Maryland defeats Maine in dramatic fashion after long deadlock

Ian Petrutz ripped a ball through the wind and over the right field wall to break the tied deadlock, sending the bundled up Maryland players and fans into a frenzy.

The home run capped off a suspenseful 5-4 win for the Terps over the Maine Black Bears on Saturday at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium, the second game of Maryland’s first home weekend series of the season.

Nick Lorusso began the scoring in the first inning with a home run in his first plate appearance for the second game in a row, this time a two-run shot to score him and Luke Shliger.

“I think it’s just a confidence thing,” Lorusso said. “The more you hit, the more confidence you get.”

Maryland picked up a couple more runs in the opening inning as Kevin Keister drove in Matt Shaw and Matt Woods scored Petrutz with a fielder’s choice.

The Black Bears had an immediate response as third baseman Myles Sargent hit a ball just over the glove of a leaping Bobby Zmarzlak in left field for a home run. Center fielder Dylan McNary then followed with a double that rolled to the wall, scoring Dean O’Neill and tying the game at three.

After a Quinn McDaniel walk and a Connor Goodman single, Shliger made a slick sliding play after a Jeff Mejia bunt attempt with two Black Bears in scoring position, helping his pitcher get through the third inning without any more runs to cross the plate.

Shaw displayed his speed in the bottom of the inning as he stole both second base and third base after hitting a single, but Maine starting pitcher Gianni Gambardella sat down Petrutz and Keister to get his team back on offense.

Shliger put the Terps back on top in the fourth with a skittering single through the left side to score Hacopian. Then, with two runners on, Lorusso narrowly missed another home run as right fielder Colin Plante caught the towering fly ball along the warning track.

Maryland turned a beautiful double play in the fifth as it looked like Keister had no play at second, but he quickly turned on a ground ball and tosses to Shaw. Shaw then fired over to Hacopian at first who picked the ball in the turf, sending the home crowd into a big cheer as they admired the impressive three-man effort.

“That was a big time double play ball,” Maryland head coach Rob Vaughn said. “Really good job by [Keister] getting to it, really good job of Shaw communicating. They worked their tails off to be really elite defensively. They’re doing a nice job.”

Dean ran into some trouble in the sixth as he allowed two leadoff hits to put Maine runners on the corners, then O’Neill tied up the game at four with a hard hit into center field, firing up the Black Bears’ dugout.

That hit prompted Vaughn to bring in fifth year Kenny Lippman to relieve Dean, who ended his day with four strikeouts and one walk on 84 pitches.

Lippman, with Black Bears on second and third, secured two key outs and joined his energized defense as they trotted back to the dugout.

Tommy Kane came in for Lippman and tossed a fast 1-2-3 seventh. Caleb Leys, the usual Friday starter for Maine, then came in for Gambardella and matched Kane’s dominance.

Kane remained in the game for the eighth, but after an error by Shaw, a single to O’Neill, and a hit-by-pitch to Jake Rainess, redshirt sophomore Nigel Belgrave made his way toward the mound to attempt to put out the fire.

Belgrave worked the count full and then fired home an electric called third strike to end the inning as home plate umpire Joe Cruz’s voice boomed throughout the stadium and Maryland players and fans jumped in the air.

Petrutz’s home run to give the Terps the lead in the eighth was his sixth blast of the season and continued the homer-happy start for the sophomore designated hitter.

“They kind of have been attacking me on the outer third of that plate, so I scooted up a little bit and just kind of got my barrel on something that I could hit,” Petrutz said.

Belgrave remained in for the ninth to try to close it out, but Jeremiah Jenkins walked and Goodman hit a single. Goodman then advanced to second on a passed ball and Mejia walked to load up the bases with no outs.

A quick turn of events, Belgrave then struck out three consecutive Maine hitters to record the save in dramatic fashion, clinching the series win for Maryland. All seven of Belgrave’s outs came via the strikeout.

“The more he’s in that spot and the more he executes that, the more he believes in that and that guy is something else,” Vaughn said of Belgrave. “That was a gutsy effort by him at the end.”