No matter who Rutgers put on the mound, Maryland baseball had an answer. And despite every pitcher thrown at them, the Terps took an early lead and never looked back in their 9-5 victory over the Scarlet Knights on Sunday.
Trouble brewed for Maryland from Rutgers’ opening at-bat.
After Jason Savacool gave up two opening singles, the Terps went down early. Thanks to a double play, Maryland got out of the inning, only letting up one run.
Then, they got some at-bats.
And the Terps thrived. All of its first five batters reached base, headlined by singles from Matt Shaw and Matt Orlando. By the end of the inning, Maryland led 3-1, getting on Rutgers and starting pitcher Jayson Hoopes early, who departed after five batters without recording an out.
“I thought the top of our lineup was phenomenal today,” coach Rob Vaughn said. “And that’s without Maxwell [Costes]. We haven’t had those consistent at bats from those guys at the top and we got that today.”
Meanwhile, the Terps were able to minimize the batters Savacool would have to face, with clean throws to get two advancing runners out in the second. Savacool also struck out Jordan Sweeney midway through the frame for his first punchout of the day.
Maryland saw more success at the plate in the bottom of the inning, as Rutgers’ pitching woes continued. First-time starter Logan Ott knocked a leadoff single, followed by a Chris Alleyne double. Shaw reached on an error to load the bases, and Ott then trotted home on a Randy Bednar single.
“A lot of the pitchers were similar in velocity,” Shaw said. “The biggest challenge was, especially the guys who threw a lot of off-speed [pitches], was to let the ball travel a little bit.”
Another pitching change for the Scarlet Knights sent Jared Bellissimo to the bench and Aaron Winkler to the mound.
But for Rutgers, it did not get better.
A two-run double by Bobby Zmarzlak made it 6-1 for the Terps with only one out — forcing Winkler to depart.
This time, Justin Sinibaldi took his turn on the mound. And he had more success, striking out Luke Shliger and getting Ben Cowles to ground out to end the threat.
Savacool and Sinibaldi both went to work in the third inning, each getting the other squad’s leading three batters of the inning out. Savacool continued his momentum into the fourth inning, striking out the side, including the Scarlet Knights’ batting average leader, Chris Brito.
“Brito had an unbelievable weekend,” Vaughn said. “If there’s too many better hitters in college baseball than that guy, I don’t know where they’re at.”
Sinibaldi’s fourth inning was shakier, letting Shaw get to third on an error, wild pitch and a steal. But he sat down the next three hitters, getting out of the frame unscathed with an Orlando strikeout.
A Sweeney home run in the fifth cut into the lead, but Maryland recaptured its five-run edge as Schliger crossed the plate.
Rutgers needed some big plays to remain competitive, and it got that in the sixth. Brito slugged a solo shot to kick off a three-run frame for the Scarlet Knights. Sweeney then doubled in a run, forcing Ryan Ramsey in for Savacool. The freshman allowed five runs and six hits in 5.2 innings while striking out six.
The inning ended with the Terps only up two, but they responded. Shaw and Bednar cranked back-to-back home runs to rebuild a more comfortable 9-5 advantage.
And despite Maryland’s threat to blow the game open, its offense struggled to bat runners home after Tevin Murray replaced Sinibaldi, and the sixth inning closed on a double play.
But Ramsey stayed hot, ending Rutgers’ hopes of retaliation by methodically sending the next three batters to the dugout. He continued his quest to close out the contest, pitching another clean inning in the eighth.
And the Terps finished the deal in the ninth. Ramsey and Sam Bello worked around a one-out error, getting Danny DiGeorgio to fly out to center and secure a split of the weekend set.
“We’ll line up on Tuesday for a good day of work and at Happy Valley on Thursday, so hopefully we can keep this thing rolling,” Vaughn said.