Maryland baseball entered Thursday’s game looking to redeem itself after falling short in the Big Ten Tournament second round last season.
With the Terps taking the regular-season series against Nebraska, 2-1, there was some unfinished business between the two high-powered squads.
Following a 93 minute rain delay, the teams were tied at one in the seventh inning. That lasted until the 10th inning.
With two outs in the bottom of the frame, Maryland senior third baseman Nick Lorusso — already one of the best hitters in program history — had his defining moment. At 12:30 EST, close to five hours after the game started, Lorusso crushed a ball over the left field fence to send the Terps to their first Big Ten Tournament semifinal since 2017.
Both starters were in control in the first inning, but in the second, Maryland senior right-hander Nick Dean struggled with command. Nebraska managed runners on second and third with just one out. Then, junior right fielder Cole Evans hit an RBI groundout to open the scoring. But for Dean, that was his only mishap all evening. He ended up pitching six 1⁄3 innings, allowing just that one run.
Unfortunately for the Terps, Nebraska junior right-hander Jace Kaminska was also brilliant. It took until the fifth inning for the Terps to get him into some trouble.
Junior second baseman Kevin Keister started off the inning with a double down the left field line. Then, junior shortstop Matt Shaw tied the game with a single into center field.
The Terps loaded the bases for the second time in the game shortly after, but Kaminska forced a fly ball from fifth-year outfielder Matt Woods to end the inning.
In the top of the seventh, the Cornhuskers put a runner on first with one out. Head coach Rob Vaughn pulled Dean and brought in redshirt sophomore Nigel Belgrave. Belgrave threw only one pitch before the game entered a lightning delay.
The game resumed 93 minutes later, but it was redshirt junior David Falco Jr. who was on the mound for the Terps. He recorded two clutch outs to end the inning.
Tensions began to flare shortly after as Falco Jr. stared down the Nebraska dugout as he walked off the field.
Nebraska once again put the pressure on in the ninth, but Falco Jr. stymied the Huskers. The Center Moriches, New York has now pitched 10 consecutive scoreless innings across his past four appearances.
As the game entered extra innings, Vaughn decided to roll the dice and bring in junior right-hander Jason Savacool from the bullpen. It proved smart, as Maryland’s ace struck out two of the four batters he faced.
The Terps now have an extra day of rest to get prepared for Saturday’s semifinal. Maryland will play the winner of Nebraska and Michigan State.
Three things to know
1. Two potent offenses found themselves in a pitcher duel. Two of the more dangerous offenses in the conferences couldn’t get anything going Thursday. Kaminska and Dean both had phenomenal outings, giving their respective squads multiple opportunities to win the game. In the postseason, teams need to find difficult ways to win, and the Terps have done that twice now.
2. Nick Lorusso was the hero. Lorusso added yet another highlight to his phenomenal collegiate career. His walk-off home run was the first in Charles Schwab Field history and he is now just two RBIs short of 100 on the season.
3. David Falco Jr. was clutch. The redshirt junior came into the game after a near-two hour lighting delay. Despite that, he didn’t let the rust or pressure phase him. He allowed zero runs and only two hits in an exhilarating 2 2⁄3 innings.
Maryland’s bullpen has been phenomenal as a whole in these first two games of the postseason.