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No. 13 Maryland baseball defeats South Florida, 9-5, to win first series of year

The Terps are winners of two straight and hit a grand slam in each of the series’ three games.

Tyler Boardway

No. 13 Maryland baseball came into Sunday with a chance to win its opening series of the 2023 season at South Florida after evening the series Saturday with an 8-1 win.

The Terps held a 4-2 lead going into the fifth inning, and after two walks and a hit sophomore designated hitter Ian Petrutz came to the plate for the Terps with the bases loaded and one out. On his first pitch of his at-bat, Petrutz sent the ball over the right field wall, unloading the bases and breaking the game open for the Terps, who went on to win 9-5.

The blast was the third grand slam in as many games for Maryland, which rode big days from Petrutz and junior shortstop Matt Shaw — who went 5-for-5 with three RBIs — to victory.

The top of the lineup for the Terps came into Sunday struggling, with junior catcher Luke Shliger, Shaw and senior third baseman Nick Lorusso all finding it difficult to get on base. But to start Sunday’s game, Shliger generated a walk that was followed by a hit by Shaw, which allowed Lorusso’s deep flyout to score Shliger from third and give the Terps an early lead.

Junior right-handed pitcher Nate Haberthier’s Maryland debut started off rocky, giving up a home run to Daniel Cantu on the second pitch of the game. After that, Bobby Boser singled and a wild pitch moved him to second with no outs.

An infield hit subsequently put runners on the corners, then Marcus Brodil hit into a double play that brought Boser home, giving USF a 2-1 lead. After a Sankovich hit, Haberthier finally got out of the inning on a groundout by Ruiz.

Bulls starting pitcher Austin Grause and Haberthier settled in after that, trading relatively quick second innings.

In the top of the third, Shliger hit a hard double, and Shaw brought him in with a homer, his first of the season. The Terps threatened to do more damage, but a double play ended the inning.

Sophomore transfer infielder Eddie Hacopian hit his first home run as a Terp in the top of the fourth, extending the lead to 4-2.

Shortly after, Grause was taken out of the game. He gave up four earned runs, five hits (two home runs) and two walks. Right-hander Tyler Dietz came in for Grause, inducing a flyout and a pickoff to end the inning.

After an uneventful bottom of the fourth, Elijah Lambros reached base again after getting hit by a pitch to start the fifth. Two pitches later he stole second, and Shaw brought him to third to put runners on the corners. Dietz walked Lorusso to load the bases, bringing up freshman righty Lawson Gailey to pitch in relief. On the first pitch of Gailey’s outing, Petrutz welcomed him to collegiate baseball with a grand slam, ballooning the Terps’ lead to 8-2.

Haberthier did have a shaky first inning but seemed to settle in. In the fourth he gave up a double, then retired three straight batters. He finished the day with five innings pitched, allowing seven hits, one walk and recording four strikeouts.

Redshirt sophomore right-hander Nigel Belgrave came in for relief for Haberthier, striking out two batters in the bottom of the sixth.

Bulls pitcher Lawson Gailey also seemed to settle in after giving up a grand slam on his first collegiate pitch, retiring five straight batters after.

In the bottom of the seventh, transfer right-handed pitcher Tommy Kane came in for Belgrave and surrendered a walk and two hits, including a three-run blast by Drew Brutcher that cut the Bulls’ deficit to three. Kane retired the next three batters to stop any further damage, and then fellow transfer Kenny Lippman came in to close for the Terps, with two innings pitched, two hits, a hit by pitch, two strikeouts and no runs.

Despite a late inning push by Drew Brutcher, USF wasn’t able to overcome a six-run deficit, giving Maryland a 2-1 series win.

Next, the Terps will play their first home game of the season on Tuesday against West Virginia at 4 p.m.

Three things to know

1. The top of the lineup finally showed up. Maryland’s top three in the lineup struggled early in the series, going a combined 2-for-25 on Friday and Saturday. On Sunday, the top of the lineup showed out. Shliger had two walks and a hard-hit double, Lorusso had a hit, an RBI sac fly and a walk, and Shaw, who only had one hit the entire series up until Saturday, had five hits in five at-bats, including a two-run shot and 3 RBIs. Shaw also had several good defensive plays.

2. Haberthier settled in after a tough start. A big concern for some is how Nate Habertheir would fit in as the Terps Sunday starter. Haberthier started off his Maryland debut by giving up a home run to Cantu, and surrendered another run on a series of hits and stolen bases in the first inning. He did give up seven hits but seemed to settle in. Overall, it was a solid performance from the Ohio State transfer.

3. Three games, three grand slams. The Terps hit a grand slam hit in every game this series, a truly impressive feat. Jacob Orr hit one on Friday, Lorusso hit one Saturday to break the game open for the Terps, and on Sunday, Petrutz hit one on the first pitch of his at-bat to extend Maryland’s lead to six. The Terps scored at least seven runs in all three games this weekend.