The ninth-ranked Salisbury University baseball team saw its third loss on the season as it dropped its Sunday affair with No. 22 Johns Hopkins University (7-3) by a score of 10-4.
Braden Stinar, fresh off a dominant performance a week ago that earned him recognition as the Capital Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Week, struggled in his fourth start of the year.
The right-hander entered the game with an impressive 2.95 ERA, but the senior did not look like himself.
The long balls are starting to add up for Stinar. On Sunday, the right-hander allowed his second and third home runs on the season.
Stinar’s struggles were not limited to those two home runs. The senior surrendered eight baserunners in his one and two-thirds innings of work, resulting in six runs for the Blue Jays.
All three of the home runs allowed by Stinar have come from left-handed hitters. Stinar said the more important factor, though, has been putting himself in tough situations.
“I think that’s just happenstance. I can’t get behind in the count against good hitters like Hopkins has,” Stinar said. “When you get behind in the count, and you don’t locate your pitches, you’re setting yourself up for failure, and that’s what happened today.”
As for the offensive unit for Salisbury, coach Troy Brohawn made a concerted effort to get some left-handed hitters in his lineup against Matthew Dillard, the starting pitcher for Johns Hopkins.
“He’s a guy we’ve faced before,” Brohawn said. “We felt like having more lefties at the plate gave us an advantage and a better chance to win.”
Dillard entered the game with an impressive 1.38 ERA and has been a top option for the Blue Jays so far this season. He effectively suppressed the Salisbury offense on Sunday, allowing one earned run on only four hits scattered over five innings.
The Sea Gulls were able to use their patience and plate discipline to draw six walks. Many opportunities were squandered, though, as they left 10 runners on base.
Four fielding errors for Johns Hopkins helped to keep Salisbury in the game. Three of those errors came in the bottom of the first inning. Salisbury took advantage, plating two runs in the inning.
Sophomore left-hander Xavier Marmol pitched four and two-thirds innings for the Sea Gulls, allowing three runs on six hits and two walks. The lefty struck out three Blue Jays in the process.
Freshmen Brock Hilligoss and Brandon Epstein combined for three scoreless innings to close out the game.
Brohawn was displeased with not only the start, but the team’s performance as a whole.
“I really felt like we came out flat. We had no energy. We just cannot afford to give up seven runs in the first three innings,” Brohawn said. “We can’t keep trying to dig ourselves out of a hole. It makes it nearly impossible to win.”
On the subject of Stinar’s struggles against left-handers this season, Brohawn held a contention similar to that of his senior.
“I don’t think that’s the issue,” Brohawn said. “It’s just a matter of him being aggressive and getting ahead in those counts.”
The Sea Gulls will be back in action this week when Stevenson University comes to town on Wednesday, followed by a matchup with Shenandoah University on Thursday. The first pitch against the Mustangs is set for 2:30 p.m.
By THOMAS WEST
Featured photo: Brad Boardman image.