Former Terps pitcher Brett Cecil is retiring from baseball, the left-hander announced November 7, via a lengthy Instagram post.
Cecil last pitched in 2018 when he pitched 32 2/3 innings in a Cardinals uniform, recording a 6.89 ERA in 40 total appearances. A rough stretch of injuries kept Cecil off the mound in the remaining two years of the four-year, $30 million contract he signed with St. Louis in 2016. The Cardinals had cut Cecil loose prior to the 2020 season, and the reliever had remained unsigned until his decision to retire.
Before his tenure with St. Louis, Cecil had garnished the reputation as one of Major League Baseball’s top left-handed relievers with the Toronto Blue Jays, who took a chance on him out of Maryland. After four seasons of struggling to keep his ERA below 4.00, Cecil’s 2013-2016 seasons featured a 2.89 ERA and one All-Star selection in his “breakout” 2013 season.
The Blue Jays had drafted Cecil — a DeMatha High School product — out of Maryland in the first round (38th overall pick) in the 2007 MLB Amateur Draft after three seasons with the Terps. The Terps didn’t finish above .500 in any of the three seasons Cecil spent in College Park, but his 3.96 ERA and strong 156/52 K/BB in those seasons got him attention in the draft.
With Cecil’s retirement, there are five former Terps with major-league time remaining: Adam Kolarek, Brandon Lowe, Mike Shawaryn, LaMonte Wade, and Kevin Smith.
Maryland Baseball has released its schedule for the 2022 season, according to a release from the school Wednesday afternoon.
A year after playing in a 40-game, conference-only schedule, the Terps will welcome back non-conference play as they open the season with a three-game series against the Baylor Bears in Waco, Texas. The 2022 season features 56 games as well as the return of midweek games against nearby schools.
The early portion of the season — following the Baylor series — includes a series at Campbell and East Carolina, plus a back-to-back with Virginia Commonwealth. Those four teams are all RPI Top-50 opponents, and the Terps face one more in Dallas Baptist at the end of March. Additional midweek play in February and March features games against UMBC, Delaware, Cornell, Georgetown, Siena, and Towson.
The series with East Carolina will be an intriguing one, as the Pirates were responsible for putting the Terps’ push to a potential Super Regional to an end last season.
The Terps begin conference play just as the calendar turns to April, as they welcome Penn State to the “Bob” as part of eight Big Ten series this season. After hosting midweek matinees against George Mason and Navy, Maryland travels to Minnesota for three games.
Most of the conference play this season occurs in late April and May. From April 15 to the season finale on May 21, the Terps play series against Ohio State, Illinois, Northwestern, Rutgers, Michigan and Purdue. Only three midweek games against Towson, Georgetown, and James Madison, respectively, are played within that span.
The Big Ten Tournament takes place May 24-29 in Omaha, Nebraska, and NCAA Regionals are scheduled for June 3-5.
Coming off a season where Maryland ended up ranked for the first since 2017, there are high expectations that the Terps will make a return to Regional play, but the long road to Omaha begins February 18 in the heart of Texas.
Tuesday morning, Maryland Baseball Head Coach Rob Vaughn agreed to a contract extension that keeps him at Maryland through June 2026, per an announcement from University of Maryland Director of Athletics Damon Evans.
Vaughn’s extension follows the season in which he led his team to a pair of postseason victories and to the NCAA Greenville Regional Final against East Carolina. Although the Terps fell short in the tournament, the 2021 season certainly made for a memorable one on Vaughn’s coaching resume.
Maryland’s .636 winning percentage within the Big Ten conference marked a program-high since the Terps joined the Big Ten in 2015, and it was the program’s highest conference winning percentage since the team hit the .700 mark in 1981.
The outstanding regular season — despite only playing against the Big Ten due to a COVID-affected schedule — was also highlighted by a more outstanding second half. Vaughn’s squad went 18-4 in the team’s final 22 games, which was the best record in that span among all Power Five schools.
Overall, the Terps finished second in the Big Ten in 2021 behind Vaughn’s coaching — the team’s best finish since joining the conference.
Since Vaughn become the head coach in 2018, he’s led the Terps to a 93-82 record (.532 win percentage, and he’s helped six Maryland products get drafted into professional baseball. The two most-recent draftees were RHP Sean Burke and SS Benjamin Cowles, both of whom were selected in the first 10 rounds of the 2021 MLB Draft.
Before becoming head coach, Vaughn had long been a member of the Maryland coaching staff as an assistant coach (2013-2014), assistant head coach (2015-2016), and associate head coach (2017). During his time on the staff, he oversaw Terps squads that won NCAA Regionals in back-to-back years (2014-2015) while also setting school records for wins with 40 and 42, respectively.
In the nine years that Vaughn has been a coach at Maryland, the program has accumulated a 273-204 record (.572 win percentage) with eight of those seasons setting a .500 mark or better.
With Vaughn coming back for five more seasons, Maryland Baseball is in great hands as it looks to run back its tremendous success from 2021.
A day after the 2021 MLB Draft concluded, the Seattle Mariners signed Randy Bednar as an undrafted free agent. Bednar is the third Maryland alum expected to play professional ball after this year’s draft, joining Sean Burke (Chicago White Sox) and Benjamin Cowles (New York Yankees).https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
When Bednar was a freshman in 2018, he was immediately thrown into the fray, starting in 38 of 54 games. While he didn’t come out of the gates crushing the ball as a freshman (.208/.272/.376), he quickly made the adjustments he needed, posting a .893+ OPS in the following three seasons as he became a cornerstone in the Terps outfield.
Bednar never got much national attention let alone attention from the Big Ten conference while at Maryland until his latter two years. He was named a National College Baseball Writers Association Preseason Third Team All-American before the COVID-shortened 2020 season. A year later, he was given the honor of Perfect Game Preseason All-Big Ten.
Perhaps Bednar’s greatest contributions to the program while in College Park came in the Greenville Regional during the 2021 NCAA Baseball Tournament. While Maryland was unable to advance to the Super Regional round, Bednar helped propel Maryland from potentially being knocked out in two games to playing for a winner-take-all match with East Carolina. In the four Greenville Regional games, Bednar slashed .429/.526/.928 with two home runs, earning a spot on the 2021 Greenville Regional All-Tournament Team.
The New York Yankees selected Maryland shortstop Ben Cowles in the 10th round (303rd overall) of the MLB Draft on Monday. The rising senior was the second Terrapin taken in the 2021 MLB Draft.
The Newark, New York product starred both on the mound and at the plate in high school, but was recruited by the Terps as a position player. His presence was immediately felt in the lineup, as he started 50 of the 58 games during his freshman season. However, Cowles struggled with his bat, slashing just .200/.317/.314 with three homers and 15 RBIs.
After spending most of his freshman year at second base, he transitioned to shortstop prior to his sophomore season, where he started every game. Albeit the shortened season, Cowles saw his offensive numbers surge in his limited time at the plate. He matched his freshman total with three home runs in only 15 games while ranking third on the club with 14 RBIs. Cowles credited his offensive success to hitting coach Matt Swope, who worked with shortstop on his swing and helped fine-tune his approach at the plate.
Although Cowles made strides on offense during his sophomore campaign, no one could have expected the breakout season he would have in 2021.
The righty, who does not consider himself a power hitter, began the season hot at the plate and never cooled off. In March, he hit five homers in three games against Rutgers, which earned him Big Ten Player of the Week honors for the first time in his career. In mid May, the junior went 7 for 15 including homers in three straight games. By the season’s end, he finished with 18 home runs, fourth most in program history and most by a Terp in nearly two decades. He ranked second in the conference with 51 RBIs and finished top four on the team in OPS (first), hits (second), runs (third), average (fourth) and stolen bases (fourth).
He also excelled in the field, ranking second in the conference in both assists and fielding percentage among shortstops. His breakout season earned him a spot on the First Team All-Big Ten list and he also was named a Third Team All-American by Baseball America.
It is unknown whether Cowles will sign a contract with the Yankees or return to College Park in the fall.
The Chicago White Sox selected Maryland right-hander Sean Burke in the third round (94th overall) of the MLB Draft on Monday. The rising junior was the first Terrapin taken in the 2021 MLB Draft.
The Sutton, Massachusetts native went undrafted out of St. John’s High School in 2018 and chose Maryland over various Power 5 schools such as Virginia and Boston College. Burke’s time in College Park got off to a rough start when the righty missed his freshman year while recovering from Tommy John surgery.
When Burke finally returned to the hill, he shined. He made four starts and led the team in multiple pitching categories, including innings pitched, ERA and strikeouts. His 35 punchouts ranked first among freshmen in Division 1. Burke credited Tommy John surgery for his success in 2020.
“Obviously, at the time, I was upset that it happened,” Burke said in an interview with Baseball Prospect Journal prior to the 2021 season, “But because of that, I don’t think I would be where I’m at today if it wasn’t for that surgery,” he said.
The Perfect Game Preseason Big Ten Pitcher of the Year picked up where he left off to begin the 2021 campaign, striking out 13 Spartans in six innings at Michigan State on Opening Day. Three weeks later, the imposing right hander, who stands in at 6’6 and 230 pounds, recorded 11 strikeouts and allowed one earned run against Iowa.
He pitched his best down the stretch, striking out 12 and taking a no-hitter deep into the seventh inning against Indiana in the final regular-season series of the year. With the Terps’ season on the line, Burke stepped up once again, tossing six scoreless frames and striking out eight against Norfolk State in the NCAA Tournament. He finished the year with 107 strikeouts, which ranked second in the Big Ten and sixth-most in program history. His 12.96 strikeouts per nine innings was the fourth-best mark in Terrapin history and he finished third among starters in the conference with a .178 batting average against.
The right-hander boasts a four-seam fastball, changeup, curveball and slider from a three-quarters arm slot, which he added last offseason. He relies primarily on his fastball and curveball, which he experimented with prior to the 2021 season and changed his grip from the traditional grip to a knuckle curveball grip.
Burke’s fastball sits in the 92-95 range and elevates up in the zone, which has led to his high strikeout rates. His secondary pitches have led to some inconsistency, with some scouts wishing he would choose between his curve and slider. His command is also an issue, as he walked five or more batters three times in 14 appearances last season.
Some scouts envision Burke moving into a relief role due to his fastball-breaking ball combination if he struggles as a starter at the next level.
It is unknown whether Burke will sign a contract with the White Sox or return to College Park in the fall.
Maryland knew to beat a baseball powerhouse like East Carolina in front of the hostile home crowd in Greenville they had to get off to a great start and take advantage of their scoring chances with runners on base early. Neither happened as they never led and left eleven runners on base. As a result, Maryland’s season came to an end Sunday night in an 9-6 loss as East Carolina advanced to the Super Regionals.
The big blow came in the top of the eighth after Maryland failed to turn a double play that would have gotten them out of the inning still down 5-4. Costes and Shaw couldn’t turn it fast enough allowing a runner to score to make it 6-4.
The next batter Zach Agnos delivered the big blow of the game: a double into the gap that scored two runs and broke the game open 8-4. Down to its last six outs, Maryland did not give up and fought to the end. Maxwell Costes displayed that mindset with a two-run homer — his third of the regional — to cut the deficit to 8-6 hoping for some late-inning magic.
But after East Carolina added another insurance run in the ninth inning, Maryland was unable to rally like they did earlier Sunday, and as a result, the clock had literally struck past midnight as its road to Omaha came to an end.
“I thought the guys, laid it on the line and I thought they absolutely left the tank completely empty,” coach Rob Vaughn said.
After a rain delay delayed the start of the game. Connor Staine was given the ball to start off and East Carolina jumped on him from the start, getting back-to-back doubles from Thomas Francisco and Josh Moylan to go up 1-0, and an Alec Makarewicz single made it 2-0 before Maryland could grab a bat.
Matt Shaw wasn’t afraid of the moment and got one of the runs back quickly in the bottom half of the inning with a leadoff home run to left field.
“As leadoff hitter, I’m kind of just trying to see some pitchers and every time I go up to bat I’m just trying to hit the ball hard,” Shaw said.
After a shaky first, the hope was Staine could settle in and pitch a clean second inning for the Terps. He didn’t and was pulled with two outs in the second inning for Sam Bello after giving up a solo home run to Seth Caddell to make it 3-1.
“I just didn’t [Staine] wasn’t too sharp because he hasn’t been on the mound, a lot in the last couple of weeks,” Vaughn said.
East Carolina would add another run in the third inning with a sacrifice fly by Agnos before Shaw would hit his second home run of the game to cut the deficit to 4-2 in the bottom half of the inning.
When Bello loaded the bases in the fourth inning, Sean Fisher was summoned from the bullpen and was wild to start his outing, hitting two batters in a row to force in another run. That made the score 5-2, but Fisher got out of the inning without any more damage to keep Maryland within striking distance.
Maryland definitely had its chances with runners on base to do some damage early in the game. The Terps had two runners on in the second inning, but Tucker Flint grounded out to end the inning. They were in the same scenario in the third after Shaw’s home run, but Bobby Zmarzlak struck out and Justin Vought popped out to the shortstop to end Maryland’s hope of a rally.
In the fourth inning, Maryland had runners on second and first with its two best hitters up. Shaw this time struck out, and a Ben Cowles flyout was a couple of feet away from tying the game but died at the warning track.
“We had some opportunities early, and just couldn’t quite get the big hit,” Vaughn said.
Maryland finally broke through in the fifth inning. With the bases loaded, a rocket off of Troy Schreffler’s bat deflected off Ryder Giles’ glove at shortstop into left field and allowed two runs to score, cutting East Carolina’s lead to 5-4. Maryland couldn’t find that important tying run before East Carolina added those insurance runs late to extend their season for another game.
Even with the heartbreaking loss, it was a successful and historic season for Maryland as it finished with a 30-18 record and finishing second in the Big Ten despite the injuries and the adversity they faced all season.
“You just can’t say enough about this group, [with] the adversity that these guys have been through and the challenges that have been put in front of them,” Vaughn said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever been a part of a team that’s done what this team’s done.”
Maryland was 1-13 coming into Sunday when trailing after seven innings. With their season on the line, the Terps found themselves in that exact same situation, down 1-0 going in the bottom of the eighth, but came back and walked it off 2-1 over Charlotte to keep their season alive and advance to the Greenville Regional Final later Sunday against East Carolina.
Needing someone to step up down 1-0 in the eighth inning, Troy Scheffler Jr. did just that with a single, and he advanced to second on a wild pitch. Tucker Flint laid down a bunt to advance Schreffler to third base and reached himself on a throwing error. The freshman Matt Shaw hit into a productive double play that tied the game and gave Maryland new life on a season that has been full of adversity.
In the ninth inning, Charlotte had runners on first and second base against Elliot Zoellner when Maryland’s defense showed up when it needed it most for their pitcher. Justin Vought threw out the lead runner at second on a pickoff and Shaw saved the potential go-ahead run from scoring on a lineout to get out of the inning.
“[Dragum] caught that last ball pretty good but we had Shaw positioned in a good spot and he made a play,” coach Rob Vaughn said.
Facing Friday night starter Andrew Lindsey, Randy Bednar led off with a single and advanced to third on Maxwell Costes’s own single and Maryland had the winning run on third with no outs. A Bobby Zmarzlak infield single loaded the bases up for Vought and the senior didn’t wait to deliver the big moment with a walk-off single to right field to complete the comeback.
“Postseason baseball is about guys just stepping up and getting it done,” Vaughn said.
The Terps wouldn’t have been in this situation to come back if it wasn’t for Ryan Ramsey’s gem in the first collegiate start of his career.
“[Ramsey] has not started a game for us this year,” Vaughn said. “He goes out and goes 100 pitches and is absolutely flawless, he’s the story of this game.”
Ramsey went eight innings and gave up three hits where his only mistake on the day came in the fourth inning when Conference-USA Player of the Year Austin Knight hit a home run to left field to give the 49ers an early 1-0 lead that looked like for a while it would stick.
Ramsey only needed seven pitches to get through the first inning and got out of a two-runner jam in the second inning. With defense being a theme of the day, Ramsey picked off a runner leaning off of first base in the third inning to keep the game scoreless.
With his offense struggling to get hits and get on base already down 1-0, Ramsey kept the Terps in the game. In the sixth inning, Carson Johnson hit a leadoff double, but Ramsey buckled down and retired the next three batters to get out of the jam.
In the next inning, Ramsey found himself in a similar spot with a runner on second base and one out, but once again Ramsey got himself out of the jam to give his team a chance.
Running out of steam in the eighth inning, Ramsey walked the leadoff batter, Todd Elwood, on four pitches. Ramsey emptied the tank and retired the next three batters to finish off an outing the Terps needed to keep their season alive.
“Got to keep the same mentality, the whole game in just keep on throwing pitches and getting outs,” Ramsey said. “I trust those guys to pull away and get some runs, and we did that in last inning.”
For the first seven innings, Maryland’s offense was held in check by starting pitcher Matt Brooks. After combining for 26 runs in the first two days of the Greenville Regional the Maryland offense had no answer for Brooks.
“Offensively, I thought, we took some tired swings a little bit,” Vaughn said.
The Terps’ only baserunner through the first three innings was a Bednar Jr. walk in the first inning as Brooks was cruising the first time through the order.
It wasn’t till the fourth inning where Maryland recorded its first hit of the ballgame on a Ben Cowles single, and after Zmarzlak singled, Cowles stood in scoring position at second base. That rally was quickly put to an end as Brooks got Vought swinging to end the inning.
In the fifth inning with one out, Flint laid down a bunt single down the third baseline. Rounding second base Schreffler Jr. saw a chance to advance to third base with no one covering the bag. But a heads-up play by catcher Aaron McKeithan to sprint over to third base and just tag out Scheffler Jr. ended Maryland’s scoring chance.
Adversity wasn’t new to this Maryland squad as it answered the call all year. They needed to answer the call one more time when they needed to in the eighth and ninth inning. Their success paid off, as they now advance to the regional final against East Carolina where they’ll need to win to force a winner-take-all game for a Super Regionals berth Monday.
“We’re excited to get back to the hotel get off our feet for a minute and then line up and rock and roll at six o’clock tonight,” Vaughn said.
Maryland hit a season-high seven home runs in a 16-0 blowout win over Norfolk State to advance in the losers bracket of the Greenville Regional and keep the Terps’ tournament hopes alive for another day.
Coach Rob Vaughn wanted his team to get off to a great start Saturday in the first inning and Bobby Zmarzlak did that, getting the party started with a three-run homer off MEAC Player of the Year Danny Hosley to give Maryland an early 3-0 lead.
Maxwell Costes was next up in the third inning, as his own three-run homer hit off the batters eye in center field for his second of the regional and made it 6-0.
“I really liked the way [Costes] has swung the bat,” Vaughn said. “He has the ability to put a team on his back and in the postseason, that’s what we’re gonna need from him.
Justin Vought added a RBI single and Troy Scheffler Jr.’s safety squeeze capped off a five-run inning for the Terps to go up 8-0.
The home runs kept coming in the fourth inning, as Ben Cowles hit his 18th home run of the season, a two-run homer to left-center field to make it 10-0. Randy Bednar Jr. followed Cowles’ lead and went back-to-back with his second home run of the regional and made it 11-0.
Later in the inning, Vought hit a two-run homer — his ninth home run of the season — to make it 13-0. For the second time in the inning, Maryland would go back-to-back as Schreffler Jr. hit his first home run of the season to make it 14-0 and tying their most home runs hit on the season.
In the sixth inning, Zmarzlak, who finished the day 4-5 and a triple shy of the cycle, capped off the offensive firepower for the Terps with his second home run of the day to make it 15-0.
After adding another run, Maryland has come into Greenville and totaled 26 runs in two days of regional action all without leadoff hitter and Second Team All-Big Ten Chris Alleyne who did not play after leaving Friday with an injury.
But unlike Friday, where they were outslugged by Charlotte, Maryland’s pitching staff put on a masterclass performance and pitched a shutout behind another quality outing by Sean Burke.
A moment that highlighted Burke’s strong performance was in the second inning when he escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam with two strikeouts of Norfolk State’s best hitters in Dionte Brown and Alsander Womack.
Zach Thompson picked up where Burke left off with three shutout innings of his own out of the bullpen.
“Just a really efficient job by our pitchers [today],” Vaughn said.
Maryland’s road to the Super Regionals still presents a challenge, as it needs to pick up a win against the loser of East Carolina-Charlotte Sunday at noon.
“Once you get in this side of the bracket it’s a long road to get your way back,” Vaughn said.
Regardless of who the Terps will play, Saturday’s offensive eruption couldn’t have given them a more promising breath of fresh air as they live to see another day.
“The motto is just to play one more day with each other,” Zmarzlak said. “We don’t want this season to end.”
Maryland’s return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2017 got off to a rough start in a 13-10 loss to Charlotte in the Greenville Regional Friday.
It was a back and forth game to start off the contest with a tie game 3-3 going into the bottom of the fourth inning. That’s when Charlotte blew the game open against Maryland starting pitching Jason Savacool. The bases were quickly loaded on a walk, a single and a bunt single that scored a run on an errant throw by Tommy Gardiner that made the score 4-3. Charlotte would add another run and load the bases once more chasing Savacool out of the game and forced coach Rob Vaughn to go to his bullpen and bring in David Falco to try and put out a fire facing the top of the 49ers lineup in a big spot in the game.
But the fire wasn’t put out by Falco as Charlotte’s offense made their impact on the game with a sac-fly that scored another run and two more RBI singles suddenly made the score 8-3 and put the Terps suddenly in an early hole that be hard to climb out of.
The game got off to a scary start for Maryland when Chris Alleyne took a foul ball to the head and had to leave the contest in the first at-bat of the game and was replaced by Tucker Flint a brutal early blow for the Terps.
But Maxwell Costes gave Maryland its first lead and run of the NCAA Tournament in the second inning with a home run off of Andrew Lindsey to right field opened up the scoring and got the Maryland dugout fired up.
Charlotte answered right back and took the lead when Jack Dragum hit a two-run homer off of Savacool to make it 2-1. In the third inning, down 3-1, Maryland tied the game in the top of the fourth thanks to a Gardiner RBI single and a Troy Scheffler Jr. sac-bunt as both pitching staffs were struggling to contain these high powered offenses.
Now trailing by five runs Maryland loaded the bases in the top of the fifth without even putting a ball in play via three walks but could only muster up two runs on an RBI groundout by Costes and a wild pitch.
But every time Maryland tried to get back into the game Charlotte answered any rally the Terps had. A three-run six-inning for Charlotte was highlighted by two long home runs by David McCabe and Will Butcher gave Charlotte a 12-5 lead.
Maryland had one last rally in them in the seventh inning scoring four runs highlighted by a sac-fly by Randy Bednar and RBI singles by Costes and Gardiner to cut the lead to 12-9 and make things interesting.
But again all game, Charlotte would answer any momentum Maryland had with their offense when McCabe hit his second home run of the game to make it 13-9 in the bottom half of the inning leaving the Terps frustrated.
Bednar would hit a home run in the top of the ninth to make it 13-10 to show signs of life that the group wouldn’t quit at this point in the season but it was too little too late for Maryland. Charlotte spoiled their welcome back party to the NCAA Tournament and now Maryland will play Norfolk State in an elimination game Saturday at 1:00 p.m. looking to continue their season for another day.