Nebraska snaps Maryland baseball’s streak, forces decisive rubber match

Courtesy of Maryland Athletics

Matt Shaw reached base for the fifth time in the game, this time a double to left field in the bottom of the eighth. Shaw stood at second, Shliger at third, and the tying run in Nick Lorusso at the plate. The Terps trailed, 12-10. 

Lorusso, who was 1-4 with a homer, worked the count even, two balls and two strikes. The next pitch from reliever Shay Schanaman got Lorusso to swing over the ball, striking him out, ending the threat. 

“We brought the tying run up to the plate in the eighth with Nick Lorusso. I’ll take those odds every day of the week,” said head coach Rob Vaughn. “We just couldn’t quite get that big hit.”

That chance disappeared and the Terps couldn’t push across the necessary runs in the ninth as No. 23 Maryland lost the second game of the weekend, 12-10, to Nebraska. 

The Dirty Terps came into the second game of the series following a, 8-4, win over the Cornhuskers in game one. Maryland got solid pitching in the game and the offense came through with a five-run inning to secure the team’s ninth straight victory. 

Going for their twenty-first consecutive Big Ten series win the Terps sent lefty Kyle McCoy to the mound. McCoy is coming off of a strong start against Indiana. In that game McCoy pitched seven innings allowing just one run to the high-powered Indiana lineup. McCoy has a 2.08 ERA over his last two starts giving up a total of three earned runs over that stretch. 

McCoy’s opposition was right hander Jace Kaminska. Kaminska is coming off a great start as well, pitching seven innings of shutout baseball against Minnesota. The junior allowed five hits in that outing, striking out seven, and not allowing a walk. 

McCoy faced adversity after just one pitch. The first pitch of the game was blasted to left field by Brice Matthews and a sacrifice bunt in the next at-bat put him at second. A Max Anderson hard-hit single put runners at the corners. 

McCoy induced the ground ball he was hoping for but after taking a high hop third baseman Nick Lorusso was unable to field it cleanly and a possible inning-ending double play turned into a run-scoring error. McCoy walked the five-hole hitter loading the bases for Griffin Everitt. Everitt blew the game wide open with his fourth home run of the season, clearing the bases and giving the Cornhuskers an early, 5-0, lead. 

Kaminska was affected by first-inning struggles as well, allowing two runs within the first two batters he faced. The two runs came from the bat of Matt Shaw who sent a blazing line drive over the No. 3 jersey in left center to start the process of chipping away at the Cornhusker lead. Two more solo homers in the bottom of the second kept the process going, cutting the Nebraska lead to one.

McCoy pitched a 1-2-3 top of the second, but he couldn’t make it out of the third. The ball continued to jump out of the park as Nebraska scored four runs all via the long ball. The inning started with back-to-back deep flies by Max Anderson and Gabe Swansen that negated the two solo homers from Shaw and Keister in the second. 

Efry Cervantes tagged McCoy for two more runs after blasting an opposite-field home run, the fourth given up by McCoy. A walk to Dylan Carey prompted Vaughn to make the move to the ‘pen calling in Nate Haberthier to finish the inning. McCoy’s final line had him pitching two and two-thirds innings giving up six hits and eight earned runs. 

“Just a lot of stuff middle against a really good hitting team and they made him pay,” said Vaughn. 

Kaminska was able to settle down after the first two innings, retiring the Terps in order in the third and fourth but the first-inning woes found Kaminska in the fifth. 

Shliger and Shaw started the inning reaching safely via a walk and double. Nick Lorusso stepped to the plate and amidst chants of “home run hitter” from the stadium crowd, Lorusso brought truth to the saying. Lorusso belted a three-run home run over the batter’s eye winning a twelve-pitch at-bat against Kaminska. 

That at-bat ended Kaminska’s outing. Kaminska pitched four innings plus, allowing seven earned runs on six hits. Shay Schanaman entered the game in relief. 

The Terps failed to score any more in the inning and in the top of the sixth the Cornhuskers responded. Nebraska scored three runs in the inning, two coming on free passes with the bases loaded. Maryland scored two in the bottom half of the inning, sending the Terps into the final three frames trailing, 12-9. 

The Terrapin bullpen kept the team in it, keeping Nebraska scoreless in the final three innings, but the Terps offense couldn’t find the big hit. The long ball disappeared and along with it went Maryland’s run production. 

Maryland had one final chance in the ninth as Eddie Hacopian reached second on a bunt and a subsequent error. Elijah Lambros drove him in with a two-out single, but that would be it. Schanaman struck out Bobby Zmarzlak to end the game. Schanaman got the win, pitching five innings out of the bullpen allowing zero earned runs. 

“I thought our at-bats against him were actually awesome. It’s a really hard cutter and it’s a bigger breaking ball and it’s 94,” said Vaughn. “We did a pretty good job of competing with him.”

The loss ends Maryland’s win streak at nine, the longest of the season. The Terps will look to start a new streak on Sunday as they take on Nebraska in the rubber match.