Preseason Countdown No. 17: Best Performances of ’21

With so much talent up and down the Terps roster in 2021, last season brought so many memorable performances. Especially with Maryland making it to its first NCAA Regional since 2017, the core that Coach Vaughn has seen develop over the past couple of years put on an absolute show on the road to Greenville Regional.

There are countless performances from the bats and the arms, but we’ve narrowed it down to five spectacular performances that ultimately defined the 2021 Maryland Terrapins.

Jason Savacool Complete Game (March 7)

To kick off the best performances of 2021, we begin with the collegiate debut of Jason Savacool. Savacool had come into the season with a lot of hype behind his talent, as the righty was a highly-touted draft prospect according to multiple publications such as MLB Pipeline.

Although Savacool saw a steep decline in his season, ending with a 5.97 ERA, the hype behind him was displayed in his very first start of the season against Michigan State.

In 103 pitches, Savacool pitched all nine innings against the Spartans, being tagged with one earned run on six hits. His two strikeouts weren’t very eye-opening, but Savacool effectively pitched to contact, forcing 16 ground outs.

After Maryland lost its first three games of the season, Savacool’s performance was certainly a momentum-changer in the early season, and a very early notch to add to his belt.

Benjamin Cowles’ Big Weekend (March 12-14)

In Benjamin Cowles’ final season in College Park, Maryland, before the Yankees drafted him in the summer, the shortstop had a revolutionary offensive outburst that fueled the Terps’ lineup.

The very beginning of that outburst occurred in Maryland’s second series of the season against Rutgers, when Cowles slugged five home runs in a span of three games in two days.

The junior crushed a pair in the series opener, blasted a solo bomb in the first half of a doubleheader that Saturday, and added two more in game two. Cowles couldn’t muster up a home run in the Sunday finale, but he was still productive enough to drive in a pair of runs on sacrifice flies.

At the end of the weekend, Cowles had gone 6-14 with eight RBI, five home runs, and one walk.

Although the Terps dropped two of four games to the Scarlet Knights, Cowles’ home run onslaught was a legendary moment of the season.

Chris Alleyne Terrorizes Michigan (April 5)

The Terps’ season was looking grim after one month 6-9 baseball, and with a ranked Michigan team coming up on the schedule, it seemed like Maryland just couldn’t catch a break.

However, Chris Alleyne certainly came prepared to make a difference and spark the Terps ahead of their 19-6 second-half run, as the senior put on a masterful performance against the Wolverines on April 5.

After dropping the first game to Michigan, 5-6, Alleyne led off game two with a single — the first of what would be four total hits. One of those hits was a two-run triple, and Alleyne ultimately drove in five huge runs to help Maryland to a 17-7 win.

Reaching base five times, Alleyne’s performance against Michigan was arguably the best single-game offensive performance of any player last season.

Sean Burke Carves up Indiana (May 29)

Sean Burke began his 2021 season recording a career-high 13 strikeouts against Michigan State, but it was his 12-strikeout performances against the Indiana Hoosiers that stands out the most.

Matched up against fellow MLB Draft prospect McCade Brown, Burke had a lot to prove, especially against a Hoosier team closely in contention in the Big Ten standings. He responded to the challenge with 6 2/3 shutout innings and 12 strikeouts of the helpless Hoosier bats.

For Burke, it couldn’t have been a better performance for the junior, who had pitched in his final game at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium before the Chicago White Sox drafted him in the summer.

Bobby Zmarzlak vs. Norfolk St. (June 5)

With the Terps’ back against the wall after losing the Greenville Regional opener to Charlotte, Bobby Zmarzlak didn’t hold back in the winner-take-all game against Norfolk St.

Hitting fifth in the lineup as the designated hitter, Zmarzlak recorded hits in his first four at-bats: home run, single, double, home run. It took until the eighth inning to find out that Zmarzlak was human when he struck out on a full count, but there was certainly no pressure with the Terps owning a 15-0 lead.

With Zmarzlak’s own production, the Terps would have beat the Spartans 4-0.

A lot of the Terps’ firepower in the Regional came from the 2020 recruits, but Zmarzlak’s onslaught against Norfolk St. to help Maryland survive another day takes the cake.