Pro Terps: Lowe named finalist for AL Rookie of the Year

Lowe

Former Maryland infielder and current Tampa Bay second baseman Brandon Lowe was named one of three finalists in the American League Rookie of the Year race by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America on Monday.

Lowe was named to the AL All-Star team earlier in the season, after being first recalled toward the end of the 2018 campaign.

Though he missed the All Star Game due to injury, which kept him sidelined from early July until late September, the rookie put up some stellar numbers for the Rays.

Over his 82 games and almost 300 at-bats, Lowe batted .270 and slugged .514 with 17 long balls and 17 doubled. He also notched 51 RBIs.

Lowe was drafted out of the University of Maryland by Tampa Bay in the third round of the 2015 MLB Draft. He received numerous honors in his years as a Terp, including being named Baseball America and Perfect Game Freshman All-American and earning Second Team All-American and First Team All-Big Ten honors.

The winners of all BBWAA awards will be announced on November 11.

Five things to know from Maryland’s exhibition versus St. John’s

Maryland hosted the St. John’s University Red Storm Sunday afternoon in an 18-inning scrimmage as Fall baseball for the Terps is nearing its conclusion. Many newcomers to this Terrapins team had an opportunity to display their talent on the diamond while returning members were able to get in some reps versus a generally highly-regarded St. John’s squad. Here are five takeaways from the exhibition:

1. Terps bullpen cleaned up an early mess

Starter Nick Dean came into the game with some clear command issues. While his first two innings went unscathed, the lack of command was evident as seen by three walks being issued paired with no strikeouts. The command issues bit Dean in the back in the third inning when two walks and a bunt single combined to load the bases in the St. John’s third followed by a sacrifice fly. The damage continued when St. John’s Ryan Markey shot a two-run single over the head of Dean, who was then pulled in favor of freshman Sam Bello. Bello immediately made a difference after maneuvering his way out of the third inning and through a scoreless fourth inning. The Terps bullpen continued to put up zeroes in the St. John’s run column as the first half of the 18-inning marathon moved on with Sean

2. Patience paid off early

After falling behind 3-0 early in the game, the Terps offense made some great adjustments to get themselves back in the game. The biggest difference they made in their approach was having more patience at the plate and on the base paths. This was especially key after they watched their starting pitcher, Nick Dean, walk five St. John’s players. What that patience led to was a huge three-run fourth inning that began when freshman Troy Schreffler Jr. wisely held up at third base on a shallow single to center field off the bat of Randy Bednar. Freshman Tucker Flint then took a walk to load the bases, and the Terps ultimately unloaded them after a bases-loaded walk from Austin Chavis and a big two-run double by catcher Tavan Shahidi. The Terps proceeded to load the bases a second time but failed to do any more damage in the fourth. However, that inning would set the tone for the offense as the game progressed through the afternoon.

3. Tavan Shahidi flexes power with big performance

Redshirt junior Tavan Shahidi didn’t see the diamond that much in the 2019 season, but he made a great impression during Sunday afternoon’s contest. The Iowa native had grounded out in his first at-bat, but his next appearance came with a major opportunity to cash in some runs with the bases loaded. Shahidi looped a pitch into the right-field corner — just out of reach of St. John’s right fielder — to bring in two runs and tie the game which could later be seen as a big momentum swing. Shahidi followed up his first big at-bat another double, a monster shot off the right-field wall that nearly cleared the fence. His third at-bat put him in a big RBI spot with runners on second and third, and he converted yet again with a hard-hit single to left field. He would have one final at-bat in the ninth inning of game one, and he clearly didn’t slow down as he notched his fourth hit of the day. Shahidi would sit for the second half of today’s exhibition.

4. Randy Bednar had a monster day

Bednar finished the first half of the day by reaching three times in five appearances. His first was a walk in the first inning as he was the only Terp to reach base in the first two innings. His next appearance had a much larger impact as he helped progress the Terps’ fourth-inning rally with a single. He would later come around to score on Shahidi’s two-run double. The game was tied at three runs apiece by the time Bednar came up for his third plate appearance, but Bednar wanting to change that, he smacked a pitch deep over the left-field fence to give Maryland a 4-3 lead. His next at-bat came with two runners in scoring position, and despite airing a ball towards the St. John’s left fielder, the sun prevented a clean play from being made as the left fielder misplayed the ball allowing two runs to score. His final at-bat of game one came in the eighth inning, but nothing came of it as he softly flew out to right field. Bednar started for game two, but after reaching on a walk in two plate appearances, he was pulled in favor of freshman Tucker Flint.

5. Freshman bullpen arms make great first impressions

In their first innings against a Division I school in St. John’s, both Sam Bello and Sean Burke put on great first impressions. As mentioned earlier, both were sent to the mound following early trouble for the Terps starter, but there’s nothing more they could’ve done to hold St. John’s to three runs. Bello had entered the game in the second, inheriting three base runners after Nick Dean was unable to record an out. While Bello allowed all three to cross the plate, he was able to escape the third inning without allowing further damage as he ultimately produced a flyout and struck out a pair of hitters. Bello looked to be settled in during the fourth inning as he recorded two more strikeouts induced a flyout. Sean Burke would take over for the next couple of innings. Despite some control issues for the redshirt freshman (three walks in two innings), Burke shut down St. John’s bats for two innings while racking up four strikeouts. In game two of the doubleheader, lefty Ryan Ramsey was another freshman that emerged from the Terps bullpen, and he had looked just as good as his fellow freshman for an inning. He would run into some trouble in the next after walking the bases loaded, but his appearance ended there.

 

 

Team Papio dominates for second straight win in Fall World Series

In the bottom of the third inning, Team Papio shortstop Ben Cowles sent out a deep ball as centerfielder Troy Schreffler could do nothing but stand and watch as it cleared the wall.

Cowles’ two-run big fly opened the game wide open as Team Papio went on to defeat Team Swope 16-6 for the team’s second consecutive blowout win in the Fall World Series.

The offense-heavy victory for Papio began in the first inning of the contest. The inning started with three batters reaching base. Center fielder Chris Alleyne led off by reaching on an error, followed by a drop-third strike that scored Alleyne after he stole two bases. The center fielder ended the game with three stolen bases.

First baseman Michael Pineiro followed with the game’s first hit, leaving left fielder Ben Irvine to do the heavy lifting. Irvine sent a dart past a diving Josh Maguire up the middle to drive in two runs, closing out a three-run first inning.

To finish the onslaught, Alleyne led off the sixth with solo shot that sailed to dead center, followed by an RBI double by Cowles to plate the team’s 16th run.

Team Papio managed to get a leadoff runner on base in five out of six innings of play. Eight hits were spread equally throughout the lineup as both new and returning faces contributed in the win.

Small ball drove in a majority of the runs for Team Papio, aside from the big hits from Cowles and Irvine. A total of 16 walks for the team landed runners on base in every inning, and even drove in some of the team’s runs.

On the other side of the ball, Team Papio starter Mike Vasturia shined on the mound in his 2019 Fall World Series debut. In four innings of work, the right-hander tallied three strikeouts while allowing just three hits and a run.

Despite the blowout loss, Team Swope wasn’t all that bad at the plate once Vasturia went to the dugout.

The offense showed signs of life in the fifth inning when Vasturia exited the game. Catcher Brenton Davis plated two runs on a single that ended Team Papio’s shutout.

In the final inning, Team Swope managed to score four runs off a Randy Bednar single and a Maxwell Costes double down the left field line.

Defensive woes were prevalent in the game, however.  Team Swope issued six consecutive walks in the fourth inning to bring in four runs in the defeat.

The 16 runs scored for Team Papio increase the team’s total in the first two games of the Fall World Series to 21, while conceding just seven runs.

The full Maryland baseball team will be back in action on Sunday as the Terrapins take on St. John’s in an 18-inning exhibition.

 

Team Papio comes out on top in Fall World Series Game 1

Team Papio pulled out all the stops in Game 1 of the Fall World Series, utilizing all aspects of their game for the 5-1 win over Team Swope on Friday in College Park.

A combination of small ball and big hits put Team Papio on the board first, with a four-run fourth inning. A walk and stolen base from Austin Chavis, followed by a single from Tucker Flint put runners on the corners as James Heffley stepped to the plate.

Heffley hadn’t started the game, but after junior catcher Justin Vought was hit in the left wrist by a pitch while at bat in the second inning the freshman got the nod.

In his first plate appearance, he proved he could compete and laid down a squeeze bunt that drove home Chavis and left Flint at second. Then, after Team Swope reliever Ryan Ramsey walked one batter and hit another, freshman Matt Orlando roped a bases-clearing double to the wall in left field for the 4-0 lead.

“I just jumped on the first fastball I got and put a pretty good swing on it,” Orlando said. “We’ve been preparing since last night…we had a game plan. We had a lot of quality at-bats.”

The following inning it was Chris Alleyne who went deep, his long shot carrying over the left field wall to put Team Papio up 5-0 heading into the sixth inning.

“You have to have multiple ways to score,” head coach Rob Vaughn said. “Ideally, for our offense to run right, you’ve got to lengthen and shorten the field… Heffley comes in, executes a safety and, worse case, you leave that inning you’re up 1-0 and with your pitchers throwing the ball pretty good. But instead, [Orlando] comes up and gets that big hit.”

Freshman starter Sam Bello and redshirt-freshman Sean Burke combined for 5 2/3 scoreless innings and seven strikeouts, before junior Sean Fisher entered in the top of the sixth after Burke gave up a run to Team Swope.

Fisher threw three consecutive strikes for the final punch-out of the inning, minimizing the damage and coming back out to secure the Team Papio victory in the seventh.

“Sam Bello got the nod today not because he has the best stuff,” Vaughn said, “though [Bello] is 90-92 [mph] with a breaking ball, but [because] his mentality is through the roof. That guy’s a competitor, he’s a winner.”

The same could be said for the other young pitchers on the mound Friday. Vaughn was happy with what he saw from the freshman pitchers; though they lack consistency, there’s big potential amongst the new faces in Maryland’s pitching staff. And, amongst the returning arms, some have newfound strength on the mound.

“Fisher does what Fisher does,” Vaughn said. “[He] had a tremendous summer up in the Cape…. [and] he’s been flat-dominant since he’s been back.”

Across the diamond, Team Swope’s battery of Nicholas Dean, Ramsey and David Falco threw four scoreless innings and four strikeouts, including two three-up, three-down innings from Dean.

“That’s prime-time, Friday night, legit stuff,” Vaughn said of Dean’s pitching arsenal.

“I saw a lot of focus,” Dean said of his fellow pitchers. “Guys need to be more confident working through the zone…just go right at hitters.”

Game 2 of the Fall World Series is set for 3:50 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 29.

Maryland releases 2020 schedule, which features Texas road trip

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The University of Maryland 2020 baseball schedule has finally dropped!

Maryland opens its 2020 season with a three-game set on the road against College of Charleston Feb. 14. It marks the Terps’ second consecutive year starting the season somewhere in South Carolina. 

The Terps broke even in their 2019 campaign, finishing with a 29-29 record, a four-win improvement from the previous season.. In his second season at the helm, Rob Vaughn steered the Terps to their first Big Ten Tournament appearance since 2017. Maryland defeated Illinois in their first tournament game before losing to Ohio State and Michigan to close out the season.

Maryland kicks off its 2020 home slate with the Rhode Island Rams on Feb. 21. The weekend series will be the first meeting between the two programs, as the Terps look to defend Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium with another sweep in the home opener. 

The Terps continue their non-conference slate with a three-game set against Coastal Carolina, this time for a weekend series against the Chanticleers. Last year, Maryland started its season with the tournament hosted by Coastal Carolina. Maryland also played in the tournament in 2018.

A spring break trip to Texas highlights the Terps’ non-conference schedule. The road trip will include a weekend series at TCU beginning on March 13 and a midweek game at Sam Houston State on March 18. This will be Maryland’s first trip to the Lone Star State since 2011. 

The rest of Maryland’s slate includes weekend series against Bryant, and Binghamton, and midweek matchups against Villanova, Delaware, James Madison, VCU, West Virginia, William and Mary, Mount St. Mary’s and Towson.  Altogether, the Terps will face five teams that made the 2019 NCAA tournament, including TCU, who came within two games of a Super Regional appearance before being eliminated by Arkansas.

The Terps will begin Big Ten play at home against the Michigan State Spartans on March 20. Last season, the Terps finished 11-11 in conference play, enough to clinch the No. 6 slot for the Big Ten Tournament.

Maryland’s conference schedule also includes home series against Nebraska, Penn State and Minnesota, and road series against Rutgers, Iowa, Purdue and the 2019 Big Ten Tournament Champions Ohio State. The Terps will avoid the three teams that finished atop the Big Ten in regular season play last year: Indiana, Michigan and Illinois.

Make sure to stay up-to-date on all your Terps baseball news with MBN, where we’ll have broadcasts and game recaps for all 56 games of the 2020 season.

 

Pro Terps Update: 2019 MLB Postseason edition

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October baseball is here, and two former Terrapins shined in their postseason debuts. Tampa Bay Rays’ Brandon Lowe and Los Angeles Dodgers’ Adam Kolarek represented Maryland in the first round of the Major League Baseball playoffs.

Both Lowe and Kolarek were knocked out of their respective divisional series in the first round, each of which in a winner-take-all Game 5. Here’s how these former Terrapins fared on the national stage.

2B Brandon Lowe, Tampa Bay Rays

Lowe entered the postseason without a division title. The Rays earned the second Wild Card spot and traveled to Oakland for a one-game round matchup against the A’s. The rookie made the start at second base for Tampa Bay and totaled three at-bats in the win.

The Rays then traveled to Houston to face off against the top-ranked Astros for the five-game divisional set. Lowe started the first four games of the series, finishing with a postseason batting average of .250. 

In Game 3, the first game back home after Tampa Bay dropped the first two in Houston, Lowe tallied two hits–one of which flew over the left-field wall and made him the first Terrapin to homer in an MLB postseason since 1942. 

The former Terrapin did not see time in the final game of the series, which ultimately stopped the Rays’ season short. Lowe ended his first year in the MLB with a .270 average and 17 home runs. He currently sits in third place for the American League Rookie of the Year, according to CBS Sports. 

LHP Adam Kolarek, Los Angeles Dodgers

The southpaw joined the Dodgers’ stacked roster in July after being traded from the Tampa Bay Rays. Kolarek earned a spot in the bullpen and pitched his way to a National League West Division Title. 

Los Angeles entered the 2019 MLB playoffs as the No. 1 team in the National League and, after they on the Wild Card, faced the Washington Nationals for a five-game set. The second-year pitcher appeared in three of the five postseason games, totaling one inning pitched. 

The Dodgers used Kolarek as a specialty left-hander out of the bullpen against the Nationals’ Juan Soto, facing the youngster three times, all of which resulted in outs. Kolarek never went over 10 pitches in any of his outings, and struck out Soto twice. 

Kolarek finished his second year in the Majors with a 3.27 earned-run-average and 45 strikeouts. Since joining the Dodgers in July, the former Terrapin had an ERA of 0.77 to close out the season.