Pro Terps Update: 9/30/19

As the MLB regular season comes to its close, the four out of the five former Terps that are currently on Major League rosters will see their teams play baseball in October. Other former Terps weren’t as fortunate, but some still wrapped up the season with solid performances.

Here’s the end-of-the-season update on how these pro Terps have done as they cross the finish line of the regular season.

LHP Brett Cecil, St. Louis Cardinals (MLB)

While the Cardinals clinched the National League Central division title Sunday afternoon, Cecil may not get a chance to pitch during the Red Birds’ pursuit of their first World Series Championship since 2011. Cecil is still on the 60-day injured list with left-hand Carpal Tunnel syndrome, but he could see some action midway through the month.

LHP Adam Kolarek, Los Angeles Dodgers (MLB)

Kolarek, who had been a stalwart lefty out of the Tampa Bay Rays bullpen for the first half of the season, was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers during the July 31st trade deadline.

Since the trade, Kolarek has done a quality job making his case for the Dodgers’ postseason roster, pitching 11.1 innings to the tune of a 0.79 earned-run average. He faced 44 batters in those innings, and a solo home run was the lone dent.

2B Brandon Lowe, Tampa Bay Rays (MLB)

After his time on the 60-day injured list (right shin bone bruise) was extended after suffering a setback in a rehabilitation game (left quadriceps strain), Lowe made his return to the diamond on September 22nd. In six games since returning, Lowe has continued to work back from the injuries, slashing .176/.300/.353 in 20 plate appearances. However, it remains likely he will be the Rays starting second baseman for Wednesday night’s American League Wild Card showdown versus the Oakland A’s.

OF LaMonte Wade, Minnesota Twins (MLB)

LaMonte Wade made a few plate appearances for the Twins before September call-ups, in part due to a right-thumb dislocation that placed the outfielder on the 10-day injured list from early-July to mid-August. But, once in the majors for good, Wade became a reliable bat and glove off the bench.

In 65 total plate appearances in September, Wade proved to be an on-base machine and amassed a line of .212/.369/.404. He also picked up his first pair of major-league home runs. While the Twins have yet to announce their official American League Division Series roster, there remains a chance that Wade could be added after displaying his value off the bench.

RHP Mike Shawaryn, Boston Red Sox (MLB)

After Shawaryn spent all of June in the majors, he finished out the Triple-A season with Pawtucket before he was recalled in early September. The righty threw a 4.52 ERA in 14 starts in 26 appearances (including 70 strikeouts) in Triple-A. Combined with his first set of outings in the majors (20 strikeouts in 12.2 innings with an 8.53 ERA), his numbers were enough for the late-season promotion.

In his 14 total relief appearances for the Red Sox, Shawaryn set down 29 batters in 20.1 innings, though his ERA is relatively inflated (9.74).

RHP Jake Stinnett, Tennessee Smokies (Chicago Cubs, AA)

After settling into his role out of the Smokies bullpen, Stinnett began to struggle as the season progressed through the months of July and August. In 32 innings from the start of July to the end of the season, he cumulated 6.19 ERA. While Stinnett did start a handful of games, none of them lasted more than three innings.

SS/3B Kevin Smith, New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Toronto Blue Jays, AA)

Kevin Smith spent the entirety of 2019 in New Hampshire, though his stats did not reach the same level as in the previous year. In mid-July, Smith spent just over a week on the 7-day injured list.

In 116 games, Smith slashed .209/.263/.402, with a drop in his power numbers (six fewer home runs and nine fewer doubles than in 2018). Even so,

RHP Brian Shaffer, Montgomery Biscuits (Tampa Bay Rays, AA)

Shaffer had an impressive junior season in the minors, pitching  102 innings to the tune of a 2.38 ERA. Since being promoted to Montgomery in mid-May, Shaffer started a few games — 10 innings pitched, seven earned runs — but remained in the bullpen for the rest of the season. There, he posted a 1.74 ERA in 62 innings.

LHP Alex Robinson, Fort Myers Miracles (Minnesota Twins, High-A)

It was not the 2019 season that Alex Robinson was hoping to have, but an injury has kept him off the diamond for the entirety of the season. The southpaw missed time in 2018 due to left shoulder impingement and hasn’t pitched since the end of August last year.

3B Andrew Bechtold, Fort Myers Miracles (Minnesota Twins, High-A)

After getting called up from Low-A Cedar Rapids in June, Bechtold continued to put in quality work. While his OPS saw a minor drop after his promotion, Bechtold still left the season with a slash line of .261/.359/.380 while playing stellar defense at the hot corner.

2B Nick Dunn, Palm Beach Cardinals (St. Louis Cardinals, High-A)

Nick Dunn ended his 2019 season in Palm Beach where he finished the year with a .629 on-base plus slugging percentage and a team-leading .247 average. He also notched career-highs in doubles (19), RBIs (38) and walks (24).

OF Marty Costes, Fayetteville Woodpeckers (Houston Astros, High-A)

Costes remained with the Woodpeckers through the end of the season after being promoted early in the spring. He finished hitting .270 overall on the season with five home runs and 32 RBI.

The outfielder helped push Fayetteville to the Carolina League championship, though the Woodpeckers finished as runners-up.

RHP Jamal Wade, West Virginia Powers (Seattle Mariners, Low-A)

After undergoing Tommy John surgery in May, Jamal Wade continues to recover after his season came to a sudden early end.

RHP Kevin Biondic, Greenville Drive (Boston Red Sox, Low-A)

Biondic had a hot start to the season, going 4-0 with a 2.91 ERA. Though he fell behind later in the season, the right-hander still finished  with a 4.68 ERA in 100 innings pitched, including 14 starts and one complete game. Biondic also tallied 52 strikeouts over those 20 appearances.

INF A.J. Lee, Quad-Cities River Bandits (Houston Astros, Low-A)

After tearing up Short-Season A with the Tri-City Valleycats, A.J Lee was given a promotion to the Low-A River Bandits on August 15th.

Through Lee’s first 41 games with the Valleycats, he notched five home runs while logging a .759 OPS. He struggled some following his promotion to Quad-Cities, where his OPS sunk to .429 although he had a rather small sample of at-bats (41).

RHP Hunter Parsons, Brooklyn Cyclones (New York Mets, Short-Season A)

In his debut season with the Short-Season A Brooklyn Cyclones, Parsons was only limited to a bullpen role, but he still made a great first impression in the Mets farm system.

Through 11 appearances, Parsons recorded a 2.89 ERA while striking out 21 batters against nine walks.

1B Alfredo Rodriguez, Somerset Patriots (Independent-Atlantic League)

After making the Atlantic League All-Star Game roster for the second season in a row, Rodriguez finished his season hitting .267/.353/.353 with a career-high in doubles (26).

INF Blake Schmit, St. Paul Saints (Independent-American Association)

Schmit completed his fourth season in independent ball with his third team since joining the American Association. This time, he’s going on vacation on top, as the St. Paul Saints won the league’s championship for the first time in 15 years.

Schmit batted a .650 OPS, his lowest in four years but still notched 10 stiles bases and 32 RBIs, plus three home runs.


RHP John Murphy, Westside Woolly Mammoths (Independent-USPBL)

Murphy wrapped up his first year in professional baseball  with a 1-2 record and a 4.91 ERA. He had signed with the Woolly Mammoths after going undrafted out of Maryland earlier this summer.

RHP Ryan Hill, Alpine Cowboys (Independent-Pecos League)

After taking the summer of 2018 off from professional baseball, Ryan Hill signed with the Alpine Cowboys of the independent Pecos League.

In Alpine, Hill pitched 13.2 innings with a 3.95 ERA to go along with one save.

Michigan Pours Runs on Terps in Series Finale

A heavy rainstorm hit College Park Sunday afternoon, which provided the setting for a 13-1 loss for Maryland as they got swept at home for the third time this season. The story of the game – yet again – was the dominating offense of the Wolverines as they hit the gas pedal early and often for the third-straight game against Maryland pitching.

In fact, they slammed on the gas right out of the gates with leadoff hitter Jordan Nwogu. Nwogu took the first pitch for a strike from freshman Trevor LaBonte — who was desperately searching for a bounce-back start — but then turned on the next pitch for a solo shot that just got over the wall in left-center field.

For a second, it seemed like this could be a closely-contested game when Maxwell Costes smoked one up the middle to drive in Randy Bednar, who reached second base on a fielding error by Nwogu in left field.

Michigan made sure that it wouldn’t be closely-contested when in the third inning, LaBonte would run into a pile of problems after walking in two runs. Drew Wilden would enter the game after a 45-minute long rain delay to get Maryland out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam, but surrendered an RBI sacrifice fly in the process, giving Michigan a 4-1 lead.

Another pair of innings later, Michigan pushed their lead to five runs when Miles Lewis, who was in the game to pinch hit for junior Dominic Clementi, crushed a two-run home run off of Terps reliever Andrew Vail – the first long-ball he’s given up all season long.

Then, a torrential downpour of scoring would drown the Terps just an inning later when the Wolverines whacked back-to-back two-run doubles to give themselves 10 runs on the day for the third time this weekend.

A softly-hit single and a couple of errant throws later, and Michigan left the inning satisfied with a 13-1 lead after Maryland burned through three relief pitchers before junior Nick Turnbull was able to stop the carnage.

Turnbull along with John Murphy, who pitched the eighth and ninth, were able to shut out Michigan for the remainder of the game, but the offense failed to carry its own weight down the stretch, allowing the first-place Wolverines to cruise their way into a road sweep — Michigan’s seventh of the season.

Just like the two starters before him, Michigan’s Criswell absolutely shredded the Terps lineup. The lone run that Maryland scored on him went unearned due to an error, but despite four walks on the day, Criswell escaped with five three-hit innings with no earned runs.

The Wolverines bullpen was nearly untouchable, allowing just one hit, although walking three Terps in their four innings of work.

With only two conference series remaining on Maryland’s schedule — both against teams over .500 in Minnesota and Iowa — the Terps will need to shake off this rough weekend set as they continue to cling onto a playoff spot.



Michigan Outpaces Terps Pitching in 10-4 Loss

What had seemed like a pitchers’ duel between junior Zach Thompson and Michigan’s Tommy Henry on an overcast Saturday afternoon in College Park didn’t last long enough for the Terps when a big Michigan fifth stunted Thompson’s gem in an eventual 10-4 loss.

Through the first four innings, it appeared as if the righty Thompson had finally righted the ship after seeing his season earned-run average sky to 5.12 following a stretch of awry starts dating back to March 30th.

Thompson was one out away from making it through five one-run innings but then allowed the next five Wolverine batters to reach without surrendering a single hit — three straight walks, a hit batter, followed by one last walk that put the Wolverines up 3-1 with the bases still loaded.

Sean Fisher made his first appearance of the series to try and neutralize any further damage in the fifth, but a hard-hit grounder past the third baseman Taylor Wright drove in another pair of runs, extending Michigan’s lead to 5-1.

Michigan would nearly replicate their fifth inning in the sixth, continuing to beat up Fisher and Mark DiLuia, who also made his first appearance of the weekend. While Michigan hardly got any hard contact on their sixth-inning hits, the balls fell in the right spots as a couple of bloop singles following a pair of walks and a double drove in the sixth, seventh, and eighth runs of the day for Michigan as memories of yesterday’s loss come to mind.

However, the Terps were not down and out yet as Maxwell Costes took matters into his own hands with a monster no-doubter into the parking lot beyond the left-center field wall to cut Michigan’s lead to six runs.

Beyond the sixth, the Terps would add one more run after a fielder’s choice allowed Michael Pineiro to come home from third base which would conclude Tommy Henry’s day on the mound. He would finish with six innings of three-run baseball — a quality start for the Michigan lefty.

Michigan’s Jesse Franklin would conclude the Wolverine scoring effort with his 11th home run of the season just within the right field foul pole — a two-run shot that gave Michigan 10 runs for the second game in a row versus Maryland pitching.

With one inning left to pull off any kind of comeback, a solo shot off the bat of Ben Cowles was all the Terps could muster up in the ninth inning as Michigan junior Jack Weisenburger took care of business out of the bullpen, giving Michigan the series win.

Due to inclement weather in the forecast, it’s to be determined if the series finale will be played tomorrow, but as of now, the Terps will look to Trevor LaBonte — who’s in a dire need of a turnaround start — to salvage a win against the first-place Wolverines.



Terps Nearly Come Back, but Big Offensive Innings from Michigan Prevail in Slugfest

Junior Michigan starter Karl Kauffman meant business when he took to the mound Friday night as the Terps suffered a 10-7 loss to the Wolverines in the weekend series opener.

A date between two of the best pitchers in the Big Ten — Terps’ Hunter Parsons and Wolverines’ Kauffman — looked to be the making of a great game, but Michigan’s offense got off to a very quick start. It all started when a walk and a double placed two Wolverines in scoring position, followed by an RBI sacrifice fly off the bat of junior Jordan Brewer. Michigan added on one more run in the first when five-hitter Blake Nelson lined a two-out single to left field, bringing in Jesse Franklin.

The Michigan scoring onslaught continued into the second inning when sophomore Jordan Nwogu crushed a home run over the batter’s eye in center field. The third run of the inning would score after a nice sliding grab by Terps’ second baseman Ben Cowles turned into a throwing error that allowed the Wolverines to take a 5-0 lead.

Both offenses would remain relatively quiet as the game moved through the middle innings, but the Terps finally put one on the board in the sixth inning courtesy of a Taylor Wright solo shot to left-center field, but just when the Terps may have found the spark they needed to climb back, Michigan fizzled it out in the seventh inning.

With Parsons leaving the game after five innings (115 pitches), righty Sean Heine took over for the next couple of innings. Heine pitched a clean, 1-2-3 inning in the sixth, but his first appearance of the weekend took a complete 180-degree turn in the seventh when a combination of walks and singles loaded the bases for Michigan. The result was a nasty five-spot in the box score and the Wolverines found themselves with a comfortable 10-1 lead.

After being down nine runs, the Terps offense could’ve easily decided to slow down the effort after the seventh-inning stretch, but a botched inning-ending double play opened up the door for a big inning for Maryland. Sophomore Chris Alleyne was nearly robbed, but he was able to knock one over the right-field wall for a three-run home run.

The Terps scored three more runs in the next inning when back-to-back RBI off the bats of Caleb Walls and Justin Vought, respectively, followed by a bases-loaded walk from Alleyne cut Michigan’s lead to three runs. However, the comeback wouldn’t come completely into fruition after AJ Lee stranded the bases loaded as the potential go-ahead run.

Michigan would finally end all hopes of a Maryland comeback when closer Willie Weiss made an appearance with two outs in the eighth to execute a four-out save despite walking the leadoff man in the ninth.

The Terps will look to even up the series tomorrow with Zach Thompson on the mound, and could potentially be playing two with inclement weather in the forecast for Sunday.


Series Preview: Michigan Wolverines

Following a 5-2 road victory Wednesday afternoon against the Villanova Wildcats, the Terrapins (23-22) return home this weekend to face the first-place Michigan Wolverines (31-11). With only three conference series remaining on the schedule, Maryland will need to play its best baseball of the season to continue their postseason push.

Since joining the Big Ten in 2015, the Terrapins have faced off with the Wolverines on three different occasions: 2015, 2017, and 2018. In eight games, the Terps have gone 3-5 versus Michigan and picked up their sole series win against them in 2017. While Maryland won its three games versus Michigan by a combined nine runs, they’ve been pummeled in their losses, losing by a combined 25 runs.

Maryland is coming off a rather successful series at Penn State, winning two of three games in State College, Pennsylvania. While the Terps had caught somewhat of a breather by playing against a team that had lost its last seven games, the Terps offense remained relentless, especially with the top third of the lineup continuing to wreak havoc against Big Ten pitchers.

Senior AJ Lee had himself another impressive weekend showing, bumping his season average to .313 as he tallied six hits and three RBI between the Penn State series and Wednesday afternoon’s matinee versus Villanova.  At the same time, Randy Bednar collected a trio of two-hit games plus four RBI, while senior Taylor Wright had a big Friday night versus Penn State, cumulating three hits, two RBI, and a walk over five plate appearances.

The Maryland pitching also held up nicely over the four-game span, with ace Hunter Parsons appearing to come back to form with a nine-strikeout, seven-inning effort that led to Friday night’s 5-2 win. Redshirt sophomore Zach Thompson followed up his teammate with a quality start of his own, tossing seven innings of three-run ball. The only blemish on the Terps pitching last weekend was when Sunday starter Trevor LaBonte surrendered five runs over two innings in what led to Maryland’s lone loss of the Penn State series.

Michigan Wolverines (31-11, 11-3 Big Ten)

Last Season

The Michigan Wolverines had a rather successful 2018 season despite not reaching the NCAA tournament. Finishing the season 15-8 in the Big Ten, the Wolverines placed third in the conference and reached the second round of the Big Ten tournament before getting knocked out by the second seed Purdue Boilermakers. It was hard to find a weakness in the 2018 Wolverines, as their weekend rotation sustained a 2.98 earned run average while their offense slashed an exceptional .275/.371/.400.

This Season

Despite losing one of their best hitters in Jonathan Engelmann (.952 on-base plus slugging percentage in 2018) to the 2018 MLB Draft, the Michigan Wolverines’ strengths have only improved over the span of a year. Now in first place with a conference record of 11-3, the Wolverines are being paced by an offense that’s putting up an outrageous .888 OPS and nearly a .300 average in conference play. Their pitching improved immensely over the year as well, coming in at a 3.09 team ERA despite losing starting pitcher Ben Dragani, who led the team in ERA last year (2.76), to Tommy John surgery.

Hitters to Watch

The Terps are going to need quite the lengthy scouting report in order to figure out this Michigan lineup. Out of the nine Wolverine batters who have over 100 at-bats, seven of them have OPS’s greater than .800. While all seven of those hitters have been red-hot all season long and have been pacing the offense of the first-place Wolverines, the biggest force to be reckoned with is junior Jordan Brewer. In 37 games, the outfielder leads the Big Ten in average (.378), slugging percentage (.685), and places in the top ten for on-base percentage (8th, .428), hits (5th, 54), RBI (3rd, 41), home runs (4th, 11), and stolen bases (3rd, 13). If anything is going to be a thorn in the Terrapin pitching’s side, it’s going to be the monstrous bat of Jordan Brewer.

Pitchers to Watch

It’s hard to find a weekend rotation in the Big Ten better than Michigan. In fact, it’s virtually impossible. All three Wolverine pitchers – Karl Kauffman (2.40), Tommy Henry (2.61), and Jeff Criswell (2.61) – have ERAs that place within the top ten in the Big Ten. The trio also has an impressive nine strikeouts per nine innings with all three pitchers placing in the Big Ten’s top 15 for strikeouts. Their bullpen is highlighted by closer freshman Willie Weiss, who has maintained a 2.86 ERA while earning eight saves over 17 appearances.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Friday, 6:30 p.m. ET

Sr. RHP Hunter Parsons ( 8-2, 3.51 ERA) v. Jr. RHP Karl Kauffman (7-3, 2.40 ERA)

RMZBYNJDDYBZPMM.20150924191225 1Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logo  vs. Michigan_Wolverines_Block_M Karl Kauffmann

Hunter Parsons is coming off his best start in a couple of weeks, pitching seven innings of two-run ball while nearly striking out double-digits. Of course, Parsons had faced a last-place offense in Penn State, so facing the slaughterhouse that is the Wolverines offense will be the toughest challenge for the righty as his season is slowly nearing its end.

Karl Kauffman will be entering the weekend series after wrapping up his best start of the season since February 23rd. Facing the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, the junior Kauffman dominated with eight shutout innings while only letting three opposing batters reach base en route to picking up the win and being named Big Ten Pitcher of the Week.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Saturday, 2:00 p.m. ET

Jr. RHP Zach Thompson (2-4, 5.12 ERA) v. Jr. LHP Tommy Henry (7-3, 2.61 ERA)    Thompson082818_021Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logo  vs. Michigan_Wolverines_Block_M Tommy Henry

Zach Thompson, like his teammate Hunter Parsons, also found success in his start versus the Nittany Lions last Saturday. The junior recorded a quality start, pitching seven innings and limiting Penn State to three runs on the way to his second win of the season. Thompson continues to right the ship of his season after experiencing several hiccups in recent weeks, and he’ll have a chance to keep up the effort versus Michigan.

Just like several of Maryland’s starters, Tommy Henry has been on the opposite side of fireworks shows as of late. Although his worst start of the year is a few weeks in the past (four innings, six hits, six runs, and four walks), Henry hasn’t completely returned to his early-season self in which he once recorded a complete-game shutout one-hitter. However, he appears close after limiting Rutgers to one run over six innings of work.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET

Fr. RHP Trevor LaBonte (1-5, 6.56 ERA) v. So. RHP Jeff Criswell (2-1, 2.86 ERA)Labonte082818_021Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logo  vs. Michigan_Wolverines_Block_M Jeff Criswell

The only pitcher to end up on the losing end of the Penn State series was Trevor LaBonte as he continues to struggle at keeping the ball in the strikezone. Since his first start in March, LaBonte has failed to limited his walks to less than three in each of his starts, and after a five-run outing at Penn State which bumped his season ERA to 6.56, LaBonte desparately needs to find some sort of bounceback as the threat of Michigan looms in the distance this Sunday.

Even sophomore Jeff Criswell, the Sunday starter for Michigan, has been on a tear this season. Coming in at a 2.61 ERA, the best by any Sunday starter in the Big Ten, Criswell is coming off his longest start of the season – a 7.2-inning effort against Rutgers in which he only allowed three hits.

Hometown Kid Caleb Walls Sparks Terps Offense Early as Parsons Carves Up Penn State Bats

Junior Caleb Walls’s return to his hometown of State College, Pennsylvania started off with a bang as he provided an early start to the Terrapins’ offense in Friday night’s 5-2 victory in the series-opener versus Penn State.

The game was set to be a great pitchers duel, with Terps ace Hunter Parsons (3.60 ERA) facing off with Penn State’s ace, redshirt sophomore Dante Biasi (1.75 ERA). While Biasi has consistently been one of the best pitchers in the Big Ten, Parsons has struggled lately, giving up a combined 14 runs in his last 13 innings of work. However, with Penn State’s last-place offense at the plate this weekend, a bounce-back start was definitely on the tab for Parsons tonight.

While both starting pitchers were carving up opposing bats through two innings, the hometown kid Caleb Walls revved up the Maryland offense in the third inning, getting on base via a single. An AJ Lee double led to both runners being in scoring position. The Terps would get on the board after Randy Bednar soared a sac-fly into center field, promptly followed by a hard lined single courtesy of senior Taylor Wright that brought in the second run of the inning.

The third inning was not the last time Wright brought the offense in tonight’s match. In the fifth inning, Wright clobbered a pitch into the left field gap for an RBI double, giving the Terps a 3-0 lead halfway through the game. Wright would end the night with three hits, a walk, and two RBI in five at-bats.

The Nittany Lions would get themselves on the board for the first (and last) time of the night in the fifth inning when Parsons would allow two runners to reach on a walk and single. Penn State catcher Ryan Sloniger delivered when he clubbed the baseball off the right field wall, bringing in both runners.

With the lead cut to just one, the Terps certainly were wishing for some insurance with the game heading into the seventh inning. Their wish was granted when three straight errors — capped off by a botched pickoff attempt — allowed Walls to score after he reached on a dropped third strike.  One final run would come home for Maryland when Michael Pineiro, who pinch-hit for the hitless Josh Maguire, laid down a nifty bunt up the third base line to bring home Randy Bednar.

Hunter Parsons’ start would come to an end shortly after the Terps provided him with a comfy, three-run lead. After seven innings of work, the ace left the game with two earned runs as he struck out nine opposing batters — his most since March 22nd — lowering his season ERA to 3.51.

Due to inclement weather predicted for Sunday, the series finale was moved to tomorrow to be played as a double-header when the Terps will look to grab both win number two and three of this three-game series as their pursuit for the Big Ten playoffs continues.


Series Preview: Penn State Nittany Lions


After a promising midweek 10-5 victory over the VCU Rams on Tuesday to cap off a .500 homestand, the Terrapins resume conference play as they travel to University Park, Pennsylvania to take on the last place Penn State Nittany Lions in a weekend series.

The Terps (20-21) currently hold the eighth spot in the Big Ten standings, so taking advantage of the Nittany Lions, who are 1-13 in conference play, will be a huge indicator of Maryland’s chances at making the conference tournament with the regular season slowly reaching its end.

The Terps and the Nittany Lions previously met at two other occasions since Maryland joined the Big Ten in 2015. In those two series, the Terps went 5-1 against Penn State, including a three-game series sweep in 2017. Between those six games, Maryland has outscored Penn State 40-12.

While Maryland couldn’t make it a winning homestand, going 2-2 versus Ohio State and VCU between last weekend and Tuesday, the performances that a handful of Terrapins put together were quite promising, and a lot of that came from the top of the lineup.

Between seniors AJ Lee and Taylor Wright and sophomore Randy Bednar, the top third of the Terps lineup slashed a monstrous .538/.593/.769 while driving in 17 runs over the four-game stretch. Even if the top of the order can come close to that level of production against Penn State, keeping up in the playoff race should be a breeze.

Unfortunately, the Terrapin bats weren’t the only ones providing the fireworks during the homestand. In the weekend series versus the Buckeyes, the Terps’ starters recorded no quality starts, allowing 15 runs over 19 innings. The bullpen also struggled in the same fashion, allowing five runs over 10 innings. One pitcher did stick out as someone to watch. That pitcher is righty sophomore Mark DiLuia, who tallied three strikeouts as he cruised through 3.1 innings of work over the weekend.

Penn State Nittany Lions (17-18, 1-13 Big Ten)

Last Season

To say that the Nittany Lions’ 2018 season was full of shortcomings would be an understatement. Penn State, which has failed to reach the Big Ten tournament for the last six years, finished the 2018 season with a 15-34 overall record while finishing conference play 3-21. The offense mustered up a collective .674 on-base plus slugging percentage while just one pitcher on the roster succeeded at keeping his earned-run average under 4.60.

This Season

Penn State at this point in the season appears to be nearly replicating its 2018 performance, coming in at a 17-18 overall record, but more importantly, a 1-13 record in the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions are also in the middle of their worst stretch of the season, losing their last seven games after being on the brush-end of two-straight sweeps by Nebraska and Illinois. Certainly, a lot of that has to do with the team slashing .230/.338/.327.

Hitters to Watch

The Nittany Lions offense, despite its struggles, still boasts a couple of strong bats in their lineup. The two that have played major roles in their run production this season include senior Jordan Bowersox and junior Gavin Homer. Bowersox leads Penn State in both average (.346) and OPS (.880) by a wide margin as he’s in the midst of a 16-game hit streak. While Homer’s average sits at .259, he is Penn State’s only other bat with an OPS over .800 (.819) and is tied for the team lead in home runs (4).

Pitchers to Watch

The Penn State bats may have not come around yet, but their pitching surely has. Through 56.2 innings, their ace, redshirt sophomore Dante Biasi, has pitched to the tune of a remarkable 1.75 ERA while striking out 12.6 batters per nine innings. Sophomore Mason Mellott has proven to be a deadly arm out of the Penn State bullpen, logging a 2.02 ERA in 15 appearances, all 15 of those being at least two innings long.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Friday, 6:30 p.m. ET

Sr. RHP Hunter Parsons ( 7-2, 3.60 ERA) v. R-So. LHP Dante Biasi (3-3, 1.75 ERA)

           RMZBYNJDDYBZPMM.20150924191225 1Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logo  vs500px-Penn_State_Nittany_Lions_svg.Dante Biasi

Hunter Parsons came out as the winner in the midst of last Friday’s offensive explosion versus Ohio State despite allowing seven runs on 11 hits. Now at a season-worst 3.60 ERA, Parsons looks to bounce back versus a rather weak Penn State lineup.

Dante Biasi is in the midst of an amazing comeback season. Just last year, his ERA mounted to an abysmal 5.20 at season’s end, and now he’s Penn State’s clear ace with an incredible 1.75 ERA. After striking out nine Illini as he cruised through 5.1 shutout innings in Illinois, he’ll be a scary matchup for the Terrapins.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Saturday, 2:00 p.m. ET

Jr. RHP Zach Thompson (1-4, 5.28 ERA) v. R-Jr. Eric Mock (2-2, 3.55 ERA)

           Thompson082818_021Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logo  vs.500px-Penn_State_Nittany_Lions_svgMock, Eric

Although it wasn’t a quality start, Zach Thompson was able to keep the Terps in the lead for the length of his start against the Buckeyes (7.0 innings). After a streak of mediocre starts (20 earned runs in 21.1 innings in last four starts), a date with Penn State should help Thompson’s season numbers.

Eric Mock was just a bullpen arm for the Nittany Lions last year, and not particularly a great one with a 5.97 ERA in 15 appearances. Like Biasi, he’s pitched much better this year, but he’s just coming off his worst start of the season, giving up six runs on eight hits and walking five batters versus Illinois.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET

Fr. RHP Trevor LaBonte (1-4, 5.87 ERA) v. So. RHP Bailey Dees (2-1, 4.00 ERA)

Labonte082818_021Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logo  vs.500px-Penn_State_Nittany_Lions_svgDees, Bailey

Trevor LaBonte nearly mirrored Zach Thompson’s Saturday start, giving up four runs to Ohio State through six innings. LaBonte may have still been shaking off the jitters after getting blasted for eight runs against Northwestern two weeks ago, but he’ll look to level his numbers when he takes to the mound in University Park.

Just like his fellow teammate Mock, Bailey Dees was also a relief pitcher in 2018, appearing in 12 games with an ERA of 5.14. Dees has since improved, pitching his way to a 4.00 ERA in 2018 while walking the least amount of batters (15) out of Penn State’s weekend starters. Dees pitched well in his last start versus Illinois, striking out seven and limiting Illinois to a run over six innings of work.

Former Terps Kolarek, Lowe make Rays’ Opening Day Roster

Two former Maryland Terrapins, left-hander Adam Kolarek and infielder Brandon Lowe, will begin the 2019 MLB season on the Tampa Bay Rays’ 25-man roster, manager Kevin Cash revealed Tuesday.

Kolarek, who edged out teammate Emilio Pagán for the final roster spot, didn’t have the best spring, pitching 9.2 innings with an 8.38 ERA. However, Kolarek is coming off a quality 2018 season, which is part of the reason that Cash opted to have him on the Opening Day roster.

After spending 31 games last year with the Durham Bulls (AAA), in which the lefty cruised through 44.2 innings to the tune of a 1.61 ERA and a 10.48 strikeouts-per-nine-innings, Kolarek made his next 31 appearances at the major-league level. In 34.1 innings with the Rays, Kolarek became a reliable lefty out of the bullpen, limiting opposing lefty batters to a .208 batting average.

Lowe, who recently signed a six-year deal with Tampa Bay, now appears to be a player that the Rays view as a major contributor for the foreseeable future. He had himself an outstanding Spring Training after finishing his debut season in 2018 with a .774 on-base plus slugging percentage.

In 53 at-bats, Lowe slashed .377/.411/.698 while tying teammate Avisail Garcia for the team’s most Spring Training home runs at three and leading the team in RBI at 17.

Both former Terrapins have made it a long way since being major contributors on some of the better teams Maryland has seen in the past couple of decades. Prior to getting drafted by the New York Mets in 2010, Adam Kolarek pitched two seasons (2008-2009) with the Terps, making 43 total appearances and recording a 4.26 ERA and 4.68 ERA in 2008 and 2009, respectively.

Lowe, who had been drafted by the Rays in 2015, was a major component in helping the Terps make their first two NCAA Super Regional appearances in the school’s history in 2014 and 2015, slashing .338/.448/.509 between the two years.

This is the first time that either former Terrapin will be breaking camp with a major-league team as they’ll open the season Thursday at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg when the Rays take on the Houston Astros at 4 p.m. ET.

Maryland Ninth-Inning Comeback Falls Short, Creighton Sweeps Series

A five-run ninth inning for the Terps was not enough to overcome Creighton’s offense Sunday afternoon as the Bluejays slammed the door shut on the Maryland comeback en route to an 8-6 Terps loss. This is the second home series in a row that the Terps have been swept, the last time being against ranked East Carolina just a week ago.

While Maryland ultimately put up six total runs, they struggled offensively for most of the game against Creighton starter Evan Johnson. The senior recorded his best start of the season, limiting the Terps to only two hits and zero runs through six-plus innings.

On the other side of the pitching matchup, Terps freshman Trevor LaBonte started the game struggling to maintain his control. The leadoff batter for Creighton, Isaac Collins, tripled to start the game and immediately got brought in by teammate Will Robertson. While Creighton was held to that one run for the next five innings, LaBonte continued to struggle with control as he walked five batters and allowed four hits over his 4.1 innings of work.

The Terps bullpen would struggle as well, allowing the floodgates to open for Creighton in the seventh inning by surrendering four runs on four hits, including a long two-run homer from Bluejays designated hitter Jake Holton. Although redshirt freshman Billy Phillips was able to retire the side before allowing more runs to score, the damage was done.

Three more runs would be scored by the Bluejays between the last two innings with junior Will Robertson knocking in his third RBI of the day for the first of the three. Robertson and his fellow junior Isaac Collins had huge days at the plate, collecting six total hits over nine at-bats. The last two runs would score on a deep Jason Hovey home run in the ninth that completely broke the game open.

Creighton’s bullpen was rather shaky, giving up all five of Maryland’s runs in the late innings. However, the late comeback attempt by the Terps simply wasn’t enough with the Bluejays’ bats coming up big at multiple occasions during the game.

Up next, the Terrapins will play the second half of their six-game homestand when they face the Indiana Hoosiers next weekend. By then, they’ll hopefully be able to present a much more consistent offense as conference play begins.

Maryland Threatens Late, but Creighton’s Bullpen Slams the Door on Potential Comeback

In a closely contested game versus the Creighton Bluejays, the Maryland bullpen failed to convert when it came to locking down the final two innings as Creighton took advantage of bad control en route to a 5-3 Terrapins loss.

The Saturday matinee appeared nearly identical to last night’s contest through the first few innings with Creighton picking up a trio of runs between the third and fifth innings. The first two runs came from back-to-back RBI singles in the third, while the third run, delivered via a Jack Strunc sacrifice-bunt, gave the Bluejays a 3-0 lead.

At the same time, Creighton’s starter, senior Denson Hull, appeared to be in full control of the game, surrendering only three hits through four-plus shutout innings. For a while, it seemed like the Bluejays’ pitching, between yesterday and today, had figured out Maryland’s lineup.

Then, a quiet first four innings from Maryland’s bats turned into a booming fifth when Justin Vought provided a much-needed offensive spark — or perhaps an explosion when he crushed a Jonah Smith pitch deep behind the left-center outfield wall, tying the game at three runs apiece.

From then on, both offenses would struggle with converting on scoring opportunities as the game progressed through the seventh inning. When the eighth inning arrived, sophomore Mark DiLuia had entered the game looking to hold Creighton to their three runs but ended up walking two of their batters, setting the Bluejays up for an offensive push that would put them ahead for good after a lined single and bunt brought home the two batters DiLuia had walked.

As for the Bluejays bullpen, their relievers got the job done. Junior Jonah Smith made quick work of the Terrapins in the final three innings after their hiccup in the fifth and ended Maryland’s hopes of coming back despite loading the bases in the bottom of the ninth.

The Terps will have one last chance to salvage a win from this home series tomorrow at noon when freshman Trevor Labonte takes to the mound.