by John Vittas
The Terps led from start to finish while sweeping two games from a solid Delaware team this week. John Szefc was especially happy with his team’s ability to win on the road yesterday and slow down a Delaware offense that had been averaging over 11 runs per game over their previous five contests:
“It’s a hard place to play, it’s a hitter’s park,” Szefc said about Hannah Stadium in Newark. “They can hit. They score runs, that’s what Delaware has always done. So to hold them to seven runs over two days, I think that shows that we got two good starts from two freshman. Without that, you don’t know where the game is going.”
Maryland got five shutout innings from Brian Shaffer on Tuesday. The freshman has reinvented himself during the middle stages of his freshman year, molding his hard slider into a larger, more effective curve. He has allowed only one run over his last 18 innings of work:
“He got knocked around early on. He faced some really good teams,” said Szefc. “We kind of put him in some situations that maybe he wasn’t quite ready for. But he went back to the bullpen and figured some things out. He has really mentally matured and his breaking ball is a lot better too. He’s been money, man. Really, really solid for us.”
Fellow home-state freshman righty Taylor Bloom followed up Shaffer’s start with a steady one of his own Wednesday. Bloom held a high-powered Blue Hens lineup to three runs over five innings. Bloom got out of jams in the fourth and fifth innings, stranding three Delaware runners and finishing his outing with two key strikeouts.
“The story of that game today was innings three through seven, when our guys gave up one run innings,” Szefc said.
Bobby Ruse relieved Bloom, and as Szefc said, got out of another jam in the seventh inning, leaving the bases loaded. Ruse has had a tough senior season, posting a 5.84 ERA over 37 innings. His strikeouts are up, but so are his walks. With an improved slider, it’s curious as to why Ruse hasn’t had the success he did last year, when he was a key part of Maryland’s postseason run. Szefc believes Ruse will be a key to the Terrapins’ success in May.
“We need Bobby Ruse to get back in the fold here,” Szefc said unprompted Wednesday.
On a more positive note, Kevin Martir continues to rake. He had another three-hit game Wednesday, and reached base six times in the two games against Delaware. He’s now batting .374, exactly one hundred points higher than his combined average through his first two college seasons.
“I think his strike zone discipline is a lot better,” said Szefc. “He’s walking a lot more, he’s swinging at better pitches. He’s playing with a lot of confidence. He’s a three year starter, played in a Super Regional. Over the course of 56 games, at some point, that’s going to come out and show it’s face in a good way. And I think that’s what is happening right now.”
The Terps will undergo a brief team workout Thursday afternoon, highlighted by team defense and a short intrasquad game. They will take on the Indiana Hoosiers (23-19) this weekend as part of a three-game conference series. Game one gets underway at 6:30pm Friday and can be heard right here on the Maryland Baseball Network.