Maryland baseball headed into the bottom of the ninth up 4-0, seemingly well on the way to victory. Redshirt sophomore reliever Nigel Belgrave entered the game to close it out, but couldn’t get anything going as he walked three straight batters to load the bases for Nebraska.
Sophomore southpaw Andrew Johnson relieved Belgrave, and immediately allowed an RBI single. He recorded the next two outs, but that brought the ever dangerous junior second baseman Max Anderson to the plate with a chance to win the game. He launched a ball to deep left field, but fifth-year outfielder Matt Woods caught it at the track to secure the 4-2 win for Maryland, sending the Terps to their first Big Ten Championship game since 2015.
In the top of the second, sophomore Eddie Hacopian got Maryland’s bats going with a leadoff double. With runners then on the corners, sophomore center fielder Elijah Lambros laid down a perfect bunt to score the first run of the game.
Shortly after, junior second baseman Kevin Keister took advantage of a bases loaded opportunity and hit a two-RBI single to give Maryland an early 3-0 lead.
Just like has been the case through the entire tournament, Maryland’s starting pitching was phenomenal. Junior right-hander Jason Savacool, who was only two days removed from a relief appearance, was lights out all afternoon. He struck out six batters across six scoreless innings Saturday.
The Terps’ defense was solid yet again as well. Keister made a great play to save a run and sophomore outfielder Jacob Orr laid out for a diving catch in the third inning.
After a few scoreless frames, Hacopian fueled another Maryland rally. In the top of the fifth, he launched a solo homer over the left field fence to extend the lead to four. He had a huge bounce back performance after a tough game on Thursday, finishing 2-4 at the plate.
In the bottom of the sixth, Nebraska started to figure out Savacool. It put runners on first and second with no outs, but Maryland’s ace got himself out of the jam thanks to a double play and fly out.
Fifth-year right-handed pitcher Kenny Lippman entered in the seventh and threw two shutout frames, before head coach Rob Vaughn decided to bring in Belgrave for the ninth.
The Terps were able to escape with the win, and will take on Iowa in the championship game at 3 p.m. Sunday.
Three things to know
1. Savacool had one of his best starts of the season. Savacool shined bright when the Terps needed it most. He was spectacular against a very dangerous Nebraska lineup and is the main reason why the Terps are headed to the championship. He only allowed six base runners across six scoreless innings.
2. The bottom half of Maryland’s lineup came up big. The bottom half of the order accounted for nine of the Terps’ ten hits. Even with the top of the order struggling immensely, Maryland rode its depth to victory,
3. Maryland is headed to its first Big Ten Championship Game since 2015. Maryland has made enormous strides since entering the Big Ten in 2015, and has slowly become one of, if not the best team in the conference. It will take on Iowa in the championship game at 3 p.m. Sunday.