By Michaela Johnson
The first game of the Terps’ final regular season series against the Michigan State Spartans (33-17, 12-10) started out slow, but ended with a strong showing from both the Terps’ (27-24, 12-10) offense and defense, particularly starting pitcher Mike Shawaryn.
The right-hander threw a complete game, his second of the season and his career, striking out six batters and retiring 13 in a row from the fourth to eighth innings. This game was most likely his last regular season start as a Terp, as he is projected to be a high draft pick in this year’s MLB Draft.
“If your best guy is on the mound, and he’s dealing, and you’re playing good defense behind him, it’s gonna be difficult to beat you,” head coach John Szefc said.
The Spartans plated a single run in the bottom of the first, and that was the only scoring play until the top of the fifth, when Madison Nickens’ leadoff single began a rally that resulted in the Terps scoring three. Nickens, Nick Cieri, and Andrew Bechtold crossed the plate after a couple of base hits, sacrifice grounders, a walk, and a wild pitch.
The top of the sixth inning was a similar story. This time Nick Dunn led the inning with a single through the right side, followed by Kevin Smith, who reached first on a bunt. Both runners advanced on wild pitch, and Nickens walked to load the bases. A sac fly by Kevin Biondic, an error by the Michigan State pitcher, and a double by Cieri allowed the three runners to score.
The Terps led 6-1 until the bottom of the ninth, when the Spartans threatened, scoring two runs on doubles by Jordan Zimmerman and Matt Byars. However, the next two batters grounded out to end the game, giving the Terps the 6-3 victory.
After the game, Shawaryn says when he looks back, he thinks about how much he’s grown throughout his college career. Shawaryn is 29-10 in his career (5-4 on the season), with a 2.62 ERA.
“My first start I think I went five innings against Florida, to now throwing complete games,” Shawaryn said. “I’ve grown in many different ways, as a pitcher, as a human.”
This win is a big step in the right direction for the Terps, who need to win this series to secure their spot in the Big 10 tournament. The second game of the series will be played tomorrow starting at 3:05. RHP Taylor Bloom will pitch for the Terps, and LHP Joe Mockbee for the Spartans. The game can be heard live on the Maryland Baseball Network.