Team Papio comes from behind again, wins 2016 Fall World Series

After dropping the first game of the Fall World Series Friday and rallying back from five runs down to win Sunday, Team Papio came back one last time Tuesday, defeating Team Martir 3-2 to clinch the 2016 Fall World Series.

Team Papio went down early to Team Martir for the third time in the three-game series, surrendering a solo home run to Madison Nickens in the top of the first inning to make the score 1-0. It was the second first inning home run for Nickens in as many games.

Team Papio had an opportunity to respond immediately in the bottom of the inning after loading the bases, but instead went down quietly when Ryan Selmer entered the game in relief of starter Nick Pantos, who only lasted two-thirds of an inning.

A forty-minute first inning was followed by a brief second and third, which saw nine consecutive batters retired between both teams from the top the second to the bottom of the third. Team Papio evened the score in the bottom of the third after Will Watson laid down a perfect bunt down the first base line that allowed him to reach first safely and score Nick Dunn from third.

3rd consecutive world famous terrapin cup champion! Now let’s go sweep the Tribe! #teamapaps #gocubsgo

A photo posted by Kevin Biondic (@cuzz_mike) on Oct 25, 2016 at 4:51pm PDT


Team Papio took their first lead of the game the very next at bat, as smart base running from Jamal Wade brought the junior across the plate after Team Martir threw out Ty Friedrich at first, who was caught off the base after looping a ball into the right field corner.

Elliot Zoellner pitched two perfect innings for Team Papio after replacing starter Ryan Hill at the end of the first before giving up the tying run in the fourth on a lead-off Kevin Smith home run.

The tie was short-lived as Wade took a Tyler Brandon pitch over the center field wall and a leaping Marty Costes in the bottom of the fourth to give Team Papio the one-run lead and the eventual win.

Team Papio held the lead for the remainder of the game, despite loading the bases for Team Martir in the fifth, thanks in large part to scoreless pitching from Tayler Stiles, Andrew Miller and Mike Rescigno over the game’s final two innings.

Kevin Martir and Anthony Papio begin coaching careers in Fall World Series

By Max Marcilla

As the Maryland Terrapins began the 2016 Fall World Series, familiar faces from the Terps’ recent years of success—Kevin Martir and Anthony Papio—looked at one another from across the field.

Now student assistant coaches, the two players who had combined to play more than 300 games for the Terps since 2013 found themselves as opposing managers for the annual split-squad scrimmage series, which is tied at one-game apiece.

Martir, who was drafted by the Houston Astros his junior year, returned to College Park, Md., this fall to finish his bachelor’s degree. Papio, who graduated in August of 2015 and played last season as a fifth-year senior, has remained on campus, finishing his graduate degree.

Student assistant coach Kevin Martir high-fives senior Nick Cieri as he rounds the bases after his three-run home run in Game 2 of the Fall World Series (10/23/16). (Hannah Evans/Maryland Baseball Network)

The former catcher expected to just work out with the team and help out, like he did last year. But Szefc approached him for a more official role. As for Papio, the former outfielder and all-time leader in games played knew he wanted to get into coaching once his playing days drew to a close.

“I kidded Papio…, 27 years ago, I did the same thing,” head coach John Szefc said. “I had one semester [at Drexel] I had to finish up, and I went back and coached and it worked for me.”

The 2015 team, including Kevin Martir (front, center) and Anthony Papio (front, right), celebrates winning the 2015 UCLA Regional. (Courtesy of Terps Baseball)

Szefc, who coached both players during the Terps’ back-to-back Super Regional seasons, who has been at the helm for the entirely of Martir’s Terrapin career and the majority of Papio’s, instilled lessons in his newest assistants.

“The biggest positive of playing under Szefc was that he was the same guy every day,” Papio said. “He stayed pretty cool throughout the whole game—never too high or too low. I think that’s something that both of us have tried to incorporate while we’re out here coaching.”

Martir, who was a vocal leader on the team during his three years, has taken note of the way Szefc communicates with his players.

When I was a player, I’d be able to scream and get on someone,” Martir said. “Now you have to direct the message you’re trying to tell the player in a different way—so that they can understand and not be mad at you or hate you for something you said.”

Martir’s playing experience behind the plate as a catcher—both at Maryland and in the Houston Astros organization he past two seasons—has helped him convey those messages to both position players and pitchers.

Fall World Series time 🐢⚾️ #NeedIt #TeamMartir #DominateTheDay

A photo posted by Ryan Selmer (@snakeman124) on

Ryan Selmer posted the above picture of him pitching to his new student assistant coach Kevin Martir to Instagram before the start of the Fall World Series.

“Being a catcher, you’re able to do both,” he said. “You can manage a pitching staff and tell guys about different approaches or anything like that. That’s why while I’m coaching, I’m calling a game—because I’ve been there.”

Szefc had complete confidence in his former players to get the job done as student assistant coaches.

“Personality-wise they’re a little different, but they’re also both pretty demanding too,” he said. “I think they both know how things should be done, so they’re not afraid to get the point across. What you have is two guys that are student assistant coaches, but Papio just finished playing, Martir’s still playing. Those guys know the game and they’re not afraid to open up their mouths and coach it.”

Anthony Papio discusses strategy with associate head coach Rob Vaughn and outfielder Zach Jancarski during Game 1 of the Fall World Series (10/21/16). (Hannah Evans/Maryland Baseball Network)

While playing under Szefc taught both student assistant coaches vital lessons, managing the Fall World Series has given both Martir and Papio a newfound respect for what their former coaches do on a day-to-day basis.

“The other day I was coaching third and other guys were missing signs,” Martir said. “[Associate head coach] Rob [Vaughn] was like, ‘well, welcome to my world. Guys are missing signs.’”

But as Martir explained, missed signs are just the beginning of the frustrations of being a manager.

“You can’t really control what’s going on—it’s out of our control,” he said. “While I’m back there I’m like, ‘damn, I want to go and put down a bunt’ but I can’t because I’m on the other side. It’s tough on us too because we can’t really do anything about it.”

Both Papio and Martir have had some fun throughout the process of leading their respective teams during the Fall World Series. The dugouts are loud and active during the game, which is no surprise considering each manager’s competitive nature. The antics continue off the field, with players posting pump-up message to Twitter and Instagram, and Martir sending Papio “a couple of emojis.” It’s clear what’s on the line—supreme bragging rights, for both the players and their former teammates turned coaches.

“I think you’ve got probably the two most competitive dudes to come through here in the past five-to-10 years,” Papio said.

Tuesday afternoon, Team Martir and Team Papio will square off in the deciding game of the Fall World Series. And neither is treating it like just a scrimmage.

Tuesday’s Fall World Series finale can be listened to live on the Maryland Baseball Network. Follow @mdbaseballnet on Twitter for live updates.

Team Papio evens series behind 5-run third inning

By Joe Catapano

The bats came alive Sunday afternoon for Game 2 of the Fall World Series in College Park, Md., as Team Papio evened the series after erasing a 5-0 deficit, eventually beating Team Martir, 6-5.

Coming off a 3-0 win Friday afternoon, Team Martir picked up right where they left off, scoring five runs in the first two innings. Outfielder Madison Nickens hit a solo home run in the first inning off of Team Papio’s starting pitcher, right-hander John Murphy. Catcher Nick Cieri extended the early lead the following frame with a three-run home run to right field.

Team Martir’s starter, right-hander Cameron Enck, took a no-hitter into the third inning, dominating the opposing lineup. But Enck’s control quickly disappeared, hitting two batters and walking one before allowing a 2-run RBI double to Nick Dunn.

Right-hander Jon Dignazio relieved Enck, entering with the bases loaded and two outs. Outfielder Will Watson hit a hard line drive to left field, where the ball skipped under the glove of freshman left-fielder Nathan Panzer. As the ball disappeared behind Panzer, so did Team Martir’s lead. All three runners came in to score, tying the game 5-5 after three innings.

Left-hander Andrew Miller, right-hander Jamal Wade and right-hander Ryan Hill came out of the bullpen for Team Papio. The trio pitched four innings of shutout baseball, helping seal the victory.

In the fourth inning, Wade doubled, advancing special pinch-runner Kevin Biondic to third base. Team Papio took the lead later that frame, when Jared Price threw wild with the bases load.

Team Martir would not go down without a fight, using a rowdy dugout to fuel a potential comeback. Hill entered the game for the save, but walked the first three batters he faced. Then, the right-hander struck out Cieri swinging, bringing Panzer to the plate. Coach Martir called for a suicide squeeze, but Panzer failed to get down the bunt, leaving Kevin Smith caught between third and home. Panzer would strikeout swinging on the very next pitch to end the game.

Team Papio and Team Martir will play the rubber-match of the three-game series this Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium.

Rain doesn’t spoil Fall World Series opener

Heavy rain drenched College Park, Md., Friday afternoon, pushing first pitch of Game 1 of Maryland’s annual Fall World Series back by nearly an hour.

Once the downpour subsided and the game began, Team Martir wasted no time getting on the board. In the first inning, senior Nick Cieri stepped to the plate with runners on second and third after Kevin Smith led off with sharp single to left and Madison Nickens walked. Cieri pulled a hard ground ball down the right field line off Team Papio starting pitcher Mike Rescigno to give his team a 2-0 advantage.

That was all Team Martir, coached by former Terrapin All-American catcher Kevin Martir, would need, as Ryan Selmer, Jamal Wade and Tyler Brandon combined for the six-inning shutout, giving Team Martir the 3-0 win. Nickens reached base three times, scoring twice.

Selmer started and got the win, hurling 2 1/3 scoreless frames, allowing just two hits, striking out four and walking none.

Nickens helped his team widen its lead in the fifth, capitalizing on a Team Papio error. With one out, he reached on a single up the middle and promptly stole second base. Then, he was nearly picked off of second base, but pitcher Truman Thomas threw wide of the bag and the ball went into center field, allowing the speedy Nickens to score standing up, giving Team Martir a three-run lead.

Despite not putting any runs on the board, Team Papio, led by Maryland’s all-time leader in games played, Anthony Papio, had plenty of chances to score. Papio’s team tallied seven hits and worked three walks but left multiple runners on base in four different innings, going 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position.

Team Papio’s final scoring chance came in the sixth inning. Facing defeat with two outs and nobody on base, Zach Jancarski worked a walk and AJ Lee lined a single into left field off pitcher Tyler Brandon, prompting a mound visit from Martir. Next up was sophomore Nick Dunn, who had already singled and doubled, but Brandon got him to ground out, securing the save and giving Team Martir a 1-0 series lead.

The two teams will meet again on Sunday at 5 p.m. at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium for Game 2 of the series.

Terps 2017 Baseball Schedule: By the Numbers

Screen Shot 2016-10-06 at 2.23.37 PM.png

By Ben Harris

Last season, the Terps went 30-27 en route to a Big Ten Tournament berth. However, Maryland fell in the semi-final to Iowa and was not selected to participate in the 2016 NCAA Tournament, after winning back-to-back NCAA Regionals.

While Maryland’s near .500 record may indicate that the Terps were rightfully left out of the postseason picture, a deeper analysis shows Maryland much more on the bubble. In 2016, Maryland’s non-conference schedule—featuring series at Alabama and Cal St. Fullerton, and a home series vs. Bryant—was the sixth-hardest in the nation. This led to Maryland finishing with an RPI of 60, good enough to squeak into the top-64. But, when factoring in automatic bids from conferences with weaker RPIs, it left the Terps on the outside of the NCAA Tournament looking in.

Let’s break down Maryland’s 56-game schedule for 2017.

Non-Conference Schedule:

In 2017, Maryland’s non-conference schedule figures to again be one of the toughest in the nation, featuring series at LSU and home against Bryant, in addition to two high-profile tournaments.

This is the continuation of a trend started last season when the Terps’ overall strength of schedule ranked 29th in the nation. No Big Ten team had a tougher schedule, and it was all thanks to Maryland’s arduous non-conference slate.

Screen Shot 2016-10-20 at 3.46.37 PM.png

Maryland’s 2017 non-conference opponents averaged a record of 33-23 last year. For context, just 78 out of 300 teams in 2016 won more than 33 games—that’s the top quarter of division I baseball. These aren’t teams who put together 30-win seasons in weak conferences—eight went at least as far as NCAA Regionals last year.

Series and Tournaments:

The Terps hit the ground running to open their season, playing five of their first ten games against programs which finished in the top-10 in RPI last season. Maryland will spend opening weekend in Clearwater, Florida, facing Ball State, Alabama State (the four-seed in last year’s Tallahassee Region) and Louisville, the fifth-overall seed in the 2016 NCAA Tournament. The Cardinals, arguably the nation’s most talented team last season, hosted and won their NCAA Regional, tallying a 50-14 record en route to a top-two finish in RPI.

For the fourth time in the last five seasons, the Terps will travel early in the season to take on a high-profile SEC opponent. Exactly five years and one week after Szefc began his Maryland coaching career getting swept by the LSU in Baton Rouge, “The General” and his troops will return to Alex Box Stadium for an early test against the Tigers. LSU fell in last Screen Shot 2016-10-21 at 9.45.16 AM.pngyear’s Super Regional to the eventual College World Series champion, Coastal
Carolina, and finished ninth in the nation in RPI.

The following week, in their second tournament of the season, Maryland will play North Carolina State (38-22), Notre Dame and UMass-Lowell. The N.C. State Wolfpack, the toughest opponent of the three, finished 2016 with the eighth-best RPI in the NCAA, and also saw their season end at the hands of Chanticleers, one round before the Tigers.

The Terps welcome the Bryant Bulldogs to College Park for the second-straight year and third meeting in four years. The March series will reunite new Maryland pitching coach Ryan Fecteau with his former team. The Bulldogs had the best record in the nation last year (47-12, .796) but were eliminated by William & Mary, another of the Terps’ 2017 opponents, in the Charlottesville Regional.

Princeton, the four-seed in last year’s Lafayette Region, will travel to Maryland for the third straight odd-numbered year. The Terps handily swept both previous series, outscoring the Tigers 73-15 while tossing three shutouts.

Notable Midweek Matchups:

  • March 14, at North Carolina (6:00 p.m. ET)
  • March 21-22, at UNC-Wilmington (6:00 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. ET)
  • April 11, vs. West Virginia (4:00 p.m. ET)
  • March 7 and April 19, vs. William and Mary (both at 4:00 p.m. ET)

Conference Schedule:

While Maryland’s final RPI will heavily emphasize non-conference results, the Terps will need to bolster their resume with positive results during conference play.

Screen Shot 2016-10-20 at 3.33.03 PM.png

Over the past two seasons—Maryland’s first in the Big Ten—the Terps have played every Big Ten team at least once. That means no more surprises, and no more teams Szefc has never faced. Maryland begins its conference slate with three home games against Michigan, one of two 2017 conference opponents they did not face last year. The two teams have played four times during Szefc’s tenure as head coach—including the 2015 Big Ten Tournament Final—with the Terps winning just once. Maryland’s series against Michigan will mark the first time former Terps head coach Erik Bakich will return to College Park since leaving to become the Wolverines’ head coach in 2012.

Maryland begins April with two road series against Rutgers and Nebraska, followed by home series against Penn State and Michigan State. In 2016, Maryland dropped two crucial games to Rutgers to begin their penultimate series before salvaging a 6-0 win on Sunday to avoid a sweep. Under Szefc, Maryland is above .500 against the Cornhuskers (3-0), Nittany Lions (2-1) and Spartans (3-2).

To round out the conference schedule, the Terps will travel to Indiana and Illinois for the first time since joining the Big Ten, then host Northwestern at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium for what could be a crucial final conference series. Maryland is 16-15 under John Szefc against 2017 conference opponents and has beaten each one at least once. Overall, Szefc is 27-21 against the Big Ten.

What it Means:

To understand the impact the Big Ten move had on the Terps’ RPI and subsequent postseason hopes, you must compare 2012, the year before Szefc arrived, and 2015.

In 2012, still a member of the powerhouse ACC, the Terps went 32-24 with a 10-20 record in conference. Their strength of schedule? 22. Their RPI? 33.

Three years later, in 2015, Maryland posted a program-record 42 wins and a second consecutive trip to the Super Regionals. Their strength of schedule? 58. Their RPI? 31.

While the conference switch may indicate a negative impact on the Terps scheduling and postseason hopes, it merely shows how Maryland has adjusted. When in the ACC, the Terps could schedule a weaker non-conference schedule, knowing the ACC gauntlet would bolster their RPI and resume. Now in the Big Ten, Maryland, under the direction of Szefc, has done exactly what they need to do in consistently scheduling a difficult non-conference slate.

A strong showing in conference, combined with a respectable run in 16 games against out-of-conference, 2016 NCAA Tournament opponents, would put Maryland well within striking distance of a return to postseason play.

Screen Shot 2016-10-20 at 4.10.56 PM.png