Opening Day for the abbreviated 2020 MLB season has finally arrived, and several former Terps find themselves on 30-man rosters in what can only be described as a 60-game sprint to the postseason.
Those in the majors may be the only ones seeing any professional baseball action over the pandemic-filled summer, as the 2020 Minor League Baseball season was canceled on June 30. Some independent leagues are currently active, but a majority of the group of former Terps that were in those leagues are sitting the season out.
Here is a list of the pro Terps that begin the shortened season on their teams’ 30-man and taxi squad rosters:
LHP Adam Kolarek, Los Angeles Dodgers
Many fans and analysts alike have speculated that Adam Kolarek’s role as a Left-Handed One Out Guy (LOOGY) would be diminished with the league’s new three-batter minimum rule for relief pitchers, but Kolarek still stands out as one of L.A.’s best bullpen arms.
Kolarek was one of the 11 relief pitchers to be added to the Dodgers’ 30-man roster, and he earned the win for L.A. in MLB’s Opening Night on Thursday as he recorded five outs with just 14 pitches against the San Francisco Giants
Haters said the 3-batter minimum would spell the end for Adam Kolarek so he pulled up and retired 5 batters on 14 pitches last night 🐐🐢 pic.twitter.com/tlSjuBgCwU
— Connor Newcomb (@ConnorNewcomb_) July 24, 2020
2B Brandon Lowe, Tampa Bay Rays
The versatile Brandon Lowe looks to follow up his all-star 2019 season as a core piece for the contending Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays have a crowded, talented infield featuring Yandy Diaz, Joey Wendle, Willy Adames, and the newest Japanese import Yoshi Tsutsugo, so Lowe may have to settle into more of a utility role while occasionally starting in the outfield.
Regardless of where Lowe finds his playing time, he’ll continue to play a big part in the Rays quest to the postseason in 2020.
OF LaMonte Wade Jr., Minnesota Twins
LaMonte Wade Jr. made it onto the Twins 30-man roster as one of the final outfield additions to the club, and the former Terp will look to build upon a solid rookie season with a stronger sophomore year, especially after putting together a decent Spring Training. Although it was four long months ago, Wade Jr. slashed .286/.423/.381 through 11 games, striking out only four times in 26 plate appearances.
Wade Jr. may struggle to have outfield starts over the likes of Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton, and Max Kepler, but his on-base proficiency provides a great tool for the Twins off the bench.
RHP Mike Shawaryn, Boston Red Sox
Mike Shawaryn did not make the cut for Boston’s 30-man roster, but he has been included in their taxi squad playing in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. In a simulated game Thursday, Shawaryn threw 2 1/3 innings, securing a hold and striking out four batters.
With Boston losing many of its notable relief arms over recent years, Shawaryn could find his way into the bullpen if he continues throwing the ball well in Pawtucket.
A good spring, oops, make that summer training for @MikeShawaryn 2.1 scoreless innings, 2h, 2bb, 4k, and 1 hld. 🦄
— Andrew Kramer (@mercator88) July 23, 2020
INF Kevin Smith, Toronto (Buffalo) Blue Jays
Kevin Smith missed the mark to make it on the Blue Jays’ 30-man roster and will start the 2020 season playing with the Toronto taxi squad.
After having a tremendous 2018 where he slashed .302/.358/.528 across two minor league levels, Smith has struggled to find his footing ever since. In Spring Training earlier this year his on-base percentage-plus slugging was .503.
Smith, along with other Blue Jays on the taxi squad, may have to wait before having intrasquad workouts and games due to the home stadium snafu that Toronto is caught in. Today the team announced it will be playing the majority of its season at their Triple-A affiliate’s stadium in Buffalo, New York, where the taxi squad was originally supposed to play.
Blue Jays To Stage Majority Of 2020 Home Games In Buffalo. pic.twitter.com/BxlV7cgieJ
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) July 24, 2020
With the 2020 MLB Draft coming to a close Thursday night, many young ballplayers had their names called at the podium, but the typical 40-round draft was shrunk to a mere five rounds as a change made due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This change negatively affected the chances of many prospective players of getting drafted, including a handful of Terps.
Among the names eligible for selection was sophomore Maxwell Costes and junior Randy Bednar, both of who have strung together pairs of stellar seasons in College Park, Maryland. Others who join the list of draft-eligible players include seniors Tyler Blohm and Elliott Zoellner, and juniors Tommy Gardiner, Chris Alleyne, Justin Vought, Sean Fisher, Mark Diluia, Brenton Davis, Austin Chavis, Mike Vasturia, Billy Phillips, Tavan Shahidi, and Zach Thompson.
Who knows how many of these Terps players would have been selected over the past two nights, but with the draft being just an eighth the size of a normal draft, they will all likely be returning to College Park to play out the 2021 season and hope for another shot in the 2021 MLB Draft.
Out of the 13 commitments Maryland has in the 2021 recruiting class, one of them did get their name called Thursday night. The Houston Astros selected right-handed pitcher Alex Santos of Mount St. Micheal Academy in New York with the No. 72 overall pick.
Santos, who was No. 45 in Baseball America’s ranking of best draft prospects, provides much-needed pitching talent in an Astros farm system that has recently been depleted. Santos has yet to officially sign with Houston, but the Houston Chronicle’s Chandler Rome said that he is leaning towards it.
Alex Santos, a Maryland commitment, said he is “leaning towards” signing with the Astros.
— Chandler Rome (@Chandler_Rome) June 12, 2020
Other notable picks of the draft include the No. 1 overall pick, Spencer Torkelson, who the Detroit Tigers selected out of Arizona State University.
The Baltimore Orioles selected outfielder Heston Kjerstad out the University of Arkansas with the No. 2 overall pick, and the reigning champion Washington Nationals used the No. 22 pick to draft right-handed pitcher Cade Cavalli out of the University of Oklahoma.
The 2020 MLB Draft will look a lot different than previous years’ drafts. With multitudes of change being seen in the baseball world due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the typical 40-round draft will only be five rounds, drastically affecting the chances of getting drafted for many collegiate and high school players, including many Terps.
With that being said, there are a handful of Terps that may have their name called Wednesday and Thursday nights. Here’s a look at the Maryland players who are draft-eligible as well as incoming recruits who could also be drafted.
LHP Tyler Blohm, Sr.
Tyler Blohm saw the 2020 season end the weekend he was supposed to return to the mound after spending the young season rehabbing from shoulder surgery. The senior’s chances of getting selected in the five-round draft are slim to none, but the 2020 season won’t be Blohm’s last year in College Park, Maryland, thanks to the NCAA granting an extra year of eligibility to senior spring athletes.
Didn’t get the senior year he deserved.
— Maryland Baseball (@TerpsBaseball) May 1, 2020
RHP Elliot Zoellner, Sr.
Elliot Zoellner will also benefit from the NCAA’s extra year of eligibility, and that extra year may allow Zoellner to improve his draft stock after the work he put in during the 2020 season.
In seven appearances, the senior was just one of three pitchers on Maryland’s staff to not allow a single run. He also paced the Terps’ bullpen in strikeouts (16).
OF Randy Bednar, Jr.
Bednar was on pace for his best season as a Terp, leading the team in hits (24), RBI (16), doubles (9), and total bases (36). His batting average also stood at an exceptional .337.
Although Bednar’s name hasn’t shown up in many mock drafts, some MLB clubs may show interest in the latter rounds of the draft. The junior was named a 2020 NCBWA Third Team All-American, adding to the honor of Second Team All-Big Ten that he earned in 2019.
IF Tommy Gardiner, Jr.
Gardiner was only able to make six starts at third base during the short season due to an injury.
While he posted a .350 batting average in those six games — a great improvement from his past two seasons despite the sample size — it is not likely that he will get selected.
OF Chris Alleyne, Jr.
After somewhat of a breakout season in 2019 when he slashed .223/.337/.412 in 45 games, Alleyne was on pace to surpass that over a full 2020 season.
In 15 games this spring, Alleyne’s on-base plus slugging percentage stood at .913 as he led the Terps in runs (18) and stolen bases (6). He’ll likely need to repeat his effort during his senior year next spring to have a chance at getting drafted.
C Justin Vought, Jr.
Vought also missed some time this season due to injury, but the junior catcher struggled in the seven games he started.
After slashing .222/.354/.432, Vought had proven that he was in for a big 2020, but prior to the injury, he had only gotten four hits in 21 at-bats.
LHP Sean Fisher, Jr.
Fisher spent his shortened 2020 season as the Terps’ Friday night starter, where the junior made noticeable leaps from past seasons when he strictly pitched out of the bullpen.
In three of Fisher’s four starts, he recorded quality starts. He did experience a road bump versus a talented Coastal Carolina team when he allowed nine runs in three innings, but his overall performance may indicate that the junior is in for a big for 2021 season.
RHP Mark Diluia, Jr.
Diluia was limited to only five appearances out of the bullpen during the 2020 season, but he made the most out of the five innings he pitched. Just like Blohm, Diluia was part of the pitching trio that succeeded at surrendering zero runs over the season.
IF/C Brenton Davis, Jr.
Davis’s first season with Maryland was cut short, and only starting two games, the Southeast Community College (Beatrice, NE) transfer was limited to six at-bats. Although he didn’t have much of a chance to impress at UMD, it’s worth noting that at Southeast CC, Davis hit at a .328 clip with nine home runs and 40 stolen bases over two seasons.
IF Austin Chavis, Jr.
The Bel Air, Maryland, native started ten games at second base during the shortened season, slashing .194/.268/.306.
Chavis transferred to Maryland over the summer from Potomac State College, where he had two very strong seasons. Most notably, his sophomore campaign featured a 1.051 OPS.
RHP Mike Vasturia, R-Jr.
Vasturia made just two appearances out of the bullpen in 2020, including a 3 1/2-inning long relief appearance versus Coastal Carolina when he recorded a career-high five strikeouts. He also threw one scoreless inning versus Bryant.
LHP Billy Phillips, R-Jr.
Phillips did not make an appearance during the 2020 season.
C Tavan Shahidi, R-Jr.
After serving a redshirt season due to an injury in 2019, Shahidi came back strong in 2020, starting six games at catcher and posting a .412 OBP.
This season was Shahidi’s first time playing since he slashed .336/.445/.611 at Iowa Lakes Community College.
RHP Zach Thompson, R-Jr.
Zach Thompson saw his role shift to midweek starter after recording a 5.08 ERA in 2019 as the Saturday starter.
In his new role, Thompson had seen similar struggles, posting a 6.75 ERA in three starts, although his season debut versus George Mason had shown promise with a five-inning, one-run performance.
IF Maxwell Costes, So.
Maxwell Costes followed up his 2019 Big Ten Freshman of the Year season with an even bigger offensive onslaught and he very well may have the attention of several MLB clubs, despite the draft being just five rounds.
In the shortened 2020 season, Costes started all 15 games and led the team in batting average (.432), OBP (.620), SLG (.750), and home runs (4). His strong 2020 performance helped him be named a 2020 Collegiate Baseball Third Team All-American.
RHP Alex Santos, Commit (Mount Saint Michael Academy)
Alex Santos is Maryland’s prized possession in the 2021 recruiting class but has been labeled as a potential top-50 pick in Wednesday night’s draft.
According to MLB Pipeline, the New York native is No. 56 in the Top 200 Prospects ranking.
A name to keep an eye on in the draft: Alex Santos (Mount St. Michael/Maryland Commit). High-upside RHP, potential top-50 pick, with one scout saying, “He’s a dude. One of the most underrated arms in the draft.” pic.twitter.com/ncEHdCVRVi
— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) May 28, 2020
On Wednesday, March 12, within minutes of each other, the NCAA and the Big Ten ended the season for all spring sports, including baseball, due to concerns over the impact of the mounting COVID-19 pandemic.
Head coach Rob Vaughn and the Maryland baseball team left College Park early Wednesday, beginning their journey to Dallas, Texas, ahead of their biggest regular season contest: a weekend series against TCU.
But rather than shuttle the team to practice after the plane landed, Vaughn and his fellow coaches had to gather the group in a hotel conference room and discuss the news that their 2020 season was over before conference play had even started.
In that moment, and now, months later, Vaughn’s message to his team was simple, real and authentic.
“It happened so fast,” Vaughn said. “There are no words. Sometimes I feel like words get int the way in situations like that.”
Vaughn has since told his team not to be “superheroes” and to follow the state-by-state guidelines, listening to health officials. He’s also pushed his players to use their time without baseball to work on themselves and focus on academics.
“Don’t use this to stress about the baseball stuff,” Vaughn said, “use this to better yourself as a person in some way, shape, or form.”
Over two months later, the Terps have been adjusting to a different way of staying connected. Early-on, once the team had all returned home or to their apartments in College Park, the Terps tried an all-team Zoom session, experimenting with different ways to remain in touch and maintain the group’s bonds.
“The reality is, when you get 50 people on a Zoom call it’s a zoo,” Vaughn said. “Nobody’s paying attention, like your eyes just glaze over.”
After that initial video chat, Vaughn and the other coaches have changed their approach. Rather than risk getting “zoomed out,” as Vaughn put it, they’re meeting in smaller, targeted groups based more on personal interests. Shortstop Ben Cowles has been talking with assistant coach Matt Swope about his hitting, while pitcher Sean Burke and pitching coach Corey Muscara are working on Burke’s breaking ball, all via video chat.
More recently Vaughn heard from senior pitchers Tyler Blohm, Elliot Zoellner and Zach Thompson, all of whom will be returning for their final year of eligibility in 2021, a result of the NCAA Division I Council’s ruling that spring sport seniors would receive an extra year of eligibility.
While there remain many unanswered questions, including topics like roster management and how eligibility will be funded, Vaughn is happy to have three veteran arms back on the mound for what he believes will be an exciting season, in part as a result of MLB’s five-round draft.
“You’re going to see the most loaded college baseball around the country that you’ve ever seen,” Vaughn said. “I think across the landscape you’re going to have more high school kids get to [college] and more juniors staying in school…I think the landscape of college baseball one year doing [a five-round draft] is going to drastically change from here on out.”
For Maryland specifically, Vaughn is sticking to his mantra of treating each day as the most important, not making any one day, game or practice more special than the rest.
“It’s just more a sustained thing,” Vaughn said. “It’s great we have returning guys, but can we behave like winners and make decisions like winners for 60 days in a row. It’s not east to do but that’s going to be out biggest challenge [next year] and I’m excited.”
Like so many, Vaughn is taking it day-by-day, valuing the time he’s able to spend with his family and the interactions he’s having with his athletes, even if it is through a screen.
“I’m excited,” Vaughn said. “I don’t even care about the 2021 season, I’m just excited to get back out and take batting practice…try to strike out guys out every day. That’s what I want to do.”
On the latest edition of the MBN Podcast, Zach Solon and Ben Fischer discuss the Terps’ short-lived 2020 season, including an interview with Maxwell Costes about the shortened season.
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.