Wake Forest pummels Maryland to the brink of elimination, 21-6

Courtesy of Maryland Athletics

The Terps faced a long weather delay and a dominant Wake Forest team en route to a 21-6 loss in their second game of the Winston-Salem regional. 

The Terps came into this game after beating Northeastern, 7-2, on Friday. The win was one of Maryland’s more complete wins, getting key pitching and hitting performances from Jason Savacool and Nick Lorusso. 

The win earned them a matchup with the nation’s overall No. 1 seed Wake Forest. The two teams matched up in last year’s regional with the Terps besting the Demon Deacons, 10-2, in College Park. Now the positions are flipped and Wake Forest plays host to the visiting Terrapins, both looking to move a step closer to playing in a super regional. 

The pitching matchup featured a duel between two veteran right handers. Nick Dean took the mound for Maryland and Rhett Lowder was given the ball for Wake Forest. 

Dean entered the game off an impressive performance his last time out against Nebraska in the Big Ten Tournament. Dean pitched six and a third innings limiting Nebraska to one run on two hits. Lowder entered the game having an incredible season. The junior is sporting an ERA of 1.69, a mark good enough for second in the nation, and won his second consecutive ACC pitcher of the year honor to go along with a perfect 13-0 record. 

Before any pitchers toed the slab or cleats dug into the dirt in the batter’s box a long weather delay occurred. The game, originally scheduled for a 6pm start time, didn’t begin until 10:45 pm due to a mix of lightning and rain. Despite the 4:45 delay, the Wake Forest bats didn’t skip a beat.

Dean got the first Demon Deacon to strike out to start his late night outing. Dean hit the next batter and walked the three hole hitter, putting a couple of runners on for Brock Wilken. Wilken punched a ball through the shifted defense scoring the first run of the game. Two more hits followed, bringing three more runs in to score, putting Maryland in an early hole. 

As dominant as the Wake Forest bats were, the pitching was even better. Lowder dominated through the first three innings retiring Maryland in order in each frame. Lowder struck out five Terrapins in that span throwing just 32 pitches. 

Lowder got even more run support in the bottom of the third off the bats of Justin Johnson and Pierce Bennett. Johnson blasted a ball to deep center field that Elijah Lambros just couldn’t get a beat on. The ball ricocheted off the wall allowing Johnson to scurry into third. Bennett’s ball had a similar trajectory, though his bounced off the wall in left center. The two extra base hits plated two runs, increasing the Demon Deacon lead to six. 

Lowder remained perfect through two batters in the fourth until Nick Lorusso stepped to the plate. Lorusso took Lowder’s 1-1 offering and deposited it over the wall in right center, recording Maryland’s first hit and run of the game. Lorusso’s 25th homer of the year started the long process of chipping away at the Wake Forest lead. 

That process became harder after the Demon Deacons added three more runs in the fifth inning. The first two Wake Forest hitters reached base in the inning and were moved into scoring position via a sacrifice bunt. Dean’s outing ended after the bunt and Nigel Belgrave was tasked with getting out of the inning. 

Belgrave threw 13 pitches and in that span he allowed a walk and two singles and the Wake Forest lead grew to 9-1. Logan Ott came in after Belgrave and got the Terps out of the inning avoiding any more damage. 

Maryland’s lineup could not muster up any damage of its own through six innings. Lowder continued to dominate on the mound, upping his strikeout total to eleven. Lowder limited the high powered Terps to one hit through six innings, that hit being the Lorusso solo homer, throwing just 72 pitches. 

Lowder’s night didn’t extend much further as Lorusso and the Terps finally got to the junior righty. Matt Shaw led off the top of the seventh by reaching base on an error that allowed him to make it to second base. Lorusso rocketed his second home run of the game over the wall in left, leading the charge in cutting into the Demon Deacon lead. 

Lowder allowed two more Maryland hitters to reach safely before Michael Massey entered from the bullpen to get three outs for Wake Forest. Massey struck out the first two batters he faced, then walked Lambros to load the bases with two outs. Kevin Keister struck out ending the inning and Maryland’s best chance at mounting a comeback. 

Any further hope of a comeback disappeared in the bottom of the seventh as the Demon Deacons plated six runs on eight free passes and one hit. Three Maryland arms were needed to get through the half inning and after the dust settled the Terps faced a 12 run deficit. 

That deficit would decrease to nine due to an Ian Petrutz three-run home run in the top of the eighth, but a six run bottom of the eighth increased the Wake Forest lead to 15. The scoring stopped there with Maryland failing to score in the top of the ninth. The game ended at about 2:15 am Sunday morning.

The Terps will have a quick turnaround as they will play on Sunday at 2 pm against George Mason in an elimination game.