By Duncan Irvine
Jason Savacool was sizzling hot on Sunday afternoon.
Maryland’s ace struck out nine batters in the first three innings and 12 overall, powering Maryland baseball to a 7-2 win against rival Penn State.
Savacool was strong right out of the gate, as every single Penn State out in the first three innings came via strikeout.
“He’s just relentless. He’s such a relentless worker,” said coach Rob Vaughn, “he’s a special kid and he’s a competitive, competitive dude. We believe in that kid as much as we do anybody.”
Penn State’s Tommy Molsky didn’t have the same level of success. He beaned Luke Shliger to open up the game, and this time the umpire had no qualms about sending him to first.
Shliger would later score on a sacrifice fly from Nick Lorusso that looked like it had real potential to leave the stadium. Penn State’s Cole Bartels hit a lead-off homer in the top of the second, tying the game at one.
Savacool clearly didn’t let this blemish get to him, as he struck out the next six batters he faced with ease. Kevin Keister launched a two-run bomb to nearly the exact same place as Bartels, putting the Terps back up 3-1 heading into the third.
Savacool continued rolling.
All nine Penn State outs through the first three innings were strikeouts, and with the exception of the earlier home run, Penn State couldn’t seem to touch him.
Maryland got another pair of base runners aboard in the bottom of the third, but couldn’t bring either home. Molsky came out of the game in the bottom of the fourth after hitting his third batter of the afternoon, Bobby Zmarzlak.
He was replaced by junior Jordan Morales who was called for a balk before his very first pitch. A fielding mishap on a short throw to first allowed Zmarzlak to score, pushing the Terps’ lead to three.
The game was truly blown wide open when Nick Lorusso stepped up to the plate later in the inning. Chris Alleyne and Luke Shliger were already on base, patiently waiting to be brought home.
Nick Lorusso launched a no-doubter to deep right field, scoring three runs and putting the Terps up 7-1.
“Goodness gracious, that guy can hit a baseball. It was just a really professional at-bat. It’s not the most power, it’s not the most speed, but man it’s professional at-bat every time,” Vaughn said of Lorusso.
Savacool began to slow down in the top of the fifth, allowing a hit and a walk to put runners on the corners with just one out.
The Terps were able to turn a 6-3 double-play to end the inning without allowing a run though.
In the bottom of the inning, Maxwell Costes walked and Troy Schreffler lifted a single to left field to lead-off the inning, but the next three batters couldn’t get anything going offensively. Savacool added strikeouts in the sixth and seventh, putting him one away from his career high of fourteen, which he set against Siena on March 20th.
He did not come back out for the eighth, having thrown 96 total pitches, ending the day with 12 strikeouts, giving up five hits and just one run.
“It gets pretty fun when you have everything working. I just kind of go out there and just rip rip everything and put it in the zone and see if they can hit it.”
Andrew Johnson, the reliever tasked with replacing him, gave up a double to CJ Pittaro, the first batter he faced.
Following a wild pitch, Ben Kailher brought him home on a groundout. Johnson was pulled in favor of Matt Orlando, who only lasted one batter before being replaced by Nigel Belgrave.
Belgrave was able to get the final out necessary to end the inning and returned to the mound for the ninth. He put the Nittany Lions away, securing victory on the day and in the series for the Terps.
The Terps by no means had a record day offensively, but performances from Luke Shliger and Nick Lorusso proved to be the difference. Shliger went 2-4 on the day with an RBI and two runs and Lorusso’s three-run homer was the play of the game.
Overall, he was 2-3 with four RBI.
With the win, the Terps secured their first Big Ten series victory of the year. They now sit at 22-6 on the season and 2-1 in conference play.
“That’s what you come here on weekends to do,” said Coach Vaughn, “your goal every weekend is to win the series… We found a way to get it done today.”
Maryland will be back in action on Tuesday evening when they take on George Mason at home.