Maryland baseball took the series opener at Ohio State, 7-5, but it required some dramatics toward the tail end of the nearly four-hour contest.
The game was low scoring heading into the eighth inning, as the Terps led 4-3.
Sophomore center fielder Elijah Lambros legged out a single to start the inning, and junior catcher Luke Shliger worked a walk to put two runners on. Senior third baseman Nick Lorusso put runners at the corners with two outs, which brought up junior shortstop Matt Shaw in a crucial spot.
On the first pitch of his at-bat, Shaw hit a clutch three-run home run to extend the lead to four.
Despite a ninth-inning rally from the Buckeyes (17-16, 2-8 Big Ten) in which they cut the lead to two, Shaw’s blast proved to be the difference, as Maryland (20-13, 5-2) held on to take the first game of the series.
Redshirt sophomore Nigel Belgrave attempted a two-inning save but ran into some late trouble. After an uneventful eighth inning, he loaded the bases in the ninth, bringing the tying run to the plate with two outs. A two-RBI single cut Maryland’s lead to just two, but redshirt junior David Falco Jr. came in and closed out the game.
Ohio State’s pitching staff had to adjust ahead of Friday due to an injury to junior left-handed pitcher Isaiah Coupet, which forced sophomore southpaw Gavin Bruni to start Friday. Junior catcher Luke Shliger welcomed him to the series with a home run in the first at-bat of the game, his fourth leadoff home run of the year.
Junior right-handed pitcher Jason Savacool started off with a rocky inning, giving up a single and walking two, but was able to settle in afterward, keeping Ohio State scoreless. Savacool put several runners on in the game, but stranded 10 baserunners, surrendering his only run via a solo shot to Henry Kaczmar on the first pitch in the bottom of the fourth.
The Terps showed patience all game, working six walks in 2 2⁄3 innings from Bruni, sending him out of the game early. Despite this, the Terps were only able to get two on the board early on, with their second run coming on a wild pitch that allowed Shaw to come home in the third.
In the fifth, the Terps were able to load the bases, forcing graduate right-handed pitcher Nolan Clegg out of the game after just an inning and a third. Then, Maryland finally brought runners home with its bats, with a sacrifice fly by Eddie Hacopian and a sacrifice bunt by Zach Martin. The Terps were no-hit in the inning but were able to extend their lead to three.
Savacool eclipsed the 100-pitch threshold in the sixth — surrendering two early hits in the inning — but he was able to retire the next two batters, stranding his 10th baserunner of the game.
Maryland’s bats struggled all game. Despite getting 12 runners on base from either walks or hit-by-pitches, the Terps couldn’t get many rallies going due to a lack of hits. Clegg, sophomore right-handed pitcher Jake Johnson, and graduate right-handed pitcher Will Pfennig threw four hitless innings, and Maryland ended the evening with just five total hits to Ohio State’s 10.
Junior left-handed pitcher Tommy Kane came in for Savacool in the seventh, recording two quick outs to start the bottom of the inning. But three straight hits by Ohio State brought the game within on a run via a Kaczmar two-RBI double off the left field wall. The Terps looked comfortable all game, but Ohio State kept itself within striking distance.
With Ohio State threatening, the Terps finally got their bats going, notching three hits in the eighth, including a clutch three-run home run by Shaw to extend their lead to four.
Despite a two-out single by Ohio State outfielder Mitchell Okuley that cut Maryland’s lead to two, Falco Jr. shut the door on the Buckeyes.
The Terps next face the Buckeyes at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
Three things to know
1. Fantastic plate discipline. Maryland’s plate discipline was on full display against the Buckeyes, as it worked 10 walks and drew two hit-by-pitches. While the bats weren’t clicking for the Terps, many batters got on base by way of free passes, which led to a no-hit, two-run rally in the fifth.
2. A stellar Savacool start. Maryland’s ace dealt all afternoon, striking out seven over six innings of one-run ball. He gave up six hits and three walks, which lead to some baserunners for the Buckeyes, but Savacool kept Ohio State at bay when the Terps needed it, stranding 10 runners.
3. Lorusso’s 31-game hit streak was broken. Senior third baseman Nick Lorusso had his historic 31-game hitting streak broken Friday night. He went 0-5, and despite not striking out, couldn’t find a base hit.