Maryland played seven innings of baseball on Saturday, and even though severe weather meant the last two had to be played on Sunday, the Terps held on for a crucial win in game two of their series against Purdue.
On Saturday, costly early errors gave the Boilermakers two extra runs — the difference heading into the fourth inning.
But in the bottom half of the frame, junior second baseman Kevin Keister and senior catcher Luke Shliger both walked, setting up the always-dangerous senior third baseman Nick Lorusso in a perfect spot. Lorusso launched the first pitch of his at-bat over the batter’s eye in center field to give Maryland a one-run lead.
The Terps wouldn’t surrender that lead the rest of the way.
Junior shortstop Matt Shaw hit the very next pitch to right field for a no-doubt home run, giving Maryland an extra cushion. His 43rd career blast tied the program’s record.
Maryland — which led 6-5 in the seventh inning when play was suspended — sealed the deal Sunday morning after the game was paused for nearly 20 hours, holding on to win by the same score.
Freshman left-handed pitcher Kyle McCoy got the nod Saturday after Maryland’s usual Saturday starter, junior right-handed pitcher Nick Dean, was ruled out due to soreness. McCoy worked through his first inning relatively quickly but surrendered a pair of hits that would drive in the first run of the game in the second.
Defensive struggles continued to plague the Terps on Saturday, as Shaw continued to struggle. In the third, he threw a ball over sophomore first baseman Eddie Hacopian’s head, putting senior outfielder Mike Bolton Jr. on first. Bolton — currently chasing the Purdue all-time steals record — easily swiped second, and went to third on another error, this time by Shliger. This allowed a groundout to score another run for the Boilermakers.
It was the same case in the fourth, when Shaw airmailed a throw, this time on a grounder by senior infielder Jake Parr — Shaw’s fourth defensive mishap in the past two games. It would prove to be McCoy’s second unearned run of the game, as redshirt junior infielder Paul Toetz doubled and junior infielder Jo Stevens hit an RBI groundout which brought Parr home. The Boilermakers added another run shortly after.
Unlike Maryland’s Friday game, the offense was able to pick up the defense early. The Terps still stranded four baserunners in the first two innings, though, and it took until the third for Maryland to get on the board. But once they did, they didn’t stop
Fifth-year outfielder Matt Woods returned from concussion protocol in Saturday's game, and in a big way, tying up the game two a piece with an RBI double in the third.
Purdue put up two more runs in the fourth, but it was no match for Maryland’s back-to-back blasts shortly after, which gave the Terps a two-run lead.
Another defensive blunder cost Maryland in the fifth when the potential third out of the inning was dropped by sophomore outfielder Elijah Lambros, allowing another unearned run to score.
With storms looming, the pitchers on both staffs shut down their opposing offenses. Purdue junior right-hander Davis Pratt pitched three scoreless innings, as the Terps could only muster a single hit after he came in relief in the fourth. McCoy and fifth-year right-handed pitcher Kenny Lippman also combined for three innings of no earned runs allowed, holding on for a one-run win when the game was suspended.
After a nearly 20-hour weather delay, the game resumed at 10 a.m. on Sunday. Both teams threatened in their final at-bats but succumbed to inning-ending strikeouts. Most notably, redshirt sophomore left-handed pitcher Nigel Belgrave recorded a two-inning save and was able to save Maryland's arms for the upcoming game just a few hours later.
The Terps tied the series at one heading into Sunday’s originally scheduled game, which will start at noon. That game will be nationally televised on ESPNU.
Three things to know
1. Costly defense. Of McCoy’s five runs allowed, only two of them were earned — a testament to a bad defensive performance by the Terps. Shaw had two errors in two innings, and two more Maryland errors ultimately cost it runs.
2. Record watch. Both Shaw and Bolton Jr. are chasing records. S tied the Maryland career home run record Friday, despite only being a junior. For Purdue, Bolton Jr. is chasing the program’s career stolen bases record, just two away from breaking it.
Additionally, Lorusso’s three RBIs brought him within 18 of the single-season record set by Derek Hacopian in 1992.
3. Maryland’s pitching staff is thinning. The Terps saw the game extend to Sunday, and Belgrave was able to pitch the remaining two innings. It is important to note that Maryland is playing two midweek games in the upcoming week and then has to play a ranked Indiana team. Head coach Rob Vaughn’s usage of pitchers is something to watch in the Sunday series finale.