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Maryland baseball’s furious rally falls just short in 10-8 loss to Purdue

The Terps are in jeopardy of losing their first conference series of the season.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics.

After putting up 34 runs in its past two games, Maryland baseball’s offense stalled early in Friday’s game against Purdue.

Purdue sophomore right-handed pitcher Khal Stephen had the better of Maryland’s ace, junior right-hander Jason Savacool, only surrendering two runs in his first six innings.

After Savacool’s rough start — in which he allowed six runs in 5 13 innings — Maryland was down six heading into the seventh, a tall task even for a team with as much offensive firepower as the Terps.

But Stephen loaded the bases, and Maryland flipped a switch. After junior right-handed pitcher Aaron Suval walked in a run, sophomore designated hitter Ian Petrutz hit a two-RBI double followed by an RBI double from sophomore first baseman Eddie Hacopian. Then, sophomore Elijah Lambros hit a single that brought Maryland back within a run. But, the rally stopped there.

It was ultimately too little, too late, as Purdue redshirt junior infielder Paul Toetz and junior infielder Jo Stevens each hit RBI singles in the top of the eighth to give Purdue a three-run cushion. That proved too much for Maryland to come back from in a 10-8 defeat.

Friday’s game showcased a duality of defenses at the start. Purdue senior outfielder Mike Bolton Jr. robbed Maryland sophomore Ian Petrutz of a home run in the first, and it was deja vu for Petrutz in his next at-bat, as junior outfielder Couper Cornblum snagged a ball in front of the batter’s eye to keep Purdue on top.

On the contrary, the Terps' defense was not up to par. In the second inning, they had a couple of errors. With two outs, junior second baseman Kevin Keister bobbled a ball to put a runner on, and then junior shortstop Matt Shaw couldn’t handle a hard-hit ball, which put another runner on.

The Terps continued to make questionable plays in the field, as Hacopian didn’t throw home in a one-out situation in the sixth, turning a potential momentum-shifting out into an run for the Boilermakers.

Keister would later make another mistake at second, throwing a ball out of Hacopian’s reach that scored a run in the eighth.

Bobby Zmarzlak went deep to even the score at one in the second inning, but the Terps couldn't muster another run for three innings.

Savacool’s strong start was cut short in the third when Bolton hit a no-doubt home run to give Purdue back the lead. The junior started to falter after that, as the Boilermakers extended their lead to two. While the deficit stayed at two for the next three innings, Savacool continued to give up hard-hit balls.

After surrendering his fourth earned run in the fifth inning, Savacool was pulled. But the bullpen didn’t do much better. Junior left-handed pitcher Logan Ott allowed the two runners he inherited to score, increasing Maryland’s deficit to six runs.

The score was 7-2 heading into the seventh, when the game turned into a frenzy.

The Terps rally brought the lead down to one run, but that was the closest they would end up getting.

Junior David Falco Jr. came in to pitch for the Terps in the eighth, but Purdue junior catcher Connor Caskenette hit a down-the-line double that barely stayed fair, and Parr was hit by a pitch. Both runners were brought in on consecutive RBI singles, which would be the eventual game-winning hits.

The bottom of the eighth was struck with controversy, as senior third baseman Nick Lorusso’s check swing was called a strike, which infuriated the Maryland crowd and head coach Rob Vaughn. Vaughn was thrown out, which prompted him to pick up his bag and leave the field. Petrutz responded with a big RBI single that brought Maryland within two, giving energy to the team and the crowd.

Even after a quick inning by Falco, Maryland couldn’t put up two runs in the ninth, eventually falling 10-8.

Maryland gave up 16 hits and committed multiple errors, which ended up costing it the game.

Maryland will face Purdue again on Saturday.

Three Things to Know:

1. The Terps didn’t give up. Heading into the seventh, the Terps couldn’t get anything going other than two solo home runs. But once Maryland forced Stephen out of the game, everything changed. as the Terps’ massive seventh inning rally brought them within a run of the Boliermakers, but they couldn’t finish the comeback.

2. Savacool struggled. Maryland’s ace has been the Terps’ saving grace this year, but he didn’t have his stuff Friday. Savacool surrendered six earned runs on nine hits in an uncharacteristic performance.

3. A tough loss on the Terps’ resume. Maryland’s only previous loss to a sub-200 RPI opponent came against Albany on March 18. Losing in a game with your ace on the mound is not ideal for a Maryland team that might need an at-large tournament bid.