By Olivia Janik
Maryland baseball returned home to Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium on Saturday, hosting Virginia in a weekend doubleheader in College Park.
The Terps, who suffered a disappointing early finish in the postseason tournament last season, tied the Cavaliers in both scrimmages to turn the corner on a fresh season.
“I liked the mentality, they didn’t quit, they came back in both games and that’s got to be a staple of who we are,” Maryland head coach Rob Vaughn said.
Terps pitcher Nick Dean gave up his first hit of the game when Cavalier Alex Tappen hit a solo home run. But Maryland couldn’t be kept down for long.
On the first pitch in the bottom of the second, Villanova transfer Nick Lorusso blasted the ball into center field and tied the game with a home run in his first game for Maryland.
In the fourth inning, Maryland replaced Dean with pitcher Ryan Ramsey. He gave up a double to Kyle Teel, and then Jake Gelof launched a pitch over the wall, giving Virginia the lead once again.
Maryland struggled offensively in the bottom of the fourth. They recorded three straight outs against Cavalier reliever Will Geerdes.
Terp Chris Alleyne attempted to give his team momentum in the bottom of the fifth but was left stranded after catcher Luke Shliger got out at first base.
Sophomore Matt Shaw hit a home run in the bottom of the sixth after striking out in his first two plate appearances. As a freshman, Shaw led the Terps with a .332 batting average. Shaw had a solid defensive showing as well at second base.
“I’m pretty much all in on the defensive side,” Shaw said. “Just gonna keep working there and I think it shows.”
With two outs in the bottom of the sixth, the Cavaliers committed two errors, giving pinch-runner Zach Martin the opportunity to score.
Game one of two ended with a Maryland-Virginia tie.
In the second game, the Terps improved their defense. They showed strong coordination in the infield and fast reactions in the outfield. Maryland prevented Virginia from reaching first base until the third inning, and starting pitcher Jason Savacool didn’t give up a hit until the fourth.
“I thought for about 97% of the game we played a really elite level defense,” Vaughn said.
Terps left fielder Bobby Zmarzlak hit the Terps’ third solo home run of the day in the bottom of the second.
The game turned into a battle of defenses in the third inning. Neither team had a hit in the frame.
The Terps had a fiery fourth inning. Shaw had a single, followed by two walks to load the bases. But they failed to build on their 1-0 lead, and the inning ended with Vaughn arguing with the umpire about an interference call on Michael Bouma.
After hitting a home run in the first game, Lorusso stepped onto the pitcher’s mound during the top of the fifth inning and delivered to keep the Terps’ lead.
The Cavaliers blew the game open in the top of the sixth. They scored after an error from second baseman Jacob Orr to tie the game.
Virginia would score three more runs that inning, bringing the score to 4-1.
Maryland had a chance to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth when they had two runners on but couldn’t get past Cavalier pitching.
Lucky for the Terps, the second game went to the seventh inning. Freshman Zach Martin knocked the ball out of Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium, bringing the score to 4-2.
Terp Sean Lane tied the game with a two-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, which proved to be the final scoring run of the Saturday afternoon doubleheader.
“We’re going to go back to work, keep hammering out defense,” Vaughn said. “We got to be a really good defensive team because that gives you a fighting chance.”
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