Kayla Shiao/WRBB Sports File

By Daisy Roberts and Jack Sinclair

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C — Northeastern dropped the opening game of the NCAA Regional to Maryland by a score of 7-2 on Friday. The Huskies move on to the losers bracket in the double-elimination format, where they’ll face the loser of Wake Forest versus George Mason at noon on Saturday.

Though the Huskies had already defeated the Terrapins earlier in the season, Northeastern knew they had their work cut out for them against a talented and red-hot Maryland squad, and were unable to execute enough on the postseason stage.

“It wasn’t our best game, certainly,” said Northeastern head coach Mike Glavine. “I think there’s a couple reasons for that. Maryland deserves all the credit for forcing us into not having a great game, and I don’t think we were as good as we could be, which is disappointing. I just thought they were better than us all over the field.”

Maryland junior starter Jason Savacool was stellar to start off the game, retiring the first eight batters he faced. On the other side of the ball, the Terrapins got off to a hot start. Senior Nick Lorusso got to the Huskies’ junior starter Wyatt Scotti, blasting a solo home run to give Maryland a 1-0 lead in the first inning.

“The first time we played them, I realized they attack a lot of good hitters well,” Lorusso said following the game. “First at-bat, I go up there thinking fastball, and that’s exactly what I got and was lucky enough it was elevated.”

Just one inning later, sophomore Eddie Hacopian followed in Lorusso’s footsteps, hitting a solo blast down the left field line to double the Terrapin advantage.

The Northeastern offense came to life in the top of the third. Senior Spenser Smith roped his team’s first hit of the day to right field for a double. Sophomore Mike Sirota worked a walk to reach first, and graduate student Tyler MacGregor laced a base hit to left to score the speedy Smith. Senior Danny Crossen struck out, leaving Sirota stranded on second.

The top of the fourth saw more offensive production. Redshirt freshman Harrison Feinberg walked, then junior Luke Beckstein singled to advance the runner. Beckstein’s hit went right up the middle, and actually hit Savacool above his right knee. The ball bounced off the helpless pitcher and kicked into the gap between second and first for a base hit. Junior Gregory Bozzo singled through the right side, scoring Feinberg and knotting the game at two runs apiece.

Savacool mostly pitched low in the strike zone and kept the Huskies out of the air, limiting the offense of a Northeastern team that has hit a program record 103 home runs this season. His regulation of the fly ball was key in not allowing too much damage at the plate by the potent Huskies lineup.

“A couple ground balls got through today, which is fine,” Savacool said of his performance. “That’s what I expect, especially as a ground-ball pitcher. They were really good with two strikes. I was able to get seven strikeouts on them, but they were really hard to get. I attacked the zone the best I could, but they were running off a good plan today. Their hitters were really good, especially their top four or five, really solid players.”

Glavine had praise for the composure Savacool displayed on the mound, appreciating how the Terrapins approached the Northeastern lineup.

“[Savacool] competes, he’s tough, he pitches with tempo, he’s polished, he’s a veteran out there, and he changes speeds, uses all his pitches,” Glavine said. “We were trying to get the ball up in the zone, because we know when he’s down, you’re going to beat the ball into the ground, like we did. He was making his pitches at the bottom of the zone, getting us out with either the strikeout or the soft contact.”

Despite the pair of home runs allowed, Scotti pitched well. The two long balls were the only hits he allowed through three innings. The bottom of the fourth however, saw Scotti struggle. Lorusso tripled to center field, after a diving effort from Sirota came up short. Sophomore Ian Petrutz drove his teammate home with a sacrifice fly to left field, breaking the deadlock and putting the Terrapins up 3-2. Even though he coughed up the lead, Scotti retired the next three batters he faced to close out his day.

Junior Jake Gigliotti relieved Scotti in the bottom of the sixth, and immediately got into trouble. A double and a base hit put runners on the corners, and the red hot bat of Lorusso knocked in a run with a single. Petrutz worked a walk, then Hacopian hit a ball deep enough to allow a runner to tag up and score. The Terrapins now led 5-2.

“[Scotti] gave us a chance to win and the lineup was coming around for the third time,” Glavine said. “We wanted to go to a different look and go to our bullpen… I probably took [Scotti] out too early, but hindsight is 20-20.”

Maryland wasn’t done yet, as Petrutz added an RBI single to his already successful day. Then a wild pitch from senior Nick Davis saw the seventh and final run come home. The Huskies would go down one-two-three after a leadoff walk in the top of the ninth, and that was that. They lost the opening game of their regional by a score of 7-2.

With the loss, the Huskies are now set to play a win-or-go-home contest on Saturday, but the team knows what it will take to secure a victory. 

“We have to make it ugly,” Glavine said. “We can’t be reliant on home runs and taking big swings to get ourselves up. That’s Part B to our offense… We need to get back to basics and make this thing really challenging.”

The Huskies will play the loser of the Wake Forest versus George Mason game tomorrow at 12 p.m. Daisy Roberts and Jack Sinclair will have the call  on WRBB Sports+.