Terps’ Bats Falter in Final Game of Homestand

On a day where the college sports world was shaken by announcements regarding games and championships in the coming weeks, Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium remained a bubble of normalcy as Maryland and James Madison battled out a close-fought midweek game. 

After beating up on opposing pitchers through the first four games of their homestand, the Terps were stymied by the Dukes’ hurlers, as they were shut out through the final eight innings in a 4-2 loss. 

The Terps struck first, scoring twice in the first inning on a single by Maxwell Costes and a Ben Cowles hit by pitch. James Madison struck right back in the top of the second, as back-to-back homers by Fox Semones and Josh Jones put the Dukes up 3-2. JMU added to their lead with a run scored on a wild pitch later in the inning. 

While the score remained fairly low, neither starter reached the fifth inning, as JMU’s Liam McDonnell was lifted after 3 innings and Maryland’s Zach Thompson made it through 4. Thompson allowed just four hits and one walk, but the free pass was costly as the runner came in to score on Semones’ home run. 

Both bullpens kept their opponents off the board and for the most part off the bases. The Dukes mounted a threat in the sixth inning when they drew two walks off reliever Connor Staine. After Staine was relieved by Sam Bello, a wild pitch moved the runners to scoring position with two outs, but Bello punched out DaVonn Griffin to keep the Terps’ deficit at just two. 

After removing their starter, the Dukes turned the ball over to Grayson Jones. The senior right hander shut the Terps down, going three innings, allowing only one hit and fanning two while facing the minimum thanks to a pick-off of Randy Bednar at second base in the fifth. 

The Terps finally threatened in the seventh, when reliever Andrew Weight loaded the bases with two outs for designated hitter Bobby Zmarzlak. After Weight was taken out in favor of Lliam Grubbs, Zmarzlak lined a ball deep into the left field corner, but left fielder Chase DeLauter tracked it down to end the inning. 

The Dukes put together another solid inning in the eighth, using a single, a hit batsman, and a double steal to put runners on second and third with one out against Elliot Zoellner. Zoellner escaped the jam unscathed, sandwiching a walk between a strikeout and a force out that ended the inning. 

After scoring 48 runs in the previous four home games, the Terps’ bats were all but silent on the afternoon, recording just four hits, and going 2-for-14 with runners on base and recorded just one hit after the fifth inning. 

Game Preview: James Madison

Heading into the final tilt of a five-game homestand, The Terrapins are flying high, with blowout wins in each of their last four games. After being swept at Coastal Carolina to finish February play, Maryland has righted the ship in a big way, outscoring opponents 48-18 over its last four games.

Before heading to their spring break road trip in Texas, Maryland will welcome James Madison to Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium to wrap up one of their longest homestands of the season.

While the Terps’ weekend rotation has been solidified, approaching only their third midweek it’s still uncertain whether junior Zach Thompson will get his third midweek start, or whether senior Tyler Blohm may finally make his return to the mound.

Thompson was dominant to start against Delaware, completing a perfect first trip through the order on just 27 pitches. After a long layoff prior to the fourth, Thompson struggled, finishing the afternoon after just 4 ⅓ innings with five runs charged to him. 

Coming off of his junior campaign, in which he went 1-2 in six starts and struggled with injury, Blohm has the potential to make his first start of the season. After throwing over 50 innings in each of his first two years, Blohm was limited to 15 ⅔ innings last season. If he can return to form, the southpaw would provide a big boost to the Terps’ stable of arms, which currently leans heavily on underclassmen. 

While the Terrapins have seen offensive production throughout the lineup, the top of their order has been a force to be reckoned with so far. Chris Alleyne, Randy Bednar, and Maxwell Costes are all batting over .340, with Costes boasting a .439 average and an impressive .627 on-base-percentage to go with four homers and 14 RBI.

Alleyne and Bednar are tied for team lead with eight doubles and Alleyne leads the conference with 18 runs scored, while Bednar is third in the conference with 16 RBI.

Outside of those three atop the order, the Terps’ biggest bat has been shortstop Ben Cowles, who has three home runs and has driven in 13 runs, batting mostly out of the seven-hole. Cowles is currently on a six-game hit streak and a four-game RBI streak, and has two home runs and 10 RBI on the four-game home stand.

James Madison Dukes (8-6, 0-0 CAA)

Last Season

The Dukes finished last season 31-26, but were bounced in just two games in the CAA tournament. James Madison had a 9-13 overall record away from home last season, but that did include a 14-1 win over the Terps in College Park.

This Season

James Madison started the season getting swept by then-No. 16 NC State before rattling off six straight wins. Since then, the Dukes have won two of their last five and will be heading to College Park after playing VMI at home on Tuesday. 

Hitters to Watch

The Dukes’ top run producers on the young season have been a trio of underclassmen. Freshman two-way player Chase DeLauter and sophomore Nick Zona boast identical .383 batting averages and have driven in 13 and 12 runs, respectively. The team’s RBI leader is sophomore Kyle Novak, who has 14 RBI this spring to go along with a .333 average. 

Pitchers to Watch

In two midweek games this season, the Dukes have yet to have a starter go more than five innings. In their first midweek, Justin Showalter went two innings, but has since settled into a weekend starting role. In their second midweek, the Dukes used Liam McDonnell for 4 ⅔ innings in which he fanned seven while allowing five hits and two runs.

With freshman Hunter Entsminger the announced starter for Tuesday’s matchup with VMI, it seems likely that James Madison could turn to McDonnell on Wednesday, as he has only 5 ⅔ innings on the season and has not pitched since his appearance against VMI in February. 

Maryland Offense Comes Alive as Terps Beat Delaware 13-6

In Maryland’s first at-bat of their Wednesday matchup with Delaware, leadoff hitter Chris Alleyne popped a ball up into shallow right field where it dropped between first baseman Josh Carpenter and right fielder Kyle Baker for a double. 

The miscue set the tone for what would be an afternoon filled with Delaware mistakes and Maryland hits, and the Terps recorded 15 hits, including 8 for extra-bases, in a 13-6 win.  

While the Terps bats came alive, they were helped along by the many mistakes made by Delaware on the afternoon. The Blue Hens issued seven walks, made two errors, hit six batters, and had five wild pitches and three passed balls. The Terrapins put added pressure on the Delaware defense, stealing four bases in five attempts. 

After a Randy Bednar flyout, Maxwell Costes hit a sharp ground ball back up the middle to score Alleyne and put the Terps on top. Maryland doubled its lead in the second, when Bednar ripped a double to left-centerfield, scoring Ben Cowles from second base.

The Terps gave themselves more breathing room in the third, scoring three runs on a solo shot by Tavin Shahidi and an RBI double by Cowles. A bloop single off the left fielder’s glove by Austin Chavis chased starter CJ Schaible from the game and brought on Winston Allen who retired Alleyne before hitting Bednar and Costes with back-to-back pitches to bring in another run and allow the Terps to bat around.  

While Schaible scuffled, Maryland starter Zach Thompson’s first trip through the Blue Hens’ order was tremendously efficient, as the redshirt junior set down the first nine men he faced, punching out two and throwing strikes on 20 of his 27 pitches. 

“He had really good sink,” said head coach Rob Vaughn. “When Zach’s good the ball just disappears. Our guys have faced him for three years now and the ball looks like it’s down the middle and it ends up at you ankle.”

Delaware got its first base runner when shortstop Vinny Vaccone led off the fourth with a walk. After stealing second and moving to third on a groundout, Vaccone scored on an RBI groundout by Joseph Carpenter. The Hens also registered their first hit in the fourth on a two-out single by Jordan Hutchins. A two-run single by Aidan Riley brought two more runs to cut the Terps lead to 6-3. 

The Blue Hens moved to within one in the fifth, scoring on an error by Shahidi and an RBI double by Carpenter off reliever Sean Heine. A solo homer by Cowles in the bottom of the frame brought the Terps lead back to two and two sacrifice flies in the bottom of the sixth made the score 9-5. 

Cowles led the Maryland offense, going 2-for-2, with a home run, a double, two walks, and five RBIs.

“I was just trying to find a pitch to hit,” Cowles said of his homer. “I got down 0-2, so I was looking soft and I got a curveball.”

In the seventh, Delaware struck again, this time with a long solo homer by Kyle Baker. The Terps got the run back in the bottom half of the inning when Bednar scored on a passed ball. Maryland loaded the bases with one out, and scored twice more on an RBI walk by Cowles and a wild pitch by Tommy Pomatto. 

While it was Delaware’s mistakes that defined the game, the Terps continued to struggle defensively, making two errors to bring their season total to 20 in just 11 games. Maryland also struggled to control the running-game, allowing three stolen bases on three attempts.  

 

Game Preview: Delaware Blue Hens

After a difficult weekend series with Coastal Carolina, Maryland will look to get back in the win column when it welcomes Delaware to Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium on Wednesday for a 4 p.m. first pitch.

Coming off two blowouts and a heartbreaking late loss to the Chanticleers in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, the Terps will play their second home midweek of the season, with a 13-3 drubbing of George Mason already under their belts. 

Maryland has five key home games over the next week, starting with the game against the Blue Hens, followed by a three-game set with Bryant, and then another midweek game against James Madison.

With this five-game stretch sandwiched between tough series at Coastal Carolina and TCU, the home stand should allow time for the Terps to bounce back from their trip to South Carolina and gain momentum before heading to Texas.

On offense the Terps will look for sophomore Maxwell Costes to remain their most dangerous hitter and to continue his scorching form at the Bob, where he is six for his last seven with three home runs and a double.

Junior outfielder Randy Bednar, who leads the team with 11 RBI, also comes into the series hot. Hitting .351, Bednar had a tremendous game in Maryland’s last midweek, roughing up the Patriots to the tune of three hits and three RBI, including a mammoth home run. 

On the mound the Terrapins may turn to junior Zach Thompson, who excelled in his first appearance of the season last week. Thompson shut down George Mason, allowing one run on four hits over five innings, and was efficient, tossing 66 pitches through his five frames of work.  

With strikeouts coming at a premium, whoever starts for Maryland will need to hope for his defense to be better than it has in the season’s early-going, where the Terps have a .949 fielding percentage and have gotten through only one game error-free (Game three against Rhode Island).  

Delaware Blue Hens (4-5, 0-0 CAA)

Last Season

Delaware finished 2019 with a record of 21-33. The Blue Hens were 7-21 on the road, and went 7-3 in midweeks, including a pair of midweek losses to the Terps (both by a score of 11-6).

This Season

The Hens are 4-5 this year, as of Tuesday morning, but come in hot with wins in four of their last five games. They head to College Park as the second part of a midweek back-to-back after facing the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore on Tuesday. 

Hitters to Watch

Delaware brings a dangerous offense to the Bob, with 50 runs scored over nine games and five qualified hitters batting above .300, as of Tuesday morning. Sophomore first baseman Josh Carpenter enters Tuesday leading the squad with a .419 average and four doubles, while senior backstop Jack Goan is pacing the Blue Hens with 10 RBI to go along with two long balls and junior Jordan Hutchins leads the team with three home runs. 

Pitchers to Watch

While Delaware’s offense has produced well, the Blue Hens have struggled on the mound, with a team-wide 6.59 ERA. The Hens’ arms have struggled to find the plate, with 58 walks already issued this season. Opposing hitters have also had success when Delaware pitchers have thrown strikes, hitting .272 against them and knocking 28 extra-base hits.

The Blue Hens do have a trio of reliable arms out of the bullpen, with relievers Winston Allen, Bryce Greenly, and Nate Rolka combining for just two earned runs over 11 ⅔ innings. Only four pitchers have made starts for the Hens so far this season, so with five games in six days and a series with Rider beginning on Friday, head coach Jim Sherman may have to get creative with how he uses his arms. 

Burke, Costes Lead Terps to Shutout Victory, Series Win

On Saturday afternoon against Rhode Island, Maryland pitching and defense struggled mightily, allowing 11 runs and making two costly errors. On Sunday, the Terps showed almost immediately that there would not be a repeat of their poor performance, as pitcher Sean Burke, catcher Justin Vought, and shortstop Ben Cowles combined for a strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out double play to end the top of the first. 

The defensive highlight set the tone for a game that was well-played by both sides, standing in sharp contrast to the somewhat sloppy first two contests of the series. The Terps rode Burke’s strong start and Maxwell Costes’s two solo home runs to a 3-0 victory, clinching their first series win of 2020.

For the first time this season, the Terps did not make an error, which allowed them to make up for a poor offensive performance. While Maryland had 8 hits, the Terps failed to capitalize on big opportunities, going just 2-for-9 with runners on base and 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position. 

In the bottom of the first, with Maryland still buzzing after Vought’s strong throw, Chris Alleyne started off the Terps’ offensive afternoon with a bang, lining a double to deadaway centerfield. After taking third on a wild pitch, Alleyne scored on an RBI groundout by Tucker Flint. Costes doubled the Maryland lead in the third when he ripped his first home run of the season to left-centerfield. 

Burke was nearly unhittable in the early-going, allowing only 2 hits and punching out 8 in his first two trips through the order. Burke’s only early jam came in the third inning, when the Rams put runners on first and second with two outs. But Burke won a seven-pitch battle with center fielder Austin White, getting a strikeout and keeping Rhode Island off the board. 

“On Sunday you’ve just got to set the tone, and it starts on the mound.” said Maryland head coach Rob Vaughn. “I thought he did an unbelievable job.”

Burke finally ran into real trouble in the sixth inning, when the Rams used back-to-back singles to put a man in scoring position with one out. After a deep flyout moved the lead runner to third, Vaughn lifted his redshirt freshman and brought on Elliot Zoellner to escape the jam. The sidewinder got Mark Coley to fly out to center, escaping the inning and keeping the shutout intact. 

After getting the big out, Zoellner’s afternoon was over, as he gave way to Connor Staine, who worked a 1-2-3 seventh inning and stranded a runner on second in the eighth to keep the Terrapin lead at two. After Costes’s second blast of the day extended the lead to three, Staine got two outs in the ninth before allowing a single and a walk to bring the tying run to the plate and being relieved by Mark DiLuia. DiLuia fanned pinch-hitter Thomas Summers, getting the save in the Terps first shutout of the season and moving the team to 5-1. 

Costes’s home runs were his first two of the season and both were very impressive. The first was a line drive shot over the left centerfield fence, and the second a towering drive down the left field line.

Despite the change in result, Costes said that “nothing really” changed in his approach.

“I talk to [assistant coach Matt] Swope a lot before the game, a lot after games, he kind of keeps my mind in things,” Costes said. “He tells me I’m swinging at good pitches and it’s going to come together at some point, and today we needed it in a couple big spots and it came together for us.”

 

 

Terps Take First Loss in Slugfest

When Maryland second baseman Austin Chavis blasted a fly ball to right-centerfield in the sixth inning of Saturday’s game with Rhode Island, it was initially unclear whether Rams’ center fielder Austin White had brought it back or if it had cleared the fence for Chavis’s first career homer. 

When it became clear that White had come up short, the Maryland bench exploded, as the Terps’ ninth hitter had just put them back in the lead for the third time in a back-and-forth slugfest with the Rams. 

But the euphoria was short-lived, as the lead changed hands for the sixth time in the very next inning, when two Rhode Island runs scored on an error by Troy Schreffler, giving the Rams a 9-8 lead they never relinquished en route to an 11-8 victory.

The Rams jumped out in front almost immediately, when three-hitter Jackson Coutts took Nick Dean deep over the left-centerfield fence for a two-out solo homer in the first. The lead was short-lived, as Maxwell Costes ripped a single back up the middle in the bottom of the frame to bring Chris Alleyne in from third and tie the game. 

Ben Cowles put the Terps ahead in the second with the first home run by any Terrapin this season, depositing a 2-2 pitch over the batter’s eye in center field. 

Coutts struck again in the third inning. After Rhode Island loaded the bases with two walks and a single, the designated hitter laced a 2-0 fastball from Dean down the right field line for a go-ahead two-run double. The Rams broke it open on the very next at-bat, when Xavier Vargas ripped a three-run home run to right field to push the score to 6-2. 

Coutts and Vargas carried the Rams’ offense, combining for six hits and driving in 8 of Rhode Island’s 11 runs. The Terps relied on a more balanced attack, with six different players driving in at least one run. Maryland also made the most of its opportunities. Five of their seven hits went for extra bases, and the Terrapins went 4-for-8 with runners in scoring position. 

The Terps closed the gap in the fourth, scoring on an RBI groundout by Matt Orlando and a run-scoring bunt single by Chavis to cut the Rams’ lead to 2. Tavin Shahidi, making his first start of the season, closed the gap to just one in the fifth with a two-out, RBI double to dead centerfield.  

One batter later, Maryland’s comeback was complete, as Troy Schreffler blasted his first collegiate home run, scoring Shahidi and putting the Terps up 7-6. However, the lead was short-lived as Rams’ second baseman Joe Fortin re-tied the game with two-outs in the sixth with an RBI double off the top of the wall in right field. 

After Chavis’s blast and the run-scoring error, the game briefly settled down, as neither side scored in the eighth. Vargas’s second homer, a two-run blast in the ninth, gave the Rams some breathing room and Tyler Brosius worked three scoreless innings for Rhode Island to slam the door on the Terps and hand them their first loss of the 2020 season. 

Terps Ride 19 Free Passes to Win Home Opener

When Sean Fisher walked off the mound with one out in the seventh inning against Rhode Island he was exiting his second straight solid effort and his second ever start for Maryland. While Fisher was excellent, escaping multiple jams and punching out four batters, the most dramatic aspect of his start was the contrast in free bases issued between him and the Rams’ pitching staff. 

After spending his first two seasons in College Park as a reliever, Fisher was named the Friday night starter entering the season, and has excelled in his two starts, allowing just one earned run in 11 ⅔ total innings. 

While Fisher issued one walk and hit one batter, Rhode Island’s pitchers lack of control, coupled with costly defensive miscues, defined the game, The Rams beat themselves badly, walking 12 Terrapins, hitting 7 batters, and committing two run-scoring errors in the 9-3 Maryland victory. 

When they did find the strike zone, the Rams pitchers mostly held Maryland in check, allowing only four hits, all of which were singles. However, the free bases allowed Maryland to score eight or more runs for the third time in four games

The Terps got on the board in the second, when second baseman Aaron Perez walked in a run after Rams’ starter Justin Cherry loaded the bases with a single and two hit batters. Cherry’s control issues continued in the third, as he walked two batters before leaving with an injury. Reliever Ryan Twitchell had no better luck finding the plate, sandwiching an RBI single by Bobby Zmarzlak between two HBPs as the Terps tacked on three more runs.  

After the long wait between trips to the mound, Fisher lost no rhythm, setting the Rams down in order on just five pitches in the top of the fourth to keep the Terps’ lead at 4-0. 

In the bottom of the frame, reliever Ryan Picone continued Rhode Island’s trend of finding Maryland batters more than the strike zone, as he loaded the bases with three hit batsmen. However, unlike Cherry and Twitchell, Picone managed to keep the Terps off the scoreboard, escaping the jam by striking out Zmarzlak on three pitches. 

The Rams’ offense finally broke through in the fifth. After getting two outs, Fisher walked center fielder Austin White on four pitches. After stealing second, White moved to third on an infield single by third baseman Tino Salgado and scored on a single to right field by second baseman Josh Brodeur. 

Maryland got the run back in the bottom of the fifth, when Rhode Island shortstop Alex Ramirez dropped a sky-high, two-out popup by Chris Alleyne, allowing Benjamin Cowles to score from third. 

The Terps added further insurance in their final two offensive innings, scoring three times in the seventh and once in the eighth to put the game firmly out of reach.

The win moves the Terps to 4-0, their best start since they started with the same record in 2015.