By Ben Harris
Last week, it took Brian Shaffer 99 pitches to shutout the No. 23 ranked Cal State Fullerton Titans. Sunday, the reigning Big Ten Co-Pitcher of the week disposed of the Iowa Hawkeyes, tossing a one-run, five-hit complete game gem in just 90 pitches.
Despite dropping the series to Iowa after losses on Friday and Saturday, Shaffer’s pristine outing salvaged the series finale, earning Maryland (11-12, 1-2 Big Ten) their first win in Big Ten play.
Shaffer (3-1) has been downright dominant in his last three starts, posting an identical 0.72 ERA and 0.72 WHIP. In that span, Shaffer has rung up 18 batters, walked one and thrown just over 11 pitches an inning. He’s struck out 78 batters and walked 14 in his 98.2 innings of collegiate ball (5.57 K/BB ratio).
After posting a single run in each of the first two games against Iowa (9-12, 2-1 Big Ten), the Terrapin offense exploded for three runs in the first inning on five straight hits, tacking on another for good measure in the third. Freshman hitters drove in three of Maryland’s four runs on the day. Nick Dunn, Marty Costes and AJ Lee all singled home runs, while the lone starting senior Anthony Papio added a sac fly of his own.
Shaffer’s sole mistake came when left fielder Eric Schenck-Joblinske deposited a third inning offering over the fence in right. It was a near imperceptible blemish in an otherwise spotless performance from the sophomore from Pylesville, Md., who threw over 76 percent of his pitches for strikes.
A tough outing for Robert Galligan yesterday spoiled seven shutout innings from Taylor Bloom. On Saturday and Sunday, Maryland starters threw 16 innings allowing just one run, 10 hits, and no walks while striking out 11 (0.56 ERA, 0.68 WHIP).
Kevin Biondic holds the Terps top batting average, now up to .342 after his two for three Easter Sunday. Dunn, who previously held that title, is hitting .325. AJ Lee got a second consecutive start at third base, knocking home Marty Costes with a two-out fourth inning single.
Maryland pitchers shut down Iowa’s premier offensive weapon Nick Roscetti who entered conference play with the Big Ten’s fifth-highest batting average (.405). Roscetti went 0 for his first 11 (five strikeouts) before a ninth inning single Sunday, dropping his batting average 50 points to .355.
The Terps play a makeshift home-and-home series against VCU this week. The Rams will travel to Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium for a 4:00 p.m. first pitch Tuesday, and will host Maryland in Richmond, Va., Wednesday evening at 6:30 p.m. after a February 24 rainout.
Notes: Brian Shaffer threw a season-high seven strikeouts Sunday, and has thrown at least 70 percent of his pitches for strikes in his last three starts: 69/97 vs. Bryant, 70/99 at Cal State Fullerton, 69/90 at Iowa. The series loss to Iowa was the first for Maryland since their season opening series in Alabama (February 19-21). The Terps are 2-1 this season coming off of back-to-back losses.