Maryland overcomes pitching woes and defensive miscues, wins series opener against Penn State behind a furious late-inning rally

Down to their final out with the bases loaded and Big Ten title implications on the line, Maryland trailed by a run with their program’s career and single-season RBI record holder, Nick Lorusso, at the plate. As he’s done time and time again, the senior third baseman delivered when the Terps needed it the most. He lined a two-run single through the left side, his nation-leading 91st and 92nd RBIs, to give the Terps a lead that they would hold onto after a miraculous late-inning comeback. No. 20 Maryland defeated Penn State by a final of 17-15 in their series opener at Lubrano Park.

Maryland got on the board first in the top of the second with a two-RBI single from Elijah Lambros. Two batters later, Kevin Keister hit a ground ball to the left side that appeared to be an inning-ending double play, but an errant throw to first allowed Lambros to score to give the Terps a 3-0 lead.

The bottom half of the inning, however, was nothing short of a disaster for the Terps. The first five Nittany Lions to bat in the inning each reached base, three of them on singles, and two on errors. Nick Dean got a strikeout with the bases loaded for the first out of the inning, but hit the next batter to bring in the tying run. Johnny Piacentino followed with a sacrifice fly to give Penn State a 4-3 lead. 

Maryland appeared to have stopped the bleeding when Grant Norris hit a ground ball to Matt Shaw and was originally called out at first by the first base umpire, but the home plate umpire overruled the call as Eddie Hacopian’s foot came off the bag. It became Maryland’s third error of the inning, scoring a run and keeping the inning alive. In the next at-bat, Bobby Marsh lined a two-run double down the right field line to add insult to injury. Dean ended the inning with a strikeout, but not before the Nittany Lions plated seven runs on just four hits. 

As always, the Maryland offense responded. Matt Woods led off the fourth inning with a single and would come all the way around to score after Lambros singled and the throw to third base got away. Jacob Orr followed with another single to drive in Lambros to make it 7-5. Later in the inning, Orr scored on a sacrifice fly by Matt Shaw that barely fell short of a three-run homer to center field. The Terps scored three runs on four hits in the inning to get back within a run.

Maryland had a golden opportunity to tie or take the lead in the top of the fifth, as they had runners on the corners with no outs, but Matt Woods would hit into a double play and after Lambros walked, Orr lined out to end the inning.

Dean’s day would end in the fifth inning after a Kyle Hannon sacrifice fly pushed the Penn State lead to 8-6. The senior right-hander exited after 4 ⅓ innings of work, allowing eight runs, just two of them earned, on seven hits with five strikeouts and zero walks. 

The Terps had another scoring opportunity in the sixth, but once again were unable to capitalize. Keister and Shaw singled, and Ian Petrutz was hit by a pitch to load the bases with two outs, but Hacopian flew out to left field to squander the threat.

Penn State broke the game open in the bottom of the sixth with another huge inning helped by defensive miscues. After a leadoff walk, Keister was unable to field a potential double play ball cleanly, and the Nittany Lions had runners on the corners with no outs. Piacentino cashed in with an RBI single and Norris followed with a two-run triple into the left center field gap to extend the Penn State lead to 11-6. Logan Ott would come in for Kenny Lippman, but it wouldn’t stop the home team’s bats. The Nittany Lions pushed two more runs across, making it five in the inning and giving them a seven-run advantage.

Maryland still refused to go away, however, as the offense got them right back into the game in the seventh. Penn State pitchers had trouble finding the zone in the inning. After Lambros walked and Orr was hit by a pitch, Keister drove both of them in with a double in the gap. Luke Shliger and Shaw both drew walks in front of Nick Lorusso, who lined a single into right field to bring home a run to make it 13-9. Penn State brought in left-hander Jordan Morales to face Petrutz, who hit a sacrifice fly to right field. The Terps would score two more runs with two outs on an RBI single by Hacopian and a bases-loaded walk by Lambros to make it a one-run game. Orr nearly gave Maryland the lead, but Morales made a nice catch on the mound on a hard liner back up the middle to finally end the frame.

Nigel Belgrave came on for the bottom of the inning and had trouble finding the strike zone; he issued three walks and allowed a hit while recording just one out. David Falco Jr. entered a bases-loaded jam and induced two soft grounders to limit the damage, but the Nittany Lions still pushed two runs across to extend their lead to 15-12.

After neither team scored in the eighth, the Maryland offense, which entered Thursday second in Division I in runs scored, came through once again. The Terps loaded the bases with one out for Keister, who hit a sacrifice fly to get Maryland within two. Shliger followed with a double down the left field line, scoring Woods and putting the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position. After Shaw was intentionally walked to load the bases, Lorusso found the hole on the left side to bring in two runs. After entering the seventh inning trailing by seven runs, the Terps had the lead in the ninth. Petrutz added an insurance run with an RBI single of his own, and Maryland took a 17-15 lead into the bottom of the ninth. Falco Jr. allowed a one-out double, but struck out the next two batters to seal the victory.

Every player in the Maryland lineup had at least two hits. With the win, the Terps improve to 36-18, and 16-6 in Big Ten play. They’ll look to clinch their 23rd straight Big Ten series win tomorrow at 5 p.m.

Terps rally in the ninth, but fall to Georgetown in extra innings

Down to their final out in a four-run deficit, Maryland rallied to force extra innings but ultimately came up short in a wild ballgame at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium. The Terps fell to Georgetown on Tuesday by a final of 10-9.

Nate Haberthier got the start on the mound for the Terps, his fifth of the season. The junior right-hander retired the two first batters he faced, but then allowed four straight Hoyas to reach with two outs, and Georgetown jumped out to an early 3-0 lead.

In the bottom of the first, Ian Petrutz announced his return with a bang after missing the last five games with an eye injury. The sophomore designated hitter crushed a two-run homer to left center to get the Terps back within a run.

“It’s great to get (Petrutz) back,” Maryland head coach Rob Vaughn said. “He’s a veteran player… he’s important to our offense.”

Haberthier ran into some trouble in the third after plunking the leadoff man and allowing a double to right fielder Jake Hyde to give the Hoyas two runners in scoring position with no outs. After the next two batters each lined out, Haberthier was pulled after lasting 2.2 innings having allowed three earned runs. Kenny Lippman got the call out of the bullpen and struck out shortstop Andrew Kretzschmar to get the Terps out of the inning unharmed.

Georgetown starter Collin Garner walked the bases loaded with one out in the bottom of the third, but Bobby Zmarzlak hit a chopper back to the mound that the Hoyas turned into an inning-ending double play. Both teams threatened, but neither scored in the third.

The scoring resumed in the fifth inning when Georgetown star Ubaldo Lopez crushed a two-run home run to center field. Two batters later, second baseman Michael Eze launched a solo shot to extend the Hoyas lead to 6-2.

Just as they did in the first inning, Maryland’s offense answered in the bottom half of the inning. With two on and two out, Eddie Hacopian laced a double to left field just over the glove of Lopez to plate both runners. After a pitching change, Zach Martin struck out to end the inning, and the Terps trailed 6-4 through five innings.

Elijah Lambros led off the sixth with a single up the middle and Kevin Keister followed with a double to put the tying run in scoring position with the top of the order due up. After Luke Shliger struck out, Nick Lorusso grounded out to the left side to bring Lambros home. One run was all the Terps would get in the inning, as they still trailed 6-5 after the sixth.

Tommy Kane retired the first five batters he faced out of the bullpen, but allowed back-to-back solo homers to Lopez and Hyde that put the Hoyas back up by three in the top of the seventh. Lopez has 11 home runs on the season, including three in two matchups with the Terps. 

In the bottom of the eighth, Keister led off with a single and Shliger walked to give the Terps a huge opportunity with the heart of their order coming up. Lorusso, Matt Shaw, and Petrutz each stepped up to the plate representing the tying run but none of them could cash in. The Terps left 13 runners on base in the ballgame.

“That game was lost in the middle,” Vaughn said. “We had so many opportunities… we couldn’t string more than two or three together and then we’d have an at-bat that kind of blew up the inning.”

After Georgetown added a run in the top of the ninth, the Terps loaded the bases with one out, bringing the tying run to the plate once again. Keister struck out, but the Terps would not go silently into the night. Down to their last out, Shliger lined a two-run single into right to make it a 9-7 game. Representing the winning run, Lorusso laced a line drive into the left center field gap. Lopez got his glove on the ball but was unable to make the play, and Shliger came all the way around to score the tying run. The play was officially scored as an E7. With Lorusso on second, Petrutz struck out to end the ninth and send the game to extra innings.

It would not take long for Georgetown to reclaim the lead. Three batters into the tenth inning, Marco Castillo crushed a double off the center field wall to bring a runner home from first. The next two batters were retired, and the Terps had their backs against the wall once again, trailing 10-9. Maryland did not have another rally in them, however; they went down in order to end the ballgame. 

The loss is Maryland’s second straight and their fourth in their last six games, dropping their record to 19-13 (4-2). The Terps will travel to Columbus this weekend to take on Ohio State.

Maryland fails to complete the sweep in Iowa City, falling 12-8 in the series finale

Maryland jumped out to a 6-1 lead in the series finale against #25 Iowa on Sunday, but were unable to overcome a nightmarish fifth inning where they allowed nine runs. The Terps were unable to complete the sweep in Iowa City, falling to the Hawkeyes at Duane Banks Field by a final score of 12-8.

Sunday’s game began with a familiar sight: a Luke Shliger leadoff home run. The Maryland catcher went to the opposite field for his sixth homer of the year to put the Terps on the board first. 

Iowa would strike back in the bottom half of the inning. After Kyle McCoy got two quick outs, a two-out walk and a double by center fielder Kyle Huckstorf tied the game at 1-1.

Kevin Keister led off the top of the fourth with a double, and Bobby Zmarzlak followed with a monster two-run blast to left field to give Maryland a 3-1 lead.

The Terps added to their lead in the fifth with back-to-back one-out RBI singles from Matt Woods and Kevin Keister. Zmarzlak laid a perfect bunt down the third base line and beat the throw to first as another run scored, and the Terps led 6-1 after their half of the fifth.

McCoy, coming off a dominant performance against UCF last week that earned him an array of awards, seemed to be on his way to another strong outing until the bottom of the fifth. After the Hawkeyes loaded the bases with no one out, Keister was unable to glove a line drive, and the ball got past him to bring home two runs, which would be the start of a disastrous inning for the Terps. 

After two more singles tied the game at six runs apiece, McCoy was relieved by Nate Haberthier. The freshman left-hander was unable to record an out in the fifth, and was charged with seven runs (five earned) on eight hits, with five strikeouts and three walks. 

Despite the pitching change, the onslaught continued. Haberthier allowed an RBI single to the first batter he faced, which gave the Hawkeyes a 7-6 lead. Two batters later, second baseman Sam Hojnar launched a three-run homer that would end up being the dagger, extending the Iowa lead to 10-6. The Hawkeyes scored nine runs on eight hits in the inning.

Maryland would respond in the sixth, taking advantage of a pair of errors by the Iowa defense. Infield singles from Matt Woods and Zmarzlak each scored a run, and the Terps trailed 10-8 with the bases loaded and one out, but the Hawkeyes turned a double play to end the inning.

After Andrew Johnson walked the leadoff man in the bottom of the eighth, Nigel Belgrave entered the game looking to keep the deficit at two. The Iowa offense had other intentions, scoring two runs on two hits in the inning to add to their lead.

The Terps went down quietly in the top of the ninth to end the game. The loss snaps a five-game winning streak, as Maryland moves to 17-10 overall, and 2-1 in Big Ten play. The Terps will return home to take on William & Mary on Tuesday before hosting Rutgers for a weekend series.

Maryland clinches a series win in Iowa City with a 7-4 victory

In a tie game in the top of the eighth with the bases loaded and one out, Maryland had the right man for the job at the plate: yesterday’s hero, Matt Shaw. Although there would be no 507-foot grand slam on Saturday, Shaw came through again, punching a ground ball that just barely got through the right side of the infield to score two runs and give the Terps the lead. Maryland clinched the series with a 7-4 win over #25 Iowa at Duane Banks Field.

Maryland’s offense picked up right where they left off in the series opener, as Luke Shliger led off the game with a home run to right field. Shortly after, the Terps loaded the bases with one out, and a slow dribbler off the bat of Bobby Zmarzlak went into no man’s land to score another run, making it a 2-0 game. 

In the second inning, Elijah Lambros singled and Nick Lorusso doubled to give the Terps two men in scoring position with one out. A sacrifice fly from Shaw added another run to extend the lead to 3-0.

Nick Dean, who had been struggling of late, was very sharp on Saturday. The senior right-hander did not allow a hit until the fifth inning when Iowa catcher Cade Moss ripped a double down the line with two outs. Dean walked the next batter but got out of the inning unharmed to complete his outing. He finished with five scoreless innings on just one hit.

Iowa got on the board in the bottom of the sixth with an RBI single from Keaton Anthony. Later in the inning, with the bases loaded, Iowa second baseman Sam Hojnar laced a 107 mph line drive that struck Nate Haberthier on the mound. The Maryland right-hander was able to recover and fire home for the forceout, but would have to exit the game. Haberthier walked off under his own power and was replaced by Kenny Lippman, who got the final out of the inning to maintain Maryland’s 3-1 lead.

After a pair of two-out walks by Lippman in the seventh, David Falco Jr. came on in relief in search of the final out of the inning. The first batter he faced, Brennen Dorighi, crushed a three-run homer to right field to give Iowa their first lead of the afternoon. Falco struck out the next batter to end the inning.

Entering the eighth, the Terps trailed 4-3 and had not scored since the second inning. Eddie Hacopian led off with a single up the middle, and Elijah Lambros lined a double in the gap two batters later. Maryland had two runners in scoring position with one out and the top of the order coming up.

Luke Shliger was hit by a pitch to load the bases, and Lorusso followed with a bases-loaded walk to tie the game and bring Shaw to the plate. The Maryland shortstop hit a hard ground ball to the right side that squeaked just past the glove of Hojnar at second base. Two runs would score on the play, putting the Terps back in front with a 6-4 lead.

Tommy Kane got the ball for the eighth inning and worked around two singles to pitch a scoreless frame. In the top of the ninth, the Terps loaded the bases with a pair of walks and a hit batter. With one out, Lorusso hit a ground ball to the left side that appeared to be a potential inning-ending double play, but Iowa shortstop Michael Seegers was unable to handle it and a run scored on the error. After the next two hitters were retired, the Terps took a 7-4 lead into the bottom of the ninth.

Back out for the ninth, Kane retired the leadoff man and then walked Anthony. Any hopes the Hawkeyes had of a late comeback were short-lived, however; the next two batters each flew out to end the ballgame.

The win is Maryland’s fifth straight, and it pushes their record to 17-9. The Terps will go for the sweep Sunday afternoon with Kyle McCoy on the mound, the reigning Big Ten pitcher of the week and Big Ten freshman of the week.

Maryland rallies to knock off Iowa in Big Ten opener behind Matt Shaw’s monster day at the plate

Down three runs with the bases loaded and two outs, Maryland was at risk of squandering its best chance to get back into the game after trailing all afternoon. Behind in the count 0-2, Matt Shaw received a 94 mph fastball and sent it well over the left field wall for a grand slam. Shaw flipped his bat toward the Iowa dugout, and Eddie Hacopian threw his arms into the air as he trotted home from third. It was Maryland’s sixth grand slam of the season, and it gave them a 7-6 lead in the seventh inning in their Big Ten opener against #25 Iowa on Friday. The Terps held on to defeat the Hawkeyes at Duane Banks Field by a final of 10-9.

Iowa used a big first inning to jump out to an early lead. Jason Savacool struggled with command early on, issuing a walk, a hit batter, and a single to load the bases with no outs. On the second pitch of the at-bat, Keaton Anthony gave the Hawkeyes a 4-0 lead with a grand slam. Two batters later, Sam Petersen launched a solo home run to add to the lead, and Iowa led 5-0 after the first inning.

Iowa starter Brody Brecht was virtually unhittable through the first four innings. The projected 2024 first-round pick featured a fastball that consistently reached 100 mph and a hard, tight slider. Each of the first seven outs he recorded came via the strikeout.

Brecht couldn’t keep the relentless Maryland lineup down forever, though; the Terps got to the big right-hander the third time through the order. With two runners on base, Nick Lorusso and Matt Shaw delivered back-to-back RBI singles to get the Terps within three. Later in the inning, a balk by Brecht brought Lorusso home and the Terps trailed just 5-3 after their half of the fifth.

The Hawkeyes would get one back in the bottom of the inning, as Raider Tello led off with a solo home run. Savacool, who was able to settle in after a rocky first inning, retired the next three hitters to finish his outing. He got through five innings, allowing six runs (five earned) on seven hits, while striking out five and walking two. The five earned runs ties Savacool’s season high.

With a 6-3 lead entering the sixth inning, Iowa turned to their bullpen. Brecht pitched five innings, allowing three earned runs on five hits, while striking out a career-high 13 batters and walking three. The Terps were able to load the bases with one out for Lorusso and Shaw, who have been their two best hitters all year. After Lorusso struck out, Shaw changed the game with one swing of the bat; he launched a grand slam to left field and suddenly, the Terps led 7-6.

After Kenny Lippman pitched a scoreless sixth, Tommy Kane faced a bases loaded, two-out jam in the bottom of the seventh. After Kane hit a batter to bring home the tying run, Nigel Belgrave entered the game and induced a routine fly ball to get the Terps out of the inning without further damage.

Maryland would reclaim the lead immediately, as Elijah Lambros led off the top of the eighth with a solo home run. Later in the inning, Lorusso and Shaw hit back-to-back solo shots to extend the lead to 10-7. It was Lorusso’s 11th home run of the season, and Shaw’s 10th, good enough for first and second in the Big Ten, respectively. Shaw finished the afternoon 4-for-4 with two home runs, six RBIs, and a walk.

After Belgrave allowed a leadoff walk, Kyle Huckstorf crushed a fly ball to center field and Lambros timed his jump perfectly to rob what would have been a two-run home run, a potentially game-saving play for Maryland.

After a fielder’s interference call put a runner on base for Iowa, Anthony doubled down the line to drive home a run. He would score on the next at-bat on a sacrifice fly to cut the Maryland lead to 10-9.

Despite a two-out double off the bat of Jacob Orr, the Terps were unable to add an insurance run in the ninth, and David Falco Jr. came on in search of the final three outs. Falco began the inning with a strikeout and a walk, and the Hawkeyes brought in a pinch runner looking to put the tying run in scoring position. Luke Shliger delivered a strong throw to second base, gunning down the runner for the second out of the inning. After a two-out walk, Iowa leadoff hitter Michael Seegers hit a ground ball back to Falco on the mound. The junior right-hander tossed the ball to first for the final out, picking up the save in Maryland’s Big Ten opener.

With the win, their fourth straight, the Terps move to 16-9 on the season. They’ll look to clinch the series tomorrow at 3 p.m., with Nick Dean getting the start on the mound.

Series Preview: Iowa Hawkeyes

Maryland baseball travels to Iowa City this weekend to begin Big Ten play against the #25 Iowa Hawkeyes. The Terps (15-9) enter conference play hot, having won 11 of their last 13 games.

Maryland is coming off a 10-7 victory over Georgetown on Tuesday. After a back-and-forth affair through the first four innings, Nick Lorusso’s three-run homer in the fifth was the difference, giving the Terps a lead they would not relinquish. 

Last weekend, the Terps took two out of three games from UCF in Orlando. It was a huge series win to give them momentum heading into a tough task on the road to kick off conference play.

Here’s what to watch for against the Hawkeyes.

Iowa Hawkeyes (19-4)

Last Season

Iowa finished the 2022 season with a 36-19 overall record and a 17-7 conference record. That mark was good enough for a third place finish in the Big Ten, only behind Maryland and Rutgers.

The Hawkeyes fell to Michigan in the semifinal of the Big Ten tournament. The Terps were not on their schedule in 2022, so this weekend’s meeting will be the first between the two teams since 2021.

This Season

Iowa (19-4) stormed out of the gates this season, winning 10 of their first 11 games, including a win over #1 LSU. It was enough to get them a spot in the D1 Baseball Top 25 before dropping two out of three on the road to #22 Texas Tech.

They responded to their lone series loss of the season by winning their next eight and sneaking back into the rankings at #25. That winning streak was snapped on Tuesday, however; the Hawkeyes fell to Illinois State by a final of 5-3. 

Iowa holds a perfect 9-0 record at home, a mark that Maryland will look to change this weekend. After hosting the Terps, the Hawkeyes will hit the road to take on Bradley next Wednesday before heading to Bloomington to battle Indiana.

Hitters to Watch

The Hawkeyes’ lineup is headlined by sophomore two-way star Keaton Anthony, who took home Big Ten Freshman of the Year and Second Team All-Big Ten honors last season. Anthony is batting .329 with five home runs and a 1.074 OPS. He leads the team in total bases with 51 on the season.

Graduate utility player Brennen Dorighi paces the Hawkeyes with a .369 batting average and a .481 on-base percentage. A transfer from Wofford, Dorighi was a First Team All-SoCon selection last season and has continued his stellar play with his new team this year.

Junior outfielder Kyle Huckstorf is tied with Anthony for first on the team with five homers, along with a .364 batting average and a team-leading 1.094 OPS. Huckstorf was a Big Ten All-Tournament First Team selection last season, and even took home Collegiate National Player of the Week Honors on May 24 of last year.

Utility player Sam Petersen is enjoying a breakout season in his sophomore year in Iowa City. In  his first season as a full-time starter, Petersen is slashing .343/.467/.614. 

Pitchers to Watch

Iowa has a stellar pitching staff that currently holds the lowest ERA of any Big Ten team. They’re led by their ace, sophomore right-hander Brody Brecht. After earning All-Big Ten Freshman team honors as a reliever last year, Brecht has made the transition to the rotation this season and has excelled in that role. The right-hander holds a 2.20 ERA and has racked up 46 strikeouts in 28.2 innings while holding opponents to a .146 batting average. Formerly a two-sport athlete, Brecht gave up football ahead of this baseball season, as he is expected to hear his name called early in the 2024 MLB Draft.

The top arm out of a strong Iowa bullpen is Luke Llewellyn. The junior right-hander has appeared in nine games, more than any other Hawkeye, and has posted a 2.25 ERA with 17 strikeouts in 12 innings of work. Opponents are batting just .146 off Llewellyn.

Six different pitchers have started on the mound for the Hawkeyes this season, but junior Ty Langenberg seems to be their go-to second starter behind Brecht. The right-hander has pitched in seven games, five of them starts, and holds a 4.39 ERA with 34 strikeouts in 26.2 innings. 

Projected Starting Pitchers

Friday, March 31st: Jason Savacool and Brody Brecht

Saturday, April 1st: Nick Dean and TBD

Sunday, April 2nd: Kyle McCoy and TBD

Maryland survives a ninth-inning scare, hangs on to win the series in Orlando behind a gem from Kyle McCoy

Ahead in the count 1-2, Kyle McCoy delivered a sweeping back foot slider that Andrew Sundean swung through for the first out of the seventh inning. It was a perfectly executed pitch, which was a common theme for McCoy on Sunday in a dominant outing that helped Maryland secure the series win over UCF with an 8-6 victory at John Euliano Park despite a ninth-inning scare.

McCoy was lights-out all afternoon, mowing down a strong Knights lineup that was tied for seventh in Division I in home runs entering the weekend. McCoy routinely pounded the strike zone, getting ahead in counts, allowing him to go to his wipeout slider which generated a ton of whiffs. He tossed eight scoreless innings on just three hits, and struck out nine while walking none.

It was the second consecutive scoreless start for the freshman left-hander, who continues to impress in his first season in College Park. McCoy picked up his second win of the season, lowering his ERA to 2.81.

After both pitchers faced the minimum through three innings, Matt Woods broke the scoreless tie in the top of the fourth with an RBI single to right field. Woods collected the first RBI of the game in all three games this weekend.

McCoy did not allow a baserunner until the fifth inning when a two-out single dropped just in front of Jacob Orr in center field. McCoy retired the next batter on a soft grounder to end the inning.

Despite McCoy’s dominance, UCF starter Jacob Marlowe kept the home team in it for most of the game. A 1-0 game entering the sixth inning, Nick Lorusso led off with a single and Matt Shaw followed with a monster two-run blast to left field.

Maryland delivered what seemed to be a knockout blow in the top of the eighth, and it came from a familiar source. Shaw got every stitch of a 2-0 fastball, crushing it over the wall in left center field and extending the lead to 5-0. It was the shortstop’s second home run of the day and his third in the last two games. Later in the inning, Woods came home on a wild pitch and Jacob Orr dropped an RBI single into center field to push the advantage to 7-0.

McCoy finished his outing with a pair of strikeouts and a flyout in the eighth, and the Terps added another run in the ninth courtesy of back-to-back doubles from Lorusso and Shaw to make it 8-0.

The Terps seemed to be cruising to a stress-free win on a hot afternoon in Orlando, but it turned out to be anything but that. David Falco Jr. came in for the ninth inning and retired the first batter he faced, but then allowed five straight Knights to reach base. 

Suddenly, Nigel Belgrave entered an 8-2 game with the bases loaded and one out. The first batter he faced was Drew Faurot, who crushed a grand slam to left field to get UCF within two runs. After a two-out double on a check swing, Andrew Brait stepped up to the plate representing the tying run. UCF’s hopes of a miraculous comeback would not come to fruition, however; Belgrave induced a routine fly ball to center field on the first pitch of the at-bat, securing the win for the Terps.

The win is Maryland’s 10th in its last 12 games. Their record now stands at 14-9, and they will return home to host Georgetown on Tuesday before traveling to Iowa City next weekend to begin Big Ten play.

Maryland bats erupt to even the series with UCF

Matt Shaw held the follow-through on his swing and nonchalantly trotted out of the batter’s box, admiring the moonshot he had just launched over everything in left field. It was a two-run home run that blew the game open, giving Maryland an eight-run lead en route to a 16-6 win over UCF in the second game of the series on Saturday at John Euliano Park.

The first inning followed a similar script to Friday’s game. For the second straight evening, Matt Woods got the Terps on the board in the top of the first inning with an RBI single. Ian Petrutz and Eddie Hacopian opened the second with back-to-back doubles, giving Maryland a 2-0 lead.

Nick Dean retired the first seven batters he faced, but John Rhys Plumlee got to him in the third inning with a two-run homer to tie the game. Maryland responded with four runs in the top of the fourth. Jacob Orr and Luke Shliger each delivered an RBI double, and Nick Lorusso lifted a towering two-run blast to center field to cap the inning. It was the third baseman’s team-leading ninth home run and it pushed the advantage to 6-2.

UCF came back with another two-run home run in the bottom half of the inning off the bat of Drew Faurot, which prompted Maryland head coach Rob Vaughn to turn to his bullpen. Kenny Lippman came in for Dean, who exited after allowing four earned runs on six hits.

The Maryland offense got right back to work in the fifth. Kevin Keister lined a triple off the right field wall to plate Woods, and Hacopian followed with a two-run single that made it a 9-4 game. In the bottom of the inning, UCF got a run back with a run-scoring double from Nick Romano. It was the only run they would score off Lippman over his three innings of work.

In the sixth inning, Bobby Zmarzlak was hit on the helmet by a breaking ball. He was able to walk off the field on his own power, but was replaced by Elijah Lambros. Later that inning, Petrutz lined a single into left for his second RBI of the night, extending the Maryland lead to 10-5.

After a scoreless sixth from Lippman, Maryland opened the floodgates in the seventh. With a runner on second and one out, Lorusso dropped an RBI single into shallow center, and Shaw followed with a monster home run to make it a 13-5 game. Two batters later, Lambros crushed a solo shot to nearly the same spot.

Tommy Kane took the mound in the bottom of the seventh and allowed a run on two hits, but the Terps continued their onslaught in the eighth. Petrutz mashed a solo home run to right field, and after being hit by a pitch and advancing to second on a wild pitch, Orr trotted home on Lorusso’s third run-scoring hit of the ballgame. Maryland led 16-6 after their half of the inning, and they won by that score after Ryan Van Buren finished the game with two scoreless frames.

Maryland’s offensive numbers on Saturday were nothing short of impressive. Every Terp who stepped to the plate reached base at least once. The Terps racked up 18 hits, including 12 extra-base hits and four home runs. Their lineup depth was on full display, with nine different players recording an RBI.

With the win, Maryland’s record improves to 13-9. They’ll look to take the series in the rubber match tomorrow at 1 p.m.

Maryland Drops Game One to UCF in Orlando

With the bases loaded and two outs, a routine fly ball off the bat of Matt Woods fell into the glove of UCF center fielder John Rhys Plumlee. It ended the top of the seventh inning and squandered the best opportunity Maryland had for a late rally. The Terps fell in the series opener at John Euliano Park by a final of 4-2.

The Terps were able to strike first in this one behind a well-placed bunt down the third base line by Matt Woods to make it a 1-0 game. Jason Savacool got the start on the mound and cruised through the first two innings before running into trouble in the third.

After a hit batter and a wild pitch, the Knights had a runner in scoring position and were able to capitalize, as Andrew Brait lined a double into the gap to even the score. Brait would then score on an error to give UCF a 2-1 lead.

UCF added to their lead in the fourth inning with a solo shot from Nick Romano, but the Terps would quickly respond. In the top of the fifth, Luke Shliger lifted a fly ball to the opposite field that carried over the left field wall and got Maryland back within one.

Savacool was sharp on the mound once again. The junior right-hander struck out a season-high 10 batters through six innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on just four hits. But UCF starter Ruddy Gomez was able to outlast him, logging eight innings of work while only allowing two runs.

After scoring on an RBI single by Andrew Sundean, the Knights had bases loaded in the eighth and were threatening to break the game open. A line drive off the bat of Corey Robinson appeared headed for the gap in right centerfield, but Matt Woods made a leaping grab to end the inning and keep the deficit at 4-2 for the Terps. Maryland, however, would go down in order in the ninth.

Maryland outhit UCF, 8-7, but were unable to string several hits together, leaving eight men on base. The Terps will look to even the series tomorrow evening with Nick Dean on the mound.

Series Preview: UCF Knights

Winners of eight of their last nine games, Maryland baseball looks to stay hot like the weather in Orlando this weekend when they head south to take on a strong UCF squad.

The Terps are coming off a midweek win over nearby George Washington in College Park on Tuesday. Back-to-back homers from Matt Woods and Kevin Keister capped a late inning rally to secure a 9-6 victory.

After a slow start to the season that dropped them out of the D1Baseball Top 25 rankings, Maryland has righted the ship over the last two weeks, taking advantage of a softer schedule than they played early in the season.

A good showing in sunny Florida this weekend would be a huge boost for the Terps ahead of their Big Ten opener at Iowa next weekend.

Here is what to watch for against the Knights.

UCF Knights (15-6)

Last Season:

UCF finished the 2022 season with a 35-23 overall record and a 14-10 conference record, good enough for second place in the American Athletic Conference behind East Carolina, who ran away with the conference title and advanced to the super regionals. The Knights fell to Houston in the AAC tournament semifinals.

Four Knights earned All-AAC honors last season, and two of them returned this year: pitcher Ben Vespi, and catcher/designated hitter Andrew Sundean.

This Season:

UCF has been impressive in 2023 thus far, boasting a 15-6 record, which includes a 5-0 record against ACC teams with series sweeps over Clemson and Florida State. The Knights also swept Siena in their season opener, and Dartmouth last weekend. They return home coming off a loss at North Florida on Tuesday. 

After hosting the Terps, UCF will visit Florida Atlantic next Tuesday before beginning conference play at home against South Florida, who Maryland took two of three games from to open the season.

Hitters to Watch:

UCF is tied for 7th across all of Division I with 45 home runs, and they’re led by senior catcher Ben McCabe. 

McCabe has been the Knights’ best hitter, putting up video game numbers through 21 games. He holds a .449 batting average with 10 home runs and a ridiculous .910 slugging percentage.

Sophomore catcher/designated hitter Andrew Sundean, who earned Second Team All-AAC honors last season, has picked up right where he left off. Sundean leads the team with a .455 batting average and a .523 on-base percentage. He is third on the team in hits despite only playing in 14 of 21 games so far.

Two other hitters to watch are freshman infielder Drew Faurot and senior infielder Tom Josten, who both boast an OPS north of 1.000 and have hit six and eight home runs, respectively.

Pitchers to Watch:

Senior Ruddy Gomez and sophomore Dom Stagliano have provided the Knights with a reliable 1-2 punch this season. Gomez has struck out 35 with a 3.07 ERA in 29.2 innings pitched, and Stagliano has a 3.95 ERA in 27.1 innings.

Kyle Kramer has been UCF’s best arm out of the bullpen. The senior right-hander has a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 20 to 3 and has held opponents to a .178 batting average to the tune of a 2.70 ERA in 13.1 innings of work.

Projected Starting Pitchers:

Friday, March 24th: Jason Savacool and Ruddy Gomez

Saturday, March 25th: Nick Dean and Dom Stagliano

Sunday, March 26th: Kyle McCoy and Jacob Marlowe