Maryland baseball could’ve given up.
With only one hit through the first two innings, the Terps seemed to be replaying the same movie they saw all weekend. It seemed their batters couldn’t get any sort of meaningful contact on Ohio State’s pitches.
But the Terps flipped the script on Monday afternoon, reeling off an 8-0 run after the fourth inning to capture a 9-3 win over the Buckeyes.
With an 0-3 weekend record, the Terps needed a win to avoid dropping their tenth game of the season and to keep pace in the Big Ten.
Freshman Jason Savacool and his perfect 3-0 pitching record seemed the perfect remedy.
But early, the young pitcher struggled. Savacool allowed two hits, walked two batters and gave up two runs in the first. It was an atypical start to the game for the two-time Big Ten freshman of the week who entered Monday’s game with a 2.28 ERA.
“He didn’t have great command today,” coach Vaughn said. “The sign of an elite-level arm is that…[they] don’t implode or don’t let it get too big, [Savacool] just keeps coming.”
What was typical was the Terps’ performance at the plate. More struggles in the first two innings saw only one batter get on, Max Costes, who got picked off at first.
Maryland needed Tommy Gardiner to hit a third inning solo home-run to get on the board, only the second home-run of the senior’s career.
“We’re playing really good situational baseball,” Gardiner said. “Big hits really helped us today.”
Savacool mostly settled down after the first. He gave up a home run in the third. But beyond that, it was smooth sailing for the Baldwinsville, New York, native, who struck out five in a five-inning stint. With him on the mound, Maryland could keep pace.
And in the fifth inning, the Terps would explode for runs.
Bobby Zmarzlak and Randy Bednar combined to plate four runs as Maryland surged out in front. Bednar nearly added a fifth, swiping second and third base before Matt Shaw struck out to end the frame.
Coach Rob Vaughn’s squad was a constant threat on the basepath, stealing nine bases Monday afternoon.
“You got to take what the game gives you,” Vaughn said. “If the situation dictates…we’re going to try and force the issue.”
With Savacool retiring his last three batters in the fifth, the Terps had a shot at further capitalizing off their four-run inning.
Gardiner helped Maryland spark Maryland’s scoring once more with a two-run single in the top of the sixth. All of a sudden, Maryland had built up a 7-3 lead with offense that hadn’t been present all weekend.
Fully in groove, the Terps’ bats added another two runs in the seventh courtesy of a Ben Cowles’ single.
And fueled by reliever Ryan Ramsey, Maryland cruised the rest of the way. Ramsey gave up just three hits in four innings pitched, striking out three batters en route to his first save of the season.
“We play at a high level, it’s almost irrelevant who’s on the other side,” Vaughn said. “We got to win practice on Wednesday, that’s all I really care about.”