After winning earlier in the day against Wake Forest, No. 1-seed Maryland still had a daunting task ahead of them: take down a UConn team who had beaten them 10-2 a day ago, two times in a row.
With a tie ballgame in the late innings, the Terps were leaning on the unlikely pairing of Ryan Ramsey and Andrew Johnson.
Ramsey, a stalwart of Maryland’s weekend rotation, was making his first relief appearance since the 2021 season. Following five innings of work as the starter on Friday night, the lefty went 2 1/3 scoreless innings out of the bullpen to keep Maryland’s hopes alive.
“Rammer got himself ready to go, came out, and gave us everything he had today,” Head Coach Rob Vaughn said. “That tells you a lot about the culture of these guys and how much [they] really care about it.”
Johnson, a true freshman, was not typically used for high-leverage situations during the regular season. Tonight he was asked to take the ball with the game tied in the 11th. He also held the Huskies scoreless, setting the stage for the Terps lineup in the bottom half of the inning.
“He didn’t let the moment get big,” Vaughn said. “He just executed pitches and got them kind of off balance.”
As is the case with most extra-innings games, the outcome of tonight’s game was still completely in question when Maryland came to bat in the bottom of the 11th.
That was until Nick Lorusso stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded. He launched a walk-off base hit of the right field wall, taking down UConn and staving off elimination for the Terps for the second time today.
“In that entire at-bat, I was just trying to think of a deep fly ball,” Lorusso said. “Eventually he there me the fastball that I could handle and I ended up punching it out to right.”
It was all Maryland early on, with the Terps lineup ambushing UConn starter Enzo Stefanoni in the first inning off an RBI single from Matt Shaw and a two-run home run from Troy Schreffler Jr.
Nick Lorusso added insurance to the Maryland lead in the fifth inning, launching a solo homer over the temporary outfield bleachers.
With all three weekend starters — plus Logan Ott — having already pitched extended innings this weekend, Nick Robinson was selected to make just his second start of the season.
He certainly justified this decision, tossing five shutout innings and getting Terps out of two jams, stranding runners in scoring position in both the fourth and fifth innings.
Upon finding out he would be starting such an important game, the sixth-year grad transfer could not have been happier.
“It’s unbelievable to be here and to be playing in this game,” Robinson said. “It’s just an opportunity of a lifetime.”
The early bullpen performance for Maryland was not quite as impressive. Both Nigel Belgrave and Will Glock struggled to keep the ball in the strike zone, leading to a four-run UConn rally in the sixth to tie the game.
From there, the scoring went back and forth, Maryland picking up a pair of runs in the seventh off RBI hits from Shaw and Maxwell Costes. That was immediately followed in the top of the eighth by a UConn RBI triple and another run off a Ramsey wild pitch.
Following a few scoreless innings from both bullpens, the Terps finally pulled through in the eleventh, sending the home crowd into a frenzy and keeping Maryland’s championship hopes afloat.
“What a day. There’s not a lot of other ways to describe tonight in particular,” Vaughn said. “[This team is] just a group of warriors.”
The uphill battle still is not over for Maryland. They need to take down UConn one more time to be crowned champions of the College Park Regional bracket. First pitch will be approximately 7:00 p.m. Pitchers are still to be determined.