The Terps were able to salvage their first win of the 2021 season Sunday against Michigan State 3-2 behind a complete game performance from Freshman right-handed pitcher Jason Savacool. Savacool, who entered his collegiate debut with loads of preseason honors, did not disappoint in his first outing as a Terp, being named Big Ten Freshman of the Week.
Despite the good pitching from Maryland’s starters throughout the Michigan State series, the Terps were doomed by a lackluster offensive performance hitting .200 as a team, .103 with runners in scoring position and four total extra base hits through the four games.
The Terps, now 1-3 on the season, continue their Big Ten gauntlet as they turn their attention to a four-game series against Rutgers starting Friday evening. The home opener at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium will be without fans in attendance for the first time ever due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Historically, Maryland Baseball has dominated the Scarlet Knights, owning a 7-2 record since the two teams merged with the Big Ten. The teams’ last meeting ended in a three-game, Maryland sweep, featuring a 17-2 decimation of Rutgers.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights (2-2, 2-2 Big Ten)
The Scarlett Knights finished the shorthanded 2020 season with a 6-9 record, putting them last in the Big Ten standings. The Scarlet Knights struggled across the board with their pitching, recording a 5.23 earned-run average and 1.59 walks plus hits per inning. Harry Rutkowski lead the staff in both ERA and innings pitched with a 2.74 ERA and 23 total innings pitched. The Scarlett Knights hitting wasn’t much better slashing for a total of .265/.367/.377. Richie Schiekofer was the leader of the offense, starting all 15 games with a .375 batting average and 1.085 on-base plus slugging percentage.
Rutgers comes into the series with a 2-2 record and are coming off splits against Minnesota and Indiana. Against Minnesota, Rutgers won 16-1 in the first matchup on Saturday and a lost 13-8 on Sunday. Against the defending Big Ten regular season champion Indiana, Rutgers won 2-1 in the first matchup on Friday but lost 4-2 on Saturday. Rutgers was picked towards the bottom of the Big Ten in most preseason polls projected to finish 10th, only ahead of Michigan State, Northwestern and Penn State.
Hitters to Watch
The Scarlet Knights had hot bats in Minnesota with 28 runs in four games. Evan Sleight and Bradley Norton are currently pacing the team in batting average, both hitting .400. Chris Brito leads the team with .833 slugging and Jordan Sweeny currently leads the Scarlett Knights in hits with five and has six RBI so far.
Pitchers to Watch
The pitchers to watch for the Scarlet Knights is their ace Rutkowski and Saturday starter Ben Wereski. Rutkowski got off to a great start on the season with a win against Indiana, going six one-run innings with eight strikeouts. Wereski had a similar stat line himself, also going six one-run innings but with five strikeouts.
Probable Starting Pitching Matchups
Friday, 4:00 p.m. EST
RHP Sean Burke (0-1 4.50 ERA) vs LHP Harry Rukowski 1-0 1.50 ERA)
Burke, coming off a loss against Michigan State, had an impressive 13 strikeouts while also only giving up two walks and three earned runs in six innings pitched and will look to build on that outing with some help from the Terps’ offense this time.
Rukowski, coming off a win, shut down a good Indiana lineup, keeping them off balance only surrendering one run with eight strikeouts in six innings.
Saturday, 12:00 EST
LHP Sean Fisher( 0-1 8.10 ERA) vs LHP Ben Wereski (1-0 1.50 ERA)
Fisher had a rough outing against Michigan State, lasting only 3 1/3 innings giving up three earned runs. He will look to go deeper into the game this time around with the Terps looking to save arms in the first game of a doubleheader.
Before he even took the mound against Minnesota, Wereski already had a four-run lead and shut down the Minnesota lineup, allowing three hits and one earned run in six innings en route to a 16-1 win.
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. EST
RHP Connor Staine (0-0 1.50 ERA) vs RHP Brent Teller (0-1 4.91 ERA)
Staine was in position for a win with a stellar outing, going six one-run innings while striking out nine Spartans. After he exited, Maryland blew a 4-1 lead in the 7th inning, which led to a heartbreaking 5-4 loss, resulting in a no-decision and a waste of a stellar performance.
Teller on the other hand struggled with consistency in his first outing in not being able to find the strike zone against Indiana only going 3 2/3 innings allowing two runs and four walks taking the loss.
Sunday, 1:00 p.m. EST
RHP Jason Savacool (1-0 1.00 ERA) vs TBD
In the series finale, the Terps will send out the Big Ten Freshman of the Week coming off a dominant complete-game performance against Michigan State. Savacool lead the Terps to their only win of the season, doing it in only 103 pitches and keeping the Spartans lineup at bay. Savacool was the first Terp to pitch nine or more innings since Hunter Parsons tossed a complete-game shutout against Stetson on March 25, 2018.
Rutgers has yet to announce its starting pitcher for Sunday.