The Maryland baseball team was trailing visiting Richmond by three runs at the start of the the eighth inning Tuesday when infielder Brandon Gum was at the plate and a squirrel appeared in front of the home dugout.
As if he were abiding some animal instinct, Gum lashed the first pitch he saw down the left-field line for a single, and another legend of Crumbs the rally squirrel had begun. No. 24 Maryland scored four runs on four hits in the eighth, including a game-tying three-run home run by catcher Nick Cieri, and the Terps (19-8) held off the Spiders, 12-11, for their 18th win in the past 21 games.
Crumbs has called Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium home for at least a couple of years; junior outfielder Zach Jancarski said the miracle rodent has been around since his freshman year.
“Every time we’ve seen him during games in my years, something good has happened, so I don’t know what’s in that squirrel,” he told The Diamondback, Maryland’s student newspaper, after the game.
Apparently, it’s a lot of food. Jancarski added that Crumbs will sometimes come into the team's dugout and eat "everything in sight, regardless if it is packaged or not." Shortstop Kevin Smith said Crumbs has an appetite for his sandwiches in particular.
Led by Crumbs and another homegrown product, sophomore outfielder Marty Costes (Archbishop Curley), the team's top hitter, Maryland has been nearly unbeatable in College Park. The Terps are 11-1 at home, losing only to No. 18 Michigan.
And it looks as if Crumbs is not planning on leaving anytime soon.
“Protect this turf,” sure, but also: Feed the rally squirrel.