Nick at Night: Dean, Lorusso lead the way to Terps win in Big Ten opener

Friday night’s date with Penn State could be described with just one name: Nick. Between Nick Dean’s performance on the mound and Nick Lorusso’s performance at the plate, the Terps were able to maneuver their way to an 8-4 win over Penn State to open up Big Ten competition.

Facing a Penn State lineup that’s among the bottom of the Big Ten in just about every category, Nick Dean was given the perfect opportunity to bounce back after a pair of miserable starts — and that’s exactly what he did.

While shaky Terps defense proved to be a challenge behind Dean, he was able to navigate through six innings with two earned runs, picking up his first quality start since March 4. At the plate, Nick Lorusso opened his night with three-straight walks before driving in a clutch, game-tying run in the seventh inning to fuel a late Maryland comeback.

Penn State opened up scoring with a run in the second inning courtesy of Maryland’s defense. With sophomore Jay Harry stealing second, Luke Shliger airmailed the ball into the outfield, and on the rebound attempt to third base, Chris Alleyne sailed the ball into the Terps’ dugout. Harry came all the way around to score, and it wouldn’t be the last time that Maryland’s defense would hand over scoring opportunities.

Thankfully for Head Coach Rob Vaughn — who was coaching his 200th career game Friday night — the Terps were able to use everything from small ball to long ball to give his squad a 3-1 lead. Bobby Zmarlzak contributed in both fashions, knocking down a perfect sacrifice bunt to score Maxwell Costes in the second and later crushing a no-doubter to left field for the Terps’ third run.

The momentum was in the Terps’ favor up to that point, but with one out in the sixth inning, Troy Schreffler misplayed a Johnny Piacentino base hit, allowing it to roll towards the outfield wall and letting Piacentino pick up a triple. In the moment, the momentum did a complete flip as Penn State rallied to tie the game.

In the seventh, the combination of a walk, wild pitch and passed ball from Noah Mrotek allowed the Nittany Lions to take the lead. Luckily for Maryland, Penn State would switch out relief pitcher Tyler Shingledecker in favor for a struggling Mason Mellott. Shingledecker went 1 1/3 innings with four strikeouts before he was replaced, and Mellott immediately surrendered the lead on Lorusso’s RBI single.

Costes would then have a chance to drive in the go-ahead run, and he converted in the clutch with two outs. An inning later, Alleyne would blow the doors off this game with a massive three-run home run to straight-away center field.

After pitching the seventh and eighth innings, Mrotek returned to the mound in the ninth to pick up a nine-out save and stamp a “W” on the series opener.