When Maryland baseball traveled for the majority of its early-season games, infielder Josh Maguire stayed in College Park. He and catcher Tavan Shahidi would work in extra offensive reps while the Terps spent their weekends on the road.
Oftentimes, players that aren’t expected to receive time on the field are excluded from team travel plans. And to start his freshman campaign, Maguire was one of those players left behind, with the only ways to closely follow games via online video and radio streams.
But head coach Rob Vaughn has shown he has no qualms about fiddling with the Terps’ lineup and rewarding players who prove themselves in practices and in games. That now includes Maguire, who has started in Maryland’s last six games.
It all started with two pinch-hit opportunities two weekends ago against Indiana, when Maguire’s first-career hit left the yard in only his fourth at-bat of the season.
“I couldn’t draw it up any better,” Maguire said on Terps Pregame. “It’s what you dream of … the feeling was awesome.”
Now, in 42 at-bats, it’s clear the freshman’s hard work both with and away from his team early in the year has paid off. The freshman is hitting .231 with six hits, three of which are home runs. He leads the Terps with a .577 slugging percentage.
On Wednesday, freshman Zach Doss found himself in a similar situation to Maguire. While Maguire practiced while the Terps were on the road, Doss took reps in the Maryland bullpen, where he treated every catching rep as if it was a real game, according to senior captain John Murphy.
So, when Doss found himself in Maryland’s lineup suddenly, replacing catcher Sebastian Holte-Mancera in the fourth inning Wednesday against West Virginia, the freshman was ready to face a Division I opponent for the first time.
When Doss entered, Maryland was yet to plate a run and trailed West Virginia 5-0. Vaughn didn’t like the tempo at which the Terps played their first three innings, and gave Doss the nod with the hopes the young catcher would reinvigorate the Maryland lineup.
The Terps eventually lost 8-1, but Doss’ energy behind the plate did give Maryland a boost. In the fifth, the Terps finally put a run on the board after right fielder Michael Pineiro and Doss reached base on a hit-by-pitch and a walk.
Doss’ high-energy personality brings the emotion out of people, Murphy explained. It’s not necessarily what Doss says to his teammates, but the way he carries himself.
“I thought he was the bright spot of the game tonight,” Vaughn said. “That guy shows up [every day] and works. He’s a workhorse. he gets after it, he does his thing every day. [He] infused us [with energy] in a spot that we really needed it.”
Doss didn’t record an official at-bat until the ninth inning, after he walked in the fifth and was hit by a pitch in the seventh. In the bottom of the ninth, Doss struck out swinging.
But even then, Doss reached base — his third time in as many at-bats for the Terps — when the third strike got past the West Virginia catcher and Doss sprinted to first safely. It jump-started a bases-loaded rally that ultimately fell short.
“I tell these guys, it’s a game of opportunities,” Vaughn said. “Maguire got his opportunity a couple weeks ago, and has taken advantage of it. Doss got an opportunity tonight, and showed us that he can handle it, that he’s more than capable to catch at this level and handle his own business.”