Maryland baseball’s offense powers through UCF, 16-6, even series

Maryland’s offense exploded, scoring 16 runs against the UCF Knights, tying the weekend series and winning game two, 16-6.  

The Terps (12-9) came into the game following a 4-2 loss to UCF (16-6) on Friday. Jason Savacool pitched a good game for the Terps, allowing only four hits through six innings, striking out 10. The lineup struggled against the Knights’ starter, Ruddy Gomez. Gomez pitched eight innings holding the Maryland lineup to just two runs. 

Both teams were hoping for a similar pitching outcome from their Saturday starters. Nick Dean went to the mound for his sixth start of the season. Dean struggled in his last start against Albany, pitching just four and a third innings and allowing five earned runs. UCF’s starter was Dom Stagliano who came into the game with a WHIP of 1.02. 

The Terps repeated their first-inning scoring, starting Saturday’s game with a run in the top of the first. Luke Shliger and Nick Lorusso walked to start the rally. Shliger advanced to third on a flyout by Matt Shaw, and Matt Woods drove him in with a single, repeating their start from a night ago. 

Maryland added another run in the second behind back-to-back doubles from Ian Petrutz and Eddie Hacopian. This gave Hacopian his first RBI in four games and also the first run Maryland has scored in a second inning since March 17. 

Nick Dean coasted through the first two innings, retiring the first seven UCF batters in order. The Knights finally got to him in the bottom of the third via the bats of the eight and nine hitters. The eight-hole hitter, Brady Shannon, got the Knights’ first hit of the game, a single up the middle. Center fielder John Rhys Plumlee blasted his fifth home run of the year, tying the game, 2-2.

Dean pitched out of the inning allowing just the two runs and got the Maryland bats back to the plate. 

The top of the fourth was a parade of extra-base hits. Kevin Keister, Jacob Orr, and Shliger all doubled in the inning. Orr and Shliger’s doubles brought home a run and Lorusso’s 2-run homer brought in two more. 

The home run extended Lorusso’s hitting streak to 21 games. Lorusso has recorded a hit in every Maryland game this season, except for the first game of the season.

“I think you’d line him up with the best of the best in college baseball and there’s not too many I’d take over Nick Lorusso. That guy’s a special hitter, a special kid,” said head coach Rob Vaughn. 

Maryland ended the top half of the fourth with a 6-2 lead. 

The bottom half of the inning provided more offensive firepower from the Knights. UCF seemed to figure out Dean’s pitching, striking for two runs and two hits from the first two batters. The runs came from another UCF 2-run homer, this one off the bat of Drew Faurot. Dean allowed a base hit to Lex Boedicker and that marked the end of his day.

“I didn’t think Deano’s [Dean] breaking ball was great tonight, you know, his fastball velocity was down just a tick, but Nick, he’s working hard man,” said Vaughn. 

“That guy cares a lot and it’s really important to him and, you know, I think the good news for us is outside of his first start I don’t think we’ve had, you know, the best version of Nick Dean yet which is dangerous for the Big Ten.”

Kenny Lippman came in and shut the door in the inning, retiring the next three Knight hitters in order and stranding Boedicker at first. Dean ended the game by giving up four earned runs in three innings of work. UCF got six hits off of him and only struck out twice. 

The Terp’s offense hit another gear after their four-run fourth inning. The Terps recorded runs in each of the next four innings, scoring multiple runs in three of them. The Terps bats exploded getting four extra-base hits, three of them home runs, scoring 10 runs from the fifth to eighth innings. 

It didn’t matter what pitcher UCF brought to the mound, the Maryland lineup had a plan for all of them. The Terps had at least one hit and one run against every UCF pitcher, except for Zack Austin. 

The Maryland bullpen came in and provided a strong performance to back up their starter. Lippman threw three innings allowing only two hits and an earned run. Tommy Kane and Ryan Van Buren only allowed a single run in their innings off work. 

The Terps’ scoring streak ended in the top of the ninth with Zack Austin holding the Terps scoreless in the inning. Van Buren did the same to the Knights in the bottom half to win the game, 16-6.

Maryland’s offense had 18 hits in the game, 12 going for extra bases. Most of the extra-base hits in the game were doubles, but Maryland also added four long balls as well. 

“I thought it was just a really complete effort by the offense. I thought that they were elite,” said Vaughn. “I didn’t think they took one at-bat off the entire game.” 

Every Maryland hitter (except for Bobby Zmarzlak who left the game in the sixth inning after being hit in the head by a pitch) recorded at least one extra-base hit in the game. 

The Terps (13-9) will look to carry their hot bats into Sunday’s rubber match against UCF (16-7) and come away with the series victory.