Shaw, Maryland offense make history in 20-6 win over Michigan

Despite an uncharacteristically rough outing from Ryan Ramsey, Matt Shaw and the No. 17 Maryland offense tallied a Big Ten record 20 runs in its 20-6 defeat of Michigan on Saturday night. 

Shaw came into the day tied for fourth in the conference in home runs. By the end of the night, Shaw was tied for first.

The sophomore capped off a career-night with a grand slam for his third homer of the game and tied the school record with 8 RBIs. 

“He’s incredible. I’ve seen that from day one,” Head Coach Rob Vaughn said. “He’s worked his tail off to get himself right.” 

While starter Ryan Ramsey was coming off a historic night himself with a perfect game during his last home start, his shaky opening frame was a sign of things to come for the left-hander. 

After loading the bases three times on Friday, the Wolverines filled the bases in the first inning on Saturday. Catcher Jimmy Obertop doubled home two runners to open the scoring. One inning later, second baseman Ted Burton cleared the left center field wall to put Michigan ahead 3-0.

But the Terps offense was quick to pick up Ramsey. The Terps plated seven runs in the second inning, beginning with a Bobby Zmarzlak RBI single. Three hitters later, Luke Shliger hit a two-run double off the batter’s eye to tie the score at 3-3. 

Chris Alleyne welcomed junior Cameron Weston to the game with an RBI double down the third base line. After a Nick Lorusso walk, Matt Shaw connected on a three-run shot to give Maryland a 7-3 lead.

The Wolverines answered right back in the third. After hitting the game-tying three-run homer yesterday, Matt Frey hit a two-run shot to center field to cut Maryland’s lead to two.

The back-and-forth affair continued into the bottom frame as freshman Ian Petrutz delivered with a two-run single down the first-base line. In the following inning, Matt Shaw hit his second blast of the game just over the outstretched arm of right fielder Clark Elliott to extend the Terps’ lead to 10-5.

Michigan tacked on one in the fifth on an RBI single from Riley Bertram. Ramsey’s outing ended at the conclusion of the fifth inning. The lefty gave up six earned runs on four hits and walked six over 108 pitches.

After using five pitchers last night, freshman Noah Mrotek gave the Terps some much needed relief innings. The righty went three innings, allowed just one hit and struck out two.

Vaughn was pleased with Mrotek’s performance and is looking forward to his future at Maryland. 

“Noah’s going to pitch major, major impact innings throughout his career,” Vaughn said. “Major ones down the stretch as we move into postseason baseball, so for him to go out and have a really good night tonight is good for us and a good step for him in his career development.”

After relinquishing a 7-0 lead on Friday night, Maryland made sure there would be no Michigan comeback on Saturday night. The club added five more in the seventh, highlighted by Shaw’s grand slam, giving him eight RBIs on the night. The last Terrapin with an eight RBI game was Will Watson back in May 2018. 

Saturday night’s performance raised the shortstop’s average 14 points. After going through a midseason slump, Shaw is happy to have regained his swing.

“I’m just glad that the pieces are coming together,” he said. “I’m just glad to be in the right direction.”  

The Terps added two more in the eighth thanks to RBI singles from Ian Petrutz and Luke Shliger. Both Petrutz and Shliger had 3 RBIs apiece. 

After scoring 17 runs on 16 hits, Maryland’s offense was not done. Nick Lorusso capped off the team’s prolific night at the plate with a three-run blast to right-center field.

One of the keys to this year’s offensive success has been the depth of Maryland’s lineup, Vaughn said.  

“That’s what’s been fun about this offense. It’s been somebody different throughout the year. We’ve had the top carry us, we’ve had the middle carry us, we’ve had the bottom carry us, and I think that’s what makes this team good,” the fifth-year head coach said. “There’s just no let up. If you make mistakes, they can hammer baseballs.” 

Right-hander Will Glock worked a perfect ninth, closing out the game on a strikeout of pinch-hitter Casey Buckley. 

The Terps look for their second weekend sweep of the season tomorrow at noon. Nick Dean is set to start for Maryland while Chase Allen is slated to take the mound for Michigan.

Maryland uses small ball, long ball to pick up thrilling victory over Michigan

After storming in front via the long ball, the Terps offense used small ball to save a struggling bullpen in a thrilling 8-7 victory over Michigan on Friday night.

Following a steal of third base, Troy Schreffler scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the eighth off a wild pitch from Connor O’Halloran. There was no sign from third base coach Matt Swope. It was purely impulse from Schreffler.

“The adrenaline took over and I just started running,” Schreffler said. 

Head Coach Rob Vaughn praised the junior’s bold approach on the basepaths. 

“He won the game for us because he was fearless,” said Vaughn. “He was unafraid to crash and burn, and that’s something this group’s done all year.”

Schreffler’s dash for home capped off a wild three innings for No. 17 Maryland in which they relinquished a 7-0 lead before ultimately gaining it back. 

The Terps were in control throughout the first five innings. The offense jumped out to an early lead, connecting on back-to-back solo blasts from Nick Lorusso and Matt Shaw in the bottom of the first.

On the mound, Jason Savacool showed no signs of a back ailment that caused him to exit last Sunday’s start after one inning. The right-hander brought his swing-and-miss stuff against a Wolverines offense that ranks top five in the conference in runs, hits, home runs and RBI. Making his first Friday night start of the year, the righty recorded seven strikeouts through the first three innings.  

Maryland broke the game open in the fourth. Maryland extended their lead to 4-0 on a Bobby Zmarzlak two-run single. Freshman Ian Petrutz followed Zmarzlak with an RBI double to right-center. Five pitches later, Kevin Keister hit a two-run homer to extend the Terps’ lead to 7-0.

When these two teams met back in March, Maryland led 4-0 at the start of the sixth before Michigan scored seven unanswered runs to win 7-4. Friday’s game played out similarly.  

Once again, the Wolverines offense awoke in the sixth, but this time Michigan was spearheaded by an unlikely source. Nine-hole hitter Jake Marti hit his first homer in a Michigan uniform to start the rally.

Michigan proceeded to load the bases with one out, bringing up Tito Flores, the team leader in homers, to the plate. Savacool was able to work out of the jam by getting Flores to ground into a double play. That would be Savacool’s final batter of the night, as the sophomore went six innings, gave up two earned runs on four hits and recorded seven strikeouts along with two walks. With his third-inning strikeout of Ted Burton, Savacool became just the ninth Maryland pitcher to record at least 100 strikeouts in a single season.

After using four of their top bullpen arms on Friday night, Vaughn hinted at bringing in some young arms out of the bullpen on Saturday. 

“There’s some young pups that might get the ball tomorrow,” said Vaughn. “I want them to pitch without any fear of the negative of what could happen because they’re not freshmen anymore. You know, we’re six games left in our year.”

Michigan’s hitters immediately took advantage of Savacool’s exit. Sean Heine entered the game for Savacool and failed to record an out. After a leadoff double and back-to-back walks, Michigan loaded the bases for the second consecutive inning. Right-hander Nick Robinson replaced Heine but could not contain the Wolverine offense. A sac fly followed by a Joe Stewart two-run single cut Maryland’s lead to 7-4. 

Then Matt Frey delivered the biggest blow of the night. The graduate student hit a three-run homer that seemed to keep on carrying, as center fielder Chris Alleyne watched it sail over the batter’s eye. 

Down 7-0 to start the sixth, the Wolverines had stormed back to tie the game in the seventh.

The small but loud Michigan faithful erupted in cheers as the rest of Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium fell silent. But the Wolverines were not finished.

They threatened to score once more in the inning, putting runners on second and third before redshirt sophomore David Falco retired Joey Velazquez and Riley Bertram to end the inning. 

Schreffler and Maxwell Costes worked back-to-back one-out walks to fuel the Terps’ eighth inning rally before Schreffler used his speed to create the go-ahead run.

Schreffler talked about the team’s ability to not only hit for power, but get on base in a variety of ways. “We’re able to hit the long ball and extra bases, and also be able to work the walks, work the hit by pitches and put the ball in play a lot,” said Schreffler. 

The Wolverines would not go quietly in the ninth. Frey worked a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a Nigel Belgrave wild pitch. The hard-throwing right-hander set down the next three hitters, capped off by a called strike three on Velazquez. 

The team’s confidence in their ability to win never wavered, even after the Wolverines came back to tie the score at 7-7, Vaughn said. “I think they expected to win tonight even when it got bad. When I went out to the mound to make a visit there was no panic. It was like, man, they got to get us out nine more times. We’re in a good place,” said Vaughn.

The Terps earned their regular-season record 39th win of the season, just three behind the program’s all-time winningest season set in its run to the Super Regionals in 2015. 

Maryland and Michigan play game two of the series at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday. Lefty Ryan Ramsey is slated to start for the Terps while righty Cameron Weston is expected to start for the Wolverines.

Series Preview: Michigan Wolverines

No. 17 Maryland’s quest for a Big Ten regular season title continues this weekend as the Terps take on the fifth-place Michigan Wolverines. 

The Terps met Michigan back in March as part of the Keith LeClair Classic in Greenville, N.C. The Terps led 4-0 at the start of the sixth inning before Michigan came back and won 7-4 to hand the Terps their first loss of the season. The game did not count in the Big Ten standings. 

While the Terps dropped two of three that weekend, including a defeat in a regional finals rematch with East Carolina, Maryland comes into Friday’s game with high spirits. The Terps took two of three from first-place Rutgers in a series that concluded on Monday due to the weekend rain.

The Terps offense was out in full force, scoring 32 runs, including 11 home runs, over the three-game series. That continues an excellent last two weeks for Maryland hitters, who have scored at least seven runs in nine of their last 10 games.

Michigan Wolverines (25-21, 10-8 Big Ten)

Last season

The Wolverines finished third in the conference last season, one game behind Maryland. Like Maryland, they qualified for the NCAA Tournament. They went 0-2 in the regional series, losing by five or more runs to both Connecticut and Central Michigan. Michigan dropped three of the five games played against the Terps last season. Three of those games were played during the second-to-last weekend of the regular season, just like this year’s series.

This season

The Wolverines are full of offensive weapons, led by MLB Draft prospects Clark Elliott and Tito Flores. As a team, Michigan ranks top five in the conference in runs, hits, doubles, home runs, RBI, slugging percentage and stolen bases. They are coming off a season-high 21-run performance against a Wright State squad that made the NCAA Tournament last season. 

The Wolverines’ pitching, however, has struggled. The team has the third-worst ERA in the conference at 6.41. They rank among the Big Ten’s worst in runs, hits, walks and batting average against.

Hitters to Watch

Elliott, a preseason All-Big Ten selection, paces the team in batting average, OPS, runs, walks and RBI. The junior has collected multiple hits in eight of his last 14 games, including a three-hit afternoon with four RBI versus Wright State on Wednesday.

Flores ranks among the team’s top 3 in batting average, OPS, hits, RBI and home runs, which he leads the Wolverines with 10. The Detroit native has collected at least two hits in six of his last 11 games, including a two-hit, 3-RBI day against Wright State. Flores was named Second Team All-Big Ten last season. 

Michigan has four other hitters with at least eight home runs each: graduate students Joe Stewart (9) and Matt Frey (8), d1baseball.com’s top infield draft prospect Ted Burton (8) and Third Team All-Big Ten honoree Jimmy Obertop (8).

Pitchers to Watch

Right-hander Chase Allen holds a team-low 3.84 ERA and has made 19 appearances, including five starts, for the Wolverines. The sophomore also leads the team with a perfect record of 6-0 and is holding opponents to a .224 batting average. Each of his last four outings have been Sunday starts, in which he’s gone at least five innings in each start. The righty presents Michigan’s best opportunity to win when he is on the mound.

Friday night starter Connor O’Halloran is another starter expected to see action this weekend. The lefty leads the team in innings (67.1) and strikeouts (80) and has started in all 13 games he’s appeared in this season. O’Halloran has the ability to pitch deep into games, going seven-plus innings three times this year. However, the pitch count can be a concern for him, as he’s thrown at least 107 pitches in five of his last six starts.

Probable Starting Pitcher Matchups

Friday, 6:30 p.m. ET

So. RHP Jason Savacool (7-2, 2.59 ERA) vs. So. LHP Connor O’Halloran (4-3, 4.41 ERA)

Savacool will make his first Friday start of the season after lasting only one inning on Sunday due to back soreness. In his shortened outing, the righty gave up two hits on three runs (two earned) along with one strikeout and one walk. Despite lasting only one inning, he still remains the conference leader in innings pitched (80) and strikeouts (95). His seven wins rank second in the Big Ten and his 2.59 ERA ranks third. 

O’Halloran earned a no-decision last Friday versus a solid Indiana lineup, going 5.1 innings, surrendering four runs on six hits, striking out eight and walking three. The key for the lefty is striking out hitters- Michigan is 5-0 when he records at least eight punchouts. However, the home run ball has bitten the sophomore lately. After allowing no home runs through his first 50.2 innings this season, he’s surrendered six homers in his last three outings, including three in last Friday’s start.

Saturday, 2:00 p.m. ET

Jr. LHP Ryan Ramsey (9-0, 2.47 ERA) vs. Jr. RHP Cameron Weston (4-3, 4.72 ERA)

Arguably the top pitcher in the Big Ten, Ramsey continued his dominance last weekend versus one of the best hitting teams in the nation in Rutgers. Ramsey went six innings, gave up two earned runs on four hits, recorded one strikeout and allowed two walks on 91 pitches en route to his conference-leading ninth win of the year. 

Weston had heightened expectations coming into the season, as he was ranked a top-five Big Ten pitching prospect by d1baseball.com. The righty has been consistent all season long, but not as effective as many predicted. The junior has given up between two and four earned runs in all but one of his starts. Weston is coming off a mediocre outing in which he allowed three earned runs on eight hits in 5.1 innings. He walked three and struck out five on 102 pitches.

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET

Jr. RHP Nick Dean (4-2, 4.01 ERA) vs. So. RHP Chase Allen (6-0, 3.84 ERA)

Since being moved to a Sunday starting role, Dean has shined on the mound, allowing just two earned runs on four hits in 11 innings. The junior earned the win in Monday’s rubber match in Piscataway, going six innings, allowing two earned runs (both solo homers) on three hits while striking out nine and walking two. The righty will look to continue his momentum against a hot Michigan lineup.

Recently moved into a starting role, Allen has been the Wolverines’ most consistent pitcher all year. The righty sits just outside the conference top 10 in ERA and has made the second most appearances (19) for Michigan this season. Last Sunday’s start versus Indiana was his worst outing of the season, as he allowed a season-high six earned runs in six innings and earned the no-decision. Allen will return to the site of his collegiate debut, which he made last April. 

Pro Terps Update: 2022 Opening Day

After a highly successful 2021 campaign for multiple former Maryland baseball stars, the 2022 MLB regular season begins today for three former Terps. 

Here’s a look at the Maryland baseball alumni who will begin their seasons at the Major League level.

2B Brandon Lowe, Tampa Bay Rays

One of the main contributors to a Rays squad that won 100 games last season, Lowe set multiple career-highs at the plate. Lowe hit a career-high 39 homers along with 99 RBIs en route to a second consecutive top-10 finish in AL MVP voting. Lowe also led the club in Wins Above Replacement. 

Getting off to a hot start this year is the key to success for the former First-Team All-American. Lowe began last season with a .198 average through June 22. From then on, he flipped the script, hitting .289 with a 1.013 OPS the rest of the way. He struggled in the postseason, going 0-for-18 with nine strikeouts in a four-game loss to the Red Sox in the American League Division Series. 

Shortly after the Rays’ season ended, Lowe met with a handful of members on Tampa Bay’s analytics team to look at what went wrong in the postseason. Earlier this month, Lowe told MLB.com’s Adam Berry he believes he made the necessary adjustments to avoid a repeat of last year’s postseason slump.

During the offseason, Lowe worked out at home in Nashville, Tenn. In 27 Spring Training at-bats, Lowe hit .296 with one homer, a grand slam on March 25. For the second consecutive year, Lowe made MLB Network’s list of top 100 players, coming in at No. 56.  

1B/OF LaMonte Wade Jr., San Francisco Giants (10-day IL)

Like Lowe, Wade is coming off a career year at the plate. In his first full MLB season, Wade hit 18 homers with 56 RBI in 109 games for the NL West champion Giants. But he was best known for his late-game heroics. In late-and-close situations, Wade hit .362 in 47 at-bats. Late-and-close situations are defined by plate appearances in the seventh inning or later with the hitting team tied, ahead by one or the tying run at least on deck. He also hit .565 with 12 RBIs in 23 ninth-inning at-bats. 

Wade credits Maryland hitting coach Matt Swope for last year’s success. Swope helped fix Wade’s stance and plate approach during the 2020-21 offseason. The Baltimore native met Swope three to four times a week before Maryland baseball’s practices to work on his swing and plan of attack. The pair also worked together in College Park during the 2021-22 offseason.

Wade hit one home run in 11 plate appearances this spring before being sidelined with a bone bruise in his left knee. Wade will begin the season on the 10-day injured list before making his return to the 28-man roster. 

INF Kevin Smith, Oakland Athletics

Smith is making the first Opening Day roster of his young career. A versatile infielder who is expected to see time at shortstop and third base, Smith played his way onto the roster following an excellent spring. In 16 games, Oakland’s No. 16 prospect hit .325 with 3 home runs and 11 RBIs.

The A’s acquired Smith from the Blue Jays in last month’s deal that sent Matt Chapman to Toronto. The former First Team Freshman All-American made his MLB debut with the Blue Jays last season. In 32 at-bats, Smith tallied three hits, including his first big league homer on August 29.

Terps shine on mound, defeat George Mason 3-1

Following Tuesday’s record-setting day at the plate, Maryland flipped the script on Wednesday as the Terps’ pitching staff combined for nine innings of one-run ball. 

Left-hander Logan Ott went a season-high five innings, allowing three hits while striking out two. The Terps took advantage of a George Mason lineup missing its top two hitters, freshman Brett Ahalt and junior South Trimble. 

Nick Robinson shined in relief for Ott, shutting down the heart of the Patriots’ order and allowing just one hit over two innings. 

The Terps opened the scoring in the third, plating Chris Alleyne on a Nick Lorusso groundout. Maxwell Costes and Matt Shaw followed with back-to-back singles. A wild pitch from freshman starter Britt Yount moved both runners up 90 feet before third baseman Danny Hosley made a charging play to throw out Troy Schreffler at first to end the Terps’ threat.  

It was an afternoon of missed opportunities for George Mason. Along with their offensive struggles, baserunning blunders plagued the Patriots, who dropped to 8-15 on the season. The miscues started in the third, following George Mason’s first hit of the afternoon. The Patriots had runners on first and second with two outs before a botched double steal ended the inning.

Catcher Connor Dykstra led off the following inning with a double off the wall. The Terps quickly erased Dykstra from the basepaths after the freshman was caught in between second and third on a groundout. George Mason also ran themselves out of the sixth inning when Hosley was caught stealing second base. 

After stranding 26 runners in scoring position last weekend against The Citadel, the Patriots continued to struggle with runners on base. Each of the Patriots’ first three hits went for extra bases but none of the hitters came around to score. 

While George Mason’s hitters struggled at the plate, reliever Christian Mracna excelled for the Patriots. Mracna came on in relief with the bases loaded and one out in the fourth but escaped the jam without allowing a run. 

Typically used for an inning or less, Mracna kept Maryland’s hitters at bay for 3 2/3 innings. The righty did an excellent job getting ahead in the count, throwing a first pitch strike to the first four batters he faced.

With the Terps clinging to a 1-0 lead in the eighth, Matt Shaw welcomed senior Matthew Henson into the game with an opposite-field double. Dancing off of second base, Shaw forced a balk and moved 90 feet closer to an insurance run. Schreffler followed Shaw with an opposite-field double of his own, giving the Terrapins a much-needed insurance run. Bobby Zmarzlak kept the line moving with a RBI single up the middle, pushing the Terrapins’ lead to three. 

The Patriots’ bats awoke in the eighth. Second baseman Brett Stallings extended his RBI streak to six games with a RBI single. However, the Patriots squandered a chance to pull closer after Stallings was caught stealing second base. 

With Sean Heine seeking his second save of the season, the Patriots put runners on first and second in the ninth. Heine allowed both runners to advance on a throwing error towards first base before giving up a two-out walk to load the bases. With the winning run on first base, Heine closed out the game with a groundout to second. 

George Mason dropped its fifth straight home game and host VCU Friday afternoon as they begin conference play.

Winners of two straight, the Terps head home to open Big Ten play against Penn State on Friday night.

Preseason Countdown No. 15: Takeaways from Spring Media Day

With the start of college baseball season just weeks away, Maryland held its spring media day Monday afternoon. With a promising season ahead for the Terps, here’s what we learned from media day.

No Burke, no worries

After the Chicago White Sox took starter Sean Burke in the third round of the 2021 MLB Draft, the Terps turned their attention back to their current pitching staff. Maryland brings back freshman phenom Jason Savacool, who led the team in wins and innings pitched in 2021. 

Savacool was slated to play in the Cape Cod League over the summer but Head Coach Rob Vaughn had the right-hander work on getting stronger during the offseason. “He spent a lot of time with our strength coach here in the summer, working out four days a week. He came back in the fall and his body was much different, much stronger, much more physical. He just matured a lot,” said Vaughn of Savacool. 

Named preseason Big Ten Pitcher of the Year by D1Baseball, Nick Dean returns to the mound following an excellent sophomore campaign. Dean finished the year with a 2.87 ERA in nine starts while completing six innings or more in each of his final six appearances. Junior Ryan Ramsey will slide into a starting role this season after pacing the team with a 1.67 ERA in 16 appearances in 2021.   

Importance of midweek and non-conference games 

After playing a conference-only regular season schedule last year, the Terps return to non-conference play. A large portion of the roster hasn’t experienced a typical college baseball season. 

“Mid-weeks are going to be tough for kids to really adjust, playing a 62 game season plus whatever it is going into regional play,” said reliever Sean Heine. “Staying healthy, being consistent the entire season is really going to be a test for us.” 

Vaughn stressed the importance of building a tough non-conference schedule, as the Terps will play five teams from outside the Big Ten that advanced to the NCAA Tournament last year. “If we’re going to line up and win when the chips are on the line in May and June, we better be exposed to it now,” said Vaughn. “We need to see where we are at, where do we stack up?”

Experience is key 

Heine and center fielder Chris Alleyne spoke about the experience they bring from last year’s run to the Regional Final. “Having guys like me and Sean [Heine] and even [Matt] Shaw returning from last year’s team gives that same dynamic of what we learned from last year,” said Alleyne. 

Heine wants to mentor the younger players and ensure they don’t make the same mistakes he did. “Something I wanted to do is have a lasting impact on these freshmen and sophomores…just give them my experience and my knowledge from what I’ve learned being here for five years,” said the right-hander. 

After an injury-riddled yet productive junior year, cleanup hitter Maxwell Costes is back for his senior season. Junior outfielder Bobby Zmarzlak, who made the All-Regional Team, returns to the lineup as well. 

The emergence of Matt Shaw

While Matt Shaw may not be an upperclassman, Vaughn spoke highly of him on media day. “I think his ceiling is getting paid to play baseball for a really long time…He’s a phenomenal teammate, a really, really good leader, and he cares about this place,” said Vaughn.

Last season, the Preseason second-team All-American finished top two on the club in average (.332), hits (61), runs (42) and doubles (14). The sophomore worked hard this offseason to improve his defense at shortstop, a position he made zero starts at last season. Shaw made such strides at the position that Vaughn said he would have been the team’s starting shortstop by season’s end if the team played into November. 

While Shaw has showcased his talents on the field, Vaughn is also impressed with how he carries himself off the field. “He’s meeting with people outside of me, not directed by me at all, talking about community service,” said Vaughn. “He’s a great kid. I think that success is going to take care of itself for him.”

Unfinished business”

The ending to last year’s season didn’t sit right with Coach Vaughn’s club. Talking with Vaughn, Alleyne and Heine, there is a sense of discontent around the team. The Terps feel as if they are built to make a deep run into the NCAA Tournament with their returning core. Heine said last year’s Regional exit is not something they will soon forget.

“Anytime there’s a Regional Final loss, especially missing our two best players at the time, you’re gonna feel it. We all feel it.”

New York Yankees draft Ben Cowles in 10th round

The New York Yankees selected Maryland shortstop Ben Cowles in the 10th round (303rd overall) of the MLB Draft on Monday. The rising senior was the second Terrapin taken in the 2021 MLB Draft.

The Newark, New York product starred both on the mound and at the plate in high school, but was recruited by the Terps as a position player. His presence was immediately felt in the lineup, as he started 50 of the 58 games during his freshman season. However, Cowles struggled with his bat, slashing just .200/.317/.314 with three homers and 15 RBIs.

After spending most of his freshman year at second base, he transitioned to shortstop prior to his sophomore season, where he started every game. Albeit the shortened season, Cowles saw his offensive numbers surge in his limited time at the plate. He matched his freshman total with three home runs in only 15 games while ranking third on the club with 14 RBIs. Cowles credited his offensive success to hitting coach Matt Swope, who worked with shortstop on his swing and helped fine-tune his approach at the plate.

Although Cowles made strides on offense during his sophomore campaign, no one could have expected the breakout season he would have in 2021.  

The righty, who does not consider himself a power hitter, began the season hot at the plate and never cooled off. In March, he hit five homers in three games against Rutgers, which earned him Big Ten Player of the Week honors for the first time in his career. In mid May, the junior went 7 for 15 including homers in three straight games. By the season’s end, he finished with 18 home runs, fourth most in program history and most by a Terp in nearly two decades. He ranked second in the conference with 51 RBIs and finished top four on the team in OPS (first), hits (second), runs (third), average (fourth) and stolen bases (fourth).

He also excelled in the field, ranking second in the conference in both assists and fielding percentage among shortstops. His breakout season earned him a spot on the First Team All-Big Ten list and he also was named a Third Team All-American by Baseball America.

It is unknown whether Cowles will sign a contract with the Yankees or return to College Park in the fall.

Chicago White Sox draft Sean Burke in third round

The Chicago White Sox selected Maryland right-hander Sean Burke in the third round (94th overall) of the MLB Draft on Monday. The rising junior was the first Terrapin taken in the 2021 MLB Draft.

The Sutton, Mass. native went undrafted out of St. John’s High School in 2018 and chose Maryland over various Power Five schools such as Virginia and Boston College. Burke’s time in College Park got off to a rough start when the righty missed his freshman year while recovering from Tommy John surgery. 

When Burke finally returned to the hill, he shined. He made four starts and led the team in multiple pitching categories, including innings pitched, ERA and strikeouts. His 35 strikeouts ranked first among freshmen in Division I. Burke credited Tommy John surgery for his success in 2020.

“Obviously, at the time, I was upset that it happened,” Burke said in an interview with Baseball Prospect Journal prior to the 2021 season, “But because of that, I don’t think I would be where I’m at today if it wasn’t for that surgery,” he said.

The Perfect Game Preseason Big Ten Pitcher of the Year picked up where he left off to begin the 2021 campaign, striking out 13 Spartans in six innings at Michigan State on Opening Day. Three weeks later, the imposing right-hander, who stands in at 6-foot-6 and 230 pounds, recorded 11 strikeouts and allowed one earned run against Iowa. 

He pitched his best down the stretch, striking out 12 and taking a no-hitter deep into the seventh inning against Indiana in the final regular-season series of the year. With the Terps’ season on the line, Burke stepped up once again, tossing six scoreless frames and striking out eight against Norfolk State in the NCAA Tournament.

He finished the year with 107 strikeouts, which ranked second in the Big Ten and sixth-most in program history. His 12.96 strikeouts per nine innings was the fourth-best mark in Terrapin history and he finished third among starters in the conference with a .178 batting average against.

The right-hander boasts a four-seam fastball, changeup, curveball and slider from a three-quarters arm slot, which he added last offseason. He relies primarily on his fastball and curveball, which he experimented with prior to the 2021 season and changed his grip from the traditional grip to a knuckle curveball grip.

Burke’s fastball sits in the 92-95 mph range and elevates up in the zone, which prompted his high strikeout rates. His secondary pitches have led to inconsistency, with some scouts wishing he would choose between his curve and slider. His command is also an issue, as he walked five or more batters three times in 14 appearances last season. 

Some scouts envision Burke moving into a relief role due to his fastball-breaking ball combination if he struggles as a starter at the professional level.

It is unknown whether Burke will sign a contract with the White Sox or return to College Park in the fall.

Savacool, Vought lead Terps to doubleheader sweep 

A cloudy day in Champaign did not stop the Terps from shining both at the plate and on the mound, propelling Maryland to a doubleheader sweep of Illinois. 

Starter Jason Savacool had a memorable outing in game one, only to be topped by his battery-mate Justin Vought in game two. 

Starter Nick Dean set the bar high with an outstanding performance on Friday night, but Savacool was up for the task. The freshman phenom shined on the mound for the Terps in game one, falling just two outs short of his third complete game of the year. He recorded a career-high seven strikeouts and allowed just four hits against an Illinois offense that came into the day leading the conference in batting average.

The Terps were firing on all cylinders in game one. After being silenced last night, Maryland’s bats came alive and capitalized on many of their chances. Bobby Zmarzlak tallied a career-high three hits and Chris Alleyne drove in three runs. Six Terps recorded multi-hit games. 

The Terps also found success on the basepaths. The team was successful in all seven of their stolen base tries, with Zmarzlak, Troy Schreffler and Ben Cowles swiping two bags apiece. It was a great all-around game for the Terps, who bounced back in a big way after Friday’s tough loss.

The Terps scored their first run of the series in the third on Alleyne’s RBI single. Alleyne scored from first on freshman Matt Shaw’s RBI double down the third base line, giving Maryland a 2-0 lead. That is all the run support Savacool needed.

Sporting No. 45 for Gerrit Cole, the freshman flashed shades of the Yankees right-hander early on, retiring the first nine Illini hitters. Illinois got on the board with an RBI fielder’s choice from Justin Janas but the Illini were unable to tack on any more runs.

Savacool continued to shine, striking out Janas and right fielder Cam McDonald for his career-high seventh strikeout of the afternoon. The freshman sailed through the seventh with only three hits allowed. 

In the eighth, Alleyne extended the Terps lead to 5-1 with an RBI single, his third of the afternoon. Still in search of his first home run of the series, Cowles came up later in the inning but struck out swinging. 

Savacool worked around one hit in the eighth and got slugger Jackson Raper to fly out to center and end the inning. The freshman was back on the hill to begin the ninth, but following a hit batsmen and a single, Savacool’s stellar start ended just two outs short of a complete game. 

Closer Sam Bello entered the game, and things got a little too close for comfort for the Terps. With the bases loaded and the Illini down to their final out, catcher Jacob Campbell hit Bello’s offering off the wall for a two-run double, cutting the Terps’ lead to two. Bello was able to close out the game with a strikeout of pinch-hitter Tom Jurack, and the Terps evened the series at one apiece by taking game one 5-3. 

While the story of game one was the Terps’ success on the hill, Maryland’s offense led the charge in game two.

Down 1-0, the Terps were held quiet until the fourth inning. After being bogged down all series long, the Terps’ bats finally came alive. Maxwell Costes led off the fourth with a single before Tommy Gardiner laced a single into right, moving Costes to third. With one out, left fielder Tucker Flint stepped up to the plate and delivered an opposite-field three run homer to left. 

But the Terps weren’t done. Catcher Justin Vought followed up Flint’s homer with one of his own, a solo shot to left center.

Maryland’s offensive onslaught had just begun.

Vought led off the sixth with his second homer of the day, another solo shot to left. Alleyne followed with a homer of his own, and the Terps went back-to-back for the second time in three innings.

The Illini pushed across one run in the sixth and seventh innings to cut Maryland’s lead to three, but that was the closest they would get.

Vought’s career day at the plate was not over. The catcher unloaded on a 1-1 offering from reliever Ryan Kutt for his third home run of the game, becoming the first Terp with a three-homer game since 2009. Two batters later, Ben Cowles joined the home run party with his Big-Ten leading 14th homer of the season, giving him a home run in each series this season. The two solo home runs gave the Terps an 8-3 lead.

As the rain started to fall, the Terps continued to pour it on. Schreffler came around to score on a wild pitch and give the Terps a 9-3 lead in the ninth. Later in the inning, Vought stepped to the plate with a chance at history: a four home run game. While he did not hit one out, the catcher did lace an RBI single to left field for his fourth RBI of the game. Shaw kept the line moving with a two-run single to give the Terrapins 12 runs on the day. 

The Illini tacked on one in the bottom half, but David Falco shut the door on the Illini’s comeback hopes, giving the Terps another series win.

Maryland has won eight of their past nine and 11 of their last 13. With only three series left in the regular season, the Terps have caught fire at the right time.

The Terrapins will be back at the “Bob” next weekend for a three-game set versus a struggling Purdue ball club that has lost five of their last six.

Terps’ winning streak snapped in 2-0 defeat to Illinois

The Terps (19-14) saw their six-game win streak come to an end on Friday night, dropping a 2-0 pitchers duel to Illinois (16-16).

The starters for both clubs were the stories of the night, with both pitchers going 7 2/3 innings. Illini sophomore Andrew Hoffmann recorded a career high 12 strikeouts, with the first eight coming through the first four innings. Hoffmann threw 80 of his 111 pitches for strikes, giving up only three hits, no runs and no walks. The sophomore’s 12 strikeouts were the most in a game for an Illini pitcher since April 2016. 

Hoffmann got out to a hot start and never cooled off. The tall, lanky right-hander made quick work of the Terps early on, striking out six through three frames. He caught hitters off guard on his breaking ball, which sat about 20 miles per hour slower than his fastball. The two-time transfer student pounded the strike zone all night, getting the Terps hitters to chase. The righty reached two strike counts against each of the first nine Terps hitters.

Dean retired the first seven batters he faced, but faced trouble in the third. Left fielder Nathan Aide came up with the first hit of the game for either side with one out in the bottom of the third. Two pitches later, Freshman Cal Hejza hit an opposite field RBI single to put the Illini on the board. 

Chris Alleyne got things going for the Terps with a leadoff single in the fourth. Hoffmann responded with his seventh strikeout of the night, getting Matt Shaw to strike out swinging. Alleyne promptly stole second for his conference-leading 19th steal of the season. The speedy Alleyne advanced to second on a Ben Cowles groundout but the right hander worked out of trouble and recorded his eighth strikeout, stranding Alleyne on third. 

In the bottom of the fifth, leadoff hitter Taylor Jackson reached third on a three-base error off an errant throw from third baseman Tommy Gardiner. Illinois was unable to drive Jackson home as slugger Jackson Raper ended the inning with a flyout to right.

The Terps were unable to capitalize off of catcher Riley Langerman’s one out single in the sixth, as Hoffman continued to cruise through six. 

Designated hitter Justin Janas got on base to start the bottom half of the inning with a slow roller that hugged the third base line for a single. Tommy Gardiner made up for his fielding blunder in the fifth with a heads-up play. Gardiner intentionally dropped a lineout to third to get the lead runner at second, but catcher Ryan Hampe was called safe at first after a lengthy review, leaving manager Rob Vaughn displeased and looking for an explanation from the umpiring crew. The questionable call did not seem to phase Dean, though. He left Hampe stranded on first and recorded his first strikeout to end the inning.

With one out in the seventh, Maxwell Costes reached first on his 15th hit by pitch of the year, the second most in the conference. It was just the fourth base runner allowed by Hoffmann. The sophomore recorded his career-high 10th strikeout of the game after Tommy Gardiner was caught looking to end the top of the inning.

Both pitchers shined through seven innings, with Dean giving up just one earned run on four hits, and Hoffmann striking out a career-high ten on just two hits while giving up no runs. Neither pitcher allowed a walk through seven innings. Maryland saw only two runners reach scoring position through the seventh. 

Hoffmann recorded his 11th strikeout for the first out of the eighth, which gave him 7 1/3 innings pitched on the night, a new career-high. Hoffmann seemed to get better as the game went on. He recorded four straight strikeouts in the seventh and eighth innings as he climbed over 100 pitches. Catcher Riley Langerman ended Hoffmann’s excellent outing with a two-out bloop single in the eighth, but Cole Kirschsieper came on in relief, getting Alleyne to pop out to shortstop. 

Dean also came back out for the eighth, starting the inning at only 80 pitches. After recording two quick outs, the sophomore walked Branden Comia, the first free pass issued by either team. Five pitches later, Janas hit a single down the right field line to advance Comia to third, ending Dean’s excellent outing. Elliot Zoellner’s first pitch in relief was a wild one, scoring Comia from third and giving the Illini a much-needed insurance run. Zoellner escaped further trouble with a Hampe groundout on the next pitch.

Matt Shaw gave the Terps life with a leadoff walk in the ninth, but Kirschsieper recorded a huge strikeout of slugger Ben Cowles, who looked to be swinging for the fences during his at bat. Kirschsieper followed the Cowles strikeout with a punchout of Costes for the second out of the inning. The sophomore earned his second save of the year by retiring Matt Orlando, giving Illinois a 2-0 win. 

With the win, Illinois gets back to .500 for the first time since starting 6-6. This was only the Illini’s third win this year when scoring five runs or less. Dean took the tough-luck loss, and Hoffman earned his second win of the year.

Due to expected inclement weather on Sunday, the Terps will take on the Illini for two at Illinois Field. The first game starts at noon with the pitching matchup uncertain due to the sudden schedule change. The series finale will begin 30 minutes after the conclusion of game one.