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Maryland baseball secures outright Big Ten regular-season title with 7-4 win over Penn State

Maryland will be the top seed in the Big Ten Tournament for the second consecutive year.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics

After clinching a share of it the night prior, in its regular-season finale, Maryland baseball needed a win to secure the Big Ten title outright. The Terps fought with Penn State all game and saw themselves in a tie game with two outs in the top of the eighth inning.

In the most crucial time of the game, the Terps were able to put together an enormous three-run rally with two outs, highlighted by RBI singles from junior second baseman Kevin Keister and senior third baseman Nick Lorusso to give themselves a 7-4 lead. Maryland didn’t look back after, taking crowning itself outright Big Ten regular-season champions.

The action began in the bottom of the second, with Penn State drawing first blood on a two-out RBI triple by junior left fielder C.J. Pittaro, which hopped all the way to the left-center field wall.

The Terps responded immediately in the top of the third, though, with sophomore designated hitter Ian Petrutz sending a fly ball out to right field which allowed junior catcher Luke Shliger to tag up from third and knot the score at one. Shliger’s run was the 182nd of his career, which broke the Maryland program record

Fifth-year right fielder Matt Woods started the fourth inning off with a bang, tattooing a no-doubt homer over the right field wall to give Maryland a 2-1 lead.

In the bottom of the frame, the Nittany Lions did not let the Maryland lead last for long, as Pittaro hit a line drive which ricocheted off the foot of sophomore right-handed pitcher Ryan Van Buren’s foot to tie the game again.

Then, a disastrous defensive sequence occurred for the Terps. Penn State senior center fielder Johnny Piacentino ripped a frozen rope to third, which was fielded errorenously by Lorusso to score a run. Lorusso’s mistake was followed up by a throwing error by sophomore left fielder Jacob Orr to score a second run for Penn State, giving it a 4-2 lead.

But the Terps did not allow the defensive mistakes to affect them, as sophomore center fielder Elijah Lambros blated a two-run homer over the left field wall to tie the game once more in the top of the sixth.

After a dormant inning for both teams, Maryland’s bats came alive in the top of the eighth. Orr smashed a fly ball — which was inches away from a home run — off the top of the wall for a triple. The very next at-bat, Keister smoked an RBI single up the middle to give Maryland a 5-4 lead.

The Terps then loaded the bases for Lorusso, who came up clutch yet again. He smacked a line drive to center field for a two-RBI single, giving Maryland a 7-4 lead and propelling them to victory. Lorusso’s single broke the Big Ten single-season RBI record with his 96th of the campaign.

The victory secured the Terps as the outright Big Ten regular-season champs and marked their 24th straight Big Ten series victory.

Three things to know

1. Luke Shliger etched his name into the Maryland record books. The run that Shliger scored in the third inning was the 182nd of his career, which broke the programs all-time runs record. The record was previously held by current assistant head coach Matt Swope.

2. Maryland’s two-out rally secured the win. The Terps’ rally in the top of the eighth showed their grit and determination. Maryland had its back against the wall, with Penn State having a chance to take a late lead. But the offense wouldn’t allow that to happen, stealing all of the momentum and running with it.

3. Nick Lorusso broke another record. Lorusso’s two-RBI single in the eighth inning broke the Big Ten’s single-season RBI record, as it was his 96th of the year. Lorusso continues to add accolades to his resume as his time in a Terps uniform winds down.