Maryland’s defense shines, leading the Terps to a Round One victory over Michigan State

The Dirty Terps are moving on to the winner’s bracket of the Big Ten Tournament.

After capturing the Big Ten regular season title on Saturday with their series victory over Penn State, the Terps traveled to Omaha, Nebraska for a round one matchup with the Michigan State Spartans.

In a low-scoring battle, the Terps came out on top over the Spartans, 3-2, thanks to some late-game heroics from Luke Shliger and clutch pitching from David Falco Jr. out of the bullpen.

On Tuesday morning, the Big Ten announced its selections for All-Big Ten teams and players, and the Terps were heavily represented. Head Coach Rob Vaughn was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year, and shortstop Matt Shaw was named the Big Ten Player of the Year. Shaw was also named to the Big Ten First Team, along with Shliger and Nick Lorusso. Jason Savacool and Ian Petrutz were given nods to the second team, while Nick Dean and Elijah Lambros earned bids to the third team. 

In a very atypical fashion, the squad struggled heavily on offense. The team accrued only five hits, with four coming from the top three lineup members. Jacob Orr was the only member of the lineup outside of the top three to record a hit, but he was responsible for the game-winning run.

Shliger led the effort overall, going two for three with two doubles, a walk, and a clutch RBI to drive Orr in during the bottom of the eighth. Lorusso and Petrutz both recorded an RBI apiece with deep flyouts that scored Shliger and Shaw in the first. 

Despite the poor showing from the offense, Maryland’s defense could not have picked a better time to have one of its best showings all season. The Terps used five separate double plays to end innings with runners in scoring position, four of which came in a row. In the fifth inning, Shaw made an insane diving grab in the shallow outfield, proceeding to throw it to second in a very heads-up play. 

The Terps’ defense also had to battle inconsistencies on the mound. Freshman Kyle McCoy was given the starting nod by Vaughn today after missing two and a half weeks with an injury, but he was taken out after just 0.2 innings. It’s unknown whether it was injury-related or a strategic move by Vaughn after McCoy had already given up a run. 

Kenny Lippman came in and pitched well in relief, putting a few runners in scoring position but not allowing a run in 3.1 innings. David Falco Jr. earned his fourth win of the season by also shutting out the Spartans in the final 2.2 innings. 

With the victory, the Terps move on to the second round and will face the winner of Nebraska/Rutgers on Thursday at 6 p.m.