After taking care of business against Michigan State and UW-Milwaukee, Northwestern (20-19, 7-7 B1G) headed eastward to College Park to face a top-25 opponent in the Maryland Terrapins (35-9, 11-4 B1G).
On Friday, the ‘Cats found themselves in the midst of a perfect game, only the 34th in NCAA history and the second for the Terrapins, thrown by Ryan Ramsey. Ultimately, all aspects of the opening matchup were going in Maryland’s favor, from their four home runs to Ramsey’s historical night.
Northwestern’s starting ace first-year Sean Sullivan had his worst outing of the season thus far, going only 2.2 innings and giving up eight uncharacteristically earned runs to earn his first loss, dropping his record to 5-1 and upping his ERA from 2.68 to 3.83.
Given that it was a perfect game on the wrong side of the diamond, no Wildcat made it on base, allowing the Terps to finish it out with a final score of 13-0. However, NU’s Saturday showing proved to be a different story.
It was truly a pitcher’s duel between graduate student Michael Farinelli and Maryland’s usual Friday starter Jason Savacool. Farinelli went five innings, striking out four and allowing one run. Savacool went seven innings, striking out nine on no earned runs. Farinelli was able to keep the Terrapin bats mostly at bay, sending the ‘Cats down just 1-0 going into the eighth inning.
When Savacool left the game after seven innings of flawless work, the NU was able to capitalize on new pitcher David Falco. Northwestern put up five runs in the eighth inning, and while Maryland answered with two solo home runs given up by Coby Moe, ultimately the ‘Cats put up two more runs thanks to an Anthony Calarco home run and a Vince Bianchina double to win the second game, 7-4. Moe was awarded the win, and senior Mike Doherty came in for one inning of work, his second outing of the month. This was only the fourth conference loss handed to Maryland this season, and they currently stand one game behind the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in the second place of the Big Ten standings.
The rubber match on Sunday came with an updated start time due to inclement weather — a persistent theme throughout the season. First-year Grant Comstock got the start, going a strong four innings with two earned runs. Like the second game, it was relatively quiet offensively for both teams, with Maryland leading 2-0 going into the fifth inning. After Terrapin starter Nick Dean exited after giving up four walks, Northwestern was able to get on the board thanks to a Bennett Markinson sacrifice fly.
In the seventh inning, Northwestern took advantage of the Maryland relievers' errors to take the lead, 4-3. However, when the inning turned over, the ‘Cats pitching became worse for wear, ultimately giving up the lead to never get it back. While it is possible the rain coming down a little bit harder at this point made for a more difficult pitching scene, Maryland was able to escape thanks to a late-inning comeback, finishing the game off with a 10-5 victory to take the series.
Northwestern will travel to nearby University of Illinois-Chicago Tuesday night for a 6:05 p.m. CST matchup on ESPN+ before hosting the Ohio State Buckeyes for a three-game series at home this weekend. All things considered, the ‘Cats still sit above .500 as they move down the stretch in conference play, and they remain in a fair position to make their first Big Ten tournament since 2017 and complete their first winning season since the turn of the century.