On a day where the college sports world was shaken by announcements regarding games and championships in the coming weeks, Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium remained a bubble of normalcy as Maryland and James Madison battled out a close-fought midweek game.
After beating up on opposing pitchers through the first four games of their homestand, the Terps were stymied by the Dukes’ hurlers, as they were shut out through the final eight innings in a 4-2 loss.
The Terps struck first, scoring twice in the first inning on a single by Maxwell Costes and a Ben Cowles hit by pitch. James Madison struck right back in the top of the second, as back-to-back homers by Fox Semones and Josh Jones put the Dukes up 3-2. JMU added to their lead with a run scored on a wild pitch later in the inning.
While the score remained fairly low, neither starter reached the fifth inning, as JMU’s Liam McDonnell was lifted after 3 innings and Maryland’s Zach Thompson made it through 4. Thompson allowed just four hits and one walk, but the free pass was costly as the runner came in to score on Semones’ home run.
Both bullpens kept their opponents off the board and for the most part off the bases. The Dukes mounted a threat in the sixth inning when they drew two walks off reliever Connor Staine. After Staine was relieved by Sam Bello, a wild pitch moved the runners to scoring position with two outs, but Bello punched out DaVonn Griffin to keep the Terps’ deficit at just two.
After removing their starter, the Dukes turned the ball over to Grayson Jones. The senior right hander shut the Terps down, going three innings, allowing only one hit and fanning two while facing the minimum thanks to a pick-off of Randy Bednar at second base in the fifth.
The Terps finally threatened in the seventh, when reliever Andrew Weight loaded the bases with two outs for designated hitter Bobby Zmarzlak. After Weight was taken out in favor of Lliam Grubbs, Zmarzlak lined a ball deep into the left field corner, but left fielder Chase DeLauter tracked it down to end the inning.
The Dukes put together another solid inning in the eighth, using a single, a hit batsman, and a double steal to put runners on second and third with one out against Elliot Zoellner. Zoellner escaped the jam unscathed, sandwiching a walk between a strikeout and a force out that ended the inning.
After scoring 48 runs in the previous four home games, the Terps’ bats were all but silent on the afternoon, recording just four hits, and going 2-for-14 with runners on base and recorded just one hit after the fifth inning.
Heading into the final tilt of a five-game homestand, The Terrapins are flying high, with blowout wins in each of their last four games. After being swept at Coastal Carolina to finish February play, Maryland has righted the ship in a big way, outscoring opponents 48-18 over its last four games.
Before heading to their spring break road trip in Texas, Maryland will welcome James Madison to Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium to wrap up one of their longest homestands of the season.
While the Terps’ weekend rotation has been solidified, approaching only their third midweek it’s still uncertain whether junior Zach Thompson will get his third midweek start, or whether senior Tyler Blohm may finally make his return to the mound.
Thompson was dominant to start against Delaware, completing a perfect first trip through the order on just 27 pitches. After a long layoff prior to the fourth, Thompson struggled, finishing the afternoon after just 4 ⅓ innings with five runs charged to him.
Coming off of his junior campaign, in which he went 1-2 in six starts and struggled with injury, Blohm has the potential to make his first start of the season. After throwing over 50 innings in each of his first two years, Blohm was limited to 15 ⅔ innings last season. If he can return to form, the southpaw would provide a big boost to the Terps’ stable of arms, which currently leans heavily on underclassmen.
While the Terrapins have seen offensive production throughout the lineup, the top of their order has been a force to be reckoned with so far. Chris Alleyne, Randy Bednar, and Maxwell Costes are all batting over .340, with Costes boasting a .439 average and an impressive .627 on-base-percentage to go with four homers and 14 RBI.
Alleyne and Bednar are tied for team lead with eight doubles and Alleyne leads the conference with 18 runs scored, while Bednar is third in the conference with 16 RBI.
Outside of those three atop the order, the Terps’ biggest bat has been shortstop Ben Cowles, who has three home runs and has driven in 13 runs, batting mostly out of the seven-hole. Cowles is currently on a six-game hit streak and a four-game RBI streak, and has two home runs and 10 RBI on the four-game home stand.
James Madison Dukes (8-6, 0-0 CAA)
The Dukes finished last season 31-26, but were bounced in just two games in the CAA tournament. James Madison had a 9-13 overall record away from home last season, but that did include a 14-1 win over the Terps in College Park.
James Madison started the season getting swept by then-No. 16 NC State before rattling off six straight wins. Since then, the Dukes have won two of their last five and will be heading to College Park after playing VMI at home on Tuesday.
Hitters to Watch
The Dukes’ top run producers on the young season have been a trio of underclassmen. Freshman two-way player Chase DeLauter and sophomore Nick Zona boast identical .383 batting averages and have driven in 13 and 12 runs, respectively. The team’s RBI leader is sophomore Kyle Novak, who has 14 RBI this spring to go along with a .333 average.
Pitchers to Watch
In two midweek games this season, the Dukes have yet to have a starter go more than five innings. In their first midweek, Justin Showalter went two innings, but has since settled into a weekend starting role. In their second midweek, the Dukes used Liam McDonnell for 4 ⅔ innings in which he fanned seven while allowing five hits and two runs.
With freshman Hunter Entsminger the announced starter for Tuesday’s matchup with VMI, it seems likely that James Madison could turn to McDonnell on Wednesday, as he has only 5 ⅔ innings on the season and has not pitched since his appearance against VMI in February.
Whenever redshirt-freshman Sean Burke takes the mound, Maryland first baseman Maxwell Costes knows the Terps are going to win. And, in fact, Maryland has won all but one of Burke’s four starts so far this season.
“Burke is a baller,” Costes said after the Terps’ 13-3 sweep-clinching win over Bryant Sunday. “Even last week against Coastal Carolina, even though we lost on Sunday, I was like, ‘We about to get us one today.’ Like, whenever he steps on the mound…the whole vibe of the team feels different.”
After missing last season while recovering from injury, Burke has proven to be the most dominant arm of Maryland’s pitching staff. With a team-best 1.99 ERA and 35 strikeouts–the most strikeouts by a freshman pitcher in Division I baseball, and the fourth-most strikeouts overall in the Big Ten–Burke’s composure on the mound has shone through even when Maryland’s offense is struggling.
Against Coastal Carolina, Burke tossed six innings and set Maryland up for a potential comeback, allowing only two runs on three hits and three walks. Behind Burke, the Terps had a chance to prevent a sweep, after the Chanticleers defeated Maryland 16-0 and 10-3 on Friday and Saturday, respectively.
Though Coastal Carolina ultimately defeated Maryland 3-2, Burke’s performance has time and again proven that he has what it takes to dominate Division I hitters.
In his four starts Burke has lasted a minimum of five innings per start and struck out a minimum of eight batters. Against Bryant on Sunday, Burke matched his longest start of the season–his six innings against Coastal Carolina–while striking out a season-high 11 batters and allowing a season-low two walks.
“His composure throughout the game was incredibly impressive,” head coach Rob Vaughn said of Burke’s start on Sunday. “We were dropping fly balls behind him, causing him to throw extra pitches, and they were taking some decent swings, and he didn’t flinch.”
A perfect example of Burke’s composure is his first inning against Bryant. The Bulldogs put their first three batters on base, after a missed fly ball that was later ruled an error, a single, and a double that scored Bryant’s first run of the game. With that, Burke and the Terps were behind 1-0 with no outs and runners on the corners.
But after a quick mound visit from pitching coach Corey Muscara, Burke struck out three consecutive batters to strand those two baserunners, including a three-pitch strikeout to end the half.
“[Muscara] said that if I could just limit [Bryant] to one more run and get us out [and into the dugout, it’s like 2-0, then out lineup’s going to hit,” Burke said regarding Muscara’s mound visit. “Fortunately I was able to strike out the side there, and then our team’s bats just took care of the rest.”
Coincidentally, it was a start against Bryant two years ago that turned around former Maryland pitcher Hunter Parsons’ junior season and in part resulted in his development into the Terps’ ace.
While Parsons and Burke are different when it comes to the pitches they toss–Parsons tossed a two-seam cutter more and Burke throws a four-seam curveball–their mindset on the mound is similar, according to catcher Justin Vought.
“[Burke has] arguably the best stuff on the team,” Vought said. “To have him on Sunday’s, or out there against anybody that we play, we’re extremely confident going out there on Sunday’s with him on the mound. I think you’re going to put him with any Sunday starter in the country and you’re going to give yourself a chance to win, so that’s huge for us.”
A big part of Burke’s success, aside from his obvious pitching ability, is that mentality on the mound. It seems that Burke subscribes to Vaughn’s motto that “everything matters, nothing is special,” meaning that players shouldn’t put their play in-game on a pedestal, because it’s just as important as practice.
“In the past, and kind of in this preseason, when I struggled a little bit I was trying to do too much and trying to make things way bigger than they were,” Burke said. “Now just having a real simple pinch plan and making adjustments along the way…just overall being real simple and keeping everything to one pitch.”
Heading into the remainder of the season, Burke’s Sunday starts could play a major role in deciding whether or not the Terps make the Big Ten Tournament for the second year in a row. But at his current pace, Burke’s performance should be the last thing Maryland worries about.
“When you’ve got a guy like him who, he’s going to hopefully give up [fewer] than three, four runs, give your offense a chance to come through late in the game…that’s huge,” said Vought. “That’s all you want.”
Maryland scored in double digits on Sunday for the third time in its past four games, taking down the Bryant Bulldogs 13-3 for a series sweep in College Park.
Unlike the past two days, Bryant got on the board first in the series finale. Maryland allowed the first three Bryant batters to reach base to start the inning, after an error, a single, and a double. With the double the Bulldogs plated their first run of the game, taking the least 1-0.
But Terrapin starter Sean Burke proceeded to strikeout the next three batters to work out of the jam, minimizing the damage.
Maryland struck back in the bottom of the first on a Maxwell Costes home run to left field, after which Costes chucked the bat toward the home dugout, Tim Anderson-style. A Bobby Zmarzlak walk and Tucker Flint’s ninth hit-by-pitch of the year kept the rally going. (Flint was hit by two more pitches before the day was over).
Catcher Tavan Shahidi then smoked a single to right field to score Zmarzlak and give the Terps the one-run advantage.
“I feel like we have a complete lineup here,” Costes said. “If I don’t [get a hit], somebody else will.”
Bryant tied the game in the top of the second on a sky-high RBI triple just out of the reach of Terps left fielder Flint, but the Bulldogs’ lead didn’t last long.
Maryland’s offense continued the back-and-forth scoring in the bottom of the inning, putting up a two-spot after capitalizing on Bryant errors and free bases, heading into the third up 4-2, helped by a successful double-steal from Randy Bednar and Costes.
“When you are playing with the lead you can up your tempo a little bit and try to force guys to make mistakes,” head coach Rob Vaughn said, regarding the double-steal attempt.
A long ball to right-center field in the top of the third gave Bryant its third run of the day, but Maryland’s defense kept the Bulldogs from tacking on any more, while the Terps’ offense continued to dominate.
Shortstop Ben Cowles continued his hot streak with an RBI-double through the left-center field gap, putting Maryland ahead 5-3 heading to the fourth. The junior finished the day two-for-five with a double and three RBI.
On the mound Burke fully settled down in the fourth inning, with help from catcher Shahidi; after Burke walked the leadoff batter, Shahidi eliminated the baserunner with a successful throw down to second–then Burke struck out the next two batters to face the minimum.
Burke allowed runners in the fifth and sixth innings but both times the Maryland infield picked him up, turning two nifty double plays to keep his pitch count low enough to finish out the sixth inning with a strikeout. It was his 11th strikeout of the game, the most by any Maryland pitcher this year.
“In the past and this preseason when I struggled a little bit I was trying to do too much,” Burke said. “So now I have a real simple pinch-plan and make adjustments along the way if I need to.”
The Terps added three insurance runs in the fifth inning, plus four runs in the seventh and a run in the eighth; the late-inning scoring was highlighted by another double-steal and a Bryant error to plate Bednar from third base in the seventh.
Sam Bello came in the game for Maryland in the top of the seventh, relieving Burke, who finished with 11 strikeouts over six innings, allowing only two earned runs on five hits and two walks. Bello, who made his first appearance since February 21, pitched a clean seventh and struck out two batters.
“Burke is a baller, man… whenever he steps on the mound, the whole vibe of the team becomes different,” said Costes on the presence his freshman-year roommate brings to the diamond.
Austin Chavis had an impactful day for the Terps, going three-for-four with a double and two runs. Costes was two-for-two with a homer, double, two walks and three RBI.
Maryland will be back in action on Wednesday in College Park to take on James Madison at 4 p.m.
Despite allowing at least one runner in each inning of work, Maryland starting pitcher Nick Dean built off his solid start against Coastal Carolina with a gem Saturday against Bryant. The freshman went six scoreless innings, blanking the Bulldogs for only three hits and six strikeouts in the Terps’ 8-3 win.
Dean’s dominant performance on the mound earned him the W, the first of his career. On the offensive side of the ball, Maryland helped the freshman cruise, starting things early for the second straight day.
Bryant starting pitcher Tyler Schoff continued the Bulldogs’ trend of allowing free bases, walking two batters in the first inning to help the Terps grab an early lead.
Randy Bednar dribbled an infield single to shortstop, just beating the throw from Tommy DiTullio. Maxwell Costes walked and Bobby Zmarzlak split the left center field gap for his eighth RBI in two days, scoring Bednar and giving the Terps a 1-0 lead.
Left fielder Troy Schreffler walked to load the bases for third baseman Matt Orlando, who slapped a liner to right, scoring Costes. The Terps got another infield hit to shortstop from shortstop Benjamin Cowles to give them a three run cushion in the first.
Maryland got one more across in the bottom of the fourth after Bednar singled through the six-hole and stole second base, followed by a safety squeeze bunt by Schreffler to plate the team’s fourth run.
Bednar continued to dominate for Maryland in the fifth with a two-run double. The junior has now earned a hit in each of his last five games, three more coming on Saturday.
In relief, freshman Ryan Ramsey came in for Dean in the seventh inning and proceeded to allow three straight singles to DiTullio, Derek Smith, and Gustin to load the bases.
Ramsey was then pulled for Elliot Zoellner, who forfeited just two runs in the inning.
In the bottom of the inning, catcher Brenton Davis blasted a 1-1 offering from MacDonald over the right field wall for his first hit and home run as a Terp.
Zoellner closed it out for Maryland, inducing a bases loaded double play from Viscariello to secure the series win for the Terps.
Maryland will look for the sweep tomorrow with first pitch scheduled for 1 p.m.
One swing changed the game for the Terps on Friday.
Bryant starter Tyler Mattison had ended the bottom of the third inning with three straight strikeouts to strand runners on second and third base for Maryland. The bottom of the fourth was about to end in similar fashion with the bases loaded, after Tavan Shahidi and Tucker Flint had each struck out.
But the freshman Bobby Zmarzlak stepped to the plate and made up for the past failures, blasting a Mattison pitch to center field for a grand slam. It was his second home run of the game and sixth RBI, en route to the Terps’ 14-3 win over the Bulldogs in College Park to start the three-game series.
Maryland got the scoring started in the bottom of the first. Chris Alleyne led off the game with a laser double into left center field and Randy Bednar drove him in with a base knock to left field. A throwing error by the third baseman allowed Bednar to advance to third as the ball rolled towards the Bryant dugout. Costes then blooped one to center field to give the Terps a 2-0 lead.
Later in the bottom of the first after Shahidi walked and Flint flew out to left, Zmarzlak deposited a Mattison pitch over the right-field wall for his first homer on the day to make it 4-0.
“We see that stuff every day from [Zmarzlak],” head coach Rob Vaughn said. “When he hit the first one I said, ‘That’s one-of-30.’ When he hit the second one I said, ‘That’s two-of-30.'”
Behind the Terps’ overwhelming run support, Maryland starter Sean Fisher did enough for the win on Friday, going six innings, scattering five hits on three earned runs. He also struck out eight with two walks.
Bryant put together a scoring inning in the top of the third, after a Derek Smith base knock to left, Jake Gustin hit a booming double down the right field line to score Smith. Gustin stole third base on the next play and was driven home on a Shane Kelly sac fly to right field to make it 4-2.
Alleyne kicked off the bottom of the fourth inning with a bunt single, which was one of his six hits on the day. With his six-for-six performance, Alleyne tied the school record. Then came Zmarzlak’s grand slam, after the Terps loaded the bases, breaking the game open 8-2.
“I knew I had to get something done, put the ball in play and just do whatever I can to help the team get a run,” said Zmarzlak on the added pressure going into his grand-slam at-bat.
The Bryant pitching staff surrendered 11 of walks on the day, adding to the Bulldogs’ woes. Mattison had five walks over four innings and reliever Jack Halbruner had three in 2/3 innings pitched.
Bryant got their last run of the game on a missile home run off the bat of Kelly in the top of the fifth inning. Kelly was two-for-three with two RBI to lead the Bulldogs’ lackluster offense.
The Terps held a 12-3 lead heading into the bottom of the eighth, but the scorching offense added more. Cowles popped one over the center field wall for his third home run of the season, then two batters later Alleyne drove one over the right field wall for his record-tying sixth hit of the game, putting Maryland up 14-3.
“I just trusted my approach I had the whole year, see the ball up and hit it hard somewhere. I can’t control the ball once it leaves your barrel,” said Alleyne on his big day at the plate.
At the end of the day Bednar was two-for-five with a double and two runs, Costes was two-for-two with three walks and Zmarzlak finished the day with an impressive seven RBI.
The Terps got back on track Wednesday with a win over the Delaware Blue Hens and are set to face the Bryant Bulldogs this weekend at “The Bob.” Last weekend Maryland was swept by Coastal Carolina, in what was an eye-opening couple of days for the Terps.
“They just out-executed us all weekend in every phase of the game,” said Chris Alleyne on the series against the Chanticleers.
The Bulldogs also had a tough test last weekend, getting swept by Virginia Tech and posting a -22 run differential over the three-game span. Needless to say, the Tech offense was on fire just like Coastal’s offense was last weekend.
Right now, Maryland sits at 7-4, with a 4-1 record in College Park even with a few injuries to start the season.
“I got my shot and a lot of other guys are too right now because we are so injury plagued but everybody is taking it day by day, working hard,” said freshman Matt Orlando, who stepped up in place of third baseman Tommy Gardiner, who is out with a shoulder injury. Catcher Justin Vought is another notable starter on the shelf.
Despite the injuries, the Terps put up 13 runs on Wednesday against Delaware and, besides the Coastal series, have shown they have a high-powered offense this season. They are averaging 6.7 runs a game being led by Maxwell Costes and Randy Bednar.
Costes has carried his dominance over from last year’s Big Ten Freshman of the Year performance. He currently has three home runs and is getting on base at a .588 clip, enough for second and third in the Big Ten, respectively. He was 2-for-4 with two RBI against Delaware on Wednesday.
Bednar has also raked for the Terps this season. The junior currently leads the team in RBI with 12 and has an OPS of 1.057. He went 3-for-5 with two doubles on Wednesday.
Maryland also continued to show plate discipline in its latest midweek, drawing seven walks for a season total of 63. Freshman Tucker Flint leads the on-base charge for the Terps, with a team-high 10 walks and seven hit-by-pitches.
For an up-and-coming rotation, the Terps’ pitching has been relatively solid this season. Without their three games in which they allowed 10+ runs, Maryland’s arms have only allowed more than three runs from an opponent once–against Delaware Wednesday.
One reason for Maryland’s strength on the mound is redshirt freshman Sean Burke, who leads the Terps’ starters in most categories.
“I thought Sean Burke was tremendous again, that’s three straight starts for him that were really, really good,” said Head Coach Rob Vaughn.
Even with minimal innings, Elliot Zoellner has looked solid out of the bullpen. In 5 2/3 innings he has proven consistent, with a 0.00 ERA, and has held hitters to a .059 average.
Bryant Bulldogs (2-8, 0-0 Northeastern)
Bryant finished last season with a 40-20 record and went 19-5 in conference play during the regular season, finishing first in the NEC. The Bulldogs couldn’t make an NCAA big, however, losing to Central Connecticut in the NEC Tournament championship game.
The Bulldogs have struggled so far this season, starting off 2-8 Their two wins came against Georgia State two weekends ago in Atlanta. Despite their record, Bryant has been competing in tight ball games, losing only four by five runs or more.
Hitters to Watch
As Bryant work to overcome its early slump, with a team-wide .169 average, there are two Bulldogs who are putting up solid numbers at the plate. Senior James Ciliento, whose .314 average and seven home runs are a team-high. The outfielder has also swiped eight bags so far. The Bulldogs’ other slugger is junior Shane Kelly, who is batting .297 with a .357 on-base-percentage. He also has one home run with 11 hits.
Relievers to Watch
So far, Bryant’s most reliable arm out of the bullpen has been Matthew Stansky. The right-hander has six innings pitched in four appearances with a 3.00 ERA; he is also the only Bryant pitcher with a save so far this season. After Stansky, the next pitcher in line out of the ‘pen would be Jack Ipsen, who has 4 1/3 innings pitched with a 4.15 ERA.
Probable Starting Pitcher Matchup
Friday, 4 p.m. ET
Jr. RHP Tyler Mattison (0-2, 6.00 ERA) v. Jr. LHP Sean Fisher (2-1, 6.14 ERA)
In Mattison’s last start, against Virginia Tech, the righty allowed six earned runs and nine hits over only four innings pitched against the powerful Hokies lineup. Prior to last weekend, surrendered only two earned runs in each of his previous two starts. Arguably one of Mattison’s biggest strengths is his ability to prevent base-on-balls, having allowed only five walks in 15 innings pitched.
Like Mattison, Fisher’s ERA is bit inflated because of his start last weekend. Again st Coastal Carolina Fisher went only three innings, allowing nine earned runs and 10 hits. Fisher looked sharp against Rhode Island and Charleston Southern earlier this season, though, allowing only three runners to cross the plate his the 11 2/3 innings pitched over those two starts.
Saturday, 2 p.m. ET
Jr. RHP Tyler Schoff (0-3, 7.90 ERA) v. Fr. RHP Nick Dean (0-1, 5.65 ERA)
Another junior right-hander, Schoff enters the weekend with an inflated 7.90 ERA over 13 2/3 innings pitched. Though he has suffered a loss in each of his starts this season, Schoff has also struck out 10 batters and given up only one home run on the year.
The only true freshman in Maryland’s starting rotation, Dean has proven himself worthy, after a promising start against Coastal Carolina last weekend. Deal went five innings against the Chanticleers, allowing only two runs on six hits with six strikeouts. Dean has tossed around five innings in each of his three starts so far, and whiffed at least five batters in each start.
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
Jr. RHP Will Treuel (0-2, 6.75 ERA) vs. R-Fr. RHP Sean Burke (1-0, 1.62 ERA)
Treuel’s strongest appearance this year came out of the bullpen against Georgia State, when he threw 3 1/3 innings and allowed only one run, striking out an impressive six batters. In his two starts, coming against Dayton and Virginia Tech, Treuel struggled some, allowing a combined nine earned runs in 10 innings total and letting up a homer in each.
For Maryland, Burke has showed his prowess on the mound, proving the Terps’ most consistent starter so far in this young season. Against Coastal Carolina Burke allowed only three hits and two earned runs over six innings, his longest start of the season. Though dominant on the mound, Burke has struggled some with walks, so it will be important for him to limit free bases this weekend against the Bulldogs.