Lorusso, Hacopian, Petrutz, key in Maryland’s win over Northeastern in game one of regional tournament

Courtesy of Maryland Athletics

Jason Savacool had Luke Beckstein in a 2-2 count in the top of the sixth. Savacool threw the 2-2 offering over the plate, and Beckstein swung and missed. The right-hander let out a loud scream of excitement as he walked off the field.

Savacool’s seventh and final strikeout of the game capped off a strong start for the junior, propelling Maryland to a win in the first regional game, 7-2, against Northeastern.

The Terps traveled to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to play in an NCAA regional hosted by No.1 seed Wake Forest. Maryland entered the regional as the two-seed after earning an automatic bid by winning the Big Ten Tournament.

The team’s first game came against a familiar foe. The Terps took on the No. 3 seeded Northeastern Huskies, who beat them earlier in the year, 9-2. The Huskies held a powerful Maryland lineup to five hits in that game, two coming from Ian Petrutz.

The Huskies staff aimed for a similar result sending right-hander Wyatt Scotti to the mound. Scotti entered the game with a 3.8 ERA and a WHIP under 1.2. Scotti’s last start came against Elon in the CAA Tournament, which he pitched six innings of scoreless baseball scattering three hits.

Maryland sent Jason Savacool to the bump to start the first game. Savacool came into the matchup off a few outstanding performances in the Big Ten Tournament. Savacool pitched one inning on May 25, holding Nebraska scoreless and allowing the Terps to win the game in extra innings. Savacool started the next game, again against Nebraska, throwing six scoreless innings en route to another Maryland victory.

Savacool looked locked in to start the game, retiring the Huskies in order in the first inning, and inducing three ground ball outs. Nick Lorusso rewarded the starter’s effort with a solo home run in the bottom half of the inning to get the Maryland offense going.

“The first time we played them I realized that they attack and attack a lot of good hitters well,” said Lorusso. “First at-bat, you know, going up there and thinking fastball and that’s exactly what I got and was lucky enough it was elevated.”

The formula stayed the same in the second. After a clean inning from Savacool, Eddie Hacopian blasted a solo homer to left field, doubling the Terps’ lead.

Savacool pitched well to start the third, quickly getting the first two outs of the inning. The Huskies’ nine-hole hitter Spenser Smith broke up Savacool’s perfect outing, lining a double down the left field line for Northeastern’s first hit and base runner. Smith came around to score two batters later after Tyler MacGregor looped a ball into left field, cutting the Maryland lead in half.

The Huskies tied it up in the next inning with their second two-out rally in as many innings. The rally started after Harrison Feinberg worked a walk against Savacool. Beckstein hit a single up the middle to put two runners on, and Gregory Bozzo followed it up with a single of his own, tying the game.

The game wasn’t tied for long, as Lorusso led off the bottom of the fourth with a triple off the center field wall, missing a home run by mere inches. Ian Petrutz followed him with a towering fly ball to left field that was caught, but scored Lorusso. Petrutz’s sacrifice fly provided immediate response to a fighting Huskies roster, and gave Maryland a one-run lead.

That lead increased in the bottom of the sixth after Northeastern brought in a new arm. Jake Gigliotti started the bottom of the sixth for Northeastern. Gigliotti pitched against Maryland in the team’s first meeting. In that game, Gigliotti threw three scoreless innings, and the Huskies were hoping for more of the same in this one.

Instead, Maryland’s bat came alive. Luke Shliger started the inning with a lead-off double followed by a Matt Shaw single, putting runners at the corners. Lorusso got his third hit of the game, a run-scoring single to left field. A sacrifice fly by Hacopian increased the Maryland lead to 5-2.

Savacool continued his strong outing keeping the Huskies’ lineup scoreless in the fifth and sixth innings, ending his day there. In six innings of work, Savacool struck out seven batters and allowed five hits. Savacool got 11 of his 18 outs via the groundout and only allowed one extra-base hit. Kenny Lippman relieved him in the seventh as the first man out of the bullpen.

Lippman pitched two clean innings in relief and, bolstered by a two-run eighth inning from the Maryland offense, Andrew Johnson came in to get the final three outs. Johnson secured the win in the ninth, pitching through a leadoff walk.

“I think the two-seam was really really good for me today,” said Savacool. “Beginning of the year I was predominantly all two-seams but I’ve been able to implement the four-seam, the cutter, just to provide a little bit of [a] different look on the fastballs which just makes the two-seam all that much better and allows me to get all those groundouts.”

The game showed Maryland’s improved pitching and the dominant lineup that has shown up all season. The pitching staff allowed seven combined hits, and when faced with trouble they executed, stranding nine Huskies on base. Nick Lorusso headlined a strong showing from the lineup going, 3-4, earning all legs of a cycle except for a double.

“[I] really liked the way we played today,” said head coach Rob Vaughn. “I thought it was just a really professional business-like performance.”

The Terps will await the winner of the Wake Forest and George Mason matchup. The Terps’ next game will be on Saturday.