Lorusso continues hot streak with big game in home win

Maryland wins its first home conference game of the season thanks to a pair of home runs from Matt Shaw and Nick Lorusso.

Rutgers jumped on Jason Savacool out of the gate. Back-to-back singles by Ryan Lasko and Trevor Cohen put runners on first and third with no outs in the top half of the first. Although forcing a double play the next at-bat, the Scarlet Knights put up the game’s first run. That wasn’t the end as four straight walks allowed another runner across the plate for Rutgers.

It wasn’t until the bottom half of the second that Maryland scored its first run of the series. A lead-off walk by Bobby Zmarzlak and an errant pick-off attempt advanced the left fielder to third base. Kevin Keister drove in his 19th run of the season with a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Zmarzlak and decreasing the deficit to one.

Savacool found his groove on the mound after a rough first inning, allowing two hits and no runs through the next three innings. Yet Lasko’s leadoff home run in the top of the fifth increased the Scarlet Knights’ lead to two through four and a half innings.

Maryland bats stayed quiet until the bottom of the fifth. Jacob Orr reached base by error and Elijah Lambros followed with a single to put runners on first and second with no outs. A Zach Martin sacrifice bunt advanced the runners to second and third, yet Rutgers starter Grant Besser escaped the jam with a strikeout and groundout.

Striking out the leadoff hitter and forcing a double play, Savacool set the Terps up for a comeback in the sixth. Matt Shaw led off the bottom half of the sixth with a laser over the right-center wall, giving him his ninth bomb of the year. The scoring didn’t stop there as Zmarzlak and Keister’s walks put the tying run at second. While attempting to steal third, a wild throw by the Rutgers catcher welcomed in the Terps’ third run of the game. Back-to-back strikeouts ended the sixth and kept Keister stranded at second.

Savacool’s day wasn’t over, coming back out in the sixth to get two more outs for Maryland. His day ended after 118 pitches, including three strikeouts and three earned runs. Left-hander Tommy Kane replaced him and forced a groundout to the first hitter he faced.

Martin began the bottom half of the seventh with a single up the middle, also removing Rutgers reliever Drew Conover. A walk by Luke Shliger put the Terps’ best hitter up to the plate with a chance to break the tie. Lorusso took the first pitch he saw to dead center, scoring three and granting him his 12th jack of the year.

“I ran out a plan to see something out over the middle and he ended up leaving a slider over the plate,” Lorusso said on his last plate appearance. “I tried to get my hands through it and that’s exactly what I did and put it over the center field wall. “

The Scarlet Knights didn’t take long to get one of their runs back. A one-out walk followed by a double in the top of the eighth gave Rutgers two runners in scoring position. Cameron Love drove in one of the runners with a sacrifice fly to center field, cutting the deficit to just two. Shaw made a great play up the middle the next at-bat to keep Maryland’s lead safe and end the first half of the eighth.

A 1-2-3 bottom of the eighth gave Rutgers the opportunity it needed heading into the top of the ninth. The Scarlet Knights applied the pressure early with a leadoff single, putting the tying run up to the plate. However, three straight outs by Nigel Belgrave gave the Terps their 18th win of the year.

Maryland is scheduled to play at 3 p.m. tomorrow barring any weather delays.