Terps Avoid a Sweep by the Spartans

Maryland Pitcher Jason Savacool (Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics)

Maryland earned its first win of the season, defeating Michigan State 3-2 ,on the arm of freshman pitcher Jason Savacool, who threw a complete game and allowed one earned run on six hits with two strikeouts.

This win was huge for Maryland after losing the first three games of the series. Michigan State outscored Maryland 21-11 over the four games.

“That was about as dominating unbelievable freshman performance I’ve ever seen,” said Coach Rob Vaughn. “[Savacool] didn’t flinch and got out of some big spots. We needed a good start.”

Troy Schreffler’s sacrifice bunt drove in Bobby Zmarzlak to give Maryland a 1-0 lead in the top of the second. Maryland’s second run came from an RBI single from Randy Bednar driving in Benjamin Cowles.

Savacool did not allow Michigan State to cross the plate until the bottom of the sixth, when Zack Iverson drove in Bryce Kelley to bring the score to 2-1. Luke Shliger scored the deciding run at the top of the second with two outs by a single to left by Benjamin Cowles.

Michigan State pulled within one when Brock Vradenburg scored on a sacrifice fly by Dillon Kark in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Maryland held off Michigan State over the final two innings. The eighth inning ended when Kelley was caught trying to steal second base. Savacool closed the door on Michigan State, forcing a ground out by Iverson, a line out by Walker, and a pop-up by Vrandenburg.

“We are not a crew that’s celebrating moral victories. There is a huge difference leaving Greenville 1-3 versus 0-4,” said Coach Vaughn. “Sweeps are about character and toughness.”

This win comes on the heels of a deflating loss. Maryland wasted a dominant start from Connor Staine. Staine allowed one run over six innings and struck out nine, but the bullpen could not hold the lead. Michigan State scored four runs in the seventh inning to take the lead and win 5-4.

“Connor was unbelievably tremendous. Lights out stuff and gave us a chance,” said Coach Vaughn about the late game Saturday.

In Game 2, Sean Fisher allowed three earned runs in 3.1 innings but suffered from what has plagued him his career at Maryland. Fisher walked three Spartan batters. Maryland lost 7-4.

“We were sloppy,” said Coach Vaughn about the first game of the doubleheader. “We didn’t deserve to win.”

Over the four-game-series, Maryland committed eight errors that led to seven unearned runs.

In Game 1, Sean Burke, last season’s best pitcher, allowed three earned runs over six innings. Burke did strike out 13, but the Maryland bats did not help because Sam Benschoter shut out the Terrapins with 10 strikeouts over eight innings.

“How that game ended up 6-0 is a little bit weird how dominant Burke was,” said Coach Vaughn. “Credit their guy [Benschoeter]. He matched Burke pitch for pitch.”

Another reason for Maryland’s struggles was sloppy defensive play. Maryland had eight errors in the four-game-series, allowing Michigan State to score seven unearned runs in the four games.

Maryland next game is its home opener at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium with a four-game series versus Rutgers on March 12 .

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