Maryland baseball held a one-run lead heading into the eighth inning, and the Northwestern Wildcats had kept the game close with their pitching.
Suddenly, in the blink of an eye, Northwestern had tacked on five runs and three pitchers had been used in the inning.
The Wildcats’ lead would hold for the rest of the contest, as Maryland’s pitching combined with inconsistent hitting resulted in a 7-4 loss on Saturday afternoon in College Park with the series tied heading into Sunday.
Maryland got on the board early in the bottom of the first inning, off of the bat of third baseman Nick Lorusso. After center fielder Chris Alleyne stole second and advanced to third on an error, Lorusso brought him home with a line drive down the left field line to put Maryland up 1-0.
While he didn’t have a perfect game, sophomore right-handed pitcher Jason Savacool had the Wildcats think twice in the batter’s box. He threw strikeouts in each of the first four innings, including two in the third and striking out all batters in the fourth.
In his first game after being named the Saturday starter for the rest of the season, Savacool had seven strikeouts in four innings.
The bottom of the fourth and the top of the fifth saw both teams get out of some pretty tough jams.
Northwestern’s starter, graduate student right-handed pitcher Michael Farinelli, had loaded the bases, all on walks with two outs. He managed to get the last batter in the order, second baseman Kevin Keister, to strike out swinging to prevent the Terps from extending their lead.
Savacool was facing a runner on second and third with two outs in the top of the fifth, but managed to force sophomore center fielder Ethan O’Donnell into a ground out. Keister bobbled the ball in the infield before sending the ball to first baseman Maxwell Costes just in time for the third out.
Northwestern replaced Farinelli with right-handed pitcher Coby Moe in the sixth. He would continue to stifle Maryland’s bats, only allowing one hit in the sixth and the seventh inning.
Savacool’s day ended after the seventh inning, and his replacement would immediately let up a run. Redshirt sophomore right-handed pitcher David Falco walked two batters to start the eighth and gave up a laser to left field that was limited to a sacrifice fly due to a nice catch by Bobby Zmarzlak.
Still, the game was tied 1-1, and head coach Rob Vaughn pulled Falco with two outs in the inning and replaced him with senior right-handed pitcher Sean Heine.
This would actually end up making things worse, as Heine gave up four runs with two outs in the inning in shockingly bad fashion.
Third baseman Vincent Bianchina blasted a two-run RBI single which dropped into center field to start the scoring. Immediately after, catcher Bennett Markinson grounded an RBi single right through the middle of the infield to score another.
Then, to end his time on the mound, Heine hit two batters to load the bases and bring a run home and put the Terps down 5-1.
Freshman right-handed pitcher Noah Mrotek came in after Heine to stop the bleeding forcing a pop out. Maryland were down for the first time in the eighth, and they had a quick response in the bottom of the inning.
Lorusso led off for the Terrapins, and managed to hit a bomb down the left field line to cut the lead to three. Sophomore shortstop Matt Shaw capitalized on the momentum and hit a home run himself right after. Those back to back bombs cut the lead to 5-3 going into the ninth inning.
Mrotek wasn’t able to stop the Northwestern momentum, as Calarco hit a bomb followed by a bat flip in the inning. That wasn’t all, Bianchina got his third RBI of the day on a double which got past Costes’ glove down the first base line.
Northwestern got its four point lead back heading into the bottom of the ninth, which left Maryland with a big comeback to keep the game going.
Despite Shliger hitting a leadoff homer in the inning, it wasn’t enough as no one managed to score the rest of the inning, securing the Wildcat win.
Three things to know:
1. Savacool pitched a shutout. Pitching the day after a perfect game can be a daunting task for a pitcher, but the sophomore right-hander was very effective. He struck out nine batters in seven innings on the mound and allowed just three hits all day. While also only walking only one batter, it was clear that Savacool was locked in during his performance. In a game where Maryland scored just one run while he was on the mound, Savacool’s shoutout was needed as the bats couldn’t get much going.
2. Maryland’s relief pitching lost them the game. With Maryland not scoring a run between the first and the eighth inning, it was unsure whether the one run lead would be enough heading into the eighth inning stretch. It wasn’t. As soon as Savacool left the mound after the seventh, Northwestern found a sense of confidence at the plate. The three relief pitchers gave up a combined seven hits and seven runs in just two innings. Without the offensive explosion, the backend of the Maryland bullpen were taken advantage of at the end of the game.
3. Maryland’s bats were inconsistent. The Terps put forth 11 hits, but they weren’t enough to push them to victory. Alleyne, Zmarzlak, Lorusso and Shaw had multi-hit games, but the Terps just couldn’t get the job done. Maryland could not capitalize on the momentum from Ryan Ramsey’s perfect game on Friday, and it had a letdown performance. The Terps will have a chance to capture the series against Northwestern on Sunday.