When projected first-round draft pick Matt Shaw stepped up to the plate in the eighth inning, Maryland was 0 for 9 with runners on base and 0 for 8 with two outs. But the Terps’ biggest swing of the night came with two runners on and two outs.
Shaw sliced a first-pitch fastball over the right field wall to give the Terps a four-run lead, capping off an otherwise ugly offensive showing from Rob Vaughn’s squad that resulted in a series-opening 7-5 win over Ohio State in Columbus.
“We just didn’t swing the bat great but at the end of the day, you need your big-time players to be good,” Vaughn said postgame. “And Matt Shaw was good today in the right spot.”
Despite drawing 10 walks, Maryland struggled with runners on base all night long, finishing 1 for 11, including 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position.
“When you’re on the road, and they’re going to put you on for free, you’ve got to capitalize,” Vaughn said during an in-game interview on Big Ten Network.
For a team that leads the Big Ten in home runs and slugging, Maryland found different ways to plate runs on Friday night.
Luke Shliger led off the game with a solo shot to left, his fourth leadoff homer of the season. Shaw used his speed to scamper home from third on a wild pitch in the third inning. Eddie Hacopian recorded a sac fly in the fifth. The following hitter, Zach Martin, who showcased his power with a long ball last Saturday, drove home Ian Petrutz on a sac bunt.
“You got to win in some different ways,” Vaughn said. “We just got to be a tick better swinging the bat tomorrow but we found a way to take what the game gave us today and got it done.”
Jason Savacool took the ball for another gutsy Friday night start. The right-hander labored through six innings and 109 pitches, his third consecutive 100-plus pitch outing. Savacool allowed one earned run and struck out seven.
Vaughn was pleased with Savacool’s outing but was hoping the righty would induce more weak contact and less swings and misses, the latter significantly contributing to his 109-pitch outing.
“His stuff was almost too good tonight,” Vaughn said. “He’s getting swings and misses, which is great. I’m never going to complain about a swing and miss but it did drive his pitch count up.”
One moment in the later stages of his outing captured the junior’s gritty performance.
After Ohio State put two runners on with one out in the sixth, Savacool appeared to feel discomfort following a pitch to leadoff hitter Trey Lipsey. The All-Big Ten pitcher walked towards the first-base side and bent over at the knees for a moment before walking back towards the mound. After trainer Tyler Cronin, Rob Vaughn and pitching coach Mike Morrison converged at the mound, they gave Savacool the go-ahead to stay in the game.
The righty set down the Buckeyes’ one and two-hole hitters, completing another quality start and giving the Terps an opportunity at a series-opening win.
“That’s what your All-American should do,” Vaughn said. “He did exactly what he should do on Friday night.”
The Buckeyes jumped on Maryland pitching once Savacool exited the game. Freshman Henry Kaczmar had a career-high four hits, including a two-run double that came inches away from clearing the left field fence. Kaczmar worked a 12-pitch at-bat against lefty Tommy Kane, fouling off six pitches, before his two-out hit cut Maryland’s lead to one in the seventh.
Kane got some help from his defense to end the Buckeye threat. Three pitches later, third baseman Nick Lorusso, whose 31-game hit streak came to an end on Friday, made an excellent play, a backhanded scoop down the third base line before throwing across the diamond on one hop to nab Josh McAlister by a step.
Nigel Belgrave took the mound for a six-out save but fell one out short. In what has been an issue throughout his Maryland career, the hard-throwing right-hander struggled to find the strike zone.
Belgrave loaded the bases in the ninth via three walks before allowing a two-run single to Mitchell Okuley, cutting the Terps’ lead to 7-5. David Falco Jr. replaced Belgrave and induced a groundout to second baseman Kevin Keister, as the Terps held on for a 7-5 win.
Maryland’s Nick Dean will toe the rubber tomorrow at 2 p.m. as the Terps look for their 17th consecutive Big Ten series win.