Savacool cages Nittany Lions, leads Terps to first Big Ten series win

Sunday afternoon’s rubber match was the setting for a bounce back masterpiece from starter Jason Savacool. The sophomore started his day striking out the side in each of his first three innings, and ultimately punched out 13 Nittany Lions as the Terps cruised to the finish, taking the series finale, 7-2.

Savacool’s last few starts including Sunday’s have been a rollercoaster, as he had a career-best 14 strikeouts against Siena two weeks ago, and was shelled for four earned runs on eight hits against Dallas Baptist a week later.

On Sunday, he righted the ship with a dominant showing, bringing his season-ERA down to 2.52.

While Savacool took care of business on the mound, the Terps’ bats came to life after a shaky performance Saturday afternoon, scoring seven runs in the first four innings to give their starter and bullpen a very comfortable lead till the final out. Between the speedy work of Savacool and some efficient scoring, the game lasted two hours and 37 minutes.

Once again, Maryland struck early — and this time, often — kicking off the scoring in the first inning.

Thanks to an error from Penn State starter Tommy Molsky, Terps catcher Luke Shliger reached third base after getting on via hit-by-pitch. Nick Lorusso, who had himself yet another strong day at the plate, brought Shliger in to score on a sacrifice-fly.

Kevin Keister, who now has a hit in 11 of his last 12 games, added to the score an inning later, smoking an opposite-field home run with freshman Zach Martin on base to make it 3-1.

Penn State was able to salvage a run early to counter Maryland’s first score in the form of a Cole Bartels opposite-field home run, but the Nittany Lions would quickly fall far behind in the fourth inning as the Terps continued to pile on.

Starting with a RBI infield single, the inning came to a climax as Lorusso obliterated a pitch from Nittany Lions reliever Jordan Morales to make it a four-run fourth. Lorusso’s four RBI Sunday gives him 13 this week, including his six-RBI night against Towson.

With a 7-1 lead going into the eighth inning, the Maryland bullpen was somewhat of a revolving door as Head Coach Rob Vaughn deployed Andrew Johnson, Matt Orlando and Nigel Belgrave to get through the lone frame.

The flamethrower Belgrave was given the ball in the ninth and shut the door on Penn State, handing Maryland its first series win in conference play.