Grand slams continue, Savacool finds groove as Maryland takes down defending champs

New glove? No problem for Maryland ace Jason Savacool as he mowed down the Ole Miss lineup racking up nine strikeouts and allowing just two runs in seven innings of work against the defending College World Series champions. Thanks to Savacool’s production on the mound, coupled with Ian Petrutz’s second grand slam of the season, the Terps took down the Ole Miss Rebels Friday night at Swayze Field with a final score of 9-2.

In his first start of the season for Ole Miss, junior Jack Dougherty started off the game about as effectively as possible, setting the Terps first three batters down in order. In the bottom half of the first inning, Savacool retired the Rebels’ first three hitters with two strikeouts. What looked like a great pitching battle early came to an end in the top of the second inning as a sac fly from junior Kevin Keister drove in Petrutz followed by a fielder’s choice that allowed sophomore Eddie Hacopian to cross home from third to put the Terps up by two.

The Rebels managed to get one back as two uncharacteristic defensive errors by junior catcher Luke Shliger allowed Calvin Harris to advance to third after his leadoff single. Harris would eventually cross home on an RBI groundout from Anthony Calarco.

The story of the game was Savacool who racked up six strikeouts in the first three innings alone. He routinely worked his way back from hitter-friendly counts to strike out two-thirds of the Rebels’ lineup early. Savacool, who was handed the loss in the Terps’ season opener at USF, surpassed his strikeout total of five from that game early on against Ole Miss in his first three innings of work.

Harris seemed to be Savacool’s kryptonite, however, as the junior was 2-2 against Maryland’s ace and was the only Ole Miss player to record a hit against him through four innings.

On the mound for Ole Miss, Dougherty pitched well but his pitch count was at 80 before he was taken out in the middle of the fifth top and replaced by senior Mitch Murrell after an RBI single from Shliger drove in Lambros to extend the Terps’ lead to 3-1.

Many questionable calls, including Lambros’ double that helped him to score on the Shliger single, went Maryland’s way all throughout the contest to the dismay of the Ole Miss fans assembled at Swayze Field as they made their presence known with a barrage of boos. 

In the bottom of the fifth, Anthony Calarco was the first player not named Harris to record a hit against Savacool. Calarco was able to advance to second on a groundout by Furniss, but he was left stranded after Judd Utermark struck out and Peyton Chatagnier lined out to end the inning. Utermark’s strikeout gave Savacool his seventh and counting on the night.

After a flashy offensive output in the top of the fifth inning, Maryland’s offense would leave Bobby Zmarzlak stranded in the top of the sixth to keep the Maryland lead at two. Faced with the top of Ole Miss’ order, Savacool quickly retired Ethan Groff, Jacob Gonzalez, and Kemp Alderman to end the sixth.

After a leadoff single by Shliger, Matt Shaw, having an uncharacteristically quiet night offensively, got his first hit of the night, a double to right field that helped Shliger advance to third. With two men in scoring position and no outs, Ole Miss went to their bullpen for the second time bringing in freshman Jordan Vera to relieve Murrell after he allowed three hits in two innings on the mound.

With the bases loaded and no one out, Ian Petrutz, who had a grand slam in Maryland’s series against USF, would launch another grand slam into Ole Miss’ bullpen to extend Maryland’s lead to 7-1. Maryland’s offensive clinic continued when a Keister single drove in Matt Woods to extend the lead to 8-1.

Following his five earned runs, Jordan Vera was replaced by freshman Brayden Jones who immediately hit Zmarzlak to put two men on base. Shortly after, the Terps had another bases-loaded opportunity, but Matt Shaw popped out to close the top of the seventh.

After allowing just his second run of the game when Calarco scored on a Furniss double who reached on an error, Savacool got his ninth strikeout of the game to close the seventh

Following seven innings pitched and nine strikeouts, Savacool was relieved by fifth year Kenny Lippman. Coming off two innings pitched against USF on Sunday, Lippman struck out the side to bring the came into the ninth. Lippman would come back to finish the game, setting down the final three Ole Miss hitters in order.

With the win, Maryland improves to 3-2 on the year and hands Ole Miss their first loss of the season. The two will meet again tomorrow for the second of this three-game series.