Early offense guides Maryland to 9-5 win, earning a series split

Maryland’s offense attacked early for six runs en route to a 9-5 win over Rutgers Sunday to spilt the series.

After Rutgers grabbed an early 1-0 lead from a fielder’s choice in the top of the first inning. Maryland quickly loaded the bases before recording an out on a Chris Alleyne leadoff walk, a Matthew Shaw single and a Randy Bednar walk.

Rutgers starting pitcher Jayson Hoopes continued to struggle with his command, walking in a run to tie the game. A Matt Orlando single made it a 2-1 game and without recording a single out, Hoopes was pulled for Jared Bellissimo. Benjamin Cowles, who has been a force all series, brought in a third run via a sac-fly to make it 3-1 Maryland.

In the second inning, Maryland loaded the bases with no outs again with a Logan Ott single, an Alleyne double that advanced him to third base and Shaw reaching first base on an error. Randy Bednar wasn’t walking this time as his RBI single made it 4-1 and a Zmarzlak RBI double brought in two more runs.

“If we go to the field and we put together good at bats like we did today every day. We’re gonna have a really good chance to win a lot of games,” Shaw said.

After the blemish in the first inning and pitching out of a jam in the second inning, starting pitcher and Big Ten Freshman of the week Jason Savacool started to settle in with a 6-1 lead under his belt. Savacool put Rutgers down in order in the third inning and struck out the side in the fourth inning.

A Jordan Sweeney solo home run in the fifth inning was the only mistake Savacool made in the inning, but Maryland still maintained a comfortable 6-2 lead. By the time Savacool took the mound in the sixth inning, the five-run lead was back after Cowles’ second RBI sac-fly of the game.  

The high pitch count from the first two innings finally caught up to Savacool, who started to falter — giving up a solo home run to Chris Brito and a Sweeney RBI double. Suddenly, the lead was three runs and Rutgers had life.

Vaughn came to the mound and took the ball from Savacool, ending his afternoon with a line of 5 2/3 innings, threw 101 pitches, five earned runs, six strikeouts and a win.

“I thought Jason did a really nice job,” Vaughn said.

In came Ryan Ramsey from the bullpen looking to maintain Maryland’s lead. After a swinging bunt by pinch-hitter Mike Nyistor brought in another run, suddenly the tying run was at second base. Ramsey blew a pitch right past Jordan Rodriguez on a full count to get out of the jam and keep Maryland out in front.

“I’ve gotten better at this year than last year, being able to come in those situations, and being absolutely ready to get an out off the bat,” Ramsey said.

Shaw and Bednar would go back-to-back in the bottom of the inning to provide insurance runs and bring the lead back up to four as Ramsey and Sam Bello finished off the game for Maryland to get the win and earn a series split moving to 3-5 on the young season with Penn State on deck next weekend.

“I was proud of the effort, I was proud of the last 10 days of our team and the way we’ve gone about it, it’s been really good,” Vaughn said.

Cowles continues to dominate Rutgers pitching, but Terps fall short twice in Saturday doubleheader

Trailing 8-7 and down to their final strike looking for some more magic, Maryland’s Tucker Flint stepped back into the batter box against Rutgers closer Brian Fitzpatrick trying to play the hero.

Instead he struck out with the tying run on second base and the winning run on first with the red hot Benjamin Cowles being left on deck.

“[Tucker] didn’t have an awesome game today,” said Coach Rob Vaughn. “But I trust them. I really do I trust this at bats I believe in him.”

And as a result in their second doubleheader of the season, Maryland baseball was swept Saturday by Rutgers, losing game one 9-3 and losing game two 8-7 behind Chris Brito seven-RBI day between both games.

In game one, for the second straight day, Maryland started off slow, trailing 3-0 in the first inning before they even came up to bat.

Starting pitcher Sean Fisher quickly had the bases loaded before even recording an out on two hard hit balls and an error.

Chris Brito would make Maryland pay with a single to right field to bring in two runs, and later, Jordan Sweeney brought in another run home with a single of his own.

Suddenly it was Déjà vu for Maryland, but this time around, the offense couldn’t muster up a comeback against the Scarlet Knight arms.

In the second inning, Matt Orlando hit his first home run as a Terp — filling in for the injured Maxwell Costes — to cut the deficit to 3-1. Cowles would follow him, hitting his third home run of the series to make it 3-2.

Brito struck again in the fourth inning, this time on a hit-and-run double bringing home the speedy Danny DiGeorgio from first base to extend the lead to 4-2.

In the bottom of the inning, the Terps loaded the bases with one out and Orlando came up to plate representing the go-ahead run. Orlando choked up with two strikes and was able to cut the score to 4-3 with a sac-fly.

Luke Shliger came up trying to be a hero but struck out to end the inning, stranding runners on second and third base and blowing the Terps’ last real chance to tie or take the lead.

Rutgers would blow it open in the sixth inning behind solo home runs off the bats of Josh Rodriquez and DiGeorgio.

Later in the inning, Rutgers would tack on another run from a Sweeney suicide-squeeze against Chris Chaney to make it 7-3 Rutgers, putting it out of reach for Maryland to make another comeback.

“I just didn’t like the way we played in the first game, again,” said Vaughn. “I didn’t think we were clean enough I thought we competed just didn’t we were clean enough.”

After a short 40-minute break, Maryland got off to a much better start in game two with starting pitcher Connor Staine sending Rutgers down in order in the top of the first.

The Maryland offense woke up, attacking Rutgers’ starter Brent Teller’s fastball and getting an early 2-0 lead with a Matthew Shaw RBI double and a Bobby Zmarzlak RBI single by Bobby Zmarzlak bringing Shaw home. That perfect start by Staine was short lived when Sweeney took Staine deep for a tying two-run homer to left-center in the third inning.

Zmarzlak answered for Maryland in the bottom of the inning with an RBI double — his second RBI of the day to take the lead 3-2. The big inning struck for Rutgers in the fourth, starting with the red-hot Brito giving Rutgers the lead on a two-run homer, making the score 4-3. Peter Serruto added a two-RBI single to give Rutgers a 6-3 lead. Maryland would answer in the bottom of the inning, making it 6-4 on James Heffley RBI groundout.

But Chris Brito was a thorn in the side all day for Maryland as his second homer of the day — a solo shot in the fifth inning — gave Rutgers a 7-4 lead.

“Credit Brito, he’s a tough kid, man,” said Vaughn. “That guy’s a good player.”

Down 8-4, Maryland tried to mount a rally on back-to-back home runs from Cowles and Tommy Gardiner and with the chance to tie the game, Shaw just got under a ball that died at the center field wall. Cowles, the superstar the past two days, stepped up to the plate again in the eighth inning to hit another home run and cut the deficit to 8-7.

“Ben Cowles having some of those at bats he’s had the last two days are kind of incredible,” said Vaughn.

Maryland had one last chance in the ninth inning with Randy Bednar standing on second base after hustling to avoid a double-play and advanced to second on a throwing error.

“I was just trying to hustle down as hard as I can down the first baseline,” said Bednar.  “And then when I saw that ball kick back I was trying to get to second base, to try and get into scoring position.”

After a walk of Orlando with Flint up and Cowles hoping to get another chance to hit on deck, the deficit was too much in the end for Maryland to comeback and avoid being swept in the doubleheader.

Maryland falls to 2-4 on the young season and will look to spilt the series in the finale tomorrow at 1:00 P.M., with Big Ten Freshman of the week Jason Savacool taking the mound.

“That second [game] was a good brand of baseball with two teams kind of slugging it out and unfortunately [Rutgers] got one more hit than we did,” said Vaughn.

Maryland Offense shows off its power in 13-8 win in home opener.

After their offense struggled all series against Michigan State, Maryland’s offense, behind Benjamin Cowles’ three-RBI day, put up 13 runs behind four home runs Friday in a 13-8 win against Rutgers in their home opener at Bob “Turtle” Stadium.

With the Terps offense needing a spark early, trailing 3-1 in the second inning, Cowles stepped up to the plate and hit a solo home run to center field to cut the deficit to 3-2 and start the offensive surge for the Terps.

Down 4-2 with two outs in the fourth inning, Chris Alleyne sparked the Maryland offense again, hitting a fastball from Rutgers starter Harry Rutkowski over the wall in center field to give the Terps a 5-4 lead — a lead they would not surrender the rest of the game.

“We just got a lot more comfortable [since the first game],” Cowles said. “I think it was first-game jitters but we’re settling in nice.”

A Bobby Zmarzlak solo home run in the fifth inning just cleared the right field wall to extend the Maryland lead to 6-4, but the Terps offense wasn’t done showing off its power.

After Rutgers added a run to cut the deficit to 6-5, the Terps chased Rutkowski out of the game with one out in the sixth inning and the Maryland offense struck again against the Rutgers bullpen.

With a runner on first base, Cowles hit his second home run of the game off Ben Gorski, this time a two-run homer to center field to extend Maryland lead to 8-5. Later in the inning, Randy Bednar added a RBI single to bring home Alleyne to make it 9-5.

In the seventh inning, the Terps had another extra-base hit, this time a Tommy Gardiner RBI double that brought home Matt Orlando to make it 10-5 and after a suicide squeeze and a RBI walk it was suddenly 12-5 Terps.

It was the Terps best offensive display of the season without even having star infielder Maxwell Costes in the lineup, who’s out with a wrist injury and is day-to-day.

Coming off a 13-strikeout game against Michigan State, starting pitcher Sean Burke had a rough start not being able to put away hitters with two strikes giving up three runs in the first putting the Terps in an early 3-0 deficit. But Burke settled into the game and gave the Terps offense to make the comeback going 5 2/3 innings, throwing 115 pitches, recording seven strikeouts and giving up four earned en route to the win.

“I thought Sean was a little bit amped up but his stuff was fine he settled in and let the game come to him,” Head Coach Rob Vaughn said.

Unlike in his first start on the season, Burke received run support from his offense, exiting the game with a 6-4 lead.

Relief pitcher David Falco came out of the bullpen to make his season debut and let up a run by throwing a wild pitch past catcher James Heffley, cutting the Terps lead to 6-5. With runners on second and third Falco got a groundout to second base to get out the sixth inning, shutting down the Rutgers threat.

[David] tough he doesn’t get fazed really and he kind of bent but didn’t break there and ended up holding us right there which was huge,” Vaughn said.

When pitcher Sam Bello recorded the final out of the ninth inning, the story of the day was the Maryland offense finally coming alive with 13 runs on 11 hits.

“13-8 is not a normal Friday night score,” Vaughn said. “It was a good night to hit, runs were big … it was a really big time come-from-behind win.”

The Terps, now on a two-game win streak, will look to continue their momentum Saturday in a doubleheader with game one starting at 12:00 p.m. and game two starting at 3:30 p.m.

“Just got to do the same thing tomorrow against a good arm,” Vaughn said. “They’re gonna come out hungry and ready to go tomorrow, so we’re gonna have to answer them.”

Series Preview: Rutgers Scarlet Knights

The Terps were able to salvage their first win of the 2021 season Sunday against Michigan State 3-2 behind a complete game performance from Freshman right-handed pitcher Jason Savacool. Savacool, who entered his collegiate debut with loads of preseason honors, did not disappoint in his first outing as a Terp, being named Big Ten Freshman of the Week.

Despite the good pitching from Maryland’s starters throughout the Michigan State series, the Terps were doomed by a lackluster offensive performance hitting .200 as a team, .103 with runners in scoring position and four total extra base hits through the four games. 

The Terps, now 1-3 on the season, continue their Big Ten gauntlet as they turn their attention to a four-game series against Rutgers starting Friday evening. The home opener at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium will be without fans in attendance for the first time ever due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Historically, Maryland Baseball has dominated the Scarlet Knights, owning a 7-2 record since the two teams merged with the Big Ten. The teams’ last meeting ended in a three-game, Maryland sweep, featuring a 17-2 decimation of Rutgers.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights  (2-2, 2-2 Big Ten)

Last Season

The Scarlett Knights finished the shorthanded 2020 season with a 6-9 record, putting them last in the Big Ten standings. The Scarlet Knights struggled across the board with their pitching, recording a 5.23 earned-run average and 1.59 walks plus hits per inning. Harry Rutkowski lead the staff in both ERA and innings pitched with a 2.74 ERA and 23 total innings pitched. The Scarlett Knights hitting wasn’t much better slashing for a total of .265/.367/.377. Richie Schiekofer was the leader of the offense, starting all 15 games with a .375 batting average and 1.085 on-base plus slugging percentage.

This Season

Rutgers comes into the series with a 2-2 record and are coming off splits against Minnesota and Indiana. Against Minnesota, Rutgers won 16-1 in the first matchup on Saturday and a lost 13-8 on Sunday. Against the defending Big Ten regular season champion Indiana, Rutgers won 2-1 in the first matchup on Friday but lost 4-2 on Saturday. Rutgers was picked towards the bottom of the Big Ten in most preseason polls projected to finish 10th, only ahead of Michigan State, Northwestern and Penn State.

Hitters to Watch

The Scarlet Knights had hot bats in Minnesota with 28 runs in four games. Evan Sleight and Bradley Norton are currently pacing the team in batting average, both hitting .400. Chris Brito leads the team with .833 slugging and Jordan Sweeny currently leads the Scarlett Knights in hits with five and has six RBI so far.

Pitchers to Watch   

The pitchers to watch for the Scarlet Knights is their ace Rutkowski and Saturday starter Ben Wereski. Rutkowski got off to a great start on the season with a win against Indiana, going six one-run innings with eight strikeouts. Wereski had a similar stat line himself, also going six one-run innings but with five strikeouts.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchups

Friday, 4:00 p.m. EST

RHP Sean Burke (0-1 4.50 ERA) vs LHP  Harry Rukowski 1-0 1.50 ERA)

vs.  

Burke, coming off a loss against Michigan State, had an impressive 13 strikeouts while also only giving up two walks and three earned runs in six innings pitched and will look to build on that outing with some help from the Terps’ offense this time.

Rukowski, coming off a win, shut down a good Indiana lineup, keeping them off balance only surrendering one run with eight strikeouts in six innings.

Saturday, 12:00 EST

LHP Sean Fisher( 0-1 8.10 ERA) vs LHP Ben Wereski (1-0 1.50 ERA)

vs. 

Fisher had a rough outing against Michigan State, lasting only 3 1/3 innings giving up three earned runs. He will look to go deeper into the game this time around with the Terps looking to save arms in the first game of a doubleheader.

Before he even took the mound against Minnesota, Wereski already had a four-run lead and shut down the Minnesota lineup, allowing three hits and one earned run in six innings en route to a 16-1 win.

Saturday, 3:30 p.m. EST

RHP Connor Staine (0-0 1.50 ERA) vs  RHP Brent Teller (0-1 4.91 ERA)

vs.

Staine was in position for a win with a stellar outing, going six one-run innings while striking out nine Spartans. After he exited, Maryland blew a 4-1 lead in the 7th inning, which led to a heartbreaking 5-4 loss, resulting in a no-decision and a waste of a stellar performance.

Teller on the other hand struggled with consistency in his first outing in not being able to find the strike zone against Indiana only going 3 2/3 innings allowing two runs and four walks taking the loss.

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. EST

RHP Jason Savacool (1-0 1.00 ERA) vs TBD

vs.

In the series finale, the Terps will send out the Big Ten Freshman of the Week coming off a dominant complete-game performance against Michigan State. Savacool lead the Terps to their only win of the season, doing it in only 103 pitches and keeping the Spartans lineup at bay. Savacool was the first Terp to pitch nine or more innings since Hunter Parsons tossed a complete-game shutout against Stetson on March 25, 2018.

Rutgers has yet to announce its starting pitcher for Sunday.