Nick Lorusso’s 10th-inning walk-off blast powers Maryland to Big Ten Tournament Semis

Courtesy of Maryland Athletics

Nick Lorusso was battling with two outs and two strikes against him in the bottom of the tenth. Lorusso fouled off a 2-2 offering from Shay Schanaman. The foul ball was inches from being caught, but instead, it fell harmlessly into the Nebraska dugout. The next pitch, a towering fly ball that barely cleared the fence in left. 

Lorusso’s twenty-second home run won the game for Maryland. The walk-off blast pushed No. 1 seed Maryland past No. 4 seeded Nebraska, 2-1, winning in ten innings. 

The Terps’ second game of the tournament came against a familiar foe. Maryland and Nebraska played each other earlier in the year in College Park. The Terps won the series two games to one, winning the Friday and Sunday games, scoring 28 combined runs in those games.

The Maryland lineup faced Jace Kaminska for the second time this season. Kaminska faced Maryland on May 6 starting the only game the Terps lost during the teams’ past three-game set. Kaminska pitched four innings giving up seven earned runs in that game, giving up four home runs, two to Matt Shaw. 

Maryland turned to right-hander Nick Dean to start their second tournament game. Like Kaminska, Dean faced Nebraska earlier in May. Dean pitched four innings against the Huskers in the first game of that series allowing two earned runs to go along with four strikeouts. The Terps won that game, 8-4, behind Dean’s performance and they hoped to replicate that in the Big Ten Tournament. 

Both pitchers struggled at the start of the game. Dean pitched out of two baserunners in the top half of the first and Kaminska loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom half. Kaminska got Matt Woods to strike out, ending the threat.

Dean faced more trouble on the base paths in the second putting the first two runners of the inning on base with a hit-by-pitch and four-pitch walk. A sacrifice bunt and groundout pushed across the first run of the game, giving the Huskers a 1-0 lead. 

The starters settled down after the first couple innings. Dean retired the side in order in the third and fourth and Kaminska continued to hold the Terps scoreless through four. Kaminska allowed just three hits through the first four innings, two coming from Luke Shliger. Dean allowed just one hit in the same amount of time. 

Maryland finally broke through in the fifth. Kevin Keister blasted the game’s first extra-base hit down the line in left standing at second for Shliger. Shliger moved him over to third on a ground out and Shaw drove him in with a single up the middle, tying the game. Nick Lorusso followed Shaw with a single of his own and Ian Petrutz was intentionally walked to load the bases with one out. 

Eddie Hacopian was the first to hit with all the ducks on the pond and he was aggressive, swinging at the first pitch. Hacopian popped the ball up to the first baseman for the second out. Matt Woods, who had struck out two times before, walked to the plate and tried to lay down a bunt. The pitch ended up hitting him but after an appeal to the third base umpire it was ruled Woods did not pull the bunt back in time making the pitch a strike. Woods got the hat trick striking out to end the inning. 

Both starters pitched clean innings in the sixth, and in the seventh Dean was replaced by Nigel Belgrave after facing two batters, hitting the ladder. Belgrave threw one pitch before the game was stopped. 

Lighting was detected in the area and both teams departed the field only to return over an hour and a half later. Belgrave’s game ended with one pitch as David Falco Jr. entered the game after the delay concluded. 

The bullpens followed in the starter’s footsteps holding a pair of dominant lineups at bay. The Huskers threatened in the ninth putting two runners on base. Falco Jr. got Casey Burnham to strike out to end it, giving the Terps a chance to walk it off. Maryland went down in order in the bottom half sending the game into extras. 

Jason Savacool came in to pitch in the tenth and stranded a runner at first giving the Maryland lineup another chance to end it. Lorusso did just that, ending a game that had a weather delay, multiple reviews, and strong play on the field throughout. 

The Terps will have an off day Friday and then will play on Saturday. Their opponent will be the winner of Nebraska and Michigan State. That game will be played on Friday.