a double, triple and home run, leaving Maryland trailing, 6-1, after the third inning.
The Terps (2-2) couldn't create the firepower they used so often last season to steal midweek wins despite turbulent pitching outings. Maryland still won six of its nine midweek contests when it allowed five or more runs in 2017, but with quiet bats Wednesday, they couldn't stay in the game.
"William & Mary's arms did a really nice job tonight," Vaughn said. "They mixed pitches well. They moved the ball in and out."
Maryland tried to get back into the game in the fourth, scoring twice thanks to a pair of doubles to cut the lead to 6-3. But with Lee and third baseman Taylor Wright in scoring position in the sixth, first baseman Kevin Biondic and catcher Justin Morris struck out to end the threat.
Jancarski hit another solo homer later to make it 8-4, but Lee's second error of the game, an overthrow of first base in the seventh, canceled out the senior's efforts and cost two more runs. It stretched William & Mary to a six-run lead, which the Terps couldn't come back from, falling back to .500 on the year despite a relatively promising opening weekend.
"We try to stay off what we've done in the past and stay off the scoreboard a little bit and just try to focus on what's ahead of us," Lee said. "So, I think we just need to continue to do what we do at the plate and just sharpen things up a little bit and we'll be fine."