Every lead seemed tenuous, every pitch dangerous, and every base runner crucial. Maryland baseball needed to take advantage of each and every opportunity it could grab against Campbell.
But in almost a century of program history, Maryland pulled off something it had never done before.
The Terps moved to 7-0.
Sweeping the Camels, Maryland snuck out of a jam earlier in the day with a 3-1 win and finished the evening off with a dominant 9-2 victory to close out the weekend.
Maryland found nothing easy at the plate early.
Campbell’s Cade Kuehler immediately challenged the Terps on the mound in the first leg of Saturday’s doubleheader —- gunning balls past home plate for multiple punch outs. Kuehler went on to finish with four strikeouts and three earned runs amidst only three hits.
Despite Kuehler’s prowess, Maryland still nabbed a pair of runs in the opening innings with steady work on the base path mixed with small ball. None of the Terps’ runs in the first outing were catalyzed by hits that didn’t end in an out.
“Those are big time arms [Campbell] ran out there,” Vaughn said. “[Harrington] yesterday is a first or second round draft pick…those games are exhausting because Campbell’s good.”
With Ryan Ramsey dealing, it hardly mattered. He would finish with six punchouts, one earned run and four hits allowed.
[Maryland baseball sneaks past Campbell, 4-0, first 5-0 start since 1968]
“I think the first couple of innings are a little weaker than the last couple,” Ramsey said. “I get stronger as I go. I need to have a starter mentality and as soon as I get into the game I have to be ready to go.”
Bobby Zmarzlak particularly shined at the plate — slapping two of Maryland’s four hits on the day. One crucial swipe wouldn’t even land him at first as he drove home Matt Shaw on a ground-out RBI right before Kuehler exited in the sixth inning.
Reliever Ty Cummings wouldn’t improve Maryland’s luck on the offensive side. The character of the game remained.
Eighth inning theatrics made the pitching duel tantalizing.
Cracking a long ball to center off reliever Will Glock, Bryce Arnold thought he had all of it, starting his presumed home-run trot.
The umpires didn’t agree. Zmarzlak collected the ball off the wall and gunned it to second, catching Arnold napping and grabbing a crucial out. That play loomed large as Will Glock ended the inning clean and Maryland left much to be desired on its next trip out to the plate.
“Weird play,” Zmarzlak said. “Hit the top of the wall and bounced right to me. I reacted and threw it in as quick as possible and thankfully he was not running hard and we got him out.”
Nigel Belgrave was tasked with earning the save, as he then proceeded to hit two out of his first three batters. Hearts fluttered as Campbell had the ammunition to win in one swipe.
Belgrave collected one out as adversity hit. One more walk and three balls later, and it reached the climax. One ball thrown would score a run for Campbell, and one strike would end it.
Nigel Belgrave chose the latter. He earned the save as Maryland baseball started 6-0 for the first time in program history.
[Lorusso walk-off lifts Maryland baseball over UMBC, 3-2]
“I would love for Nigel to not make it as interesting as he did today,” Vaughn said. “What we got to remember, as elite as he is, that guy’s got awesome stuff. It’s an upper-90s fastball and a hammer slider.”
Just 45 minutes later, the Terps were at it again.
With Jason Savacool on the mound, Maryland’s second matchup of the day would go much differently.
Riding Savacool’s power early, the Terps saw the same defensive success that reverberated all weekend for both squads. An early error assisted Nick Lorusso in reaching base as Luke Shliger capped the first run.
Some of Savacool’s numerous strikeouts spanned between the first and the third, and established the Terps firmly. Despite a savvy performance from the pitcher, it wouldn’t be his game.
“I thought [Jason] had excellent stuff today and he’s a day short [of] rest,” Vaughn said. “We talked to him yesterday when we thought we’re gonna play a doubleheader and that guy’s an ultimate competitor, he wants the ball.”
The fourth inning would be the straw that broke the Camels’ back.
The inning turned four hits, four runs and it quickly became a foregone conclusion that Campbell could escape from the Terps’ grasp.
Maryland added more runs in the fifth via Max Costes and Troy Schreffler doubles, and its lead ballooned to 7-1. Savacool continued a stellar outing and Campbell collapsed further in the eighth to seal the win for the Terps.
“I think we’re in a good place as far as where we’re at now but that means nothing,” Vaughn said. “Delaware does not care about our record [and] they’re playing pretty good baseball right now.”