By Dan Servodidio
COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The pep band played, the cheerleaders handed out “Maryland Pride” wristbands and the season-high 1,370 fans at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium witnessed Mike Shawaryn pitch a gem en route to a 2-1 Maryland (26-10) victory over Cal State Fullerton (19-17) on Friday night.
Shawaryn (9-0) pitched the best game of his young career to date, striking out a career-high 13 batters in eight shutout innings. The sophomore righthander allowed just four baserunners (all hits) over 108 pitches as he lowered his ERA to 1.67 for the season.
“That’s as good an arm as you’ll see in college baseball,” head coach John Szefc said after the win. “Guys like him, that have that kind of talent, also have a tendency to elevate their games.”
“Everything was really kind of working for me,” said Shawaryn, who’s previous career-best in strikeouts (12) came against Appalachian State in February. “I was just pounding the zone and they were swinging and missing.”
After setting the school’s single-season record for wins last season as a freshman, Shawaryn now has another under his belt. Tonight’s win gives Shawaryn 20 in his career at Maryland, tying the school record set by John Rayne in 1992.
Shawaryn dominated deep into his outing, retiring the last eight batters he faced – five of which he struck out. With a handful of major league scouts in attendance, he threw in the 90-93 mph range and even hit 94 on the gun as late as the seventh inning.
“You can see that guy pitch in Yankee Stadium one day, I’m telling you,” Szefc said of his ace. “I bet my life on it. I’ve [coached] a few big leaguers, but he’s as good as any guy I’ve been around.”
Shawaryn faced his two biggest threats in the fifth and sixth inning. The leadoff batter in both frames hit a double and eventually got to third through respective sacrifice bunts. However, Maryland’s star stayed calm and struck out two batters to end both innings’ threat.
“It really drains a lot out of you when you have a man on second or third and no outs and you can’t score,” said Shawaryn. “My job tonight was to post zeroes and I went out and did it.”
The Terps got their two lone runs in the second inning without even registering a hit. A hit batsman, a throwing error and two subsequent RBI groundouts by designated hitter Jamal Wade and centerfielder Kengo Kawaraha gave Szefc’s squad the early 2-0 lead.
It proved to be enough as Shawaryn held the CS Fullerton offense scoreless. After he threw about 130 pitches in his last outing against Iowa – combined with the triple-digits he tossed tonight – Shawaryn wasn’t given a chance to get a shutout as Szefc and pitching coach Jim Belanger decided to pull him.
“We’re lucky that we have two really good guys at the end of the game,” Szefc said. “When you have really good players, stuff tends to go your way.”
Alex Robinson came in with two on and none out to earn the save in the ninth after Kevin Mooney walked the first two batters of the inning before getting pulled. Only one of the runners ended up scoring to preserve Shawaryn’s gem.
“I was a little nervous,” admitted Shawaryn, who said he wanted he to pitch the ninth. “Sometimes it’s not pretty, but at the end of the day I know they’ll get the job done.”
“I would’ve let Shawaryn pitch the ninth,” the left-handed Robinson said. “I love Mike, he’s unbelievable.”
The Terps face Cal State Fullerton tomorrow at 2 p.m. in the second game of the series. MBN will have the call for you with our pregame show going live at 1:45, which you can listen to here.
For more on Mike Shawaryn, check out Dan Servodidio’s feature on Maryland’s ace here.