The Terps (3-1) are off to their best start since 2007, when they opened the year 4-1, largely due to pitching and defense. Marylands team ERA is down to 1.85, and the defense has yielded a .980 fielding percentage.
Western Carolina (4-1) had come into the game undefeated and averaging 10 runs per game, but Kirkpatrick (1-0) kept the Catamounts in check throughout. The sophomore allowed just two hits in his first seven innings of work, and Jimmy Reed pitched the final 1 2/3, retiring all five batters he faced.
Maryland scored a pair of unearned runs in the second inning thanks to a pair of walks and two errors. Freshman third baseman K.J. Hockaday had the games only RBI when he grounded into a fielders choice with the bases loaded.
Western Carolina starter Jordan Smith (0-1) pitched well, at one point setting down nine in a row and allowing just three hits in seven innings. But with hits few and far between on both sides, defense was the difference.
Kirkpatrick set the tone early by filling up the strike zone and letting the Maryland defense work behind him. Of the 26 batters Kirkpatrick faced, he retired 10 by groundout and five by flyout. Shortstop Alfredo Rodriguez had six assists on the day.
Through two games, Kirkpatrick has yet to allow an earned run in 12 2/3 innings of work. On this day, he retired the side in the first, third, sixth and seventh innings.
And after Kirkpatrick gave up a pair of hits in the eighth, Reed came on with one out and slammed the door. The junior left-hander struck out pinch hitter Dale Urquhart on three pitches, then induced a groundout to third base to end the inning.
Maryland added an insurance run in the ninth thanks to three singles and a bases-loaded wild pitch that plated Kyle Convissar, and Reed set down the side in order in the bottom half for his second save of the year.
Western Carolinas best chance for a run had come in the second inning, when catcher Adam Martin drew a walk and stole second. With two outs, first baseman Tyler White singled up the middle and Martin headed home, but Maryland center fielder Charlie White threw a dart to catcher Jack Cleary, who tagged out Martin to end the inning.
Maryland is back in action Saturday night, taking on Purdue. Senior right-hander David Carroll gets the ball for the Terps and will face the Boilermakers RHP Lance Breedlove. First pitch is tentatively scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Notes: Marylands last shutout was April 12 of last season, an 8-0 win over Delaware by not allowing a run, the Terrapin pitching staff saw its team ERA shrink to 1.85, which would rank second in the ACC heading into tonights game Kirkpatrick, Reed, Brett Harman, Michael Boyden and Korey Wacker have all pitched at least two innings without allowing an earned run Hockaday had one hit Saturday and leads the team with a .333 batting average Tim Kiene also had a base knock and is batting .313.
HOME OPENER: Maryland will play its home opener next Friday, March 2, at 3 p.m. against Manhattan. The Terps and Jaspers will also play a doubleheader Saturday starting at noon before finishing the series Sunday at 1 p.m.