No. 18 Maryland baseball had to wait a few days to start its pivotal series against Rutgers. Friday’s game and Saturday’s game were both postponed due to the weather, which led to a doubleheader on Sunday with the series finale on Monday.
The Terps offense was spectacular in game one, leading them to a 16-8 victory. Maryland’s 16 runs were the most Rutgers has allowed this season. However, game two saw a dramatic turn as sophomore right-handed pitcher Jason Savacool could only make it through one inning due to a back injury.
Head coach Rob Vaughn was forced to make a change to his game plan, resulting in eight Maryland pitchers seeing the mound in the 18-7 loss.
With each team stealing a game, Monday’s series finale may determine which team earns the No. 1 seed in this month’s Big Ten Tournament.
Maryland’s offense dominates game one of series, 16-7.
Maryland’s offense exploded to begin the game, quickly gaining a 5-0 lead. The Terps scored one run in the top of the first as junior third baseman Nick Lorusso hit a single through the right side, scoring sophomore catcher Luke Shliger from second.
After a nine-pitch inning from junior lefty Ryan Ramsey, Shliger got the second inning started with a groundout to second base, scoring junior left fielder Bobby Zmarlak. Four straight singles scored the final three runs of the inning as Maryland set the tone early.
Rutgers was able to produce three base runners over the next two innings but couldn’t score any runs.
The Terps tacked on two more in the top of the fourth as sophomore shortstop Matt Shaw drilled a two-run homer over the right-center field wall.
Ramsey’s perfect-game magic from last weekend flowed into Saturday’s doubleheader as he shut out Rutgers through the first five innings.
Maryland showed off its power in the top of the sixth, extending its lead to double-digits. With Shliger on first, fifth-year center fielder Chris Alleyne hit the first home run of the inning over the right field wall. Junior right fielder Troy Schreffler followed in Alleyne’s footsteps, hitting a solo homer in nearly the same exact spot as Maryland held a 10-run lead.
Rutgers finally got on the board in the bottom of the sixth. Redshirt junior first baseman Chris Brito smacked a two-run home run over the center field wall, giving the Scarlet Knights some life.
Rutgers’ breath of life was quickly erased as Zmarzlak scored on a passed ball and freshman designated hitter Ian Petrutz scored on a sacrifice fly in the top of the seventh.
Graduate student right-handed pitcher Nick Robinson relieved Ramsey in the seventh, and he retired the side in four batters.
The Terps continued to terrorize Rutgers’ bullpen in the top of the eighth. Petrutz and Alleyne each crushed two-run homers, pushing Maryland’s lead to 14.
Rutgers scored six runs off sophomore left-handed pitcher Logan Ott in the eighth and ninth innings, but it was too little, too late as Maryland took game one, 16-8.
Savacool exits early as Rutgers turns the tide in game two, winning 18-7.
The second game got off to a completely different start as Rutgers shut down the Terps and then scored three runs in the first inning.
Sophomore right-handed pitcher Jason Savacool struggled to control his pitches, hitting and walking a batter to load the bases. Ground balls to second base and shortstop scored the three suns as Shaw made a costly throwing error.
Maryland immediately responded as graduate student right-handed pitcher Nathan Florence walked the first three batters in the top of the second. After a strikeout and infield fly, the Terps suddenly found themselves in position to leave the inning empty-handed.
Sophomore second baseman Kevin Keister didn’t let that happen, hitting a grand slam to give Maryland a 4-3 lead.
Savacool was visibly irritated in the first inning, so head coach Rob Vaughn elected to pull him in favor of freshman right-handed pitcher Noah Mrotek. Mrotek got off to a promising start, forcing two quick outs. The inning didn’t end there, however, as Rutgers regained the lead with two home runs.
With freshman right-handed pitcher Ryan Van Buren now on the mound, the Scarlet Knights continued their offensive barrage. Rutgers hit three doubles and one single in the bottom of the third, scoring three runs.
Graduate student shortstop Danny DiGeorgio put an exclamation point on the inning, smacking a two-run homer to give Rutgers an 11-4 lead before freshman left-handed pitcher Andrew Johnson relieved Van Buren.
After another scoreless inning from the Terps, Johnson finally stopped Rutgers from scoring in the bottom of the fourth. Johnson didn’t do this alone as Schreffler reached his glove over the right field wall, making a sensational grab to rob a potential three-run homer.
Rutgers tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the fifth as junior infielder Matt Orlando took the mound.
The Terps finally broke their scoring drought in the sixth inning as Schreffler and senior first baseman Maxwell Costes hit back-to-back doubles. With runners on first and third, Keister hit into a double play, ending the half inning.
Down nine in the top of the seventh, Maryland was in prime position to make some noise after Shaw ripped an RBI double down the right field line. The Terps loaded up the bases with one out, but a strikeout and groundout ended the inning as they only produced two runs.
A two-run response in the bottom of the seventh all but ended the game as Rutgers finished off its emphatic victory.
Three things to know
1. Both teams were smashing home runs. The ball was flying off bats on Sunday afternoon as each team was going yard with ease. Maryland hit five homers in the first game and one in the second, while Rutgers hit four in the first, three of which came in the ninth inning, and five in the second. If Monday’s rubber match is anything like these two, it should be an exciting one.
2. Ryan Ramsey continued his excellence. After delivering Maryland’s second perfect game in school history last weekend, Ramsey shut down one of the best offenses in the Big Ten. The junior surrendered just four hits and two runs during his six innings on the mound. With Saturday’s performance on his resume, Ramsey’s ERA stands at 2.47, and he may be the favorite for Big Ten Pitcher of the Year.
3. Monday’s game is crucial. The Terps currently sit at second in the Big Ten standings, immediately behind Rutgers. If Maryland wants to leapfrog the Scarlet Knights, winning Monday’s season finale may be the only realistic route. The Terps will face two challenging Big Ten foes, Michigan and Purdue, in their final two Big Ten series of the season.