By: Matt Present
Brian Shaffer has a habit of rising to the occasion in the Big Ten Tournament. Last year against Illinois, he pitched seven innings of one-run ball, snapping the then-#5 Illini 27-game winning streak.
Today, against Indiana, he elevated his performance to a whole new level. Shaffer tossed his third complete game of the season—and second shutout—leading the Terps to a 3-0 victory. He allowed just two hits, tied his career high with eight strikeouts, walked none on 102 pitches.
A two-run home run in the top of the first from Marty Costes gave Shaffer a 2-0 lead to work with to start the ballgame. The dinger was Costes’ team-leading ninth of the season.
“I got a pitch I liked, took a good swing at it, and everyone seemed to like the result,” said Costes, before he, John Szefc, and Shaffer burst out in a chuckle at the postgame podium.
It was all the support Shaffer would need, as he faced just two batters over the minimum and never allowed an Indiana batter to reach second base. He mixed his pitches well throughout, commanding the fastball on the inside corner, and then putting away hitters with the slider on the outside corner.
“After watching what Mike [Shawaryn] did I got a feel for the hitters…and it was one of those days where I had all three of my pitches working,” said Shaffer “Usually when I can do that good things happen.”
Between Shaffer and Mike Shawaryn on Wednesday, the Terrapins’ staff has combined to throw 18 innings, allowing 6 hits, 3 runs (2 earned), 24 strikeouts, and 3 walks against Indiana in two games during the 2016 Big Ten Tournament.
The Terps tacked on an insurance run in the top of the seventh, when Nick Cieri hit a hard ground ball through the legs of shortstop Brian Wilhite, allowing Anthony Papio—who reached on a single—to come around to score. It was one of Papio’s three hits in the ballgame.
The Terps move on to face Iowa tomorrow at 10 a.m. EST in another elimination game. Iowa took two of three from the Terps in Iowa City, two months ago.
A #MartyParty versus the Hoosiers: Costes in two games against Indiana: 4-8, 2 2B, 3B, HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, 2 BB (.400/.600/1.375)
Pounding the zone: Taylor Bloom and Brian Shaffer have been strike throwers all season, and both have more starts this season than walks allowed. Bloom has allowed just 9 walks in 14 stars, while Shaffer has issued just 13 free passes in 15 starts.
Deja vu: This is the second year in a row the Terps have bounced the Hoosiers from the Big Ten Tournament. In 2015, Maryland defeated Indiana 4-2 in the Big Ten Tournament semi-final.