Maryland hosted the St. John’s University Red Storm Sunday afternoon in an 18-inning scrimmage as Fall baseball for the Terps is nearing its conclusion. Many newcomers to this Terrapins team had an opportunity to display their talent on the diamond while returning members were able to get in some reps versus a generally highly-regarded St. John’s squad. Here are five takeaways from the exhibition:
1. Terps bullpen cleaned up an early mess
Starter Nick Dean came into the game with some clear command issues. While his first two innings went unscathed, the lack of command was evident as seen by three walks being issued paired with no strikeouts. The command issues bit Dean in the back in the third inning when two walks and a bunt single combined to load the bases in the St. John’s third followed by a sacrifice fly. The damage continued when St. John’s Ryan Markey shot a two-run single over the head of Dean, who was then pulled in favor of freshman Sam Bello. Bello immediately made a difference after maneuvering his way out of the third inning and through a scoreless fourth inning. The Terps bullpen continued to put up zeroes in the St. John’s run column as the first half of the 18-inning marathon moved on with Sean
2. Patience paid off early
After falling behind 3-0 early in the game, the Terps offense made some great adjustments to get themselves back in the game. The biggest difference they made in their approach was having more patience at the plate and on the base paths. This was especially key after they watched their starting pitcher, Nick Dean, walk five St. John’s players. What that patience led to was a huge three-run fourth inning that began when freshman Troy Schreffler Jr. wisely held up at third base on a shallow single to center field off the bat of Randy Bednar. Freshman Tucker Flint then took a walk to load the bases, and the Terps ultimately unloaded them after a bases-loaded walk from Austin Chavis and a big two-run double by catcher Tavan Shahidi. The Terps proceeded to load the bases a second time but failed to do any more damage in the fourth. However, that inning would set the tone for the offense as the game progressed through the afternoon.
3. Tavan Shahidi flexes power with big performance
Redshirt junior Tavan Shahidi didn’t see the diamond that much in the 2019 season, but he made a great impression during Sunday afternoon’s contest. The Iowa native had grounded out in his first at-bat, but his next appearance came with a major opportunity to cash in some runs with the bases loaded. Shahidi looped a pitch into the right-field corner — just out of reach of St. John’s right fielder — to bring in two runs and tie the game which could later be seen as a big momentum swing. Shahidi followed up his first big at-bat another double, a monster shot off the right-field wall that nearly cleared the fence. His third at-bat put him in a big RBI spot with runners on second and third, and he converted yet again with a hard-hit single to left field. He would have one final at-bat in the ninth inning of game one, and he clearly didn’t slow down as he notched his fourth hit of the day. Shahidi would sit for the second half of today’s exhibition.
4. Randy Bednar had a monster day
Bednar finished the first half of the day by reaching three times in five appearances. His first was a walk in the first inning as he was the only Terp to reach base in the first two innings. His next appearance had a much larger impact as he helped progress the Terps’ fourth-inning rally with a single. He would later come around to score on Shahidi’s two-run double. The game was tied at three runs apiece by the time Bednar came up for his third plate appearance, but Bednar wanting to change that, he smacked a pitch deep over the left-field fence to give Maryland a 4-3 lead. His next at-bat came with two runners in scoring position, and despite airing a ball towards the St. John’s left fielder, the sun prevented a clean play from being made as the left fielder misplayed the ball allowing two runs to score. His final at-bat of game one came in the eighth inning, but nothing came of it as he softly flew out to right field. Bednar started for game two, but after reaching on a walk in two plate appearances, he was pulled in favor of freshman Tucker Flint.
5. Freshman bullpen arms make great first impressions
In their first innings against a Division I school in St. John’s, both Sam Bello and Sean Burke put on great first impressions. As mentioned earlier, both were sent to the mound following early trouble for the Terps starter, but there’s nothing more they could’ve done to hold St. John’s to three runs. Bello had entered the game in the second, inheriting three base runners after Nick Dean was unable to record an out. While Bello allowed all three to cross the plate, he was able to escape the third inning without allowing further damage as he ultimately produced a flyout and struck out a pair of hitters. Bello looked to be settled in during the fourth inning as he recorded two more strikeouts induced a flyout. Sean Burke would take over for the next couple of innings. Despite some control issues for the redshirt freshman (three walks in two innings), Burke shut down St. John’s bats for two innings while racking up four strikeouts. In game two of the doubleheader, lefty Ryan Ramsey was another freshman that emerged from the Terps bullpen, and he had looked just as good as his fellow freshman for an inning. He would run into some trouble in the next after walking the bases loaded, but his appearance ended there.