If there’s one thing that Jason Savacool has brought with him in both of his first two starts, it’s the ability to pitch to contact and keep the ball on the ground. Savacool displayed that proficiency once again Monday evening, throwing his second complete game in three starts and limiting the Nittany Lions to one run en route to a 7-1 Terps victory.
The lone, unearned run that Savacool surrendered couldn’t have been more characteristic of his ground ball proficiency, as it came via a fourth-inning, bases-loaded double play in the only inning that Savacool struggled with throughout his seven innings of work.
The standout freshman still hasn’t shown much electricity with his 94 mph fastball just yet, but his 3-0 record as Maryland’s Sunday starter proves that pitching to contact is getting the job done thus far.
With three strikeouts on the day, Savacool efficiently navigated through eight innings, allowing five hits and forcing 14 groundouts in 92 pitches. He also held 17 of the last 18 batters he faced hitless.
Another growing theme of Savacool starts has also been the offense’s ability to back up their starter with runs.
In Savacool’s three starts, the Terps’ bats have scored an average of 6.3 runs per game, but they primarily benefitted from Penn State’s pitching in Monday’s contest.
Maryland would have edged Penn State on walks alone, as four walks from relief pitcher Jared Freilich assisted the Terps in scoring three runs in the seventh inning alone with zero hits in the frame.
The Terps also benefitted from poor defense, as a combination of wild pitches and passed balls allowed them to retake the lead for good after Penn State tied the game in fourth inning.
Austin Chavis, who made his first appearance of the season at third base after Matt Shaw exited early in the game, reached on a passed ball after striking out. He advanced to second on a wild pitch, got to third after Maxwell Costes was hit by a pitch, and scored on an infield single with the bases loaded.
That entire sequence was representative of the issues that Penn State’s starter Kyle Virbitsky and the rest of their staff faced, and more so how the Terps were able to take advantage of those issues.
Only two of Maryland’s seven runs came on hits, one being the bases-loaded infield single and the other being a sixth-inning Chris Alleyne solo home run to right field.
Regardless of how they were scored, seven runs from the Terps is a great way to rebound after Sunday afternoon’s walk-off loss, where Maryland fell short on many chances to separate themselves from Penn State.
The Terps leave Happy Valley with their first series win of the season, and plenty to be happy about with Savacool as they look towards Columbus, Ohio, next weekend.