By Ben Harris
Rutgers stole the first of a three-game set against Maryland with a 5-4 win Friday as the Big Ten’s two newcomers clashed in College Park for the first time as conference foes.
To begin a pivoThe Terps’ lackluster offense, hitting a Big Ten-worst .231 in conference play, has struggled mightily when tasked with facing their opponent’s top arm, falling to 4-8 in series opening games with Friday’s loss. The Terps, like many a Big Ten club before them, struggled to solve Big Ten innings leader Howie Brey (6-4).
For the fourth time in his last seven starts, Brey earned a complete game victory against a conference opponent, striking out 10 in the process. Those four starts alone account for over half of the Scarlet Knights seven Big Ten wins on the year.
Maryland right-hander Mike Shawaryn opposed Brey but lasted just five innings, tied for his third shortest outing on the season. His third start back in his usual Friday slot was his least impressive. In his previous two he logged 16 innings, allowed four earned runs and struck out 11 while walking just one. But against Rutgers, the junior struggled with his command, spreading out eight hits over five innings and walking two, the same number he had surrendered over his previous three starts.
Allowing the leadoff hitter to reach base in each of his five innings of work, Shawaryn spent nearly his entire evening working out of the stretch. Just 25 of his 96 pitches on the day came from the windup.
Shawaryn is not accustomed to working from the stretch too often. Last season, he finished second overall in the Big Ten with a .202 opponent’s batting average. This season, his almost identical .203 is also good for second in the conference, to go along with a career 3.45 K/9 ratio (285 strikeouts, 76 walks).
In the face of his struggles, the right-hander allowed just two runs, stranding seven base runners and two each in three separate innings.
Despite consistently pitching with runners on base, the Terps kept tabs on the fleet-footed Scarlet Knights who, entering Friday, ranked fourth in the country in stolen bases. They limited Rutgers to just two steals, both of which came on a double steal in the third inning.
It helped immensely that two-sport standout Jawuan Harris (30 steals, most in Big Ten and tied for eighth most in the NCAA) was set down on strikes three times in his first game back from a two-week suspension. Harris redshirted as a freshman wide receiver for Rutgers this fall.
After relieving Shawaryn and tossing the team’s first 1-2-3 inning of the day, Andrew Green ran into trouble in the seventh, plunking the leadoff batter R.J. Devish and walking Mike Carter before being pulled in favor of Rob Galligan.
Galligan faced a similar fate, walking his first batter and allowing an RBI single to Tom Marcinczyk (fourth in the Big Ten in RBIs entering Friday) to tie the game at three in the seventh.
Tapped to clean up Green and Galligan’s based loaded, no-out mess, Mike Rescigno came within one strike of ringing up three straight batters and keeping the game knotted at three. Luke Bowerbank barely nicked a two-strike fastball that popped in and out of Justin Morris’ glove. Had he squeezed it, the inning would have ended. Bowerbank eventually won a tough eight-pitch battle, slapping his third hit of the day the opposite way down the left field line plating two Scarlet Knights for this second and third RBIs.
Prior to the eighth inning, Maryland managed to tally six hits, all of which were singles. But, in that eighth inning, Kevin Smith turned around a Brey offering and cranked it off the scoreboard in left-center to bring the Terps to within one.
Sophomore center fielder Zach Jancarski once again proved his youthful spark belongs in the starting lineup, just as he has done for the better part of the second half. A safety squeeze off the bat of the East Norriton, Pennsylvania native plated the Terps’ third run of the fourth inning, after a bases loaded two-strike single from Justin Morris scored Madison Nickens and Smith.
Even despite Friday’s loss, the Terps are 12-7 with him in the lineup (all 19 starts in centerfield). That’s the best split for any Terp at any position.
Notes: Maryland’s 7-33 (.212) afternoon offensively lowered their already worst in-conference batting average. Rutgers went 3-9 with two outs, compared to the Terps’ 0-8 mark. Brey’s complete game took 129 pitches. Both clubs threw strikes at a nearly identical rate, 65.1 percent for Rutgers and 65.3 percent for Maryland. Two of Rutgers three extra base hits (all doubles) scored; the Terps lone extra base hit was Smith’s solo shot in the eighth.