After a 359-day long hiatus, Maryland Terrapins baseball returned Friday night as they open up a four-game weekend series against the Michigan State Spartans down in Greenville, South Carolina.
With the stage set at Fluor Field — home of Red Sox minor-league affiliate Greenville Drive — the Terps started the season off on a mild note, as the Spartans defeated them, 6-0. However, there was at least one positive takeaway from the season opener.
The headline of the night for Maryland was far and away redshirt sophomore Sean Burke’s pitching gem. Nearly a year separated from when Burke recorded his collegiate career-high in strikeouts with 11 against Bryant (March 8, 2020), he set a new career-high with 13 Friday night.
The stellar Opening Day start presents plenty of promise ahead of Burke as he looks to settle into his role as Maryland’s Friday starter in the future.
Burke was just half of the overall pitchers duel that took place at Fluor Field, as Michigan State’s Sam Benschoter reached a career-high of his own with ten strikeouts through seven innings, stunting a Terps’ lineup that boasts plenty of hitting prowess.
The senior managed to out-duel his counterpart just enough to secure his team the shutout win over Maryland, as the Terps fell short on many RBI opportunities while the Spartans took advantage of whatever opportunity they could get.
Michigan State put themselves up early, scoring its first run after Maryland catcher James Heffley allowed a ball to get away from him. Sophomore Zaid Walker followed up on the passed ball with a sacrifice-fly to put the Spartans ahead 2-0.
They added another run in the sixth inning in nearly the same fashion, as Michigan State’s Bryce Kelly hit a sacrifice-fly to center field, giving freshman Mitch Jebb his second run of Friday night.
Maryland’s opportunities to score were very few and far between due to the dominance of Benschoter, but with Maxwell Costes coming to the plate as the tying run in the eighth inning, the rally fizzled out as he grounded into an inning-ending double play. The failed opportunity highlights an 0-13 night at the plate for Maryland when runners are on base.
The Spartans added three more runs in their half of the eighth inning and proceeded to firmly slam the door shut on any Maryland comeback hopes.
With the Terps failing to back up Burke with offense during his magnificent start, Saturday presents a new opportunity to not just tie the series but to take the lead as these teams will play two tomorrow evening at Fluor Field.