With bases loaded for the second time in the first two innings, Maryland baseball third baseman Taylor Wright bunted with two outs to end the threat.
For a lineup that prides itself on aggressive tendencies (coach Rob Vaughn doesn't have a take sign) and high scoring outputs to supplement a shallow pitching staff, the decision from the Terps' cleanup hitter was baffling. It bailed out Army left-hander Tyler Giovinco, who struggled with his early command, and left the door open for the Black Knights.
Army scored two runs in the next inning against right-hander Taylor Bloom, establishing an edge it would later extend on the reigning Big Ten Pitcher of the Week to beat Maryland, 4-3, in the Terps' home opener.
"Taylor Wright's the best bunter on the team. It wasn't really a sign that we put on, he's just got really good feel for it," coach Rob Vaughn said. "We just give our guys freedom to do that. I have a bunt sign that I put on very rarely. For them, if the situation dictates it, if you think it's there, then try it. Roll it out there and see if you can get it."
Army (2-3) first baseman John McKenna supplied the Black Knights with two RBIs and five batters notched two hits each. Maryland (2-3) shortstop AJ Lee contributed two of his squad's four hits.
In the first inning, Lee reached on a bunt to load the bases. But with two outs, designated hitter Will Watson's groundout ended an early threat to break out of a slump tracking back to Maryland's four-hit, 12-strikeout effort in its Wednesday loss to William & Mary.
Center fielder Zach Jancarski's sacrifice fly in the second drove in first baseman Kevin Biondic before Wright's bunt later in the frame stranded three more runners.
"You saw their starter really gain confidence giving up one in those situations," Vaughn said. "He was spraying the ball a little bit early and shoot, he settled in after that second inning."
With Maryland's offense scuffling, Bloom didn't have the same command he displayed in his seven scoreless innings tossed last against Tennessee. Army capitalized on the opportunity with four singles, plating two runners, in the third. The Black Knights added two more runs in the fifth.
Bloom (1-1, 2.57 ERA) tiptoed out of danger throughout his seven innings Friday, allowing 11 hits and three walks despite allowing four runs.
"We watched [Army] on video, we knew they were going to be really scrappy group of hitters. They grind out at bats, they're tough. You leave stuff over the plate, they can bang the baseball around," Vaughn said. "[Bloom] giving up four over that course of time, we're going to win a lot of games."
When Lee pulled a home run to left field in the third, he was mobbed at his dugout and right-hander Hunter Parsons shook Maryland football's "Excessive Juice!" sign up and down. The energy, tying the contest at two before Army later retook a lead, didn't spur the Terps onto a rally.
Giovinco (1-1, 5.91 ERA) held Maryland hitless for the remainder of his 6.1 innings, in which he allowed three hits and four walks, nullifying the heavy-hitting tendencies the Terps displayed against Tennessee when they produced 20 runs in three games.
The Terps pulled one back, 4-3, after Wright scored from second on a passed ball following his leadoff double but couldn't add any more.
When Jancarski swung at a ball nearly level with his head to conclude the ninth inning with three strikeouts for right-hander Daniel Burggraaf, the senior dropped his head and walked back to his dugout. The wild cut was Maryland's ninth strikeout, and extended the difficulties with plate discipline the Terps suffered from in their four-hit loss to William & Mary.
"A part of that is credit to another good job by that staff," Vaughn said. "We knew that lefty was good tonight. He competed his tail off like we knew he would. There guys came out of the bullpen throwing strikes, spinning breaking balls."