By Ben Harris
Freshman Marty Costes missed a first inning grand slam by about a foot. No matter, the deep sacrifice fly scored Maryland’s first run of the afternoon. It was the third straight game, and third time this season, the Terrapins have plated a run in the first inning in support of their starter.
Just two innings later, Costes – who made his first appearance hitting cleanup yesterday – stepped to the plate with two runners on. The youngster worked a 2-1 hitter’s count and took full advantage, launching a towering homer to left on the next offering. While it took a few games for coach John Szefc to find a suitable spot for Costes in the lineup, the powerful freshman looks to have solidified a role in the heart of the order. In six games (four starts), Costes is hitting .333 with two doubles, a homer and seven RBIs, good for second on the team.
That would be all the offense Maryland needed in their 8-1 win Saturday as Taylor Bloom (2-1) echoed his career-best start from last weekend. Picking up the win, Bloom tossed seven innings (tying his career high from last Saturday) allowing four hits, no walks and striking out five. The sophomore retired eight straight batters between the fourth and sixth innings.
Costes isn’t the only freshman who’s hot at the dish as Nick Dunn’s two-hit day raised his team-high batting average to .393. In his last 20 trips to the plate, Dunn is 8-14 with a sac fly. In that stretch he’s been walked three times and plunked twice.
While he has a year of experience over freshmen Costes and Dunn, Kevin Biondic’s bat continues to heat up. The sophomore was scratched from Szefc’s lineup last Saturday and reinserted on Sunday. In response, Biondic has since rattled off four consecutive multi-hit games en route to 10 hits in his last 15 at bats, including a homer and two doubles. Meanwhile, a two-hit day for Biondic’s fellow sophomore Kevin Smith extended his hitting streak to seven games. After an 0-8 showing in his first two games, Smith is 11-30 (.367) during his current streak.
Having alternated wins and losses for the entirety of 2016, Maryland’s all-around victory over Southeastern Louisiana earned them their first consecutive wins and first winning record of the season. Now 5-4, the Terps look to sweep the Keith LeClair Classic with a win over the tournament host East Carolina tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. Brian Shaffer (0-1) will face ECU’s senior righty Jimmy Boyd (1-1).