By Jake Eisenberg
The Terrapins (16-4, 2-0) opened their Big Ten slate with a bang, sweeping the Minnesota Golden Gophers (7-12, 0-2) in a doubleheader Saturday.
In Game 1, a 5-1 win, ace Mike Shawaryn spun another gem, throwing eight one-run (unearned) innings to improve to 5-0 on the season with a 2.27 ERA. The sophomore also added six strikeouts to bring his total to a conference-high 47.
All five of the Terps runs were scored in the third inning. Anthony Papio began the inning with a double, and second baseman Brandon Lowe knocked him in with an RBI single. A few batters later, catcher Kevin Martir plated two with a double. Finally, Jose Cuas finished off the offensive assault with a 2-run home run to left field.
Cuas was the offensive star on Saturday, hitting two more home runs in Game 2 of the doubleheader. The second of his three Saturday dingers could not have come at at better time for the Terps.
“I was seeing the ball extremely well,” Cuas said. “They’ve been hammering me in this whole year and today I stepped back a little and I was able to drop the bat head on the baseball.”
Willie Rios was shaky in his third start of the season, allowing seven runs over two innings. Trailing 7-0 in just the bottom of the second, Cuas ignited the Terps offense with the solo shot to left field.
Maryland went on to score three in the inning and two in the following inning, while Minnesota tacked on one run to hold onto an 8-5 lead. The Terps rebounded with their second 5-run inning in as many games to take a 10-5 lead that they would not let go.
“We kept chipping away and chipping away and had some tough at-bats and that’s how our guys have been doing it,” head coach John Szefc said.
The Golden Gophers added one run in the top of the 6th, but Cuas came through with another solo shot for some insurance and the Terps never looked back. They added one run in the 7th to bring the score to 12-9 and the ball was handed off to closer Kevin Mooney.
Mooney tossed 1.2 innings of one-hit ball to notch his second save of the season, and the 24th of his Terp career, breaking current Toronto Blue Jays and former Terps pitcher Brett Cecil’s career saves record.
“Took two and a half years, but it’s always great to pass a guy like Brett Cecil who’s such a successful guy in the big leagues,” Mooney said. “I’m really honored to be in such an elite category with Brett Cecil.”
The Terps have now won nine straight games, outscoring their opponents 91-36 in the process and boast a lineup that’s averaging over 10 runs a game.
“I know that if I don’t get the job done, the guy behind me will,” Cuas said. “And the guys in front of me will get on base to help me drive in runs; it’s been fun.”
Maryland and Minnesota will finish their series tomorrow in College Park at noon. Senior Bobby Ruse will face off with the Golden Gopher’s Tim Shannon. The action can be heard right here on the Maryland Baseball Network.