Maryland blanks Stetson 7-0 in series opener

After a six-inning pitchers’ duel to start Maryland (8-4) and Stetson’s series opener, the Terps’ underclassmen paved the way to Maryland’s 7-0 win over Stetson (5-8) on Friday in DeLand, Florida. The victory marks the Terps’ largest shutout win since March 13, 2015, when Maryland beat Princeton, 15-0.

Back-to-back solo shots from sophomore Randy Bednar and senior Taylor Wright highlighted the Terps’ four-run ninth inning, giving Maryland’s pitching staff a seven-run  cushion heading into the bottom of the inning.

When Stetson threatened in the bottom of the eighth, Maryland head coach Rob Vaughn opted to play matchups with his bullpen, using the southpaw Andrew Vail against a lefty and the right-hander Mark DiLuia against a righty.

A solo home run from Maxwell Costes in the sixth put the Terps on the board first, after a pitchers’ duel between Maryland right-hander Hunter Parsons and Stetson righty Robbie Peto.

The momentum from Costes’ blast was evident, as the Terps’ dugout erupted in cheers that carried into the seventh, when sophomore Randy Bednar doubled with the bases loaded and one out, driving in two runs to put Maryland up 3-0.

Before Costes put Maryland on the board, Peto had pitched 5.2 scoreless innings and struck out nine, dropping the Terps in order in three of his first five innings pitched. Stetson pulled Peto after the sixth, however, ending the Peto versus Parsons duel.

Parsons went seven innings, tying his career-high nine strikeouts in only 6.1 innings. By the end of the righty’s night on the mound he struck out 10 batters total, setting a new career-high best in strikeouts. Parsons set his previous career-high nine strikeouts last season, in his complete-game shutout against Stetson. 

Catcher Justin Vought supported Parsons’ pitching prowess, as his strength behind the plate came helped keep Stetson’s batter out of scoring position. Vought caught two Hatters stealing to help Parson work out of the jams in the second and third innings. Vought has caught a total of six runners stealing in nine games this season, the same number he picked off in his 22 games played in 2018.

With two on and one out, the Hatters had the potential to slash the Terps’ three-run lead. Maryland’s pitching depth allowed Vaughn to utilize matchups to minimize any potential damage from Stetson’s lineup, with a combination of Vail-DiLuia to finish the eighth. Then, a three-up, three-down bottom of the ninth from closer John Murphy secured the Terps’ first shutout of their 2019 campaign.

To start on Friday, Costes found himself at first base for the second time this season––his second time defending first since middle school. The move, made by Vaughn in order to work in Sebastian Holte-Mancera’s power in the box, proved worthwhile in Maryland’s 11-6 win over Delaware on Tuesday.

Against Stetson, Costes’ inexperience at first showed after a defensive error in the second and a wide throw from freshman shortstop Benjamin Cowles pulled Costes off the bag, allowing a runner to reach. Neither error resulted in a Stetson run, and the game remained scoreless.

Costes’ power at the plate made up for the errors, however, and he ripped a solo blast to left field to give the Terps the 1-0 lead in the sixth. It marked the freshman’s second home run in as many games.

Building on Costes’ momentum, Bednar took advantage of a one-out bases loaded situation and knocked a two-RBI double down the left-field line in the seventh. Bednar found his groove, and two innings later sent a solo blast to left-field to start the Terps’ four-run ninth inning.

After Wright’s subsequent blast, a two-out rally with singles from Costes, Cowles and sophomores Tommy Gardiner and Chris Alleyne, combined with a hit-by-pitch for Holte-Mancera for two additional runs, before a strikeout ended Maryland’s four-run inning.

Maryland faces Stetson at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, for game two of the series.

 

Series Preview: Stetson Hatters

Stetson-Maryland

After an offensive breakout led the Terps to an 11-6 win over the Delaware Blue Hens on Tuesday, Maryland (7-4) heads down south for a three-game series against the Stetson Hatters (5-7). While the Terps will have had a full two-day break heading into the series, the Hatters will operate on only one rest day after playing five games in the past seven days.

Last season, the Terps’ 2-1 come-from-behind series win over the Hatters in College Park marked Maryland’s biggest series victory. Now, the Terps will look for another series win as the fresh Maryland squad faces a new Stetson team — a total of 34 new faces on both teams combined.

Two newcomers helped lead the Terps to their victory over the Blue Hens Tuesday; Maxwell Costes and Sebastian Holte-Mancera each notched their first-career home run with Maryland. Costes, the Terps’ freshman designated hitter, moved to first base on Tuesday so that head coach Rob Vaughn could push Holte-Mancera to designated-hitter.

Just one of the lineup changes since the beginning of the season, the move worked and Holte-Mancera went 2-for-2 on the night. With his success in the box Tuesday, the junior transfer is 7-for-13 on the season with a .538 batting average.

Another big lineup move, sophomore Tommy Gardiner took over at second base against Louisiana Lafayette last weekend, after senior shortstop AJ Lee left game two with an apparent injury. Freshman Benjamin Cowles, the then-second baseman, moved to short and Gardiner stepped in to fill his place. After the switch, Gardiner went 2-for-4 Tuesday, reaching base thrice and scoring two runs.

Fellow sophomore Randy Bednar has also provided the Terps with offensive power. Bednar holds a .304 batting average with a .407 on-base percentage.

While Maryland’s lineup has undergone some shuffling, the Terps’ bullpen remains solid. With a wealth of new arms, Vaughn has utilized Maryland’s ability to play to matchups, using multiple relievers per game so far this season.

Stetson Hatters (5-7, 0-0 ASUN) 

Last Season

Though they dropped two to the Terps, the Hatters finished the year with a 48-13 record. They won the Atlantic Sun Conference Championship and advanced to the NCAA Super Regionals before North Carolina knocked them out. Entering the series with Maryland last year, Stetson’s pitching staff ranked No. 1 in the nation.

This season

The Hatters had a rocky 0-5 start to the season, but bounced back, winning three of their last four games including a series win over Sacred Heart this week. With the home-field advantage, Stetson will come out strong against Maryland with hopes of gaining momentum as they near conference play.

Hitters to watch

The Hatters have only two batters hitting over .300; junior Austin Bogart and senior Baylen Sparks have provided Stetson’s offense with a combined 25 hits, with .362 and .308 batting averages, respectively. Bogart is also one of only two Hatters to homer so far this season, as junior shortstop Jorge Arenas provided the other blast.

Boggart, Jacob Koos and Jonathan Meola lead Stetson in at-bats, as the three have graced the top of the Hatters’ order for most of the season so far.

Relievers to watch

Freshman right-handers Danny Garcia and Bret Neilan lead the charge from Stetson’s bullpen. Both hold the team’s only sub-zero ERAs in at least five appearances. Two of the Hatters’ freshest arms, expect each of the righties to take the mound at least once this weekend.

Vlad Nunez has been another productive arm for Stetson. The senior righty has recorded 16 strikeouts in 12.2 innings pitched, set to eclipse his strikeout total of 20 from 2018.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Friday, 6:30 p.m. ET

Sr. RHP Hunter Parsons (2-0, 1.35 ERA) vs. R-So. RHP Robbie Peto (0-1, 2.30 ERA)

 RMZBYNJDDYBZPMM.20150924191225  1Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logo  vs.Stetson_Hatters_logo_(2018).pngPeto_Robbie_19J_120_edit.jpg

Last year, Parsons’ Sunday start against Stetson marked his first complete game shutout in his collegiate career. Now, as Maryland’s Friday ace, Parsons has the chance to set the tone of this year’s series. Parsons enters the weekend with a 1.35 ERA, the lowest of non-relievers. The senior right-hander also has 13 strikeouts in 20 innings pitched.

Taking the mound for Stetson, Petro has recorded 16 strikeouts in just under 16 innings of work so far this season. With one of the lowest ERAs among the Hatters’ starters, Petro could turn Friday’s competition into a pitchers’ duel.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Saturday, 6:30 p.m. ET

Jr. RHP Zach Thompson (1-1, 4.24 ERA) vs. Fr. LHP Daniel Paret (0-0, 4.50 ERA)

    Thompson082818_02  1Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logo  vs.Stetson_Hatters_logo_(2018).pngParet_Daniel_19J_053_edit.jpg

After redshirting last season due to transfer rules, right-hander Zach Thompson has secured his spot as the Terps’ Saturday starter. Entering the series against the Hatters with a 4.24 ERA, the junior leads Maryland in strikeouts, with 17 total in his 17 innings pitched.

A youngster on the Stetson squad, Saturday’s contest will be only the second start of Paret’s career with the Hatters. In his first start last Sunday against Sacred Heart, the freshman lasted five innings and struck out eight.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET

Fr. RHP Trevor LaBonte (0-0, 1.46 ERA) vs. TBD

Labonte082818_021Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logo  vs.Stetson_Hatters_logo_(2018).png

Freshman right-hander Trevor LaBonte will receive the nod as the Terps’ game-three starter. After starting the past two Sundays, LaBonte has proven himself with a 1.46 ERA in 12.1 innings pitched, and 10 strikeouts.

Preseason Countdown #5: Infield preview

Maryland baseball season is just five days away. Over the last two weeks, The Maryland Baseball Network has reviewed the best moments of head coach Rob Vaughn’s first year at the helm, highlighted the best offseason performers and broken down several notable things revealed at spring sports media day.

Now, with less than a week left until the Terps take on Campbell in the season-opener, it’s time to shift our efforts to what’s to come in the next few months. We’ve previewed the starting pitchers and bullpen, and today, we continue with a breakdown of Maryland baseball’s 2019 infielders.


Sophomore first baseman Michael Pineiro Piniero090518_03

After redshirting his freshman year and showing out for the Aggies in the Fall World Series, Pineiro is one of head coach Rob Vaughn’s options to fill the Terps’ gap at first base after Kevin Biondic graduated after last season. With a strong performance during the fall, Pineiro could also find a spot in Maryland’s starting lineup in the outfield or as the designated hitter.


Freshman first baseman Kody Milton Milton090518_01

Milton has shown vast improvements since arriving in the the fall as a first-year Terp, according to Vaughn. The Terps’ head coach added that Milton will likely find himself “in the mix” with everything Maryland does this spring, citing the freshman’s “desire to be great.”

As a senior at Severna Park High School, Milton hit .514 with eight home runs and 35 RBI, ending his career with the Falcons with 21 home runs and 116 hits. At first base, Perfect Game ranked Milton No. 28 in the nation and No. 1 in Maryland.


Sophomore second baseman Tommy Gardiner Gardiner090518_03

After spending time at third base last season, Gardiner has successfully transitioned over to second according to Vaughn. As a freshman, Gardiner started 21 games for the Terps, hitting .162 with a .311 on-base percentage.

This season, the New Jersey-native will be one of three possibilities to fill the holes left after last year. At media day, Vaughn cited the sophomore as a “super steady defender [who] can handle the bat,” and could see a decent amount of playing time.


Freshman second baseman Ben Cowles Cowles090518_05

A former shortstop, Cowles has a chance to start at second for the Terps this season, as well. One of the most competitive players Vaughn says he has ever coached — second only to now-Volunteer Assistant Coach Anthony Papio — the New York native’s athleticism could put him in a prime position when the season begins.

Before Maryland, Cowles ended his senior season at Newark High School batting .512 with a .650 on-base percentage and for home runs. According to Perfect Game, he was ranked the No. 5 shortstop in New York.


Freshman second baseman Josh Maguire Maguire082818_03

Another new player who has held his own is Delaware-native Josh Maguire, who has worked hard to overcome his defensive struggles. If Maguire comes out strong in the box, he, too, could be an option at second according to Vaughn.

Ranked the No. 2 second baseman in Delaware by Perfect Game, Maguire hit .415 his senior year at Salesianum, batting above .300 for all four season with the Sallies.


Senior third baseman Taylor Wright VBSVZTBXVAYMWHZ.20170912225046

After transferring to Maryland last season, Wright is one of four seniors for the Terps this year. The Vancouver native started 44 games for the Terps last season, batting .230 with 25 RBIs and a .319 on-base percentage.

Growing more comfortable at third over the offseason, Wright rounds out the left side of Maryland’s infield. Between Wright and Lee, the left-side pairing’s “intense work ethic” is what makes them a strong duo, according to Vaughn.


Freshman third baseman Maxwell Costes Costes090518_03.jpg

Costes finds himself in a similar situation to the one his old brother Marty experienced when he came in as a freshman several years ago, before he was drafted last year and opted to forgo his final season in College Park.

With third base occupied by a senior leader, Costes likely won’t have immediate opportunities at his natural infield position. But with a depleted outfield after last season, Costes could transition to the outfield just like his brother did for Maryland for three seasons.


Senior shortstop AJ Lee Lee090518_05

Lee started all 54 games at shortstop last season after sliding over from third base, batting .232 with a .375 on-base percentage, 36 walks and 11 hit by pitches. After putting in work in the offseason and spending time after practice taking extra grounders, Lee has the potential for a solid performance his second year as Maryland’s shortstop.

The senior is also one of the three team-appointed captains, according to Vaughn, who added that between Lee and third baseman Taylor Wright, the Terps’ left side has shaped up to be one of the strongest he’s coached.


Sophomore catcher Justin Vought Vought090518_01

After serving as backup to senior Justin Morris last year,  Vought will be the primary catcher for the Terps in 2019. As a freshman, Vought started 20 games and batted .174 with three home runs, 12 hits and a .296 on-base percentage. This season, Vought is also one of three team-appointed captains and the only returning catcher on the roster. 


Freshman catcher Zach Doss Doss082818_02

Doss shined in Game 2 of the Fall World Series this past fall, supporting the Aggies in the first of two comeback wins. Before joining the Terps, Perfect Game ranked Doss No. 66 nationally and No. 1 in Maryland after his time at North Point High School. In his senior season, he batted .593 with four home runs.


Junior catcher Tavan Shahidi Shahidi090518_05

Shahidi is one of the seven transfers Vaughn brought into College Park this season, one that also features a large 11-member freshman class. The junior from Iowa Lakes Community College slashed .336/.445/.611 with 10 home runs, 11 doubles and 43 RBIs before joining the Terps for the 2019 season.


 

Preseason Countdown #11: Biggest holes to fill

11days

The Terps have numerous holes to fill heading into the 2019 season, both offensively and defensively, after losing a handful of starters and key contributors.

Between the seven seniors and two draftees, Maryland lost its top five offensive players, top two relievers and one of its weekend starters. On the defensive side, the Terps lost three of their main outfielders, the entire right side of their infield and their most-used catcher.

Starting with the outfield, the Terps start this season without center fielder Zach Jancarski and fellow outfielders Will Watson and Marty Costes.

During his four years with the Terps, Jancarski provided numerous SportsCenter-worthy plays as the everyday center fielder, including these catches his senior year:

A defensive asset, the center fielder also showed out in the batter’s box, finishing the season tied for second-highest batting average on the team, hitting .279 with the second-most hits. 

Watson, who spent the majority of his time with the Terps in left field, finished his tenure with the Terps in strong fashion after transferring from LSU-Eunice in 2016. In a game against Rutgers last season, Watson homered twice in the third inning, including a grand slam to help Maryland put up 11 runs in the frame on its way to a 17-2 victory.

Right fielder Marty Costes struggled in the box at the start of his junior year, going 9-for-59 (.153) in his first 16 games of 2018. But based on two strong previous seasons, the outfielder was still drafted by the Houston Astros in the 22nd round last summer. 

Moving to the infield, the Terps start 2019 without their entire right side, after first baseman Kevin Biondic graduated and second baseman Nick Dunn was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals.

After transitioning into a two-way player, Biondic came in clutch for Maryland both on the mound and in the box, while also providing the Terps with a consistent first baseman.

The senior batted .279 in his final season with the Terps, leading the team in triples (4) while also leading the team’s bullpen in ERA (2.59). After going undrafted, Biondic signed with the Red Sox as a free agent, joining Boston’s short season Single-A affiliate as a right-handed pitcher.

Dunn led Maryland in eight offensive categories last season, including batting average (.330), home runs (10) and RBIs (39). His absence now leaves the Terps with a huge gap to fill on the right side as their most consistent player.

Starting catcher Justin Morris also graduated after the 2018 season. Like Biondic, he also inked a minor-league deal as a free agent during the summer. The four-year former Terp signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates in late July.

On the mound, the Terps also lost their Friday starter and three relievers. Right-handed starter Taylor Bloom finished the season with the third-lowest ERA amongst regular starters and later signed a professional contract with the Washington Wild Things, an organization in the Independent Frontier League.

Right-handed reliever Ryan Hill also graduated last year. Hill finished the season with the second-lowest ERA among relievers (2.92) and was the only consistent Terps reliever to allow zero home runs.

Preseason Countdown #19: Biggest home run of 2018

19days

The stands at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium were filled with fans during the last weekend of March. A group was cheering loudly for then-senior Kevin Biondic, as the Terps took on the Northwestern Wildcats.

These supporters waved cutouts of Biondic’s face in the air, their own homemade mini “Fatheads” with popsicle sticks taped to the back.

That Sunday, in the rubber match between the two Big Ten foes, Biondic saved the day, the game and the series to lead the Terps to their fourth come-from-behind series win of 2018.

It started with a home run at the plate and ended with him on the mound, as the Terps rallied back to win 4-3. 

When Biondic stepped into the box in the bottom of the eighth inning, Maryland trailed 3-2 with two outs. In the at-bat prior, outfielder Marty Costes singled through the left side, giving Biondic a chance to put the Terps ahead for the first time all game.

But the first baseman was 0-for-3 on the day. That did not last, however, and the senior sent a shot deep, crossing overtop the left-center wall as the stands erupted in cheers. With his home run, Biondic put the Terps up 4-3 heading into the ninth.

But his work for the night was far from over. After transitioning into a two-way player the prior summer, adding pitching to his arsenal, Biondic became a reliable reliever for Maryland. For that reason, head coach Rob Vaughn turned to Biondic for the 27th and final out of the game.

Entering the game with the bases loaded and two outs, Biondic needed to prevent the Wildcats from staging a devastating comeback against the Terps. The right-hander forced a flyout to left field, securing his second save of the season with the help of left fielder Will Watson’s sliding catch.

Not only did Biondic supply the Terps’ game-winning run with his homer, but he also ensured the Wildcats would head home to Chicago with the series loss. The momentum from the two-run shot energized the whole stadium, and Biondic left the field the hero of the day. 

Preseason Countdown #22: Best series of 2018

22days

While the Terps put up five come-from-behind series victories in 2018, Maryland’s late-March series win over the Stetson Hatters stands out from the rest.

Between a breakout offense on Saturday and a complete game shutout on Sunday, Maryland’s ability to overcome a Friday night loss against an eventual NCAA Super Regional participant marks the Terps’ best series win of 2018.

Heading into the weekend series after a lackluster spring break road trip, during which Maryland went 1-4, the Terps needed to get back on track with a series win at home to round out the break.

Stetson ace Logan Gilbert, who was later drafted No. 14 overall by the Seattle Mariners, led the Hatters to their only win that weekend, handling the Terps with ease. Maryland’s bats stayed as cold as the windy 46-degree weather for the Friday matinee, unable to match Stetson’s 12 runs and 14 hits in a 12-3 blowout. 

Something clicked for Maryland overnight, however, and the bats came alive Saturday afternoon when the Terps put up six runs on six hits behind a career-high 12-strikeout start from left-hander Tyler Blohm.

With the series tied at one game apiece, both teams stepped onto the field hungry for the win in Sunday’s rubber match. The tiebreaker turned into a pitchers’ duel, with the Terps’ junior right-hander Hunter Parsons facing off against the Hatters’ Mitchell Senger, both throwing complete games.

Though both offenses remained largely quiet, Maryland’s ability to capitalize on Stetson’s defensive miscues gave the Terps their game-winning run in the fifth inning. Outfielder Richie Schiekofer scored on a passed ball and, an inning later, senior Kevin Biondic scored on a fielder’s choice to give Parsons a slight cushion.

The two runs were all the Terps needed, however, winning the series-deciding match 2-0 in just under two hours. It was Parsons’ first career shutout and second complete game, after dropping the Bryant Bulldogs two weeks prior in a nine-inning marvel.

Stetson went on to win the Atlantic Sun Conference, advancing to the NCAA Super Regionals before being knocked out by North Carolina. Stetson’s postseason success makes Maryland’s series win back in March that much sweeter, rounding it out as the Terps’ best series win of 2018.

Maryland will travel to Florida for an early March series rematch against the Hatters this spring.

Preseason Countdown #25: 2018 Offensive MVP

Before former Maryland second baseman Nick Dunn was drafted in the fifth round of the 2018 MLB Draft, he led Maryland baseball in seven offensive categories during his third and final season with the Terps.

The only player on the team to hit above .300, Dunn posted a career-high .330 average and was the Terps’ most valuable hitter in 2018.  During the final weekend series of the season, Dunn became the 13th player in program history to record 200-career hits. 

The infielder also finished the season with a team-high .419 on-base percentage, 10 home runs, 70 hits and 39 RBIs as the most consistent bat regularly placed in the middle of coach Rob Vaughn’s lineup.

Not known for power early in his Maryland career, Dunn’s double-digit homer surge became a pleasant surprise after hitting six combined long balls in his first two seasons. While his strength steadily grew, his ability to draw walks never changed throughout his three years. He left College Park with 85 walks to just 67 strikeouts.

But while Dunn delivered many vital hits and got on base often, arguably the most memorable hit of his last collegiate season was the one that brought out the most emotion from the typically stoic infielder. 

After Dunn’s walk-off double in the 10th inning secured a comeback win over in-state foe Towson, the Terps stormed the field and mobbed Dunn as he rounded the bases. Former two-way player Kevin Biondic recalled Dunn cracking a slight and uncommon smile as his teammates swarmed around him. 

Prior to his breakout junior season, Dunn hit over .300 and was named the playoff co-MVP of the Cape Cod Baseball League champion Brewster Whitecaps, whom he spent two seasons with.

After showcasing himself through his stellar summer performances and team-leading offensive power with the Terps last spring, the St. Louis Cardinals drafted Dunn with the 153rd overall pick. His selection marked the fifth straight year the Terps had a top-five round pick in the MLB draft.