Season Preview: Outfield

Maryland baseball commences its 2018 season under first-year head coach Rob Vaughn in just two days on the road against Tennessee. Maryland Baseball Network has already broken down the Terps starting pitchers, relievers and infielders, but now it’s time to wrap up our positional previews with the outfield.

The Terrapins will only have to replace Madison Nickens, who played in nearly every game since his arrival from LSU-Eunice after his sophomore season. The Louisiana native started in 104 games over two years, committing just one error during his senior season. The Terps will miss Nickens for his consistency in the outfield and speed at the bottom of the lineup, but especially for his unforgettable walk-up song, “Callin’ Baton Rouge,” which often provided an instant energy boost at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium.


LF Marty Costes

Left Field – Marty Costes

Marty Costes was drafted in the 25th round by the Houston Astros over the summer, but decided to return for his junior season with the Terps. He’s hit a team-leading 22 home runs in the last two seasons, helping earn a Big Ten All-Freshman team selection in 2016 and a first team All-Big Ten selection last year. After batting .263 as a freshman, Costes emerged as a player who could hit for both average and power in 2017. He led the Terps with 13 home runs and 77 hits, and ranked second in slugging (.548) and third in batting average (.322) while starting all 61 games.

An infielder in high school, Costes’ arm in the outfield has become one of the strongest in the conference, and he was named as having the “best outfield arm” last week in Baseball America’s Big Ten preseason coverage. People might know Costes in the outfield for his arm, but anyone who closely followed the Cape Cod Baseball League over the summer will remember his range while chasing down a game-saving catch for the Brewster Whitecaps. The Whitecaps went on to win their first Cape title in 17 years, as Costes slashed .293/.427/.511 for the summer.

Costes has been used primarily in the middle of the Terps batting order in the last two years, but there’s been serious conversation about having him lead off this season.

“With Marty’s reputation with what he’s done for himself, if I’m a pitcher, I’m not supper comfortable [throwing] a fastball to start the game if I know he’s walking to the plate,” Vaughn said at spring sports media day last week.


CF Zach Jancarski

Center Field – Zach Jancarski

With a senior behind the plate in Justin Morris and at first base with Kevin Biondic, Jancarski will continue to bring a veteran presence to the outfield in 2018. He’s played in 132 games over the last three seasons, more than anyone on the current Terps roster. His 20 stolen bases and 17 doubles last year led the team, while his .325 batting average and .434 on base percentage last year both ranked second. His patience at the plate makes him a good fit near the top of the order, as he walked (33) as many times as he struck out in 2017. Despite being among the best leadoff hitters in the Big Ten last season, Jancarski would hit second in the order if Vaughn does decide to lead off with Costes.

The East Norriton, Pennsylvania, native followed up his breakout spring with a big summer in the Cal Ripken League, where he led the Bethesda Big Train with a .347 batting average and .462 on-base percentage.

Centerfielder Zach Jancarski led the team with 17 doubles last year, and his 76 hits ranked second on the Terps. Hannah Evans/Maryland Baseball Network 5/13/2017

Jancarski, not known particularly for his power, hit three home runs last season after hitting just one in his first two years, but none bigger than the one he hit on a Friday night against Penn State in April. Maryland trailed the Nittany Lions 1-0 and had collected just one hit, a Brandon Gum single in the first inning. Jancarski’s one-out, game-tying home run in the bottom of the ninth preceded Gum’s walk-off home run on the very next pitch. You can listen to the home run calls here:


OF Randy Bednar

Right Field – Randy Bednar, Richie Schiekofer

A pair of freshmen, Randy Bednar and Richie Schiekofer, will vie for the majority of playing time in the unfilled outfield spot this season. A decision hasn’t been made on who the official “starter” is, but both have opportunities to prove themselves in the first week of the season.

“Randy and Richie are both going to play out there a lot,” Vaughn said. “They will both play out there Week 1. We’ll figure out if that becomes a matchup thing or whether it becomes a ‘hey, he’s on a hot streak’ kind of thing. But they’re both going to get a ton of at-bats and be right in the middle of what we’re doing all year.”

Bednar was drafted in the 27th round of last year’s MLB Draft by Atlanta Braves and comes into this season as the 39th-best freshman in the country, according to Baseball America. He verbally committed to the Terps after his freshman year of high school, the first player to do so in the 2017 recruiting class. Before starting his college career, Bednar starred for the Baltimore Redbirds of the Cal Ripken League last summer. He led the team with six homers and a .574 slugging percentage while hitting .327 in 31 contests.

OF Richie Schiekofer

While Bednar is a right-handed hitter who throws lefty, Schiekofer is the exact opposite, which is likely why Vaughn said matchups could be a way to determine who plays on certain days. Schiekofer was fantastic in high school, hitting over .500 his senior year and ended his Millburn High School career with a home run. Over the summer with the Ripken League’s Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts, he hit .306 with five doubles in 20 games. If he succeeds in his early-season chances, he could split a lot of time with Bednar in the outfield this season.


Reserves — Will Watson, Michael Pineiro

OF Will Watson

Will Watson started 55 games last season as a junior after transferring from LSU-Eunice, seeing time in the outfield and at first, but primarily appearing as the designated hitter. He hit five home runs and stole 14 bases in 15 attempts in his first season in College Park. An all-or-nothing guy at the plate, he led the team with 56 strikeouts, but ranked second in walks and posted a lofty .384 on-base-percentage. With two promising freshman who are likely to follow in the outfield footsteps of Jancarski and Costes when their careers are over, Watson could spend more of his time during his season as a designated hitter while Bednar and Schiekofer gain college experience.

1B/OF Michael Pineiro

Pineiro, a freshman, is listed on the Maryland roster as both an infielder and outfielder. A native of Rancho Cucamonga, California, he is the first Terp from the Golden State since former Maryland right-hander Jake Stinnett, who was selected in the second round of the 2014 MLB Draft by the Chicago Cubs.

Preseason Countdown: Terps face seven NCAA tournament teams in 2018

Maryland baseball is just one week away from its season-opener on the road against Tennessee. While the focus is currently on the Volunteers, the Terps will play seven opponents this season against teams which, like Maryland, earned a trip to the 2017 NCAA Tournament.

A few of the teams are from mid-major conferences and others lost a lot of pieces, but the Terps will only play one game at home this season against one of those teams. Thirteen of 14 games against an opponent from last year’s tournament will be played away from College Park.

Circle the following contests on your calendar because winning games against many of these teams could improve the Terps resume, as they’ll look to make it four trips to the tournament in the last five years.

1. Radford (27-32) — March 2 

Maryland will play the Highlanders on a Friday night to start the Coastal Carolina Tournament, the only regular season tournament the Terps will play in. Radford finished the season below .500, but won the Big South Tournament for the second time in three years to earn a trip to the NCAA Tournament as a 4-seed in the Louisville Regional. The Highlanders entered the tournament, where they went 0-2, ranked 155th in RPI of 299 teams in the country. Both Maryland (9-6) and Radford (5-2) had winning records in neutral-site games last year.

2. Delaware (34-23) March 6, 13

Four days later, the Terps will begin a home-and-home series with Delaware in College Park. Unlike Radford, the Blue Hens had a winning record in 2017, finishing 34-23 and also earning a 4-seed in the NCAA Tournament. They, too, lost both games they played in June. Delaware went 8-14 in true road games last season, but 22-4 at home. The Terps will play in Newark for the second game of the series exactly one week after their first meeting. After winning the CAA Tournament last season, Delaware is projected to finish second in its conference this year.

3. North Carolina (49-14) — March 20

While Radford and Delaware come from mid-major conferences, perhaps the best team the Terps will see all season will come during a highly-anticipated midweek road game against North Carolina. Maryland traveled to Chapel Hill last year, too, losing 9-2. Playing the Tar Heels is great opportunity for Maryland to boost its resume. Not only is it a road game against an ACC opponent, but the North Carolina currently sits in the top-10 in most major polls, including sixth by D1baseball.com. A perennial title contender, the Tar Heels are favorite to win the ACC, and would huge if the Terps can come away with a win.

4. Michigan (42-17) — April 13-15

The Wolverines are one of three of Maryland’s conference opponents this season that made last year’s NCAA Tournament. The Terps hosted No. 18 Michigan last season, picking up two wins on the weekend in what was maybe the most important result of the year. Michigan lost 15 players at the end of last season, though, including 11 to the MLB Draft. The Wolverines will return less than half of their lineup, but they’ll return All-Big Ten first team selection Ako Thomas, who led the conference with a .354 batting average. Michigan won’t be the same team as last year, but nevertheless winning a conference series on the road is never easy.

5. West Virginia (36-26) — May 1

Madison Nickens drove in four runs in Maryland’s win over West Virginia in College Park last April. Two months later, the Terps lost to the Mountaineers twice in the NCAA Tournament. Hannah Evans/Maryland Baseball Network 4/1//2017

This won’t be a big game just because it’s on the road against a tournament-caliber team, but because it’s a perfect time for revenge for the Terps. After beating the Mountaineers in a thrilling 7-6 game in College Park last season, the Terps fell to West Virginia twice in the NCAA Tournament. The Terps won’t have to face preseason All-American right-hander Brandon Zarbnisky, but the Mountaineers scored six runs per game last year. West Virginia is currently ranked No. 22 by D1baseball.com, and if the Mountaineers stay in the top 25 by May, it would be another huge opportunity for the Terps.

6. Nebraska (35-22-1) — May 4-6

The Cornhuskers earned a 2-seed in the Corvallis Regional after a 35-22-1 season and the top seed in the Big Ten Tournament. The Terps traveled to Lincoln last season, winning the Saturday game of the series behind reliever Ryan Hill’s one-run performance in 4.2 innings out of the bullpen. The Cornhuskers have one of the top relievers in the country, Luis Alvarado, who was named a preseason second-team All-American selection by Collegiate Baseball. It’ll be another tough conference road test for the Terps near the end of the season.

7. Indiana (34-24-2) — May 17-19

The Terps will end the regular season with a three-game series against the Hoosiers, who are the current favorite to win the Big Ten. Indiana is the only conference opponent that will start the season ranked by any of the national outlets. Maryland also traveled to Bloomington last season, where they picked up one win. Outfielder Marty Costes went 3-for-5 with two RBI to guide the Terps to a 9-2 win. The Hoosiers earned a No. 2 seed in last year’s NCAA Tournament but were eliminated by Kentucky after winning one game. If the Terps are on the bubble at the end of the season, winning two games that weekend would certainly help their chances.

 

After an offseason of moving pieces, Maryland baseball will rely on experience, familiarity this spring

When the first pitch is thrown at Lindsey Nelson Stadium in Knoxville on Feb. 16 for the Terps’ season-opening series against Tennessee, first-year head coach Rob Vaughn—named to the position in June—will officially begin to lead a new era of Maryland baseball.

Vaughn isn’t the only staff member occupying a new position this year, though. Matt Swope will begin his first season as assistant coach and recruiting coordinator; Corey Muscara enters his first season as pitching coach after spending five years at St. John’s; Anthony Papio is no longer a student assistant coach, but assumed the role of a volunteer assistant coach after last season.

Rob Vaughn, left, seen here last season coaching third base, was named the eighth head coach in Terps history last June. He takes over the role after five years as an assistant on staff. Hannah Evans/Maryland Baseball Network 5/14/2017

While their titles have changed since Maryland’s 2017 season came to an end in the NCAA Regionals, their prior experience in College Park suggests the program can pick up right where it left off. Vaughn, for instance, spent five years on staff in various assistant roles before being named the eighth head coach in program history this past summer. He helped secure Maryland’s best-ever recruiting class in 2016, and as the leader of the offense, coached the Terps to a top-35 finish in home runs (67) and stolen bases (101) in 2017.

“I think the big part is that being here for five years, [you] get to know the ins and outs of how our things go,” Vaughn said. “Even though the staff is new, Coach Swope has been our [director of operations] for five years. Anthony Papio played here, and at the same time, it’s been his second year of coaching. There’s so much familiarity with this place and the people that it’s been a pretty smooth transition.”

Vaughn, Swope and Papio were promoted from within the program, but it’s Muscara’s first year in College Park after helping lead the Red Storm to two NCAA Tournaments in five years. His pitching staff’s 3.11 ERA and 1.24 WHIP in 2017 were good for top-20 in the country.

“The guy is a rockstar,” Vaughn said. “He’s done a really good job with our guys and done a great job on the recruiting trail, as well. So he’s been a huge get for us.”

Pitching Coach Corey Muscara enters his first season at Maryland after a successful five-year stint at St. John’s University.

One of Muscara’s biggest tasks in the offseason has been adjusting the Terps to life without right-hander Brian Shaffer, last year’s Big Ten Pitcher of the Year, who the Arizona Diamondbacks drafted in the sixth round of the 2017 MLB Draft. Even though Maryland will have to replace its successful Friday night starter, Vaughn is confident in the exposure his returning weekend pitchers—senior right-hander Taylor Bloom and sophomore left-hander Tyler Blohm—have seen on the college stage.

Bloom pitched the Terps to an NCAA Regional Championship during his freshman season, allowing one hit and one earned run in 6.1 innings. As for Blohm, he was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year and a freshman All-American after winning eight games for the Terps last season. Junior right-hander Hunter Parsons, who has pitched 57.2 innings in two seasons, is expected to start on Sundays.

Right-hander Taylor Bloom will pitch Friday nights for the Terps this season after Brian Shaffer’s departure. Bloom, a senior, is 15-10 with a 3.24 ERA in 224.2 career innings at Maryland. Hannah Evans/Maryland Baseball Network 3/12/2017

“If you gave me [Shaffer] back this year, I’d be pretty excited about that,” Vaughn said. “But at the same time, I think the biggest piece is we don’t need either [Bloom or Blohm] to be Brian Shaffer. We need them to be them because they’re extremely talented.”

Comprised mostly of upperclassmen, the Maryland lineup returns four of its top six bats from last season. Leading the offense will be junior Marty Costes, who crushed a team-leading 13 home runs last season, and he’ll be joined by veterans including senior center fielder Zach Jancarski and junior second baseman and preseason third-team All-American Nick Dunn. Junior AJ Lee, last year’s third baseman, will fill the gap in the middle of the infield left by shortstop Kevin Smith, who was drafted in the fourth round of last year’s MLB draft.

“I feel really good about our top 13 or 14 guys,” Vaughn said. “I don’t know if I’ve felt that in the last five years here … The beautiful thing about having an older team is that you don’t have to run six freshmen out there every day. If we want to win on the level we want to win at, it’s really hard to win when you have that many young guys.”

Another pair of seniors returning to the Maryland lineup are catcher Justin Morris and first baseman Kevin Biondic. Morris came on strong in the postseason after taking over the full-time role behind the plate in early May. Biondic started 56 of 57 games as a sophomore, but took a backup role to infielder Brandon Gum last season. Even though Biondic received limited playing time in 2017, his work ethic, leadership and impressive offseason earned him a starting spot once again.

“I think the true test of any man is how you respond to adversity,” Vaughn said. “It’s not about being the best all the time; it’s how you respond when you get punched in the mouth. I think Kevin immediately earned the respect of his teammates because of the way he did.”

So while coaching spots, positions in the field and nights starting on the mound were left empty at the start of the offseason, those voids were quickly filled with reassurance due to the extensive experience of coaches and players that took the place of their predecessors.

“Experience is something that you can’t replace,” Vaughn said. “We have some really, really talented freshman, but what I love about this team is that there are a lot of guys that have played on big stages, got a lot of college at-bats [and] got a lot of college innings under their belt. That’s something you can’t replace.” 

Preseason Countdown: John Murphy put together a magical postseason run in 2017

John Murphy’s ERA nearly touched double-digits in 11 innings pitched as a freshman two years ago, but the right-hander emerged as a sophomore last season. The Merchantville, New Jersey, native displayed a drastic improvement from one year to the next, striking out 27 hitters in 31.2 innings and dropping his ERA to a bullpen-best 1.71.

His emergence was never as obvious than in the postseason, when he recorded 12 strikeouts in several high-pressure situations, more than any other Terps reliever. In a tie game against Purdue, with the Terps facing elimination from the Big Ten Tournament, Maryland sent Murphy to the mound in the sixth inning with two runners on base. He struck out the first Boilermaker he faced, and after issuing an intentional walk, struck out the next two hitters to leave the bases loaded.

Murphy’s day didn’t end there, though, as he allowed just one hit in three innings while finishing with six strikeouts. Kevin Smith’s three-run double in the eighth put the Terps up 5-2, a lead that held, and gave Murphy the win.

After beating Nebraska the next day to keep their tournament hopes alive, the Terps called upon No. 37 again, this time against Northwestern. Similar to Murphy’s prior outing, he came into the game with the score tied. The right-hander tossed a scoreless seventh inning, setting up a four-run bottom half to give the Terps a 9-5 lead.

Murphy held the Wildcats scoreless in the final two frames to close out the game, finishing with another pair of strikeouts. While the Terps lost the next day in a rematch with Northwestern in the semifinals, Murphy finished the tournament 2-0 with six innings pitched, two hits allowed and eight strikeouts.

Maryland came one game shy of the Big Ten Championship game, but its three wins in the tournament might have been the deciding factor for a third NCAA Tournament berth in the last four years. After losing the opening game to West Virginia in the Winston-Salem Regional, the Terps beat UMBC in an elimination game, setting up another game against the Mountaineers.

The Terps led 2-0 in the top of the fourth when Murphy trotted out from the bullpen in an awfully familiar situation: with the bases loaded and nobody out. In dominant fashion, Murphy did it again, striking out the next three hitters to thwart the threat. An emphatic celebration ensued.

Maryland eventually lost the game, 8-5, and was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament to end its season. Murphy, though, finished the postseason with his only two wins of the season and 12 strikeouts in nine innings, including striking out the side twice to strand the bases loaded. It was a magical run from the right-hander, and he’ll be poised to replicate that success as a leader in this year’s bullpen.

Preseason Countdown: Wade’s success on the mound paves way for Biondic

Maryland Baseball Network is counting down to Opening Day! To mark the 33 days until the start of the 2018 season, former Terps right-hander Jamal Wade recorded 33 strikeouts in 2017 in his first season as a pitcher.

Before the Seattle Mariners selected Jamal Wade in the 17th round (513th overall) of the 2017 MLB Draft, the junior right-hander struck out 33 batters in under 20 innings of work. Wade picked up his 33rd and final strikeout of his junior season during a two-strikeout inning against West Virginia in the NCAA Regionals, just one year after wrapping up his sophomore campaign as a reserve outfielder.

In 17 appearances, he notched one win in his only decision of year, tossing two shutout innings in a 6-0 Maryland midweek victory over William & Mary. Featuring a solid curveball and a fastball that often touched the mid-90s, opponents hit just .208 against Wade at the plate.

Junior Jamal Wade pitches for the Terps. Hannah Evans/Maryland Baseball Network 4/4/2017

While he wasn’t a top choice out of the bullpen for the Terps last season, his electric fastball and devastating curveball still warranted a MLB draft selection, which ultimately led him to forego his final season as a Terrapin. Wade’s 5.03 ERA didn’t deter scouts from his potential as a pitcher, as it was just his first season toeing the rubber.

The Owings Mills, Maryland, native came to College Park as one of the top third base prospects in the state, but transitioned to the outfield for his freshman season. His first three hits as a Terrapin were all home runs, and he finished his first year with five homers and 11 RBI in 35 games.

But after taking a reduced role during his sophomore season—earning just four starts—Wade transitioned into a pitcher over the summer in 2016 with the NECBL’s Keene Swamp Bats. The rising junior pitched just 11.1 innings, but allowed just two earned runs with an impressive 21 strikeouts.

Wade wasn’t the first Terrapin in recent history to switch from a position player to a pitcher, and it doesn’t appear he’ll be the last, either. Former right-hander Mike Rescigno, who graduated after last season, began his career in 2014 as an infielder. Seeing time at both first and third base, as well as a designated hitter, Rescigno hit .241 in 26 games as a freshman.

The coaching staff became impressed by his arm, however, and moved him into the bullpen for his final three seasons. He found the most success in 2016, striking out 23 batters in 23 appearances. He, like Wade, was drafted after his junior campaign, but passed on the opportunity to finish out his fourth year in College Park.

California native Jake Stinnett hit five homers as a freshman in 2011 for the Terps, but transitioned to the mound and dominated. In 2014, the then-senior posted a 2.67 ERA across 17 appearances (16 starts), tossing four complete games, including a no-hitter. The right-hander was selected by the Chicago Cubs in the 2nd round of that year’s MLB Draft, and finished the 2017 campaign with a 1.19 ERA across three levels of minor league ball.

Kevin Biondic fields a ball at third base. The senior infielder may see time on the mound this spring for the Terps after pitching 16.2 innings in the Northwoods League last summer. Hannah Evans/Maryland Baseball Network 3/12/2017

There’s reason to believe that another Terps infielder will see time on the mound for the first time in their career this spring. Last summer in the Northwoods League, senior Kevin Biondic hit .254 with five homers in 169 at-bats while tossing 16.2 innings with 11 strikeouts and a 1.62 ERA.

In the midst of going 7-for-9 and reaching base in 11 of 13 plate appearances during the Fall World Series, he also pitched a pair of innings during the intrasquad scrimmages. It was the first time Biondic has pitched for Maryland, and although it was just in a scrimmage, he toyed with a knuckleball throughout the fall.

With the departure of key arms such as Ryan Selmer, Jamal Wade and Tayler Stiles, the Terps won’t have the deepest bullpen in the Big Ten in 2018, so Biondic has a shot to contribute out of the pen this spring. He also has the potential to turn into a more consistent two-way player than Wade and Rescigno. Wade appeared in just six games in the outfield last season following his transition to the mound, while Rescigno didn’t see a single at-bat once he switched into a reliever.

Maryland baseball releases 2018 schedule

Maryland baseball released its 2018 schedule Tuesday afternoon, and the Terps will begin their season with a three-game series on the road against Tennessee starting on Feb. 16.

Maryland will continue its recent trend of playing an early-season SEC road series, doing so against Alabama in 2016 to start the year and then last season against LSU. The Terps defeated the Volunteers, 10-9, in their last meeting in 2016 during the Keith LeClair Classic in Greenville, North Carolina. Tennessee finished 27-25 overall in 2017.

Maryland went 38-23 in last season, earning the No. 4 seed in the Big Ten Tournament. The Terps rattled off three wins in the conference tournament after losing their first game, but were eliminated by Northwestern in the semifinals. After a one-year hiatus, Maryland returned to the NCAA Tournament for the third time in four seasons, where it earned a No. 3 seed in the Winston Salem Regional.

The Terps will participate in a tournament hosted by Coastal Carolina (Match 2-4), which will include Ball State—an opponent from last season—and Radford. Instead of participating in a second tournament like last season, the Terps will visit East Carolina from March 16 to March 18. The Terps and Pirates last played during a tournament in 2016.

Maryland will take on four nonconference opponents that earned a spot in the 2017 NCAA Tournament, including North Carolina, West Virginia, Delaware and Radford. Overall, though, only seven of Maryland’s 26 opponents this season qualified for the NCAA Tournament last year. 

Maryland’s four home-and-home series include William & Mary, VCU, Delaware and James Madison. Maryland will play a pair of midweek matchups against North Carolina (March 20) and West Virginia (May 1) during the regular season, like it did last year.

Every game this season—home and away—can be listened to
LIVE on the Maryland Baseball Network.

The Terps, who went 20-3 at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium in 2017, will begin their home schedule with a three-game series starting on February 23 against Army, who the Terps last played and swept back in 2011. The Terps will also host out-of-conference opponents Bryant (March 9-11) and Stetson (March 23-25). Maryland welcomed Bryant to College Park last season, but haven’t played Stetson since 2003.

The Terps will begin conference play by hosting Northwestern from March 30 to April 1. The Wildcats came to College Park last season, defeating the Terps in two of three games. The Terps beat Northwestern to keep their Big Ten Tournament hopes alive, but couldn’t replicate the result the following day and were eliminated in the semifinals. Maryland will also host Illinois, Purdue and Rutgers in conference play.

Like last season, Maryland will travel to Lincoln and Bloomington to take on Nebraska and Indiana.  The Terps will also visit Michigan and Michigan State as the other two conference road series. It’ll be a tough conference road slate, as three of Maryland’s four opponents all made the NCAA Tournament last season.

The Big Ten Tournament will be played from May 23 to May 27 at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska.

Aggies beat the Old Liners, 16-1, in Game 3 to complete Fall World Series comeback

With the Old Liners leading by eight runs in the Fall World Series after winning the first two games, Aggies captain Kevin Biondic asked head coach Rob Vaughn to put the number “8”  in their opponent’s run column on the scoreboard prior to Game 3. The senior knew his team would have to win by nine runs to claim the series victory.

Because this year’s fall finale incorporated a point-system comprised of wins, run differential and various objectives, the Aggies had a chance to win the series, despite losing the first two games.

Biondic swung and missed on a two-strike count in the first inning, ending his streak of eight straight times reaching base to start the series. Despite being retired for the first time in three days, Biondic quickly responded to spark a seven-run Aggies rally in the third inning, eventually helping blowout the Old Liners, 16-1.

Biondic’s request to visually see his team down eight runs on the scoreboard mentally sparked the Aggies, as they went on to win the entire series, 16-9.

“What that tells you, you start talking about leadership,” head coach Rob Vaughn said. “You start talking about grit and the things that great championship teams do. That’s what Kevin Biondic exhibited today.”

Following freshman Tommy Gardiner’s leadoff walk to start the third, Biondic launched an 0-1 pitch to the right-center field gap for a double off right-handed reliever Ryan Hill. Four runs came across before Biondic stepped back up to the plate with two outs as the Aggies batted around.

Battling tough, Biondic drew an 11-pitch walk to reload the bases against right-hander Mike Vasturia, who relieved Hill after he didn’t record an out. Senior Will Watson took advantage of Biondic’s at-bat by delivering a bases-clearing triple to cap off the Aggies’ seven-run inning.

“I don’t want to say that sealed the deal right there, but that boosted our confidence even more than what it was already at,” Biondic said.

Sitting on the bench while watching his team provide a surplus of run support, sophomore transfer Zach Thompson returned to the mound in the bottom of the third after setting down the first six batters he faced.

Thompson, who pitched at Archbishop Spalding High School prior to spending his freshman season at St. Mary’s College (Md.), allowed just one earned run, while striking out three in four innings of work. His counterpart and former high school teammate, Old Liners left-hander Tyler Blohm, allowed just one hit and struck out three in two scoreless innings.

Although the Older Liners scored a run in the bottom of the third to make it 7-1, the Aggies offense went back to work in the fourth. After falling behind 0-2 in the count, Biondic snuck a ball down the left-field line for a two-run double. The senior finished the series 7-for-9, reaching base in 11 of his 13 plate appearances.

“I think I’ve come a long way from where I started,” Biondic said. “I think of lot of it comes from the pitching. I understand what pitchers are doing and what they think and what pitches are going to be thrown and in what counts.”

The Aggies scored an additional six runs in the fourth inning, including RBI singles from Barrett Smith and Zach Jancarski, to make it a 15-1 Aggies lead. After the half inning, The Aggies took control of the series run differential for the first time of the week, 15-9. Smith provided the last run of the game in the top of the fifth on a sacrifice fly. He finished the afternoon 1-for-1 with three walks, a sac fly and three RBIs.

“All the guys came ready today,” Biondic said. “I was very surprised in how positive everyone was today. It was almost like we knew we were going to come back.”

Right-hander John Murphy closed out the game for the Aggies in the last inning, clinching both the game and Fall World Series victory over the Old Liners. The fall season is now over for the Terps, and they will return to game action in the middle of February for the start of the 2018 season.

“If we want to do what these guys want to do and do something special in the spring,” Vaughn said, “then now is really when the work starts.”