Delaware baseball third baseman Diaz Nardo strode into second base and threw his arms in the air, telling the Blue Hens dugout to get loud after his two-run double in the sixth inning.
The cleanup hitter dominated Maryland's pitching Thursday, finishing a triple short of the cycle, knocking in five runners and making Maryland burn through its bullpen in its first of five games in six days.
Coach Rob Vaughn said right-hander Mark DiLuia would need a start similar to his four-inning, seven-strikeout performance against VCU last week to limit the number of relievers the Terps would use. Instead, the freshman was pulled after surrendering three runs in three innings, including a two-run homer to Nardo.
After Maryland's offense ignited a tournament sweep last weekend, it regressed to its early-season slump and couldn't bail out a pitching staff that set down the Blue Hens in order just one time. The Terps dropped their Thursday contest to Delaware, 7-1.
"[DiLuia] just didn't command the zone as well tonight and that's what happens," Vaughn said. "[Delaware] had great approaches at the plate. Their lefty did a good job attacking us and pumping the zone."
Right fielder Randy Bednar led Maryland with three hits and a home run, but the Terps struggled to convert their nine hits into runs.
DiLuia (1-1, 5.25 ERA) allowed at least one runner in scoring position in each of his three frames, and while he managed with minimal run support in the 2-0 win over the Rams, Delaware (6-4) inflated his pitch count and tagged him for three runs, knocking him out of the game early.
Bednar's solo homer in the third was about all the Terps (7-5) could manage off Delaware starter Matt Hornich (1-0, 1.74 ERA), who gave up three hits in his five innings.
Left fielder Marty Costes was 1 for his last 29 entering Thursday, but he drove a two-out double to the right field fence in the first inning and added a single and a walk later in the game.
Yet with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh, Costes swung and missed at three consecutive pitches, despite second baseman Nick Dunn walking on four pitches the batter prior. The Terps stranded seven runners in scoring position.
"That's why I hop in the cage sometimes, remind myself that it's really hard to hit, you know, particularly on a [cold] day where I'm standing at third base and can't really feel my hands," Vaughn said. "It kind of seemed like we'd have two really good [at-bats], then three bads ones. … We just couldn't quite get that consistency up and down through the order."
Maryland's starting pitching stood out during its five-game winning streak, but DiLuia's short exposed the issues of the Terps pitching staff. Delaware's three-run edge ballooned to six runs against Maryland's bullpen, and while Maryland pressured the Blue Hens' staff late, they held the Terps' hitters quiet at the right times.
Despite using five relievers, Vaughn was encouraged that only one threw more than 30 pitches, keeping them available for the Terps' weekend series against Bryant.
"We just got to have a short-term memory," Vaughn said. "I told our guys, I thought Delaware did a little better job than us tonight maybe handling the weather and playing through it."