Maryland destroys Maine after long rain delay to kick off first home weekend series of season

Nick Lorusso and Matt Shaw each trotted around the bases in the first inning under flickering lights after hitting back-to-back solo home runs into the gloomy night sky.

The home runs, which kicked off a 25-10 blowout of the Maine Black Bears at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium, came much later than initially anticipated as a three-hour rain delay turned the first home Friday game of the season into a bitter nighttime matchup.

In the second, Maryland continued to tack on runs as Elijah Lambros grounded into a fielder’s choice, allowing Matt Woods to score. A wild pitch then scored Eddie Hacopian, giving the Terps two runs in each of the first two innings.

Maine, who had runners in scoring position in the first two innings, sought to do the same in the third with Quinn McDaniel attempting to steal second base, but Luke Shliger gunned him out by a wide margin, allowing the Terps to exit the inning and helping his battery mate and Maryland ace Jason Savacool continue his strong start to the night.

The Terps quickly loaded up the bases with one out in the home fourth as Ian Petrutz walked, Kevin Keister hit a double to the left field wall, and Woods was hit by the pitch. Hacopian then tapped a ball right in front of the pitcher’s mound for a fielder’s choice, scoring Petrutz and giving Maryland a 5-0 lead.

With the bases loaded again after a Bobby Zmarzlak walk, Lambros hammered a grand slam past the scoreboard, blowing the game wide open. Lorusso and Shaw then hit back-to-back home runs again later in the inning and gave the Terps 12 runs in three innings.

Maine starter Colin Fitzgerald ended his night after three innings pitched and nine hits, 12 runs, three walks, and no strikeouts. An unusual feeling for the sophomore, Fitzgerald entered the game with a 1.80 ERA after three prior games started.

“Oh, it’s awesome,” Lorusso said about getting to Fitzgerald early. “Devote some of that success to the pitchers that we faced previously, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, they all got some studs so it was definitely important seeing that and there was nothing too special from there so I thought we did a great job from there.”

After Blaine Cockburn came in to relieve Fitzgerald, Woods hit a triple off the right field wall and then scored Maryland’s 13th run with a Hacopian sacrifice fly to right fielder Colin Plante. Thanks to a couple more hits from the top of the batting order, the Terps added their 14th and 15th in the same inning.

Maine’s third pitcher of the night, Luc Lavigueur, gave his team its first scoreless inning after he sat the Terps down in order in the fifth.

A leadoff walk in the sixth inning to Jake Rainess eventually gave the Black Bears their first run of the game as the redshirt junior scored off a single from Connor Goodman through the right side of the infield.

Savacool dazzled in his fourth start of the season and finished his night after 100 pitches through six innings. He gave up two hits and four walks while racking up six strikeouts in the one-run performance.

“That two-seam had a ton of action today and that seems like a good thing because sometimes it’s hard to command when it’s moving away,” head coach Rob Vaughn said of Savacool.

Savacool, who had to wait three hours longer than expected due to the rain delay, was clearly unfazed.

“When we came out at six [o’clock] to get going, it was pouring still and [Savacool] handled it like the mature kid he is and it’s a challenge, it’s really a mental challenge,” Vaughn said. “That’s what I really challenge our guys, is can we be mentally really hooked in and starting with Jason I thought we did a really good job on that.”

Lambros hit another home run over the right field wall in the home side of the inning, becoming the third Terp to hit his second of the game, along with Lorusso and Shaw.

Some defensive changes were made by Maryland to kick off the seventh inning as James Heffley replaced Shliger behind the plate and Ryan Van Buren came in to relieve Savacool.

Maine tacked on another run with a Dylan McNary single through the right side to score Myles Sargent, making it a 17-2 ballgame.

It was a battle of firsts in the bottom of the seventh as Devin Russell pinched-hit for Petrutz in his collegiate debut against position player Matt McElwain on the mound. Russell won the battle with a full-count walk.

Luke Zeisloft then drove in Russell in his third at-bat of the season, allowing a couple of the Maryland depth players  to continue the offensive party. Heffley then scored two more with a single of his own to get Maryland to 21 runs.

“He is an incredibly smart kid,” Vaughn said of Heffley. “For him to come up and obviously get that big hit there in his first at-bat, nobody gets more excited for players than they do James Heffley.”

Right-hander Joey Colucci entered for the Terps in the eighth and picked up his first collegiate strikeout to kick off the inning. He then struggled to find his groove after that as he gave up a two-run double to Sargent. Then, with Zeisloft slipping in right field while chasing down a shallow pop, Maine picked up two more runs.

Travis Garnett came in for Colucci and struggled to keep Maine runners off of the basepaths, prompting Vaughn to bring in Andrew Johnson with the bases loaded. Johnson immediately gave up two more runs on a Goodman double, continuing Maryland’s bullpen woes on the young season.

With Tyler Nielsen pitching in the home side for Maine, Zeisloft scored Caleb Estes with the bases loaded. Michael Bouma, Zach Martin, and Jacob Orr then joined the party as they all kept the inning alive and gave Maryland more tallies.

Johnson remained in the game for the ninth and gave up two base runners, but held the Black Bears scoreless in the inning and secured the victory for the Terps.

“We haven’t exploded like we did tonight, previously in the year, so getting to do that tonight really is something special and something that we can continue to do all year,” Lorusso said.