Maryland baseball’s bats went down quietly against Purdue pitching for most of the series opener. A rare Friday loss appeared imminent with the Terps down to nine outs facing a six-run deficit.
A five-run seventh inning brought Maryland (23-15, 6-4 Big Ten) back within reach. But the momentum that just surged to the Terps’ side was immediately yanked away.
David Falco Jr. allowed a pair of two-out run-scoring singles in the top of the frame as Maryland’s late-inning comeback attempt fell short in a 10-8 loss. Friday marked the 11th time this season Terps pitching allowed 10 or more runs as once again, Maryland’s batters excelled but faced too steep a deficit to answer.
Jason Savacool allowed seven runs, six of them earned, in 5 ⅓ innings before giving way to a bullpen that gave up another three.
“I’d like to see us execute some pitches a little better,” coach Rob Vaughn said. “… We just couldn’t quite finish.”
Vaughn was ejected in the eighth inning when Nick Lorusso struck out on what the coach thought was a checked swing.
An ineffective Savacool contributed to Maryland’s deficit. Friday was the third time he didn’t finish six innings in a start this season. The junior’s five strikeouts are tied for the third-fewest in an outing this year.
Just 58 of the junior’s 105 pitches found the strike zone. He often aimed for the edges of the plate and missed too frequently. When pitches did float over the plate, Purdue (19-18, 8-5 Big Ten) barreled them.
Falco Jr. entered following the Terps’ rally. He was tasked with maintaining a one-run deficit and giving the offense another chance to get ahead. Instead, he created a deficit too big to fight back from.
“They started having really good at bats and taking borderline pitches and getting into some tough counts,” Vaughn said.
Maryland hitters fared poorly against Purdue starter Khal Stephen, who allowed only two runs in his first six innings. The Terps struck out and grounded out seven times each against Stephen before finally breaking through in the seventh inning.
The pitcher plunked Kevin Keister and walked Luke Shliger before being yanked for Aaron Suval.
Suval gave up a single to Lorusso, loading the bases with no outs. A Matt Shaw bases-loaded walk brought the first run of the frame home and brought up Ian Petrutz. His single, an Eddie Hacopian double and Elijah Lambros single scored four more runs to erase what was a steep Terps’ deficit.
“Those kids are tough,” Vaughn said. “… They can take a punch. Until that last out’s made, they’re never out of it.”
Maryland will now have to win the next two games to avoid its first Big Ten series loss since 2021.
The loss reflects how Maryland has lost most of its games in 2023. An offense capable of pouring on runs in an instant was overshadowed by a pitching staff that failed to hold an opponent within manageable reach.
That formula has been a recurring theme throughout the first two months of the season. It was again Friday.