With the Sunday forecast in Champaign Illinois looking bleak, Maryland was suddenly in a position to play in a double header on Saturday against an Illinois team that had just beaten them 19-1 the night before.
That did not seem to phase this Terps squad, taking both games and winning the overall weekend series against the Illini.
Game one was a nail-biter that went back and forth the whole way, Maryland coming out on top by a score of 13-9 in ten innings.
The matinee featured late-game heroics from Luke Shliger. Having already hit a home run in the first inning, the Terps catcher came through again, blasting a go-ahead two-run double that gave Maryland the lead in the extra frame.
Home runs were the main source of offense for the Terps, starting with Shliger’s shot in the first at-bat of the game. Troy Schreffler, Bobby Zmarzlak, Kevin Keister and Chris Alleyne each had home runs as well, giving Maryland five total in.
This was a game of comebacks, the biggest one coming in the bottom of the ninth. Down three runs and only one out to work with, the Illini scored three runs off of David Falco, sending the game into extra innings. Even in the bottom of the tenth, Illinois loaded the bases before a double play finally closed the book on an extremely hot Illini lineup.
Ian Petrutz was very impressive in the designated hitter role in game one, reaching base in all five plate appearances and delivering an RBI base hit in the fourth inning. He tallied two RBIs across the double header today.
Justin Janas continued to tear apart Maryland pitching, hitting a three-run game-tying home run in the seventh inning off of Sean Heine. He finished the game with four runs batted in.
Ryan Ramsey was touched up a few times early on by the Illini lineup, allowing three runs in the first three innings. For the rest of his outing though, the lefty was almost untouchable, only allowing two Illinois hitters to reach base over the next three frames.
The final line for Ramsey today: three earned runs and seven hits in six innings of work. He finishes the day with a no-decision, remaining 7-0 on the season.
Game two picked up right where game one left off, both teams exchanging blows early. Maryland eventually took control, winning 7-4 and sweeping the doubleheader.
Illinois got off to a hot start, scoring three quick runs off of starter Jason Savacool in the first inning.
Maryland quickly responded with a Maxwell Costes home run, his twelfth of the season. After three more runs in the third, the Terps had their first lead of the game.
As was routine today, Illinois immediately retaliated, tying the game on a solo home run from Jacob Campbell… which was responded to in kind by a Matt Shaw RBI that put Maryland back on top.
Savacool has his share of troubles early on, getting into dicey situations and allowing four runs in the first three innings.
The sophomore looked much more settled in as the game went on though. Even after loading the bases with no outs in the fifth, he immediately got a strikeout and induced a double play to prevent any damage. He was visibly fired up walking off the mound after getting a strikeout in his final inning of work.
Savacool’s final line on the night: four earned runs, ten hits and nine strikeouts across eight innings. He earns the win tonight, improving his record to 7-2 on the season and tying him with Ryan Ramsey for the Big 10 lead in wins.
After a few more insurance runs of the bats of Petrutz and Schreffler, Nigel Belgrave picked up the save after throwing a perfect ninth inning and secured the series win for the Terps.
With the double header sweep today Maryland improves to 32-8 and 9-3 in the Big 10. Meanwhile Illinois falls to 20-17 and 11-4 in conference play. The Terps now sit just half a game back of the Illini in the conference standings as the postseason picture starts to clear up.
Maryland will head back to College Park for a five-game homestand starting on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. against Navy. Pitchers for the game are still to be determined.