Maryland baseball destroys Rutgers, 17-2

The bottom half of the third inning against Rutgers on Saturday will go down in Maryland lore as one of the best in the history of the program. And senior Will Watson’s performance will live on forever in the record books.

In the second game of his last series in College Park, Watson tied a school-record with eight RBI on the day. The majority of that came in the third inning, hitting two home runs and knocking in seven runs to lead the Terrapins to 17-2 victory.

Not to be lost among the offensive showcase that Maryland put on was the outstanding performance of starting pitcher Taylor Bloom. In his last outing ever on the mound at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium, the senior delivered a masterful gem, hurling seven strong and holding the Scarlet Knights to just one earned run on six hits.

“I just wanted to give the fans a good start, the team a good start,” Bloom said following his outing.

A double from Dan DiGeorgio to kick off the game was not how Bloom wanted things to start. And when Mike Nyisztor ripped the very next pitch towards the third base line, it seemed as though it could be the makings of a disastrous outing.

But Taylor Wright made a diving stop to hold the runner at second base and get the out, and Bloom picked off DiGeorgio soon thereafter to take away the scoring threat. He then struck out the next batter to close out the first inning without any damage.

AJ Lee doubled to start off the bottom half for Maryland, and some good baserunning allowed him to score on a passed ball. After Marty Costes made his way to third base following a walk, Watson brought him home on sacrifice fly in his first at-bat of the game.

In the top of the third, Rutgers got its first run on the board. Luke Bowerbank sent a seemingly innocuous ground ball to second base, but Nick Dunn couldn’t field it cleanly. That put a runner on base, and it came back to hurt the Terps. DiGeorgio delivered his second double in as many at-bats to cut Maryland’s lead to one, but Bloom stranded him on base to leave with the inning with the lead.

Marty Costes doubled with one out in the bottom of the third, and Kevin Biondic singled to put runners on the corners for Watson. At that point, the Terps held a 2-1 lead and were looking to add some insurance runs for Bloom. But the senior left fielder wanted more, ripping a line drive over the wall in left-center field to give Maryland a four run advantage.

“He’s swinging the bat with a lot of confidence right now,” coach Rob Vaughn said of Watson. “Will just comes out and keeps working every day. You’re seeing the fruits of his labor right now.”

The Terrapins didn’t stop there. Seven of the next eight batters reached base, sending Watson to the plate once again. This time around, he stepped into the batter’s box with the bases loaded and his team sporting a 9-1 lead.

“With runners in scoring position, you’re just trying to get a good pitch to hit,” Watson said about heading to the plate for the second time in the inning. “Once you get one over the plate, you have to be moving the barrel and good things usually happen.”

On an 0-1 pitch, Watson drove a long fly ball to left-center field, sending outfielder Kevin Blum to the warning track. Blum followed the ball as far as he could, scaling the wall once he ran out of room. But his efforts were futile, and it was a grand slam for Watson.

That was the senior’s second home run, combining for seven RBI in the third inning alone. He sits in second place in NCAA history for most in a single inning, and Terps now led by a score of 13-1.

“We’re having so much fun right now, we’re just trying to keep it rolling,” Watson said.

Bloom did his part to keep the Terps ahead – the senior went above and beyond to quiet the Scarlet Knights the rest of the way. The tops of the next three frames were all scoreless, as Bloom used a combination of the strikeout and the soft-contact routes to silence Rutgers.

Despite such a large number already on the scoreboard, Maryland kept putting runs across. The fourth inning saw AJ Lee and Nick Dunn knock runners in on a single and sacrifice fly, respectively. Then in the sixth, Dunn plated another run with a second sacrifice fly.

Bloom’s only real mistake came on the first pitch to Chris Folinusz to kick off the seventh, as the first baseman lifted a fly ball over the wall to get Rutgers back on the board. The bases became loaded with one out, but he got Blum to roll a pair to close out his outing. Elliot Zoellner came on to finish off the final two innings, and he did so without incident to complete the blowout victory.

Maryland still has some work to do if it is to make the postseason, but if Saturday is any indication, the Terrapins are up to the task to get the job done. These seniors don’t want to quit playing just yet.

“For most of us, this is our last time playing baseball,” said Bloom. “We’re just laying it all on the line.”

Pro Terps Update: 4/5/18

While Maryland baseball’s season is in full swing, pro baseball is just getting started. Major League Baseball season is a week old, and the Minor League season begins Thursday afternoon. Let’s take a look at where the former Terrapins stand as baseball season fully gets underway.

LHP Brett Cecil, St. Louis Cardinals (MLB)

In the past few years, Cecil has been the only former Terp to be a mainstay in the majors. After spending the first eight years of his career in the American League East with the Toronto Blue Jays, he is now in his second season with the St. Louis Cardinals. Cecil has made only one appearance so far in 2018, facing two batters and allowing one hit. He was put on the 10-day DL with a shoulder strain shortly thereafter.

Cecil’s 2017 campaign was filled with ups and downs, but his end of the year stats were solid. He finished with a 3.88 ERA in 67.1 innings over 73 appearances. And while his earned run average may appear high, his FIP of 3.26 suggests he pitched better than the numbers indicate.

LHP Adam Kolarek, Durham Bulls (Tampa Bay Rays, AAA)

Originally drafted by the New York Mets, Kolarek spent six years in their farm system before spending the last two seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays system. He spent the majority of that time with the Bulls, but 2017 saw Kolarek make his major league debut over the summer. He was invited to MLB spring training, but was assigned to the minor league camp in mid-March.

Kolarek was lethal in AAA last season. In 43.2 innings, he pitched to an astounding 1.65 ERA and a 9.48 K/9 ratio. And while that success allowed him to be brought up in June, it didn’t translate well. In 12 appearances (8.1 IP) with the Rays, Kolarek got knocked around a little bit and ending up with a 6.48 ERA. He was then designated for assignment by the Rays, but ultimately came back to the organization for the 2018 season.

Not only did the left-hander strike out more than a batter per inning last season, but he was an absolute ground ball machine.

OF Lamonte Wade, Chattanooga Lookouts (Minnesota Twins, AA)

Listed as the No. 13 prospect in the Twins organization by MLB.com, Wade has been very impressive in his time in the minor leagues. A ninth-round draft pick out of Maryland in 2015, it seems as though Minnesota may have gotten a steal with the outfielder. He spent 2015 and 2016 in varying classes of A-ball, and was promoted to Double-A for 2017 and saw great success there. That’s where he’ll be to start this season, although if he continues his level of production another promotion could be in store.

The biggest skill Wade has demonstrated so far in his pro career has been his plate discipline. In almost three years with the organization, he’s walked more often than striking out, while posting a career OBP over .400. Last year, in 519 plate appearances, Wade hit for a .292 average and maintained a very high .397 OBP. And despite a total of just seven homers, he managed to knock in 67 runs and score 74.

2B Brandon Lowe, Montgomery Biscuits (Tampa Bay Rays, AA)

Like Kolarek, Lowe has found a home in the Tampa Bay Rays organization. Drafted in the third round of the 2015 draft, Lowe was promoted to Double-A midway through the 2017 season after dominating High-A ball with the Charlotte Stone Crabs. With Charlotte, Lowe hit .311 with a .927 OPS and 34 doubles en route to Florida State League MVP honors. Lowe’s performance after his promotion was more pedestrian (.253 batting average, .270 OBP, 8 XBH in 24 games), but the infielder still earned playing time in big league camp this spring, where he launched a home run.

Lowe will start 2018 with the Biscuits and look to continue to move on up in the organization. He is currently the Rays’ No. 15 prospect.

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

Now entering his fifth season of professional baseball, Stinnett missed most of the 2017 season, but impressed when he was on the field. In 14.2 innings with the Smokies at the Double-A level Stinnett dominated, pitching to a 0.61 ERA, allowing just 6 hits and striking out 14 batters. In 22.2 total innings across three levels last year, the 25-year-old right-hander posted a 1.19 ERA.

RHP Mike Shawaryn, Portland Sea Dogs (Boston Red Sox, AA)

The No. 9 prospect in the Red Sox organization has received an offseason promotion. After throwing 53.1 innings with the Greenville Drive (A) and 81.1 with the Salem Red Sox, Shawaryn will begin the 2018 season as a starter in Portland’s rotation. His ERA was a little lofty last year (3.88 with Greenville, 3.76 in Salem), but he impressed with high strikeout rates, whiffing 169 hitters in 134.2 innings of work. The Terps’ all-time leader in wins and strikeouts has done nothing but shine in a year and a half so far as a pro, and expect Shawaryn to continue his fast rise through the Red Sox system.

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

Robinson possesses the skillset needed to be a high-quality pitcher. The lefty dazzled in 28 appearances last year for the Class-A Cedar Rapids Kernels with a 2.84 ERA and an impressive 12.08 K/9 ratio. His control wasn’t great, as evidenced by his 15 walks in 38.0 innings, but Robinson did a great job of limiting the potential damage extra baserunners could do.

After his promotion to High-A, Robinson struggled with his control, posting a 6.75 BB/9 ratio in his 17.1 innings of work, which led to a higher 4.67 ERA. He still had his electric “stuff” though, whiffing 27 batters for the Miracle, where he will start the 2018 season.

RHP Brian Shaffer, Kane County Cougars (Arizona Diamondbacks, A)

Now the No. 24 prospect in the Diamondbacks organization, Shaffer had a terrific debut season in rookie ball and Low-A. Although he only threw 24 innings between the two levels, he pitched to a 3.38 ERA while averaging over a strikeout an inning. Arizona must have liked what they saw, because Shaffer will open the season with the Kane County Cougars, their Class-A affiliate. 2018 will be his first full season in the pros, after tossing 108 innings for the Terps last spring.

SS Kevin Smith, Lansing Lugnuts (Toronto Blue Jays, A)

After hitting well in rookie ball with a .271 average, 25 doubles and 43 RBI in just 283 plate appearances, Smith will start the 2018 season in A-ball. Last year’s fourth-round pick showed 20-20 potential with his eight homers and nine stolen bases in the short season, and thanks to his power potential and solid defense he enters this season as the Blue Jays’ No. 19 prospect.

 

RHP Ryan Selmer, New York Mets organization

Drafted in the 31st round last June, Selmer impressed at the rookie level for the Kingsport Mets. In his 21 professional innings thus far, he was able to post a 2.14 ERA, albeit with a lofty 1.52 WHIP. He walked 11 batters and hit three more, but thanks to a 57.6 ground ball rate he stranded over 80 percent of baserunners. The Mets have yet to release where the right-hander will be this season, but all signs point to him joining the Short-Season A Brooklyn Cyclones.

RHP Jamal Wade, Seattle Mariners organization

Wade came out firing in his first pro season, posting a 1.83 ERA in 19.2 innings in the Arizona League. With a 12.36 K/9 rate and a 3.20 BB/9, he showcased his skill for the Mariners front office to see. Like Selmer, Wade did a fantastic job of stranding baserunners, as evidenced by his 79.0 left on base percentage. This summer, the right-hander is likely headed to the Everett AquaSox, the Mariners’ Short-Season A affiliate.

RHP Jose Cuas and LHP Jake Drossner, Milwaukee Brewers organization

After struggling at the plate in his three years of pro ball, Cuas’s career is taking a sharp turn. The former corner infielder hit just .187 across two levels of A-Ball last year, and in the offseason it was announced that Cuas is transitioning to the mound. His destination is yet to be released. Drossner is also in the Brewers’ system but will be sidelined this year due to injury.