5 takeaways from Maryland’s exhibition against Southern New Hampshire

Maryland baseball played in one of its two fall exhibitions Sunday afternoon, hosting Southern New Hampshire for a 19-inning marathon.

The Terps scored twice in the bottom of the eighth to secure a 3-2 lead through nine innings. A scheduled 18-inning exhibition went one more, as Maryland scored three runs in the bottom of the last inning to eventually earn a tie after one extra inning.

Here are five takeaways from the exhibition:

1. Justin Vought made a difference in multiple areas.

Sophomore Justin Vought — the team’s only returning catcher — hit a home run, threw out a would-be base stealer and scored the go-ahead to help the Terps secure a lead through nine innings.

In the second inning, Vought launched a solo shot to left-center field to tie the game at 1-1. He hit three home runs last season in his freshman campaign, now poised for a breakout second year in College Park.

With two outs in the bottom of the eighth, Vought worked a walk and later came around to score as the go-ahead run in the first nine frames. Vought continued his success in the latter half of the day, doubling before receiving rest in the last six innings of the afternoon.

2. The relievers shut down the Penmen in the first nine innings. 

Senior right-hander Hunter Parsons and junior lefty Tyler Blohm — two of last year’s weekend starters — tossed the first three innings of the afternoon, each conceding a run. From that point on, though, Maryland’s relievers contained the Penmen through nine innings.

Junior right-hander Nick Turnbull relieved Blohm after the third, tossing two scoreless frames. The transfer from Harford Community College faced the minimum in his first inning before working into a jam in the fifth. He stranded two runners in scoring position to escape.

Sophomore left-hander Sean Fisher hit two batters in the sixth but struck out three hitters to go unscathed before working around a two-out double in his second inning of work. Senior John Murphy also tossed a pair of scoreless innings, which would’ve earned himself a win in a normal nine-inning contest.

3. The Terps battled back throughout the afternoon.

Maryland fell behind early against Southern New Hampshire, which stole home to take a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Vought’s homer in the next inning tied the game momentarily, but the Penmen scored again in the third to reclaim an advantage.

After a slow start offensively to the day, Maryland scratched across two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. Junior Taylor Wright stretched a single into a double to spark a late rally that gave Maryland a 3-2 advantage through the first nine innings.

In the start of the second half of the 19-inning affair, Maryland fell behind four runs to Southern New Hampshire, but responded with four runs of its own in the next half-inning. The Terps had two walks, two singles a double and a three-run homer to climb back into the game. Maryland scored the following inning for its fifth unanswered run.

Down three in the bottom of the day’s final inning, Maryland used singles from sophomore Bubba Alleyne and freshman Bryce Cunningham to get back within a run. Junior Barrett Smith delivered a game-tying sacrifice fly to force a 19th inning and an eventual tie.

4. Michael Pineiro had a standout day at the plate.

The sophomore didn’t step on the field a season ago for the Terps, but he had more hits than any one of his teammates Sunday afternoon. Pineiro went 4-for-5 at the plate with a walk and a run scored, playing in 15 innings

In the first half of the day, Pineiro picked up two hits and stole a base. He reached scoring position twice but never came around to score. In the second half, though, Pineiro singled and doubled in consecutive plate appearances. He touched home for his only run of the day to cap off Maryland’s five unanswered runs in the second half.

Both an infielder and outfielder, Pineiro was used differently in each half of the afternoon. He played in two positions that were left vacated after last season: first base and left field. He began the first half in the infield but switched to left field for the second half of the day, playing solid defense in both spots.

5. Several new players made an impact. 

Maryland brought in a large freshmen recruiting class and a slew of transfers, many of which played well in their first action against an opponent this fall.

Head coach Rob Vaughn began the second half of the game with three first-year Terps in the lineup: Sebastian Holte-Mancera, Benjamin Cowles and Kody Milton. The trio combined for three hits, three RBIs and a walk.

Holte-Mancera, a junior from Ellsworth Community College, blasted a three-run homer to right-center field in his first at-bat to tie the game at one point. Cowles and Milton, both freshmen, singled in limited action.

Junior right-hander Zach Thompson was on the team last season, but had to sit out a year after transferring from St. Mary’s College. He flourished in 2.2 innings, allowing no runs out of the bullpen. He allowed a double and a single in his last inning of work but stranded both runners on base.

Maryland baseball to open 2019 season in Coastal Carolina tournament

Maryland baseball will begin the 2019 season on Feb. 15 in the Coastal Carolina tournament, according to the team’s schedule released Wednesday morning. The Terps will also play against Campbell and VCU during the opening weekend.

Maryland went 24-30 last season in head coach Rob Vaughn’s first year at the helm, finishing with a losing record for the first time since 2011. The campaign marked the Terrapins’ first year without a postseason appearance since 2013.

The schedule is highlighted by a compelling conference home slate, which features four Big Ten tournament teams from last season: Indiana (March 29-31), Ohio State (April 19-21), Michigan (May 3-5) and Iowa (May 16-18).  

The Big Ten road slate is less challenging for the Terps, who went 9-14 in the conference last year. Maryland will travel to two 2018 Big Ten postseason teams in Illinois (April 5-7) and Minnesota (May 10-12), while also visiting Penn State and Northwestern. Minnesota won the Big Ten tournament and advanced to the NCAA Super Regionals last season.

Maryland is scheduled to face six teams from last year’s NCAA tournament: East Carolina, Coastal Carolina, Stetson, Indiana, Minnesota and Ohio State. Of the 16 total games against those teams, nine will be played at home.

The first series at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium will be from Feb. 22 to Feb. 24 against Maine. The Terps will host East Carolina — who swept Maryland in a three-game set last season — from March 15 to March 17 in their only other nonconference home series.

The Terps’ four home-and-home series are the same ones from a season ago. They include William & Mary, VCU, Delaware and James Madison. Maryland went 3-5 in those games last year.

The team will play a three-game road series against Louisiana Lafayette for the first time in program history during the first weekend of March. Over spring break, the Terps play two games in two days at Elon and a three-game series at Creighton.

Maryland will also play one game each against Towson, West Virginia, Villanova, Creighton and George Mason.

Listen to all 50+ games during the 2019 season only on the Maryland Baseball Network.

Former Terp Brandon Lowe set to make MLB debut

Former Maryland infielder Brandon Lowe is set to make his Major League Baseball debut for the Tampa Bay Rays Sunday afternoon. He received his first call up to the majors on Saturday after playing in 46 games this season for the Durham Bulls (AAA).

Lowe is the third Terrapin on an active MLB roster in 2018. He joins left-handed pitcher Adam Kolarek on the Rays, who are one game above .500 and less than 10 games out of the second wild card. Brett Cecil is currently on the 10-Day Disabled List for the St. Louis Cardinals.

In two seasons with Maryland, Lowe helped the Terps toward the first two NCAA Super Regionals appearances in program history. He slashed .338/.448/.509 over his two-year college career, as Maryland made the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1971 in his first season on the field in 2014.

Tampa drafted Lowe in the third round (87th overall) in the 2015 MLB Draft. It took less than three years for him to work his way through the Rays’ minor-league system to get his first MLB opportunity. He began his ascension in 2016 with the Class-A Bowling Green Hot Rods.

Lowe played on two levels in 2017, the Class-A Advanced Charlotte Stone Crabs and the Class-AA Montgomery Biscuits. He hit .298 with 11 home runs and 58 RBIs combined between the two clubs. He started this year with Montgomery, but moved up to Durham after 54 games. In 46 games in AAA with the Bulls, Lowe hit .304 with 14 homers and 35 RBIs.

Second baseman Daniel Robertson, who Lowe replaced on the Rays roster, is reportedly out for the season with a thumb injury according to MLB.com. Lowe will start in left field — a position he learned in the minors — and bat seventh against the Chicago White Sox at 1:10 p.m. ET on Sunday.

Former catcher Justin Morris to sign contract with Pittsburgh Pirates

Former Maryland baseball catcher Justin Morris confirmed that he’ll sign a minor league contract Tuesday with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He’ll fly to Florida on Monday before making it official at the team’s Spring Training facility in Bradenton.

The Edgewater native made an announcement Friday morning via Twitter.

Morris will be the third undrafted Terp this offseason to ink a professional deal. Kevin Biondic signed a contract with Red Sox last month and has pitched in six games since for the Lowell Spinners. Taylor Bloom has thrown in four games this summer for the Washington Wild Things, a team in the Independent Frontier League.

Juniors Marty Costes and Nick Dunn both were drafted in early June, signing contracts with the Houston Astros and St. Louis Cardinals, respectively.

The catcher was drafted in the 35th round by the Arizona Diamondbacks out of DeMatha Catholic High School in 2014, but opted to come to College Park instead. He played in 129 games for the Terps, but wasn’t drafted again after his junior or seniors campaigns.

Morris’ bat got hot in time for Maryland’s 2017 postseason run, finishing with a career-high five home runs. Maryland played in the Winston-Salem Regional, earning one win against in-state foe UMBC. In the 16-2 victory, Morris went 1-for-4 with two runs, two RBIs and a homer.

During his senior year, Morris hit .208 with only one homer and 14 RBIs. Defensively, though, he was very solid and threw out a team-high nine runners on the bases. He’ll now be the fifth Terp from the 2018 roster to begin a professional career this summer.

Taylor Bloom signs pro contract, makes 1st start for Washington Wild Things

The Washington Wild Things — an organization in the Independent Frontier League — announced the signing of former Maryland pitcher Taylor Bloom Saturday afternoon. The right-hander went on to make his first start hours later.

The Severna Park native went unselected in the 2018 MLB Draft, but became the fourth Terp this year to sign a professional contract. Nick Dunn and Marty Costes inked deals with the St. Louis Cardinals and the Houston Astros, respectively, before Kevin Biondic signed a minor league contract with the Boston Red Sox.

Bloom made his first start for the Wild Things the same day the team announced his signing. He allowed four runs on six hits in five innings, but didn’t walk a batter and struck out four against the Schaumburg Boomers. The Wild Things are based out of Washington, Pennsylvania and currently sit in first place in the league with a 26-18 record.

“Taylor was another one of our tryout participants that we saw potential in,” Washington assistant general manager of baseball operations Tony Buccili said in a press release. “We look to have our catchers assist with getting Taylor acclimated to our level of professional baseball and aid in the process of replicating his college production.”

Only one player threw more innings in the Maryland uniform than Taylor Bloom.  The right-hander became the second Terp to eclipse 300-career innings in his last start of the spring against Indiana, joining Mike Shawaryn as the only other pitcher do to so.

Bloom was an impact player all four seasons he was with the Terps. He appeared in 15 games as a freshman, including a start in the Big Ten championship and a memorable 6.1-inning appearance against UCLA in the 2015 NCAA Regionals. He later became a consistent weekend starter for his remaining time in College Park.

In 102.1 innings as a sophomore, his 2.46 ERA was fourth-best in the Big Ten, and he issued just nine walks the entire year. He went 7-2 with a 3.83 ERA as a junior before having an up-and-down senior campaign. Bloom was never the hardest thrower, but the Wild Things gained a pitcher that showed in his four years with Maryland the ability to throw strikes and keep hitters off-balance with slow off-speed pitches.

Kevin Biondic signs contract with Red Sox

Former utility player Kevin Biondic signed a minor league contract with the Boston Red Sox, Maryland baseball announced Friday afternoon on Twitter. Biondic is the third Terp this year to sign a professional contract, joining fifth-round draft selection Nick Dunn (St. Louis) and 22nd-rounder Marty Costes (Houston).

The Illinois native earned Big Ten second team honors this season as a utility player after transforming into a two-way player in the offseason. Biondic hit six homers with 24 RBIs as a first baseman, but also had a 2.59 ERA in 24.1 innings on the mound.

He made the first relief appearance before any other pitcher on the roster in 2018, pitching a scoreless eighth inning in Maryland’s season-opening win on the road against Tennessee. He went on to pitch in the third-most games out of the bullpen, as he held hitters to a slim .198 batting average.

Along with his solid ERA, Biondic struck out more than one batter per inning and allowed just 6.3 hits per nine innings. He also finished second on the team this season with two saves, trailing only John Murphy who had four.

Biondic missed a Friday night game this season against Nebraska — the only game he didn’t play in all season — to take the Chicago Police Academy entrance exam. Becoming a police officer has been a career goal, but now he’ll have the opportunity to extend his athletic career in Boston’s minor league system first.

Feature photo courtesy of UM Terps.

Two current Terps, two signees selected in 2018 MLB Draft

Juniors Nick Dunn and Marty Costes were the only two current Maryland players selected in the 2018 MLB Draft this week, the fewest since 2011 when left-hander Adam Kolarek — now with the Tampa Bay Rays — was the lone Terp taken.

Two Maryland commits — Nick Decker and Jack Herman — were also selected, and will now have until July 6 to decide whether or not to sign with their respective teams. If they choose to come to College Park, they won’t be eligible for the draft again until after their junior year or until they turn 21 years old.

Decker was taken in the 2nd round, 64th overall by the Boston Red Sox, making him the highest Maryland commit selected since Troy Strokes was drafted in the 4th round in 2014. After his selection, Strokes elected to go immediately into the Milwaukee Brewers’ system. Decker would have a large signing bonus if he chooses to go that route, with his pick being valued at over $1 million.  The outfielder from Seneca High School (NJ) helped comprise Maryland’s 23rd-ranked recruiting class in the country. The last eight Maryland commits drafted since Strokes came to College Park, but the highest selection among those was current left-hander Tyler Blohm’s 17th-round pick in 2016.

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Nick Dunn was drafted in the 5th round by the St. Louis Cardinals. (Hannah Evans/Maryland Baseball Network)

Dunn, the 16th All-American in program history, was taken in the 5th round, 153rd overall by the St. Louis Cardinals. The infielder earned All-Big Ten first team honors this season, hitting a team-high .330 with 10 homers, 39 RBIs, 32 walks and just 19 strikeouts. A native of Sunbury, Pennsylvania, Dunn is the 10th Maryland player selected within the first 10 rounds in the last six years. He’s also the first drafted by St. Louis since left-hander Jimmy Reed’s 6th-round selection in 2013.

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For the second straight year, Marty Costes is drafted by the Houston Astros. (Hannah Evans/Maryland Baseball Network)

Costes became the sixth Terrapin since 2000 to be picked in consecutive MLB drafts. The Houston Astros selected Costes for the second straight year, this time three rounds earlier. After a 25th-round selection in 2017, Costes was nabbed in the 22nd round, 672nd overall. The junior had a poor season compared to his first two, but Houston showed loyalty to their former selection. Currently, Costes has the seventh-most walks in program history with 96, and his 28 homers are tied for eighth.

Herman, an outfielder from Eastern High School (NJ), was taken by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 30th round, 894th overall. He was committed to Maryland before he even played a game in high school, where he hit a career .473 with 16 home runs and 105 RBIs. He hit .556 in his senior season with five homers and 41 RBIs. He, too, will soon have to decide where his future lies.