Summer Ball Update 6/26/2017: Dunn, Jancarski among Terps enjoying summer success

2017 summer ball is underway all throughout the country and many Terps are off to hot starts. Let’s check in and see how the Terrapins are doing.

Four Terps are in the Cape Cod League: two on the Brewster Whitecaps, one on the Falmouth Commodores and one on the reigning league champion Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox. In Brewster, second baseman Nick Dunn is off to a hot start, hitting .296 with eight hits, the third most on the team. Dunn is looking to replicate his successful 2016 summer in which he was named to the Cape Cod League All-Star roster. His Whitecaps teammate, fellow Terp Marty Costes, is just 4-of-19 with six strikeouts, but his power stroke is still working. He picked up where he left off in Maryland, belting two early home runs on the Cape, including a walkoff homer Sunday against Bourne. Costes’ seven homers last summer led Maryland players in summer ball action.

Elsewhere in the Cape, sophomore left-handed pitcher Tyler Blohm has made a start and a relief appearance for Falmouth. In his summer debut, Blohm walked two and allowed a run in three innings of relief. In his lone start, the southpaw struck out seven in five innings, allowing two runs and earning the win. Hunter Parsons, the 2016 Cal Ripken League Pitcher of the Year, allowed four runs in his season debut for the Y-D Red Sox, a loss, but picked up the win in his second relief appearance after tossing a scoreless inning.

In the local Cal Ripken League, Zach Jancarski‘s bat remains hot with the Bethesda Big Train. The Terps leadoff hitter and center fielder is hitting .379 in eight games, including a leadoff home run in his first at-bat of the summer. Justin Morris‘ first hit of the summer was also a home run – the Terps catcher hit a grand slam on Father’s Day for Big Train, and is hitting .375 in eight contests.

Jancarski and Morris are joined in Bethesda by a pair of Terps arms: John Murphy and Zach Guth. Murphy, one of former head coach John Szefc’s favorite bullpen weapons, has a 3.00 ERA in three starts. With Brian Shaffer and Ryan Selmer departing for pro ball, Murphy is primed for an even larger role on the Maryland pitching staff next spring. Guth has allowed four earned runs in two innings of work.

Elsewhere in the Ripken League, the Baltimore Redbirds have benefited from incoming freshman Randy Bednar‘s bat and arm. The outfielder is hitting .290 with a team-high two home runs and pitched two scoreless innings in Baltimore’s 11-3 blowout over Rockville on June 18. However, it has not been an easy summer so far for AJ Lee, Maryland’s fourth-leading hitter in 2017. The Terps third baseman is hitting just .132 with 15 strikeouts in 12 games. On the mound, Mike Vasturia has allowed three earned runs in 3.1 innings while Jon Dignazio is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in three relief appearances.

While Bednar has powered the Redbirds, another incoming freshman is leading the local Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts. Infielder Tommy Gardiner is 8-for-23 (.348) in six games to open the season. Two other Terps have seen limited action thus far for the T-Bolts; Will Watson is 0-for-3 and Richie Schiekofer is 0-for-6, but they have each drawn a walk.

The only other Cal Ripken League teams with Maryland products are the Alexandria Aces and Gaithersburg Giants. Catcher Justin Vought has not appeared for the first place Aces while Nick Pantos has looked sharp out of the ‘pen for Gaithersburg. The right-hander has hurled nine innings over five appearances, allowing just one run with 11 strikeouts.

There are a few other Terps across the country over the summer. First baseman Kevin Biondic is hitting .200 with a homer and seven RBIs in 14 games with Canada’s Thunder Bay Border Cats of the Northwoods League. Danny Maynard, a member of Perfect Game League’s Amsterdam Mohawks, is hitting .172 in nine games. With the NECBL’s Newport Gulls, Cameron Enck has a 3.27 ERA in four appearances — all four earned runs he has allowed coming in his lone start.

MLB Draft Preview: OF Zach Jancarski

Zach Jancarski – OF

Ht: 6’0″        Wt: 185        Year: Jr.       Bats/Throws: R/R

Hometown (HS): East Norriton, Pa. (Chestnut Hill Academy)

2017 Stats

G: 58  Slash Line: .325/.434/.453      HR: 3     RBI: 26     SB: 20    K-rate: 11.7 %     BB-rate: 11.7 %

Background: Zach Jancarski started his career in College Park as a reserve player and a go-to pinch runner. After a freshman season in which he scored nine runs and pinch ran 16 times — including twice in the Big Ten Tournament — Jancarski turned from a catalyst on the basepaths to a catalyst atop the lineup.

Junior Zach Jancarski singles. (Hannah Evans/Maryland Baseball Network)

In April 2016, Jancarski became a staple in the Terrapin lineup as a full-time center fielder. The right-handed hitter posted a .257 average with six RBIs, four doubles, a home run and 19 runs scored. He also stole five bases, a sign of things to come.

After a productive summer, in which he hit .288 and stole 20 bases in 38 games as a member of the Sanford Mariners, Jancarski elevated his game yet again. In a breakout junior year, Jancarski hit .325 with a team-leading 50 runs, 17 doubles and 20 stolen bases. A leadoff hitter, Jancarski evolved into one of the most efficient run-producers in the Maryland lineup. 

Outlook: In his first full season as a starter, Jancarski proved that he can be an asset with the bat, on-base and defensively in center field. Because of his ability to work the count and make contact (33 walks, 33 strikeouts), he fits atop the lineup as a prototypical leadoff hitter. While his 66.7 percent success rate on the basepaths leaves some to be desired, there is no question he has speed to burn and can evolve into a more effective base stealer.

As a junior with only one full season under his belt, Jancarski does have a limited track record, which will most likely limit his stock in this draft to the middle rounds. D1Baseball.com’s Frankie Piliere told Maryland Baseball Network that because of the prevalence of quality seniors in the early rounds of the draft, many teams will likely want to see how he develops after another season. “I think people will take sort of a ‘let’s wait and see’ type of approach on a guy like [Jancarski],” he said.

While projected as a mid-round pick in this draft, if Jancarski returned for his senior year, he would instantly be one of the Terrapins’ best offensive weapons. Should he put up similar offensive numbers next year to those that he posted in 2017, he would elevate his draft stock significantly and have a shot at being taken in the earlier rounds of the 2018 MLB Draft. 

MLB Draft Preview: OF Marty Costes

Marty Costes – OF

Ht: 5’9″        Wt: 200        Year: So.        Bats/Throws: R/R

Hometown (HS): Baltimore, Md. (Archbishop Curley)

2017 Stats

G: 57      PA: 274    Slash Line: .326/.427/.535      HR: 11     RBI: 42     K-rate: 16.8 %      BB-rate: 11.3 %

Sophomore Marty Costes smacks a ball down the third base line. Hannah Evans/Maryland Baseball Network 5/9/2017

Background: Marty Costes arrived in College Park with little expectations as a former three-sport athlete that was added to the recruiting class during the second semester of his senior year of high school. After not starting during the first weekend, Costes had a big weekend in the Keith LeClair Classic—including his first career home run—and never looked back. 

Two years later, he has been Maryland’s most consistent offensive threat in the middle of one of the Big Ten’s better lineups. The Baltimore native belted nine homers his freshman year, averaging one long ball every 21.1 at bats. He led all Big Ten freshmen in home runs, RBIs and slugging percentage, while slashing .263/.363/.479.

After his first season as a Terp, Costes joined the Cal Ripken League as a member of the Baltimore Redbirds and kept up his power spree, tying for third in the league with seven home runs. He improved his average and showed speed on the basepaths as well, hitting .319 while swiping 10 bags in 14 tries as he was named to the Cal Ripken League All-Star team. 

Returning to Maryland this year as a sophomore, Costes established himself as one of the best all-around hitters in the Big Ten. He tied with Kevin Smith for the team lead in homers and RBIs, with 11 and 42, respectively, while his .326 averaged ranked among the top ten in the conference. Thanks to the strong showing at the plate, Costes joined Brian Shaffer as the only Terps to earn first-team All-Big Ten honors.

Outlook: Costes has proven he can hit over the course of his two seasons at Maryland. He is a power threat at the plate, racking up 44 extra-base hits in two years, and owns a career slash line of .298/.398/.510. He holds his own defensively as well, serving as the starting left fielder in 2016 before transition across to right field this year, where he has excelled. Costes also got a taste of center field in mid-May when he spelled Zach Jancarski there for three games and did a fine job. Because of his ability at the plate and in the field, he is one of the more intriguing prospects on the Terps, despite being just a sophomore. 

Sophomore Marty Costes continues his hot streak. Hannah Evans/Maryland Baseball Network 4/16/2017

His plate discipline and power, as well as increasing averages, have him slated as one of college baseball’s better offensive threats. Baseball America ranked him as one of the top 200 draft prospects this year, and D1Baseball.com’s Frankie Piliere told Maryland Baseball Network that Costes “comes up a lot as one of the best pure hitters out there.” Piliere compared him to Mississippi State’s Brent Rooker, a draft-eligible sophomore in 2016 who was taken in the 38th round of the 2016 MLB Draft. Rooker decided to return to school, and hit a team-high .404 with 21 homers while being awarded SEC Player of the Year honors.

Costes could go down a similar path as Rooker, as the two put up very similar numbers in their sophomore seasons. While Costes undoubtedly has the tools to succeed at the next level, his draft stock is limited as of now since he is a sophomore, and since he has two years of eligibility remaining, teams may pass on him in earlier rounds if they have questions about his signability. He will get drafted, but the question remains whether or not it will be high enough for him to decide to forgo his junior season.

While Costes may not find himself atop the draft boards this season, if he returns to Maryland for a junior season and continues to refine his craft at the plate, he will raise himself much higher up the draft boards in 2018. 

Hill, Jancarski lead Terps to midweek win over William & Mary

Through their first eight midweek games of the 2017 season, the Maryland Terrapins struggled to find a consistent starter and had to piece together spectacular comebacks to steal wins.

Things were different on Wednesday evening, as the Terps got a strong start from junior Ryan Hill and were able to hold the William & Mary Tribe scoreless in a 6-0 victory.

Hill, who made his first start as a Terrapin after 16 appearances out of the bullpen, did not allow a hit through the first three innings of the game. A leadoff walk to shortstop Zach Pearson was Hill’s only blemish on an otherwise perfect night.

“I just went out there and pitched like I have all year,” Hill said. “I basically warmed up like a normal game.”

As Hill retired nine of the 10 Tribe hitters he faced, Maryland’s offense built a slim lead early. In the second inning, back-to-back singles by AJ Lee and Zach Jancarski drove in Kevin Smith, who led off the inning with a trip to first following being hit by a pitch.

Although the lead was small, it was an encouraging sign for Maryland, which had only scored first in a midweek game one time prior to Wednesday’s game.

The first run was important for Jancarski, but he was far from done. The leadoff hitter also notched RBI singles in the fourth and sixth innings as well as a sacrifice fly in the ninth. He wrapped up his evening with a career-high four RBIs. The junior also extended his hitting streak to 11 games, during which he has recorded six multi-hit games.

Jancarski’s offensive heroics was all Maryland needed thanks to stellar outings from Jamal Wade, Jared Price, Andrew Miller and Ryan Selmer out of the bullpen.

“We love putting up goose eggs,” Hill said, “especially if we can do it for the whole game.”

Wade relieved Hill and hurled two scoreless innings, while getting in and out of a jam in the fourth. With just one out and the bases loaded, Wade struck out Charles Ameer before forcing Pearson to ground out to end the frame. All four relievers threw at least one inning of scoreless ball.

Aside from Jancarski, second baseman Nick Dunn and third baseman AJ Lee also picked up multiple hits in the victory. The trio combined for 11 of Maryland’s 16 hits.

“Jancarski had our first three RBIs with two outs… that’s pretty clutch,” head coach John Szefc said. “Every one of those runs was pretty big at the time.”

Maryland would tack on an insurance run after Brandon Gum’s infield single drove in Lee. The scoring opportunity was paved by back-to-back singles by Lee and Jancarski. Then, in the top of the ninth, Maryland’s small ball play paired with poor defensive play by the Tribe helped the Terps extend their lead to 6-0.

The Terps will return to College Park where they will host the Michigan State Spartans in a three-game set at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium. The Spartans (20-13, 4-4 Big Ten) lost a midweek nonconference bout with the Michigan Wolverines after taking two of three from Ohio State over the weekend.

Rankings Update: Week of 4/10/17

Following a midweek come-from-behind victory over Richmond, the Maryland Terrapins (20-10, 6-3 Big Ten) lost their first series since February when they dropped a the rubber game of a three-game set against Nebraska over the weekend.

Maryland, which cracked the top 25 rankings last week following a sweep over Big Ten rival Rutgers, has dropped out of the top 25 in D1Baseball and Baseball America’s poll and remains unranked in Perfect Game’s ranking.

The Terps have a busy week as they are scheduled to play five games over a six day span. Maryland will open this week’s play with a home meeting with former ACC rival West Virginia before it takes the short trip to Fairfax, Virginia to take on George Mason.

The Mountaineers (19-11, 6-3 Big 12) recently had their six-game winning streak snapped with a loss on Sunday to Kansas while George Mason (12-20, 3-3 A-10) has lost five of its last seven.

Then, over the weekend, the Terps will host a three-game series with Penn State (11-19, 1-5 Big Ten), which has lost eight of its last 10 games.

Big Ten: T-3

D1Baseball.com: Unranked

Baseball America: Unranked

Perfect Game: Unranked

RPI: 32

Late rallies lead Terps to series-clinching win over Rutgers

For the majority of Game 1 of Sunday’s doubleheader, the Maryland Terrapins struggled to bring runners around the base paths. That changed in the seventh inning, when smart base running and small ball helped Maryland take a 3-1 lead, which it never surrendered.

The Terps offensive continued its hot stretch, tacking on three more runs in the eighth inning to win 6-1. With the victory, Maryland advanced to 17-8 (4-1 Big Ten) while Rutgers dropped to 10-16 (0-2 Big Ten).

Maryland jumped out to an early 1-0 lead for the second straight day, as a pair of passed balls and an advancement on a fly out helped score Brandon Gum.

“[Gum] was off for 12 days getting that leg better and he really gave our offense a really big push in the right direction,” head coach John Szefc said.

However, unlike Friday, Rutgers was quick to respond, manufacturing its first run of the afternoon in the third inning. Carmen Sclafani led of the inning with a double, then came around to score when Jawuan Harris ripped a single past a diving Gum at third base.

Although his team evened the score, Harris made the final out of the inning when he was tagged out between third base and home plate after a wild rundown. Leaving runners on base became a trend for the Scarlet Knights, who left eight men on base and were just 3 for 13 with runners on base.

Rutgers had another opportunity against Maryland starter Taylor Bloom in the fifth inning, when it placed runners on the corners with no outs. Szefc made the decision to replace his No. 2 starter with reliever Tayler Stiles, and his decision instantly paid off, as Stiles escaped the inning unscathed and kept the game tied.

“He’s seen a lot of situations in his four years,” Szefc said. “I mean that was a tight situation he stepped into and he did a hell of a job.”

Stiles’ efforts did not end there, as the senior left-hander set a season-high by completing four innings, only allowing one hit and striking out three.

While Stiles held the Scarlet Knights offense, the Terps offense picked up late in the game — first with small ball in the seventh inning and then with big hits in the eighth.

Maryland re-gained the lead in the seventh after a bunt single and error on Rutgers, which leads the Big Ten with 45 errors. Then, a squeeze bunt from AJ Lee gave Maryland some cushion.

In the eighth, an RBI triple by Nick Dunn, RBI single by Will Watson and a balk scored three more, extending Maryland’s lead to five.

After John Murphy recorded one out, Ryan Selmer sealed the victory for Maryland by forcing a game-ending double play with the bases loaded. The two teams will take a quick break before beginning the third, and final, game of the series as the second part of Sunday’s doubleheader. Maryland will send freshman Tyler Blohm to the hill, who will face Rutgers’ Gaby Rosa.

Terps take early lead, win series opener against Rutgers

The Maryland Terrapins got on the scoreboard early and were in full control throughout the entire game in a 5-1 victory against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.

The Terps advance to 16-8 (3-1 Big Ten) with the victory while Rutgers falls to 10-15, losing its Big Ten regular season opener.

Maryland opened the scoring in the first inning when it capitalized on a booted ground ball by Scarlet Knights third baseman Christian Campbell. The error placed Zach Jancarski on first base and the leadoff hitter came around to score on a hard-hit single by Brandon Gum.

Jancarski’s afternoon was just beginning, as the junior center fielder recorded a career-high four hits, becoming just the second Terp to accomplish that feat this season.

The self-inflicted blunders by the Scarlet Knights did not end there. Rutgers committed three errors in the game, increasing its Big Ten-leading total to 44.

The Terps then extended their lead in the second inning when Kevin Smith crushed a ball over the left field wall for his team-leading sixth home run of the season. It was Smith’s first homer since his red-hot series against UNC Wilmington, when he belted four long balls in two games.

Later in the game, Maryland had a scare when Smith went down clutching his left shoulder after a dropped pop-up in shallow left field. Smith returned to the game, but was replaced by senior Patrick Hisle just a half inning later.

The early lead was exactly what starting pitcher Brian Shaffer needed, as the junior struggled to keep his pitch count down early. Despite not having his best stuff early, Shaffer settled in and put together another solid start. Maryland’s ace threw seven innings, allowed just five hits and one earned run but only struck out four batters, his season-low.

Maryland finally pulled away in the fifth inning with a two-out rally that was aided by a pair of Rutgers errors. A potential inning-ending double play was thrown away by shortstop Kevin Welsh, scoring AJ Lee. Then, Marty Costes drove in Nick Dunn with an RBI triple. A second error in the inning scored Costes.

Ryan Hill worked a scoreless eighth and then finished off the Scarlet Knights with a 1-2-3 ninth inning.

The Terps and Scarlet Knights will be back in action on Sunday, as the two newest members of the Big Ten will play a doubleheader starting at 12:00 p.m. Maryland will send Taylor Bloom to the hill in Game 1 and Tyler Blohm in Game 2. Rutgers will pitch John O’Reilly in Game 1 and Gaby Rosa in Game 2.