Maryland senior third baseman Nick Lorusso stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded in the sixth inning. He was in the midst of chasing a 30-year record set by Derek Hacopian — the father of teammate and sophomore first baseman Eddie Hacopian.
Lorusso had 80 RBIs entering the at-bat, with the program single-season record set at 83. With a 1-2 count, Lorusso launched a no-doubt grand slam, the 11th grand slam of the year for Maryland, for his 84th RBI of the season, and the dagger in a 20-5 rout of Nebraska.
“I knew Lorusso had a ton of RBIs, [but] I honestly didn’t know he had it until after the game,” head coach Rob Vaughn said.
The first three innings were a close battle, as both teams traded two-RBI singles in the second. Nebraska took back the lead in the third on an RBI groundout by sophomore outfielder Gabe Swansen.
In the third, Lorusso took back the lead with a two-run shot, giving Maryland a 4-3 lead.
In the fourth, the Terps blew the game open, which was sparked by a three run-shot by sophomore outfielder Jacob Orr. Orr was taken aside by Vaughn after a bad swing on the first pitch of his at-bat, but took the next pitch over the batter's eye, giving the Terps a four-run lead.
“[Orr] was getting swings down in the zone, (Jake) Bunz’s slider down is good,” Vaughn added. “He got Lambros to punch on three sliders in the dirt, [so] I just talked to him about getting it elevated and he got excellent pop, and hit it out of the yard.”
An array of walks and hits was eventually followed up with a home run by sophomore designated hitter Ian Petrutz. That ballooned the lead to nine in the fourth.
Junior right-handed pitcher Jason Savacool was able to keep the Cornhuskers at bay for the most in the Terps' offensive rout but gave up lots of hard-hit balls in his outing. After surrendering a two-run shot to junior infielder Max Anderson, Savacool settled in, collecting five strikeouts and surrendering five runs on seven hits.
The Terps continued to pour it on the Cornhuskers, with another eight-run inning in the sixth, which was capped off by Lorusso’s record-setting grand slam.
The game was all but over at that point — with substitutes on both sides coming in — and Maryland pitching shut down the Cornhuskers. Savacool, redshirt sophomore right-handed pitcher Nigel Belgrave, junior left-handed pitcher Logan Ott and senior right-handed pitcher Matt Orlando combined for four scoreless innings to finish off the Cornhuskers 20-5.
“They love playing, they love winning and they love playing together,” Vaughn added. “... they understand this team is guaranteed seven more games together now. Nothing is guaranteed after that.”
The 20 runs scored by the Terps was the most they’ve ever scored in a Big Ten game. They moved to 6-0 in conference series with Sunday’s victory, maintaining their place atop the Big Ten standings.
Three things to know
1. A record-breaking year. The Terps have broken several career, team and single-season records this year, and they’re still chasing more before the season ends. Lorusso’s grand slam not only broke the RBI record, it also tied the single-game program record for RBIs with eight. Additionally, Terps are just three grand slams shy of the NCAA record for the most in a single season.
2. An offensive onslaught. After being out-slugged 12-10 in Saturday’s game, the Terps put up 20 runs on the Cornhuskers, with 20 hits and four home runs. The Terps' offense has stayed potent in the past three weeks and needs to keep up this pace as the postseason nears.
3. Maryland’s Big Ten series streak continued. The Terps have not lost a series since the Cambria College Classic in early March, and have not dropped a Big Ten series in almost two years. They need to win two more to go undefeated in conference series in 2023 after doing so in 2022.