Maryland pitching controls tempo, defeats Rutgers in game one

Maryland led by one entering the game’s final three outs. Kenny Lippman remained on the mound in relief and after striking out the first two Rutgers batters it appeared the Terps would enjoy their first Friday victory since March 29. That though came to a temporary halt when Johnny Volpe singled to left field bringing the Big Ten’s leader in batting average, Josh Kuroda-Grauer, to the plate.

Kuroda-Grauer was three for three coming into the at-bat and he quickly found himself up in the count 2-0. Lippman answered back with two straight strikes and the next pitch from the righty reliever was deemed too low by the home plate umpire driving the count full. Lippman’s final offering was lofted to right field by the Scarlet Knight shortstop, high enough for Jacob Orr to settle under it and cap off the Terps Friday night victory. 

Lippman earned his second save of the season helping Maryland (30-17, 9-10 Big Ten) defeat Rutgers (25-20, 3-13 Big Ten), 4-3, Friday night. 

Lippman finished the game throwing two and a third innings without allowing a Scarlet Knight to touch home plate. The only hit against Lippman was Volpe’s two-out single. Lippman also struck out three Rutgers hitters.

Lippman entered the game in the seventh inning following Omar Melendez who made his first Friday night start as a Terrapin. Melendez pitched a season high six and two thirds innings allowing eight hits and three earned runs all while completing another milestone throwing a season high 106 pitches. 

Two of the three runs Melendez allowed came in the seventh inning off of the bat of Ty Doucette who drove in the pair with a double to left field. Doucette also drove in the game’s first run in the first inning ending his night with three RBI. 

The duo’s performance completed a strong pitching outing for a Terrapin team that has lacked in that department especially on Friday nights. This was the first Friday game during conference play where the Terps didn’t give up six or more runs. It’s also just the second time all season they gave up three runs or less on a Friday.

Maryland’s offense put together a good day connecting for seven hits, walking three times, and only striking out five times. The Terps only had one extra base hit which was a double that came in the sixth inning giving the Terps their first lead of the game. 

Eddie Hacopian was the one who hit the double driving in the Terps first two runs of the game after the offense was held scoreless through the first five frames. Sam Hojnar and Orr drove in the other two runs with an RBI groundout and a sacrifice fly. Those were the only runs Maryland produced, but it proved to be just enough. 

Maryland’s offense only saw results from its four-run sixth inning putting up zeroes in every other frame. The Terps hit better than the results displayed though as much of their hard contact was matched by fantastic defense from the Scarlet Knights who entered the game with a .980 fielding percentage on the season. 

Three of Maryland’s runs came off Rutgers’ starter, Justin Sinibaldi. Sinibaldi pitched five plus innings, leaving the game in the sixth due to injury. The Terps fourth run came against reliever Ben Gorski who pitched his season high four innings finishing the game for Rutgers. 

Maryland will try for the series victory in Saturday’s game against Rutgers. It’s the first time the Terps are going into a Saturday with the chance to win a series since March 30, when they took on Michigan following a Friday night victory.