In the eighth inning of Maryland baseball’s series finale against Purdue, redshirt junior right-handed pitcher David Falco Jr. loaded the bases with two outs, bringing junior outfielder Couper Cornblum to the plate with a chance to tie the game at 10 with a grand slam.
Cornblum launched a ball to the left field wall that nearly equalized the score, but it fell just short. Still, the ball hit the wall, scoring two runners easily. Purdue senior outfielder Mike Bolton Jr. attempted to race his way from first to home and cut into the Terps’ lead even further, but an impeccable relay by the Maryland defense caught him at the plate.
That out was enough to seal a Maryland win, as a 10-8 victory over the Boilermakers on Sunday improved the Terps to 4-0 in conference series this year.
Maryland, which lost Friday’s series opener, narrowly avoided losing its first Big Ten series in nearly two years. It was its 19th straight conference series win dating back to 2021.
Fifth-year right-handed pitcher Kenny Lippman got the start for the Terps due to lingering injuries among Maryland’s pitchers, and the injury bug went from bad to worse almost immediately — this time to a key position player. In the first inning, senior third baseman Nick Lorusso came off the field in pain after hitting an RBI single that brought in the first run of the game.
Purdue managed three hits in the second inning, which was capitalized on by junior outfielder Jake Jarvis, who hit an RBI single of his run. And in the top of the third, Bolton collected his 70th career stolen base, which tied a 32-year-old record held by Purdue’s Dave Scheitlin, although he couldn’t work his way around for a second run — the Boilermakers would have to wait until the sixth inning to score again.
Maryland responded as junior catcher Luke Shliger walked to bring in a second run for the Terps. Shliger reached base in all five of his plate appearances Sunday.
In the third, sophomore infielder Eddie Hacopian slashed a double to put two runners in scoring position, and both were brought in by well-executed bunts.
Hacopian has had one of the hottest bats on the team of late, hitting .429 in the series. He went 3-for-5 at the plate with two RBIs on Sunday.
Even with the offense clicking, it was Lippman’s performance that stole the show. In what was expected to be a bullpen game, Lippman cruised through five innings of work and pitched three no-hit innings. Maryland’s defense also picked itself up after a rough two days. Sophomore Jacob Orr — a utility man who usually plays in the outfield — filled in for Lorusso at third base, and fifth-year right fielder Matt Woods made an impressive catch at the wall to take away a likely hit.
Once Lippman came out in the sixth, the bullpen faltered and the Purdue offense woke back up. Junior left-handed pitcher Tommy Kane allowed a hit to redshirt junior infielder Paul Toetz — Purdue’s first since the second inning — which put two runners on. Even with Kane collecting two strikeouts, the Boilermakers strung together several RBI hits, including Jo Stevens’ two-run single that cut the deficit to 5-4.
In the seventh, Kane walked Bolton and looked out of sorts, so Falco Jr. entered in relief. Another pair of hits brought in Bolton, and an RBI groundout slashed the Maryland lead, which was at that point two, in half.
But, as has been the case most all of the season, Maryland’s offense picked up its struggling pitching staff. In the fifth, sophomore designated hitter Ian Petrutz hit a solo shot to extend Maryland’s lead to 5-1. When Kane faltered in the sixth, Shaw hit an RBI single, and Hacopian hit a two-run blast to make up for the three runs given up in the top of the inning. A pair of solo shots picked up Falco’s struggles in the seventh, as sophomore Elijah Lambros hit a ball over the batter's eye, and Shliger went yard for Maryland’s 10th and final run of the day.
Falco Jr. shook off a rocky seventh and eighth with a 1-2-3 inning in the ninth, clinching the Terps the win.
Three things to know.
1. Lippman stepped up for a beaten staff. This was Maryland’s fifth game in six days, and the bullpen was certainly exhausted after a busy week. To make matters worse, usual weekend starter and senior Nick Dean was scratched from Saturday and Sunday’s games, stretching the staff even further. Despite all of this, Lippman stepped up and finished Sunday having allowed just one run, two walks, and three hits in five innings pitched. He also threw a scoreless inning in the previous game, which was extremely helpful to a thin staff.
“He was the story of the game,” head coach Rob Vaughn said about Lippman’s performance. “It was reminiscent of what he did last year at Dension... When we sent him out, I was like okay, maybe he can get us through the lineup once. But he just kept going.”
2. Another big day from Shliger. Similar to last Tuesday’s midweek game at George Washington, Shliger didn’t rack up RBIs — not surprising for a leadoff hitter — but was extremely effective at the plate. On Sunday, he went 4-for-4 with a home run and reached base in all five of his plate appearances.
3. Maryland’s offense made up for its pitching. Outside of Lippman, Maryland’s pitching once again struggled, squandering the early run support provided by a hot offense. But the Terps’ bats once again made up for poor pitching, notching 14 hits in 35 at-bats. Maryland clinched its 19th straight Big Ten series dating back to 2021, despite allowing 23 runs in three games.