Jason Savacool’s gem highlights Maryland baseball’s 18-3 rout of Albany

Courtesy of Maryland Athletics

Maryland baseball commenced another home weekend series with another dominant Friday afternoon showing as they demolished Albany, 18-3. The Terps (10-7) took their sixth win in a row as they turned in another all-around masterclass.

The final score betrays what kind of game this was, as both starters held down the fort during their tenures. Jason Savacool prevailed for the win after pitching seven innings of shutout baseball. The offense was no slouch either as they consistently attacked whichever pitcher they faced, before a ten-run eighth inning put the game out of reach and then some. 

“Coach Vaughn talked about how this was a pretty gritty team that we’re gonna come in and face today, and luckily we were able to come out with a lot of base hits,” Nick Lorusso said.

The Terps, winners of five straight heading into Friday, had most recently disposed of the Delaware Blue Hens on the prior Tuesday in a ten-inning, 13-11 romp. It was the second time the two teams had squared off this season, and served as one of the more inspiring victories of the spring as the Terps scored six runs in the final two frames to steal the win on the road.

On the other side, the Great Danes had not been so lucky entering the weekend matchup, as demonstrated by their unsightly 2-7-1 record. Albany, still yet to host a single game at home, is still awaiting its first series win, and showed up to College Park looking to kick a two-game skid. 

Another Friday meant another start for Jason Savacool. Maryland’s ace has posted a 3.00 ERA through four starts, and was lights out in his last start a week ago in a game which the Terps won 25-10, much in thanks to Savacool’s six shutout innings to bury Maine en route to a sweep.

After the Terps toiled away in the first inning, leaving three runners stranded on base, who else but Nick Lorusso stepped up with a two-run double to put Maryland on the board first. The third baseman continued his unconscious batting in extending his hit streak to 16 games, and is only building on a team-leading .750 SLG%. Matt Woods added a homer in the following inning, giving the Terps a 3-0 lead through three frames.

Savacool jetted off to another hot start, and was only bolstered by the run support. He let up a hit to Carson Dunkle, the first batter he faced, and didn’t make that mistake again until 14 batters later in the fourth inning. Regardless, the baserunner was neutralized, and the starter maintained the two-hit shutout through nearly half the game.

Cregg Scherrer, Albany’s starter, was pulled after four and two-thirds innings. The lefty held up against the Maryland lineup, where many other capable pitchers have been exposed, and finished with three earned runs, three hits and four strikeouts. 

Matthew Mariano, who took his place to close the fifth, soon ran into trouble in his first full inning of work in the sixth. Matt Shaw’s double cleared the bases after two baserunners found their ways aboard, which spiked the lead up to 5-0. 

In his final inning, Savacool gave up his fourth hit of the day, but that would be his last as he calmly completed his personal shutout through seven frames. He finished with seven Ks and 93 pitches, and picked up his third win of the season to improve his record to 3-0.

“His rhythm and pace is something that throws hitters off and definitely keeps defenders on their toes,” Lorusso said. “I think it sparks the offense, too, when you get a quick inning and get a starter to go seven innings.”

Eddie Hacopian and Bobby Zmarzlak resumed the scoring in the bottom of that inning by tattooing back-to-back solo home runs. A Lorusso sac-fly brought in Shliger home from second after the catcher doubled, and the Terps entered the eighth inning with a comfortable 8-0 lead.

The lead only ballooned in the Terps’ final turn at the plate. New pitcher Ty Santabarbara struggled to keep men off the basepaths, loading the bases before two walks and a wild pitch brought in three hand-gifted runs for Maryland. Shliger, Lorusso and Keister all collected easy RBI to keep runners coming in, and Woods struck again for a three-run jack to put a bow on a ten-run eighth inning. 

After Ryan van Buren tossed an uneventful eighth inning, Wagner Morissette let up three runs on a two-run home run to Tyler Pugliese and a single to Devan Kruzinski. That would be all the offensive action the Great Danes had to show for themselves on Friday, though, as he went on to seal the 18-2 win. That’s the second most runs Maryland has racked up in an outing, and were enough to extend the win streak to six.

Since swapping Lorusso and Shaw in the batting order before the Maine series, a choice that Maryland Coach Rob Vaughn credits entirely to instinct, the slugging prospects have batted .409 and .389, respectively. They combined for three hits in seven at-bats on Friday, and both have gotten hits in each of their last eight games.

“You love those two guys together in whatever matchup you have,” Vaughn said. “What makes Nick Lorusso so good is he might not have the star power from a draft perspective that somebody like Matt Shaw does, but I think everybody on our team thinks that’s the most consistent at-bat on our team. If you asked me, gun to my head with the game on the line, with a group of really good hitters I’m gonna say Nick Lorusso every time.”

The Terps will pick up their bats where they left off tomorrow at 2 p.m.