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.”

Maryland hits walkoff home run to cap off incredible night against OSU

Nick Dean toed the rubber as the sun began to dip in the cloudless sky on a beautiful Friday evening in College Park against the Ohio State Buckeyes.

After Dean cruised through the first inning, Chris Alleyne and Nick Lorusso both reached base and Maxwell Costes drove in Alleyne off a slow ground ball. A couple more ground ball hits by Bobby Zmarzlak and Kevin Keister scored two more runs in the opening frame.

After an early mound visit for the Buckeyes, Jacob Orr struck out with the bases loaded to put an end to the first inning where every Terp came to bat.

When Dean took the mound for the second, Blayne Robinson and Mitchell Okuley hit balls out of the park on consecutive pitches, cutting the Maryland lead to 3-2.

“He [had] a clean first and two quick outs and then jack-jack real quick and they’re right back in that thing,” Vaughn said about Dean. “[He] gives us a chance to win.”

Marcus Ernst and Trey Lipsey both singled in the third and Kade Kern brought home Ernst with a double to the wall, tying the game at three. 

In the bottom half, Ian Petrutz recorded his second RBI of the season as he drove in Keister. Ohio State pitcher Nate Haberthier thought he had strike three earlier in the at bat but the home plate umpire felt otherwise.

The Terps turned a 4-6-3 double play as smooth as it could get in the fourth as Orr tossed the ball to Keister who fired over to Costes just in time to beat a sprinting Okuley.

Maryland bats came back hungry again in the fourth as Alleyne and Lorusso singled. Costes hit what should have been an out to shallow center, but Josh McAlister dropped the ball and Alleyne was off the races, giving his team a 5-3 as he athletically slid home safely.

A balk and a groundout later, Nate Karaffa came in to relieve Haberthier after 3.2 innings and five runs.

Without much action in the fifth, Robinson tripled as Alleyne nearly made a sensational catch along the wall, but couldn’t quite hang on. Robinson then scored and Okuley grounded into a fielder’s choice to cut the Maryland lead to 5-4.

Noah Mrotek took the hill for the Terps in the seventh with a one-run lead to face the heart of the Buckeye order. He would escape a jam with a big strike three call on Brent Todys.

Troy Schreffler kicked off the home seventh with a single and a stolen base. Zmarzlak advanced him to third on a fielder’s choice. No runs crossed the plate in the inning, though, as Schreffler was left on third.

Costes fielded a ground ball in the eighth and sharply tossed to Mrotek who covered the bag for the first out. The sophomore right-hander then drilled Okuley on the foot, who then advanced to second on a passed ball. Another pitch got away from Shliger and Okuley moved up to third.

That was enough for Mrotek, who was replaced by Sean Heine. A third passed ball allowed Okuley to score, tying the game at five. McAlister then advanced to third on a fielder’s choice from Ernst. A walk, a bean ball, and another walk gave Ohio State their first lead of the night.

David Falco pitched a smooth ninth inning, setting up the Terps to bat in a one-run situation in the bottom of the inning.

“We showed a ton of grit on Wednesday at James Madison,” Vaughn said. “And a ton of grit tonight, and the best teams I’ve ever coached, you don’t want to play from behind, but they’re not afraid to play from behind.”

Costes walked to lead things off. Schreffler followed with a single over McAlister’s head. Zmarzlak then hammered a ball over the wall in left center for a walkoff three-run homer. 

“That was the best feeling ever” Zmarzlak said with a smile on his face.

The scene was set perfectly for Bobby Z, as the team likes to call him, who capped off the night with an incredible comeback with a final score of 8-6.

Terps bats go cold, fall to Patriots in series opener


(RECAP COURTESY OF MARYLAND ATHLETICS)

DALLAS, TX – Playing against the nation’s No. 1-rated RPI team, the 22nd-ranked Maryland baseball team lost at Dallas Baptist, 8-3, on Friday night in the series opener at Horner Ballpark. 

The Terps (17-4) took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning, but the Patriots scored the next eight runs of the game to move to 14-7 on the season. 

Troy Schreffler Jr. drove in the Terps’ first two runs on a first-inning single. Luke Shliger doubled in Sean Lane in the ninth inning. Nick LorussoKevin Keister and Matt Shaw had Maryland’s other hits.

Terps’ starting pitcher Nick Dean fell to 3-2 on the season as he allowed three runs in 4.1 innings. 

Maryland saw its four-game win streak come to an end in the first-ever meeting against Dallas Baptist, which has played in the last seven NCAA Division I Baseball Tournaments. 

Weekend Preview: Michigan, Indiana State, East Carolina

Cruising into the weekend with a spotless 8-0 record, No. 21 Maryland will face three different teams in Greenville, North Carolina. Matchups include Michigan (6-3) on Friday, Indiana State (5-2) on Saturday, and East Carolina (3-5) on Sunday. The games are part of the LeClair Classic and will be played at Clark-LeClair Stadium.

The Terps rattled off a season-high 14 runs in their destruction of Delaware on Tuesday. Troy Schreffler Jr. continued his blazing start with his first home run of the season and had a four-hit day. Nick Lorusso pitched the seventh and eighth innings while also managing to get two hits. Maxwell Costes smashed a two-run shot to eventually blow the game wide open.

While the offense is coming off a monstrous couple games, the pitching has held up its end, as well. Logan Ott got three strikeouts, one walk, and three earned runs through 4.2 innings in his start against the Blue Hens while Will Glock slammed the door shut. Maryland was able to limit Delaware to four runs as they capped off a blowout at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium.

Maryland’s three studs are expected to pitch this weekend in Nick Dean, Ryan Ramsey, and Jason Savacool. The three have given up a combined six earned runs and have fanned 40 batters in 42 innings of dominant baseball. All three starters have a 2-0 record after getting wins against Baylor and Campbell.

Michigan Wolverines (6-3)

Last Season

The Wolverines finished the 2021 season one game behind the Terps with a 27-17 record. The most at-bats they faced of any team was Maryland, so the two have plenty of experience facing each other from last season’s all-Big Ten play. Michigan had the upper edge over Maryland, taking the season series 3-2.

This Season

Michigan has had a potent offense so far this year. In 326 combined plate appearances, the team has 96 hits, 27 doubles, and 11 home runs. They have come out on top in five of their last six games entering the weekend.

Hitters to Watch

The Wolverines have six players hitting over .300 and five of them have an OPS over .900. Elliott Clark and Joe Stewart lead the team in these categories, as well as home runs, while Ted Burton and Matt Frey trail right behind them.

Pitchers to Watch

Cameron Weston is scheduled to take the mound against the Terps. He has a 4.50 ERA and has allowed 15 hits through 10 innings so far this season, but his numbers were much better last season where posted a 2.81 ERA through 83.1 innings. The 6-2 junior pitched against Texas Tech and Seton Hall in February, getting a no decision in the former and the win in the latter.

Indiana State Sycamores (5-2)

Last Season

Indiana State finished in second place in the Missouri Valley Conference last season after going 31-21. The Sycamores did not face the Terrapins at all, nor any of the other Big Ten teams. After a strong regular season, they would eventually fall to the No. 2 Georgia Tech twice to exit the NCAA Tournament.

This Season

The Sycamores are riding a three-game winning streak into this weekend with two blowout victories against Minnesota and one against Merrimack. They have gotten a fair share of Big Ten play so far with not only two games against Minnesota, but also two against Ohio State in which they lost both.

Hitters to Watch

Jordan Schaffer has been leading the way for the Indiana State offense. The redshirt senior has a slash line of .414/.528/.586 so far and has 12 hits in 29 plate appearances. He is also on a 19-game hitting streak dating back to last season. Diego Gines, redshirt sophomore, has also been consistently getting on base with 11 hits and five walks in 27 at-bats.

Pitchers to Watch

Matt Jachec has been one of the best pitchers for Indiana State, notching a 1.35 ERA in 13.1 innings pitched. He also has an impressive 13 strikeouts and no walks to his name in his two wins. Aside from Jachec, pitching has somewhat struggled – every other pitcher that has tossed at least six innings has an ERA well over the 4.00 mark.

East Carolina Pirates (3-5)

Last Season

East Carolina had a terrific 2021 season as they boasted a 44-17 record. Their 20-8 performance in the American Athletic Conference allowed them to secure a first place finish. They beat Maryland in the Greenville Regional last June by a final score of 9-6, but would eventually lose to Vandervilt twice in the Nashville Super Regional.

This Season

Unlike last season’s record, the Pirates have gotten the short end of the stick so far, entering the weekend with a 3-5 record. They got swept by Bryant University to kick off the year, but are 3-2 since then. They defeated Campbell 10-3, a team that Maryland swept in a three-game set and outscored 16-3.

Hitters to Watch

The Pirates have quite a few players that are clicking offensively in Lane Hoover, Justin Wilcoxen, Cowart Jenkins, and Alec Makarewicz. All of whom have above-average batting averages, on-base percentages, and slugging percentages. The team as a whole is coming off 17 runs in their last two games.

Pitchers to Watch

Josh Grosz has been lighting it up in the bullpen with 12 strikeouts and a 1.12 ERA in eight innings of work. He has only given up four hits in 28 batters faced. Jake Hunter has started both Sunday matchups for East Carolina this season, so if he goes again this Sunday, the Terps can expect a strong starting pitcher. He has given up only one run in 7.1 innings in his two starts, but has not gotten a win yet this year.

Probable Starting pitching matchups:

Friday, 12:00 p.m. ET

Jr. RHP Nick Dean (2-0, 0.00 ERA) vs Jr. RHP Cameron Weston (1-0, 4.50 ERA)

vs.

Nick Dean has delivered seven shutout frames against Baylor and Campbell, giving up just seven hits across those 14 innings. Dean has yet to give up a run this season and opposing hitters are only faring a .146 batting average against him.

Cameron Weston has not been particularly fantastic in his first two starts. He gave up three earned runs to Texas Tech and two to Seton Hall, but was able to sneak out wins in both of tose games. He has five walks and 13 strikeouts in ten innings of work so far this year.

Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET

Jr. LHP Ryan Ramsey (2-0, 2.08 ERA) vs TBD

vs.

Ryan Ramsey pitched very effectively in his first start to the season against Baylor, but was even more impressive the following week against Campbell. Through his two starts, the New Jersey native has allowed just nine hits and three earned runs in 13 innings.

Sunday, 3:30 p.m. ET

So. RHP Jason Savacool (2-0, 1.80 ERA) vs Fr. RHP Jake Hunter (0-0, 1.23 ERA)

vs.

Jason Savacool dominated against Baylor to begin his sophomore season by easing through eight innings of three-run ball (two earned). He continued his incredible performance against Campbell as he gave up his four hits and earned his second victory of the season.

Jake Hunter has been very serviceable for East Carolina in his two starts. He has a 1.23 ERA in a combined 7.1 innings and has given up four hits in those two games. He did not receive a win or loss in either of his starts, though the team won one of them and lost the other.

Three takeaways from Maryland’s opening series sweep

A new leadoff man

Rob Vaughn joked at spring media day about a proposition from one of his veteran players. Fifth-year outfielder Chris Alleyne – last season’s leadoff hitter – suggested they give sophomore catcher Luke Shliger a look in the first spot in the batting order. Alleyne told Vaughn he liked the idea of seeing a few pitches before stepping into the box for the first time. 

Vaughn said he gave Shliger a look at the new position over the fall and winter, and he seemingly liked what he saw enough to pencil his catcher in the leadoff spot on his Opening Day lineup card. 

Shliger responded as well as Vaughn could have hoped. Across Maryland’s three games, he got on base in seven of his 15 plate appearances, four of those coming from walks. 

“I look like a genius,” said Vaughn, speaking to the batting order he created. “Luke did not hesitate.” 

It helped Alleyne, too. Just as designed. He racked up two hits, four walks, a RBI and three runs scored. It’s rare for a catcher to be that effective of a leadoff hitter, let alone a baserunner. Shliger added two steals and also scored on a wild pitch on Friday.

“The ump… he was kind of confused about the catcher hitting leadoff,” said Shliger. “I was too.” 

To add to the story, Shliger says he hasn’t hit leadoff since Little League. 

Shliger’s success in the leadoff role set the tone for the Maryland offense, which scored 21 runs in 27 innings, all weekend. Vaughn looks to have found his primary leadoff hitter. 

Starting pitchers are as advertised

Starters Nick Dean, Ryan Ramsey and Jason Savacool lived up to their preseason hype on opening weekend. The three combined for 20 innings of five run ball with 17 strikeouts and just 16 hits allowed. Coupled with 20 runs of support, they were able to easily earn victories that gave Maryland its first non-conference road series win since March of 2019. 

Dean, the Big Ten’s preseason pitcher of the year, utilized his deadly fastball and changeup combination to keep hitters guessing throughout his start. The changeup was often the putaway pitch. 

Ramsey wasn’t quite as effective as Dean, allowing a two-run fourth inning and – although they were ultimately stranded – several runners into scoring position. Still, he bounced back and put the Terps in a position to win. 

Savacool settled down after Baylor scored two runs in the first three innings and began sending the Bears lineup down quickly, including a stretch of seven straight batters retired. He finished after eight innings and just three earned runs. 

“Dean and Ramsey did a really good job of conserving our bullpen,” said Savacool. “The thing I need to do as a Sunday starter is provide length. It was great to get through eight innings strong.” 

The heart of the order is Maryland’s lifeblood

The middle of the Terps’ batting order – headlined by Matt Shaw, Maxwell Costes, Nick Lorusso, Bobby Zmarzlak and Troy Schreffler Jr. – was key in Maryland’s series sweep. 

Shaw and Costes led the way, combining for 12 hits, nine RBI and four home runs, which all came on Sunday. 

Lorusso, Zmarzlak and Schreffler Jr. added eight hits and five RBI. 

With Shliger and Alleyne often setting the table for them, the sluggers frequently followed by moving them up and bringing them in. Even without help from the hitters before them, the middle of the order still found a way to come through – Shaw, Costes and Zmarzlak all hit solo home runs. 

“I know what I can do,” said Shaw. “I got pitches to hit and I didn’t miss them. It’s very easy to hit when you got guys in front of you and guys behind you. I don’t think there’s any holes in our lineup.” 

‘He’s going to take my job one day’: How assistants Morrison, Papio’s careers led to new roles at Maryland

Head coach Rob Vaughn was in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, for Father’s Day visiting his parents with his son last summer. The weekend trip, which took place just weeks after Maryland’s season ended in early June, had been in the plans for four months and was during a recruiting dead period. 

Roughly 10 miles northwest of Myrtle Beach is Coastal Carolina University’s campus. Vaughn, with an assistant coach opening on his staff after losing Corey Muscara to Wake Forest after the 2020 season and never replacing him, had an eye on Coastal Carolina assistant Mike Morrison to potentially fill the void. 

After talking to Coastal Carolina head coach Gary Gilmore and getting the go-ahead, Vaughn arranged a meeting with Morrison at a local Starbucks. What was meant to be a quick meeting over a cup of coffee turned into nearly an all-day event. 

“I sat down to grab coffee with him, which is what I thought was going to be, you know, 30 or 40 minutes to get to know him,” Vaughn said. “We were there for almost four hours.” 

Vaughn and Morrison connected instantly. Immediately, Vaughn knew Morrison was who the Terps had been missing. 

“In that moment it was very clear,” he said. “I walked out of Starbucks in Myrtle Beach and knew that was our guy.” 

Morrison is a Coastal Carolina lifer. So much so that Vaughn worried if meeting with him would be a waste of time, assuming he’d never want to leave Myrtle Beach. 

A Gilbert, South Carolina native, Morrison walked onto the Chanticleers as a pitcher in 2013. He only made 12 appearances, all out of the bullpen, as a freshman but shined in the limited role. His earned run average of 2.31 was third lowest on the team. 

His opportunity steadily rose over the course of his four year career. By his senior season in 2016, Morrison logged over 70 innings on the mound. 

After a 40-14 regular season, including a 21-3 record in conference play, Coastal Carolina won the Big South Conference championship to earn a trip to the NCAA Regionals. After making quick work of the competition at their Regional site and LSU in their Super Regional, the Chanticleers advanced to their first ever College World Series. 

Facing Arizona in the College World Series Finals, Morrison started Game Two, a must-win for Coastal Carolina after falling in Game One of the best-of-three series. He lasted 6.2 innings on the mound, allowed just two earned runs and was credited with the win in their 5-4 victory over the Wildcats to set up a winner-take-all Game Three. 

Coastal Carolina held on to win the deciding game 4-3 after leading by as much as 4-0 in the sixth inning. Morrison was among the first out of the dugout to join the celebratory dogpile that quickly covered the pitcher’s mound. 

“Mike Morrison is 100 percent the right person,” Vaughn said. “He knows what it takes to win at the highest level. It’s been confirmed a thousand times over that I got the right guy.”

Morrison returned to Coastal Carolina for the 2020 season as a student manager, the role he also held in 2021. That’s when another new Maryland assistant discovered him and suggested to Vaughn he was worth a look. 

“I’ve worked with this guy, Mike Morrison, at camps,” Anthony Papio told Vaughn. “He’s our kind of dude. He’s been at Coastal. He’s a career Coastal guy. I don’t know if he would even be interested, but you should get on the phone and talk to him.” 

Much like Morrison to Coastal Carolina, Papio is a Maryland lifer. As a player from 2012 to 2016, the Terps enjoyed their best stretch in program history with Papio on the team. Over his five seasons, Maryland went to two straight Super Regional tournaments including a defeat of No.1 overall seed UCLA in the 2015 Los Angeles regional. 

He ended his playing career as the program’s all-time leader in games played and is the winningest player in school history. 

“He loves this place,” Vaughn said. “You cut him open and that Maryland flag is coming out of his veins.” 

Papio has been Vaughn’s right-hand man through the entirety of his Maryland tenure. His redshirt freshman season was when Vaughn was hired as an assistant, and the two have risen through the ranks together. 

“He’s been with me every step of the way,” Vaughn said. “To see him go from walk-on player to scholarship player to team captain to volunteer – that guy could do anything he wants to do. He’s doing this because he believes in this place. He believes in what we can do and how we can impact the lives of these young people.” 

As a volunteer in recent years, Papio was the first base coach, worked with outfielders and helped Vaughn coach hitting. After his promotion to a full-time assistant this offseason, he now works mostly with pitchers alongside Morrison. 

When looking at the effect the two new assistants have had on players over the winter and early spring, they rave about the coaches’ experience and history of winning. 

“Mo’s been awesome,” senior relief pitcher Sean Heine said of Morrison. “He stepped in and really proved his professional experience. He’s a national champion so he knows what he’s talking about. Anytime you have a guy who’s pitched in the World Series and won a national championship, you just have to soak it in and listen.”

“Pap’s been a really big influence to me since I’ve been here as a freshman,” senior outfielder Chris Alleyne said. “He’s driven me to be better every day so to see him finally get that assistant coach job is awesome. We’re really happy for him.”

Maryland players haven’t held back on praise for the two new full-time assistants, and neither has their new boss.  

“It was a no-brainer for me,” Vaughn said. “He deserved it. Thrilled that I was the one that was able to give him that first job. I would have been a moron to let that guy leave. He’s going to take my job one day.”

New York Yankees draft Ben Cowles in 10th round

The New York Yankees selected Maryland shortstop Ben Cowles in the 10th round (303rd overall) of the MLB Draft on Monday. The rising senior was the second Terrapin taken in the 2021 MLB Draft.

The Newark, New York product starred both on the mound and at the plate in high school, but was recruited by the Terps as a position player. His presence was immediately felt in the lineup, as he started 50 of the 58 games during his freshman season. However, Cowles struggled with his bat, slashing just .200/.317/.314 with three homers and 15 RBIs.

After spending most of his freshman year at second base, he transitioned to shortstop prior to his sophomore season, where he started every game. Albeit the shortened season, Cowles saw his offensive numbers surge in his limited time at the plate. He matched his freshman total with three home runs in only 15 games while ranking third on the club with 14 RBIs. Cowles credited his offensive success to hitting coach Matt Swope, who worked with shortstop on his swing and helped fine-tune his approach at the plate.

Although Cowles made strides on offense during his sophomore campaign, no one could have expected the breakout season he would have in 2021.  

The righty, who does not consider himself a power hitter, began the season hot at the plate and never cooled off. In March, he hit five homers in three games against Rutgers, which earned him Big Ten Player of the Week honors for the first time in his career. In mid May, the junior went 7 for 15 including homers in three straight games. By the season’s end, he finished with 18 home runs, fourth most in program history and most by a Terp in nearly two decades. He ranked second in the conference with 51 RBIs and finished top four on the team in OPS (first), hits (second), runs (third), average (fourth) and stolen bases (fourth).

He also excelled in the field, ranking second in the conference in both assists and fielding percentage among shortstops. His breakout season earned him a spot on the First Team All-Big Ten list and he also was named a Third Team All-American by Baseball America.

It is unknown whether Cowles will sign a contract with the Yankees or return to College Park in the fall.

Chicago White Sox draft Sean Burke in third round

The Chicago White Sox selected Maryland right-hander Sean Burke in the third round (94th overall) of the MLB Draft on Monday. The rising junior was the first Terrapin taken in the 2021 MLB Draft.

The Sutton, Mass. native went undrafted out of St. John’s High School in 2018 and chose Maryland over various Power Five schools such as Virginia and Boston College. Burke’s time in College Park got off to a rough start when the righty missed his freshman year while recovering from Tommy John surgery. 

When Burke finally returned to the hill, he shined. He made four starts and led the team in multiple pitching categories, including innings pitched, ERA and strikeouts. His 35 strikeouts ranked first among freshmen in Division I. Burke credited Tommy John surgery for his success in 2020.

“Obviously, at the time, I was upset that it happened,” Burke said in an interview with Baseball Prospect Journal prior to the 2021 season, “But because of that, I don’t think I would be where I’m at today if it wasn’t for that surgery,” he said.

The Perfect Game Preseason Big Ten Pitcher of the Year picked up where he left off to begin the 2021 campaign, striking out 13 Spartans in six innings at Michigan State on Opening Day. Three weeks later, the imposing right-hander, who stands in at 6-foot-6 and 230 pounds, recorded 11 strikeouts and allowed one earned run against Iowa. 

He pitched his best down the stretch, striking out 12 and taking a no-hitter deep into the seventh inning against Indiana in the final regular-season series of the year. With the Terps’ season on the line, Burke stepped up once again, tossing six scoreless frames and striking out eight against Norfolk State in the NCAA Tournament.

He finished the year with 107 strikeouts, which ranked second in the Big Ten and sixth-most in program history. His 12.96 strikeouts per nine innings was the fourth-best mark in Terrapin history and he finished third among starters in the conference with a .178 batting average against.

The right-hander boasts a four-seam fastball, changeup, curveball and slider from a three-quarters arm slot, which he added last offseason. He relies primarily on his fastball and curveball, which he experimented with prior to the 2021 season and changed his grip from the traditional grip to a knuckle curveball grip.

Burke’s fastball sits in the 92-95 mph range and elevates up in the zone, which prompted his high strikeout rates. His secondary pitches have led to inconsistency, with some scouts wishing he would choose between his curve and slider. His command is also an issue, as he walked five or more batters three times in 14 appearances last season. 

Some scouts envision Burke moving into a relief role due to his fastball-breaking ball combination if he struggles as a starter at the professional level.

It is unknown whether Burke will sign a contract with the White Sox or return to College Park in the fall.

Preseason Countdown No. 4: Outfield preview

22

In 2019, the Maryland outfield had proven to be one of the team’s offensive and defensive strengths, and the bulk of that outfield will be returning for the 2020 season.

Highlighted by juniors Randy Bednar and Chris Alleyne along with senior Caleb Walls, the outfield features plenty of new faces as well, including three freshmen and the returning Ben Irvine.

Here is a breakdown of each Terp that’s expected to be roaming the outfield this Spring:


Junior Randy Bednar bednar

The returning Bednar is coming off a spectacular offensive 2019, slashing .288/.362/.531 as his .893 OPS ranked third on the team. Bednar also led the team in total bases (129) and racked up a team-high 55 RBI.

Bednar will likely continue to be the Terps’ stalwart right fielder in 2020 and should be a solid leader for the incoming freshmen.


Senior Caleb WallsWalls082818_02

As a redshirt junior, Walls put up pretty solid numbers as the everyday left fielder in 2019, getting on base at a .352 clip and hitting for a .704 OPS.

He’ll attempt to repeat his on-base tendencies in 2020, as his .352 OBP was over .100 points higher than his batting average.


Junior Chris Alleyne Alleyne090518_01

The second junior to be likely starting in the outfield in 2020, Alleyne will be bringing his incredible glove and agility back to Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium.

After hitting for a quality .749 OPS in 2019, “Bubba” will look to improve upon that while maintaining his game-changing range in center field.


Senior Ben Irvine Irvine082818_01

Irvine only made 14 appearances in his debut season last year, three of those being starts. He batted .087 with an OBP of .158 but didn’t see much playing time following April.

With a rather-crowded outfield compared to last season with three incoming freshmen, Irvine will likely still get the majority of his plate appearances as a pinch-hitter.


Freshman Troy Schreffler Jr. Schreffler_2020

Schreffler Jr., who pitched as well as playing the outfield at Central Dauphin High School in Pennsylvania, will strictly be an outfielder for the Terps in his freshman year.

The freshman was ranked as the 11th-best player in the state of Pennsylvania, and in the Terps’ Fall World Series games recorded a pair of singles.


Freshman Tucker Flint Flint_2020

Flint was awarded the title of 2019 Rhode Island Gatorade Player of the Year in his senior year at Bishop Hendricken High School. He had been drafted by the New York Mets in the 36th round of the 2019 MLB Draft but opted to commit to Maryland.

With the core of Maryland’s outfield being made of a senior and two juniors, Flint leads a very talented group of freshmen outfielder looking to make their presence known.


Freshman Bobby Zmarzlak Zmarzlak_2020

Like fellow freshman Tucker Flint, Zmarzlak was also drafted in the 2019 MLB Draft — selected by the Baltimore Orioles in the 40th round. Nationally, Zmarzlak ranked 17th among all outfielders and was the No. 1 ranked player in Connecticut.

Named the No. 1 prospect in the Big Ten, according to Perfect Game, Zmarzlak will look to have a huge impact as he leads the incoming freshmen with his teammate Flint.

AJ Lee earns Big Ten Player of the Week honors

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Photo Credit: Maryland Athletics

Maryland senior shortstop AJ Lee has been named Big Ten Player of the Week after a dominant four games. It is Lee’s first weekly conference honor of the season.

In one game against James Madison and three games against Iowa this week, Lee hit .588 (10-for-17) with three home runs, two doubles and six RBI. He also worked two walks, stole two bases and came in to score eight times in the four Maryland victories.

Lee homered in each of the first three games of the weekend, including the biggest home run of his career — a walk-off bomb against Iowa Thursday night.

The senior started his great week by snapping an 0-for-25 slump in Tuesday’s 6-5 win over James Madison, recording a hit in his final three at-bats. He singled in the sixth and seventh, and then hit what turned out to be a game-winning solo home run in the top of the ninth.

He followed that up with a 3-for-4 day in Thursday’s opener against the Hawkeyes. Before the walk-off long ball, he singled twice and put down an RBI sacrifice bunt.

On Friday against Iowa, Lee put together a 2-for-4 day. He singled in the fifth and then hit his third home run in as many games with a solo shot in the bottom of the eighth.

In Saturday’s regular season finale, Lee posted another 2-for-4. After reaching on errors in his first two at-bats, he doubled in the fourth and fifth innings. Then, in his final career plate appearance at Bob ‘Turtle’ Smith Stadium, Iowa showed Lee the ultimate form of respect, and sent him to first base on an intentional walk.

Lee and the Terps will now head to Omaha, Nebraska for the 2019 Big Ten Tournament, where they will play their opening game against Illinois at 10:00 a.m. ET on Wednesday. Pregame coverage will start at 9:30 a.m. with Zach Solon on the call live from TD Ameritrade Trade Park on the Maryland Baseball Network.