Maryland wins rubber match, takes down Northwestern 10-5

Even before the rain started to come down, Maryland’s pitchers struggled with command. Starter Nick Dean and relievers Nick Robinson and Nigel Belgrave combined to issue eight walks, a few of them proving costly. Three free passes in the top of the seventh allowed Northwestern to take its first lead of the afternoon, going ahead, 4-3. 

The answer came quickly. Immediately, the Terps loaded the bases. Freshman Ian Petrutz came to the plate with the bases full and no outs. He spiked a ball into the infield turf, giving the Wildcats’ second baseman a tough play. The fielder fumbled, unable to get a glove or hand on it as the rain grew stronger. 

The run tied the contest and sparked a rally. Maryland scored three more in the inning to regain a lead it wouldn’t relinquish. The score ultimately grew to 10-5, giving the Terps their fifth straight weekend series victory. 

Dean, pitching for the first time on Sunday, settled into the role the way Coach Rob Vaughn hoped he would. Although he worked slow, allowing several counts to go deep and issuing more free passes than strikeouts, he held Northwestern scoreless in the early innings. 

Troy Schreffler Jr. second inning solo home run, his seventh of the season, was it as far as offense went. Through the opening four innings, his run was the source of the only scoring. 

“The past few weeks I’ve been struggling a little bit,” Schreffler Jr. said. “I wanted to get back in the action.”

Wildcats starter Grant Comstock worked nearly as efficiently as Dean did through four, but Maryland jumped on him in the fifth. A Bobby Zmarzlak single scored Schreffler, who led the inning with a double. 

An inning later, Luke Shliger began with a double, tagged on a fly ball to advance to third and scored on a Lorusso sacrifice fly. The small ball approach gave Maryland, the Big Ten’s leading team in home runs, a 3-1 lead.

After loading the bases in relief of Dean, Maryland reliever Nick Robinson stared down the heart of Northwestern’s lineup in the sixth inning. Leading by two runs, a one-out groundout scored one and cut that advantage in half. Again facing the bases loaded with Maryland’s lead in danger, Robinson induced another ground ball. 

This one was stung, unlike the prior hitter’s soft grounder to second base. This one went to third baseman Lorusso. On one hop, he threw his glove at the ball, spun around allowing his momentum to take him, and threw flat-footed to a fully extended Maxwell Costes at first base to keep the lead alive. 

In the bottom half of the sixth, it was Lorusso’s turn to come through in the clutch with a runner in scoring position. After Luke Shliger doubled to leadoff the frame and eventually advanced to third, a long fly ball to the centerfield warning track was enough to extend the lead to 4-1. 

When Maryland’s bullpen blew up an inning later, Vaughn called on David Falco Jr. to halt the slide. After cleaning up the mess Belgrave handed him, Falco came back for the eighth, where a strikeout and two weak balls in play ended the inning quickly. 

With the rain impacting his ability to grip the ball and move on the muddy mound, Falco Jr. was forced to adjust. 

“Just simplify my mechanics the best I can,” he said. “You don’t want to get too crazy, you start sliding.” 

After a three-run bottom of the eighth, Sean Heine killed a small Northwestern rally before it could linger.

“I talked to David and Heine both yesterday after the game,” Vaughn said. “Let’s just call it was it is, they were bad yesterday and I told them that. If we have another opportunity we’re going right back to you guys.” 

Ramsey’s perfect game propels Maryland to 13-0 win over Northwestern

Most perfect games and no hitters feature a signature defensive play, a masterpiece put on in the late innings that keeps intact whatever it is the pitcher is chasing, gives onlookers a quick scare and gets remembered. 

That came with two outs in the eighth. Maryland starter Ryan Ramsey had sent 23 straight Northwestern hitters down without any reaching base. After a questionable call kept the at bat alive, a ball was stung over the head of right fielder Troy Schreffler. Tracking back, he leaped with his glove extended above him and found the sailing baseball. 

Twenty-four down, three to go. 

Entering the ninth, Ramsey could sense the energy. The fans who remained late Friday night grew quiet. His teammates and defense that surrounded him had stayed clear of the junior left hander. 

“He was sitting right next to me and I wasn’t going to say a word to him,” Chris Alleyne said.

“Nobody said a word about it,” head coach Rob Vaughn said. “If they would have, I’d have sent them home or cut their scholarship or something.” 

Ramsey started the inning with a fly ball to right field caught by Schreffler. Then, a strikeout, his 10th of the game. To end it, a ground ball to third base. Ramsey turned to watch Nick Lorusso field it and throw to Maxwell Costes.

Seconds later, teammates spilled out of the dugout and rushed in from the outfield to meet him for celebration at the mound, a moment Alleyne said there’s nothing comparable to. Costes made sure to find and secure the ball, which now laid on the turf, that was featured in the final out of Maryland’s first perfect game since 1959.

“Overwhelming,” Ramsey said, noting that his cleat slipped off during the moment of excitement. 

For one night, Ryan Ramsey was perfect. Alongside an offense that went nuclear, Maryland took down Northwestern in the weekend series opener, 13-0. 

The Maryland offense, which led the Big Ten in home runs entering the night, added to its lead with four long balls. They were all solo shots, and the first came from the conference’s home run leader Alleyne in his first plate appearance. An inning later, Costes and Bobby Zmarzlak went back-to-back. 

Around this time, Ramsey did something he never does and hates doing. He checked his stat line. 

In the third, Maryland’s offense pounced on the Wildcats’ young pitching staff. Five hits, two walks and a wild pitch allowed the Terps to grow their lead by five runs, now leading by nine. After a quiet fourth, Maryland added three more on another solo home run, this one from Lorusso, then two two-out doubles from Schreffler and Costes along with a Zmarzlak triple to make it 12-0. 

Quickly, the Terps held a lead that Ramsey held at bay. He collected whiffs on his offspeed pitches and weak contact to cruise through the Wildcats’ offense. 

“A lot of changeups,” Ramsey said. “Mostly fastballs and changeups then mixing in… a slider.” 

Through three innings, he collected three strikeouts on 32 pitches. After four, five punchouts on 43 pitches. Through six, Ramsey’s pitch count sat at 70. A 16 pitch seventh inning had him at 86 before the final two innings. 

Vaughn told a reliever to get up and warm in the bullpen in the event Ramsey’s perfect game bid came to a premature end. 

“Well, if something happens, should we go to [Will] Glock?,” pitching coach Mike Morrison asked Vaughn, dancing around the word the team was avoiding all night. 

“Yes,” Vaughn replied, scared to use the word himself. “That was the end of the conversation.”

There were some scares: a few hard hit balls to the outfield, some ground balls that forced infielders to range far to their lefts and rights and complete difficult throws and a couple of counts that reached three balls.

Still, Ramsey remained perfect. Pitching on Friday night for the first time this season after Vaughn reconfigured the order of his weekend rotation, Ramsey used the confidence his coaches showed in him to his advantage. He acknowledged pitching under the lights felt different than the Saturday afternoon sun. 

With a 13-run lead, Ramsey entered the ninth prepared to do what he’d done so easily all night. He worked quickly, fooled hitters and induced weak contact. Even quicker than Ramsey could retire an opposing batter, the dugout and defense jolted to join Ramsey near the mound after the final out. 

“A night like tonight, you don’t ever dream of nights like that,” Vaughn said. “I might coach the rest of my career and not have another one.”

Series Preview: Northwestern Wildcats

Winners of 13 of its last 16 games, No. 23 Maryland enters this weekend’s series against Northwestern as one of the country’s hottest teams. In a similar standing in the RPI leaderboard (24th), the Terps have positioned themselves nicely for a favorable postseason draw. Some projections have Maryland hosting a regional, something it has never been able to do and an accomplishment Coach Rob Vaughn desires but won’t let it distract the team. 

Prior to its 18-10 win over Navy on Tuesday at home, Maryland took two of three at Illinois last weekend. After losing the series opener by a lopsided score of 19-1, the program’s largest margin of defeat since joining the Big Ten, the Terps crawled back and took games two and three in a Saturday doubleheader. Luke Shliger and Chris Alleyne combined to drive in seven of Maryland’s 13 runs in the afternoon battle, whereas the middle of the order came through in the evening contest. Matt Shaw, Max Costes and Troy Schreffler scored six of the seven total runs. 

Northwestern (19-17, 6-6)

Last season

In a shortened 2021 schedule against only conference opponents, Northwestern finished 15-21 including four losses in as many games to Maryland in two separate two-game series. 

This season

While Northwestern currently sits above the .500 mark, it’s a measly 6-14 away from Evanston, Illinois this season. At seventh in the Big Ten standings, the Wildcats sit almost perfectly average in several statistics. They’re seventh in team batting average, fifth in home runs and seventh in on-base percentage. Northwestern pitchers sport the fourth-lowest ERA in the conference and have given up the seventh-fewest long balls. 

Hitters to watch

Outfielder Ethan O’Donnell and infielders Anthony Calarco, Jay Beshears and Patrick Herrera all tout batting averages north of .300 and an OPS of over .900, the only Wildcats who have that distinction. O’Donnell leads the team in home runs with nine with catcher Stephen Hrustich trailing just behind with eight. 

O’Donnell, Calarco and Beshears typically go 1-2-3 in the Northwestern batting order, a potential source of early torment for the Maryand pitching staff. 

Pitchers to watch

Outside of its weekend rotation, Northwestern’s most used and best reliever this season has been right-handed junior Coby Moe. His 3.67 ERA and 1.44 WHIP are both fourth best of the Wildcats’ entire staff. He’s thrown 27 innings to date this year.

From there, the bullpen drops off considerably. Only one other pitcher who has logged at least 10 innings has an ERA below four. Four relievers who’ve garnered considerable innings bring ERA’s over seven into this weekend’s series. 

Moe should be Northwestern’s go-to option out of the bullpen again this weekend, but Maryland’s best chance to win will come through getting to the rest of the Wildcats’ thin bullpen. 

Probable starting pitcher matchups 

Friday 6:30 p.m.

Jr. LHP Ryan Ramsey (7-0, 2.77 ERA) vs. Fr. LHP Sean Sullivan (5-0, 2.68 ERA)

vs.

MBN’s Matt Levine reported Thursday that Nick Dean was going to slide into the Sunday spot in the weekend rotation, likely due to his recent struggles along with Ryan Ramsey and Jason Savacool’s strong recent outings. Ramsey now moves up to the Friday night role, and deservedly so; He’s allowed more than three runs in a start just once this season. His dominance has allowed the Maryland pitching staff to not skip a beat despite Dean’s recent shortcomings.

Saturday 2:00 p.m.

So. RHP Jason Savacool (7-2, 2.63 ERA) vs. Gs. RHP Michael Fairnelli (4-4, 3.59 ERA)

vs.

Savacool has been one of the conference’s, if not the country’s, best hurlers in recent weeks. He’s lasted at least seven innings in each of his last four starts and has let up three or fewer runs in five of his last seven. He’s been dominant for Maryland on Sundays, and now moves up to Saturdays.

Fairnelli has been a workhorse for the Wildcats. He leads the team in innings pitched, has worked at least into the sixth inning in all but two starts and has gone at least seven innings in four of his last five games. 

Sunday 1:00 p.m.

Jr. RHP Nick Dean (3-2, 4.53 ERA) vs. Fr. RHP Grant Comstock (0-3, 6.20 ERA)

vs.

Dean’s last start at Illinois was a continuation of what’s been a disappointing second half to his junior season. He allowed five runs in four innings to the Illini and has now let in nine runs over his last 10 innings. Since returning from an arm injury in mid-March, the Big Ten’s preseason pitcher of the year has allowed four or more runs in half of his starts. Sunday is another chance to right the ship, but he’s running out of opportunities with just a few weeks remaining before the postseason. 

Maryland battles through rain to top George Mason, 8-5

Maxwell Costes, just nine home runs away from the all-time program record, walked to the plate with Nick Lorusso on first base. On the third pitch of the at-bat, the senior first baseman swung and launched a home run that nearly reached the Varsity Team House beyond the left field wall. 

He watched it fly and flipped his bat after it cleared the wall and stayed fair, something that’s become a standard for Costes long balls. The two-run homer capped a three run sixth inning for Maryland to retake a lead that held to win, 8-5. 

Facing the Patriots for the second time in seven days, a light rain in College Park throughout the afternoon hampered the Terps during pregame warmups and cast doubt over whether the game – which had already been moved up from 6:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. – could be completed. 

The rain let up in the second inning. Still, the Terps’ infielders felt the effects. 

“It’s just wet turf, so you’re always a little more cautious,” said Head Coach Rob Vaughn. “But those guys are too good. We got to be clean with the throws.”

Starting pitcher Logan Ott, taking the mound for his sixth midweek start this season, cruised through the opening three innings. He allowed no hits and issued just one walk. 

After the walk reached second base, a towering fly ball with one out came as the first true threat to score. Center fielder Chris Alleyne raced back to the warning track to make the grab, then threw a laser to beat a tagging runner to third base. 

“He’s our captain, that’s what he’s supposed to do,” said Vaughn.

After Troy Schreffler Jr. plated Maryland’s first score with a run-scoring single in the third, the Terps added two more in the following inning when Lorusso brought in Riley Langerman after his leadoff double. Alleyne scored in the next at-bat on a passed ball to take a 3-0 advantage. 

Ott, Maryland’s usual starting pitcher for midweek games, has worked on getting stretched out to be able to stay in games longer through his first handful of starts this season. After an offseason injury limited how much he was able to do that over the winter, it’s taken some time to get him extended. 

Through four innings, it looked like Ott had finally reached where Vaughn was waiting on him to. He carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning, but George Mason pounced on the sophomore left hander from there. With five hits in the inning, the Patriots brought four runs across to take their first lead. 

“It’s hard to get through a lineup two or three times,” said Vaughn. “They made an approach adjustment. Some of it is bad breaks. Some of that was just being a little unlucky.”

That score held into the bottom of the sixth. There, Maryland’s offense did something it’s struggled to do consistently for the better part of the season: produce in the middle innings. 

Alleyne was brought home for a second time courtesy of a Matt Shaw sacrifice fly out. The next batter, Costes, simultaneously gave Maryland a two-run lead and inched closer to the home run record. 

“What could be better than leaving your senior year with that?” said Costes regarding the record. “Me and my older brother talk all the time about what’s the coolest thing in sports. To keep it honest, hitting a home run might be the coolest.”

George Mason cut the deficit to one run in the seventh with a RBI-single, but Lorusso answered with one of his own to stretch the lead back to two runs in the eighth. 

After adding one more on a bases-loaded Kevin Keister walk, Sean Heine shut the door in the ninth to give Maryland its second win over George Mason this season. 

Midweek Preview: George Mason

Fresh off a series win over Penn State this weekend in College Park, Maryland shifts its focus now to George Mason. The Terps defeated the Patriots in Fairfax, Virginia, 3-1, on March 30 in their second midweek contest last week. 

Matt Shaw and Bobby Zmarzlak led the way for Maryland offensively a week ago, each collecting two hits. In the low-scoring affair, starting pitcher Logan Ott shut down the opposition with five scoreless innings on just three hits allowed. The Terps’ bullpen took the baton and shut the door on the George Mason offense with David Falco, Nick Robinson and Sean Heine combining for one earned run over four innings. 

George Mason Patriots (9-17)

Last season: George Mason found itself near the bottom of the Atlantic-10 conference standings last season. With Massachusetts (.158) being the only team to finish with a worse conference winning percentage, the Patriots ended 2021 with a .292 winning percentage, finishing last in the conference’s South Division. The Patriots’ hitting was middle of the pack, slashing .266/.353/.386, but it was the pitching that had them falling into the gutter of the Atlantic-10. The staff’s 6.66 ERA was narrowly better than St. Bonaventure’s conference-worst 6.76, and opposing batters nearly hit .300 against them.

This season: Roughly a third of the way through the season, George Mason finds itself in a similar spot to last year. Only three conference opponents have fewer wins. The Patriots are near league-average in almost every team statistic. They rank sixth in batting average, seventh in on-base percentage and eighth in ERA. 

Hitters to watch: First baseman Scott Morgan leads the George Mason offense, first among qualified hitters in OPS and home runs. Leadoff hitter and second baseman Brett Stallings leads all regular starters with a .333 average. 

Pitchers to watch: George Mason has just one pitcher with an ERA below five, its Friday starter Jared Lyons. Out of the bullpen, the Patriots deploy just one hurler who has not made a start with an ERA below six. Maryland’s offense has been known to chase starters and get to bullpens early in games, where it typically takes advantage. Look for the Terps to do the same again. 

Probable pitching matchup

Logan Ott vs. TBD

Ott has been Maryland’s primary midweek starter this season. Fourth on the team in innings pitched, the sophomore touts a 5.24 ERA in six starts, all but one in midweek games. With just one game this week before the weekend series against Minnesota, Ott should get the ball again today. 

George Mason has deployed a number of different midweek starters this season. In last week’s matchup, Britt Yount got the start and allowed one earned run over three innings. In its previous two midweek contests, Danny Hosley and Chad Gartland started on the mound. Hosley tossed seven scoreless innings in a win over Coppin State, while Gartland went just three innings in a loss to Georgetown. 

How Nick Dean’s repertoire turned him into Maryland’s ace and leader

Nick Dean arrived at Maryland in 2019 like most freshman pitchers. He didn’t throw particularly hard, wasn’t motivated in the weight room and lacked the necessary confidence in himself. 

Pitching coach Mike Morrison, a former pitcher and College World Series winner at Coastal Carolina who also spent three seasons in the minor leagues, said that’s normal for young pitchers and takes time to develop. Sometimes, he said, it never does. 

“It’s hard for guys coming into college to understand the importance of the weight room when you’ve always been the best player on your team,” Morrison said. “You’ve got to be the best player in the country, no longer the best player on your team, to get paid.” 

Morrison was brought to College Park this offseason, so he hasn’t been alongside Dean through the entirety of his Maryland career. Head coach Rob Vaughn has. 

“We all believed in Nick Dean more than Nick Dean believed in Nick Dean when he first got here,” Vaughn said. “I’ve just seen Nicky grow so much.”

Where Dean has grown the most, Vaughn and Morrison believe, is his ability to mix his four pitches effectively. Dean’s repertoire of a low-90s fastball, mid-80s cutter, high-70s changeup and low-70s breaking ball is unlike any at the college level because he feels confident using any of them in any game situation. 

“There’s a bunch of college kids that have [four pitch repertoires] but they don’t have the confidence to throw them in any count,” Morrison said. “Anytime you have options, it gives you a chance. When all four of them are on, it’s dangerous. You’re kind of like ‘Oh God, that guy’s the best pitcher in the country’, which he might be.”

Dean wasn’t always as confident in his pitches as he is now. In years past, he felt more comfortable throwing some pitches to righties than to lefties and vice versa. He primarily relied on the changeup as a crutch, the curveball was used more as a pitch that can be landed for easy strikes when behind in a count and the fastball was down in the 80s. 

Dean’s newfound interest in the weight room and getting stronger was what led to the increase in fastball velocity, Morrison said. 

“He knows that in order to get drafted highly, he’s going to have to add a few miles an hour,” Morrison said. “I always make jokes that he’s got some definition in his biceps now and he’s starting to look bigger. He actually enjoys going in the weight room now. He’s bigger, he’s thicker, and it’s exciting.”

The increase in fastball velocity has helped Dean’s other pitches, too. The changeup appears even faster — teammate Troy Schreffler Jr. said he has yet to hit Dean’s changeup — and the breaking pitches are more difficult to pick up on. 

The breaking pitch, typically a curveball, has been the pitch Dean’s worked on the most since the end of last season. After his wrist injury that forced him to miss the 2021 postseason, he adjusted his grip in an attempt to make the spin tighter and get more whiffs. 

“The breaking ball, once I eventually could get back to throwing, I just focused on switching up the grip a little bit and having a little tighter spin to it, because before it was pretty loopy and you’d see it right out of the hand,” Dean told reporters after his scoreless seven inning outing against Campbell in February. “So [I’ve made] some big steps that way.” 

Morrison yearned to see the curveball become a pitch Dean felt confident using with two strikes. The biggest change has been the arm speed used when throwing it, which has helped it become a put-away pitch to both right and left-handed hitters and turns it almost into a slider with two strikes, the first year pitching coach said.  

“We talked a lot in the fall about how it doesn’t need to be the epitome of that pitch, like it can be landed for strikes but also you can rip it and get swing and misses with it,” Morrison said. “When you’re that good with your fastball like Dean is, any other secondary pitches are going to develop into a plus pitch. It’s all about him staying tight with his arm and throwing it with aggression. It’s just a matter of arm speeding the heck out of it instead of trying to land it for a strike.”

Perhaps Dean’s best pitch is the changeup, and it’s been that way since high school. At Bensalem High School in Pennsylvania, he switched from a circle-change grip to a more traditional one. 

That change has taken him from an under-recruited high schooler to the preseason pitcher of the year in a power conference entering his third season. 

“In high school, I honestly didn’t have a really good feel for it because I went just a standard circle change, but I slid my thumb to the bottom of the ball and that was just the deal breaker for me,” Dean said. “It really helped it a lot.”

Naturally, Dean began to depend on the pitch a little too much for Morrison and Vaughn’s liking. They got to work to help him correct that. 

“There’s no need to show guys extremely early and over and over again because, like any pitch in baseball, if you continue to use it it’s going to become more hittable,” Morrison said. “It’s harder to throw 50 really good changeups, but you can throw 30 of them at a really high level.”

Part of Dean’s growth has been the aforementioned development of mixing his pitches better and expanding the spots he’s comfortable using them in. Like the curveball, the changeup has taken a step forward, too. 

Coinciding with an uptick in fastball velocity, Dean’s changeup has become one of the best pitches at the college level, and a pitch Morrison trusts to get out of a jam. 

“I tell him every Friday night: ‘when in doubt, shake to your changeup’,” Morrison said. “It’s never the wrong pitch because it is so good. A good changeup, it’s just something guys just have. It’s not really a coachable thing. He almost likes throwing it more to right handed hitters, which is completely blasphemous to me. I’ve never even seen that. It makes it relatively easy for me to call pitches on Friday nights. I always tell him: ‘I can’t call the wrong pitch, you can just not execute it correctly.’ He always loves that.”

Becoming the team’s ace doesn’t come without its responsibilities. One of which is mentoring younger pitchers. 

Dean, Morrison and Saturday and Sunday starters Ryan Ramsey and Jason Savacool share a group text where they exchange tips, advice and pitching secrets. 

“Those guys genuinely care about each other,” Morrison said.  

The real mentoring comes during practice and bullpen sessions. Dean – who Morrison said is not a vocal leader, rather a lead by example type – is watched closely during practices by Ramsey, Savacool and younger pitchers. 

“They want to throw hella changeups all the time now,” Morrison said. “It makes it fun for me when arguably the best pitcher in the program is someone that all your younger guys are trying to learn from. That’s the dream kid to coach.”

Maryland falls to DBU, 5-2, drop series

(RECAP COURTESY OF MARYLAND ATHLETICS)

DALLAS, TX – No. 22 Maryland baseball fell to Dallas Baptist, 5-2, on Sunday afternoon in the rubber match-up between two top-15 RPI teams at Horner Ballpark. The Patriots (15-8), the No. 1-rated team in the RPI, captured two of three games in the series as Maryland (18-5) lost its first weekend series in nearly a year. 

Maxwell Costes and Kevin Keister accounted for the Terps’ two runs with solo home runs. Luke Shliger went 3-for-4 to lead the Terps in hits. Maryland loaded the bases in the top of the ninth inning with the go-ahead run at the plate, but Chris Alleyne lined out to finish the game. 

On the mound, Jason Savacool threw six innings, allowing eight hits and five runs, four earned. 

Breaking Down The Action

  • Costes got the scoring started with a solo home run in the second inning, giving the Terps the lead for the third time in as many games against the Patriots.  
  • The Patriots got two runs back in the third inning on an RBI triple from Jace Grady and a subsequent RBI groundout from Andrew Benefield.
  • Dallas Baptist added a run in the fourth inning on a Grady RBI single to make it 3-1. 
  • The hosts tacked on two more runs in the sixth inning on a Nate Rombach solo home run and a Benefield run-scoring single to bring home Grady, making it 5-1.
  • Keith Keister’s two-run homer in the seventh, cut the Terps’ deficit to 5-2. 
  • Maryland rallied in the top of the ninth as Bobby Zmarzlak and Luke Shliger walked and Sean Lane singled bringing Chris Alleyne to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs. But The Terps weren’t able to finish the comeback.  

Costes Crushing It

  • Costes’s home run was his ninth of the year and 33rd of his career, moving him into sole possession of third place all-time in Maryland baseball history for career home runs. 
  • The senior from Baltimore now only trails Paul Schagler with 43 from 1984-87 and Will Frazier with 34 from 2002-05 on Maryland’s all-time list. 

Notable Numbers

  • 2: Keister hit his second home run of the season in the seventh.
  • 5: Shliger has hits in five games in a row and is hitting 11-of-22 (.500) over that span. 
  • 6: Savacool has thrown at least six innings in every start this season. 
  • 9Nick Lorusso extended his hitting streak to nine games with a single in the eighth. 
  • 9: Costes leads the Terps with nine home runs, he also now has 23 RBIs, second on the team.  

Up Next

  • The Terps return home to College Park and welcome the Towson Tigers to Bob ‘Turtle’ Smith Stadium on March 29, at 4 p.m. 
  • The game will be broadcast on B1G+ and the Maryland Baseball Network.

Maryland tops DBU, 11-5, evens weekend series

(RECAP COURTESY OF MARYLAND ATHLETICS)

DALLAS, TX – The No. 22 Maryland baseball team bounced back with a dominating 11-5 victory over Dallas Baptist on Saturday afternoon at Horner Ballpark. The Terps (18-4) are now a perfect 4-0 after losses this season, after dropping Friday’s contest to the Patriots, the No. 1-rated team in college baseball’s RPI. 

Matt Shaw was brilliant in both the batters box and the field, hitting a pair of two-run home runs, a double, and making several athletic plays at shortstop. He finished the day 3-for-4 with 4 RBI and three runs scored.

Chris Alleyne blasted his seventh home run of the season as part of a 3-for-6 day with two RBIs. 

Luke ShligerNick Lorusso, Troy Schreffler Jr., Kevin Keister and Sean Lane all collected two hits as well. Maxwell Costes, Lane, Keister and Schreffler all drove in runs in the game. 

Ryan Ramsey started on the mound for Maryland and the junior southpaw delivered another high-level performance, going seven innings, allowing one run and just three hits. 

After a quiet game on Friday with just three runs on five hits, the Maryland offense exploded against the Patriots (14-8) with an 11-run, 17-hit performance against a team that had not surrendered double-figure runs through 21 games this season. Both the runs and hits were the most allowed by DBU this season. 

 Breaking Down The Action

  • Maryland struck in the first inning as Luke Shliger came in to score but only did so as Maxwell Costes grounded into a 6-4-3 double play with the bases loaded. 
  • The Terps put up a crooked number in the third inning, highlighted by a Matt Shaw two-run home run. 
  • The fifth inning was another big one for Maryland as Schreffer Jr., Lane, and Keister all collected RBI singles. 
  • Shaw’s second homer of the game scored Costes and ballooned the Maryland lead up to 9-1.  
  • Alleyne smashed his seventh home run of the season in the seventh to make it 11-1. 
  • The Patriots tacked on two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning and two more in the bottom of the ninth for the final of 11-5. 

Notable Numbers

  • 2: Shaw had his second two-homer game of the season, also smacking a pair at Baylor on Feb. 20. This was his third career multi-homer game with the other coming in the final game of the 2021 season at East Carolina in the NCAA Regional. 
  • 6: Shaw now has six home runs this season, one of three Terps with at least six homers. 
  • 6: Ryan Ramsey has thrown at least six innings in every start this season, allowing two or fewer runs in five of the six starts and one of fewer in four of the starts.
  • 15: Chris Alleyne now has a 15-game on-base streak after having his 13-game hit streak come to an end last night. 

Up Next

  • The Terps finish up their three-game series in Dallas, Texas, on Sunday at 2 p.m. The game will air on PatriotBroadcastingNetwork.com and the Maryland Baseball Network.

In first year as full-time starter, Troy Schreffler Jr. has become one of Maryland’s best hitters

In his first at-bat of the Greenville Regional tournament last June, senior outfielder Chris Alleyne swung on a pitch. Failing to square the ball up, it ricocheted off his bat and at his head. Alleyne fell to the ground and needed to be replaced. 

In came Troy Schreffler Jr., a sophomore outfielder who cycled in and out of the everyday lineup, filling in for injured starters but never sticking with a true position throughout the regular season. 

“I remember as a player, when you’re in and out of the lineup and you’re splitting time and you feel like every time you go in there ‘man, if I don’t get three hits I’m not going to play tomorrow,” said Head Coach Rob Vaughn. “It’s just a hard way to be successful.”

A moment that was one player’s worst nightmare – a premature end to a senior season due to a freak injury – was the best thing that could have happened to another. Schreffler Jr. finally had an opportunity to play in a full-time role. 

He slugged five hits and brought in five runs across four games in the regional, including a three hit, two RBI performance in the championship game versus East Carolina. He played centerfield all four games, the spot Alleyne previously manned. 

Finally playing full time for the first time as a Terp, Schreffler Jr. proved that he was worthy of a similar role the following season. Vaughn agreed. 

“That could be the turning point in that kid’s career,” thought Vaughn at the time. “I thought it started last year in that regional.” 

In his first season as a full-time starter in right field, Schreffler Jr. has been Maryland’s best hitter halfway through its non-conference slate. His .346 batting average leads the Terps and he’s top three on the team among qualified hitters in doubles, home runs, on-base percentage and OPS. 

His totals have climbed steadily over his three seasons. The average is up from .275 in 2021, and his on-base and slugging percentages are 92 and 169 points higher than last season, respectively. 

Those numbers won’t stay that high forever, but to date they’ve helped Maryland battle through a tough opening schedule. 

“You’ve been waiting for the consistency to come around,” said Vaughn. “There’s still going to be ups and downs with every hitter… Troy’s not going to hit .500 all year, but his steadiness, his ability to… slow the game down is really the big difference.” 

Schreffler Jr. is eight starts away from matching his 2021 total of 22 starts, and his 18 hits this season are only four behind what he finished with last season. In just over half the number of games, he’s already matched his 2021 finish in runs scored and RBI. The two home runs he’s slugged this season are already a career high for a season. 

“It’s been awesome to see Troy bring it all together,” said Alleyne. “He’s a really toolsy player, super talented. To see him put up the numbers he’s putting up is really impressive. It’s big for our team.” 

Even more impressive for Schreffler, and valuable for Vaughn, is that he’s been one of the team’s best hitters out of the seventh spot in the batting order. He’s hit there in every game this season, coming in behind the middle of the order that features Matt Shaw, Nick Lorusso, Maxwell Costes and Bobby Zmarzlak, creating a rare lineup that is truly seven legitimate threats deep at the plate. 

“A lot of lineups, when you look at them, you’re worried about two guys,” said Vaughn. “Two, three, four, five, maybe those are the guys where if you can get those guys out, then you get a break. By having a guy like Schreffler in the seven hole, that’s one of our best players right now. You get through Bubba, get through Shaw, get through Lorusso, get through Max, get through Bob and you’re like ‘holy cow, where does this end?’ Because then here comes Schreffler.”

Maryland handles Delaware, advances to 8-0

Delaware — playing its first midweek game of its season — deployed a bullpen game approach attempting to get through nine innings without having a traditional starting pitching option. 

Dom Velazquez, who typically enters games out of the bullpen in the late innings, got the start for the Blue Hens. The hard-throwing right hander cruised through the first inning, sending the top of the Maryland lineup down in order. 

Similar success was hard to come by in the second inning for Velazquez. No. 21 Maryland put up four runs in the frame to take a lead it would never relinquish, defeating Delaware, 14-4, to move to 8-0 on the season. 

The red-hot Nick Lorusso led off the second inning with a standup double, and Bobby Zmarzlak followed him up with a base hit of his own. Maxwell Costes came to the plate with runners on the corners. With a line drive to center field, Costes scored Lorusso easily. An errant throw to third allowed Zmarzlak to score too. 

Troy Schreffler Jr., still chasing the first home run of his junior season, connected with a Velazquez fastball and sent it over the batter’s eye in center field for Maryland’s fourth run of the inning.

“I was just trying to pepper the batter’s eye,” Schreffler Jr. said. “I was able to go out there that first AB and get something to hit, wait back a little bit and just keep my hands flying toward the middle.”

Schreffler Jr. came to bat again in the third inning, again with a runner in scoring position after a second Lorusso leadoff double. A RBI single scored Lorusso, giving Schreffler Jr. his third run batted in after only his second at-bat and stretching the Maryland lead to 5-1. 

“The past few weeks we’ve all been going and hitting a little extra and giving each other feedback,” Schreffler Jr. said. “For me to have those guys on the team to help me… That was a clear showing of the help they’ve given me.”

Meanwhile, Maryland starter Logan Ott glided through four solid innings on just 52 pitches. Making his second straight midweek game start, Ott was looking to improve upon his last outing, in which he was chased in the fifth inning when he unraveled after four good innings. 

In eerily similar fashion, the fifth inning tripped Ott up. With two runners in scoring position and one out away from escaping the jam, Ott allowed a line drive through the left side to Delaware’s Joey Loynd, bringing Rob Vaughn out of the dugout to bring in a replacement. 

“I think it’s just continuing to build him up,” Vaughn said. “In the preseason, he was throwing a lot of two inning stints, three inning stints, and now we’re asking him to go out and get us five.”

Leading 6-3 entering the seventh inning, Vaughn inserted two-way player Lorusso on the mound and brought in freshman Jacob Orr to play third base. Lorusso sent Delaware’s bottom of the lineup down in order. 

“We’re still trying, as a staff, to learn the best way to use him,” Vaughn said. “He’s a really good arm out of the ‘pen but he’s also super valuable at third.”

In the bottom of the inning, the 5-foot-9, 170 pound Orr stepped to the plate for his Maryland debut with two out and Costes and Schreffler Jr. on base. On the third pitch of the at-bat, Orr smacked a ball down the right field line. Costes and Schreffler Jr. touched home plate – giving the Terps a 8-3 lead – as Orr threw his arms in the air in the direction of the home dugout, which erupted in cheers. 

“Of my God, that’s awesome,” Schreffler Jr. said. “He’s going to be a big guy down the stretch. For him to come in, first college AB and hit a two-run double? That’s awesome.”

“I thought that was the play of the game,” Vaughn said. “He’s going to get so many hits in a Maryland uniform.”

Costes came to bat for his final appearance of the night with Zmarzlak on first after a walk and the score 9-4. Looking to add the exclamation mark to end Maryland’s night, the senior first baseman drove a ball over the left-centerfield wall. He admired it for more than a moment, then subsequently tossed his bat back to the Maryland dugout in style. 

The Terps grew their lead even more after Costes’ long ball. Kevin Keister lined a double to right field for his first extra base hit of the season to score two more and Alleyne hit a run-scoring double of his own, giving Maryland a 10-run lead that held.

Maryland has notoriously been winning games on the back of its star-studded weekend starting rotation. Earlier in the day, Vaughn sent a text to Maryland’s hitters with one simple message.

“It’s time for us to go out and win one,” Vaughn told his hitters. “It’s time for the offense to go out and win one.”