Contributing: Austin Bynum
Week 3 Weekend Preview | College ball returns to LakePoint
Ga. – The University of Maryland baseball team is off to a 6-1
start this year, which shouldn't be all that surprising considering
they finished last year 40-24. They even advanced to the Super
Regionals, losing to Virginia in Charlottesville, as that strong
finish led to a No. 14 final ranking in Perfect Game's
end-of-the-year top 25.
it was hard to ignore the losses the Terrapins suffered during the
offseason, which included their Friday starter, Jake Stinnett, who
was taken in the second round by the Chicago Cubs after a breakout
season, building his ace-like reputation by out-dueling several high
profile arms over the course of the spring. Also gone were productive
lefthanded reliever Ben Brewster and two of their top hitters, Blake
Schmit and Charlie White.
key piece did return however, sophomore righthander Michael Shawaryn,
who led the team in wins a year ago with a fabulous 11-4 Freshman
think it was huge,” Shawaryn said on Friday about his team's
late-season run in 2015. “We were able to do a lot of things during
the postseason that we weren't able to do in the regular season. I
think it just showed us – it was kind of a confidence boost – that we
can do these things. Going into this year we wanted to build off of
last year and we come back with experience, and I think that's the
biggest thing, and it's helped us so far.”
year marks the first for Maryland in the Big Ten, as they opened the
year 33rd among the teams Perfect Game ranked in the
preseason (out of 40), admittedly placing too much emphasis on the
players that Maryland had lost, at least more so than focusing on the
ones that were set to return.
have a lot of juniors on this team that have been regular players
since their freshmen year,” Szefc said of his team after their 4-2
win over Appalachian State on Friday. “Guys like (Kevin) Martir and
(Jose) Cuas and a guy like Brandon Lowe, who's been here for three
years but was hurt his first year. We have two really strong
personality seniors in Bobby Ruse and (Tim) Lewis, and a guy like
Anthony Papio who's been here for four years as a redshirt junior. We
have a lot of guys who have been around for a while.”
and his club went on a near-magical run in the month of May a year
ago, going 13-2 on their march to the ACC Championship prior to
ousting Regional host South Carolina from the postseason before
seeing their own season come to an end at the hands of the eventual
national runner-ups. In just two seasons with Maryland, Szefc has 70
kind of speeding up the process, the whole building process,” Szefc
said of his team's late run in 2014. “We were pretty average
mid-way through the year last year and really kicked it in the last
40 percent of the season and it's really helped accelerate our
reason that we (advanced to the Super Regionals) is we have some
pretty good players, and they just took a little bit longer to get
comfortable and learn how to play from behind and we obviously tried
to carry that through the offseason to right here today.”
a patient, controlled approach at the plate and an aggressive attack
on the bases, Szefc's club is hitting .290 collectively on the young
season and has stolen 10 bases in as many attempts while more than
doubling their opponents' run production, 51-24.
fielder LaMonte Wade, who went 2-for-5 today with three stolen bases,
is leading the team in hitting so far with a .464 average and nine
RBI. Leadoff hitter and second baseman Brandon Lowe, who entered the
day hitting an even .300 and yet saw his average drop to .261,
eptomizes the approach that Szefc instills on his players with a .514
on-base percentage, leading to 11 runs scored already this year.
Designated hitter Nick Cieri is hitting .370 with a home run and
eight RBI, while shortstop Kevin Smith (.320) and catcher Kevin
Martir (.304) are also on the sunny side of .300.
baseman Jose Cuas provides the power threat in the middle of the
order, and while he's only hitting .179, with one swing of the bat
today he gave the Terrapins a 3-0 lead in the third inning that they
would never relinquish. Cuas received strong consideration to make
Perfect Game's preseason All-American squad after hitting .279-5-42 a
blast followed Lowe getting hit by a pitch with one out, which was
followed by one of Wade's two singles. First baseman Andrew Bechtold
tacked on another run in the third with a two-out RBI single, driving
the spotlight on Friday shone brightly on Shawaryn for his dominant
it was just one of those days,” Shawaryn said after his dominant
seven inning performance. “It was a long bus trip, weird
circumstances, so I just wanted to get out, set the tone for the
game, try to give some atmosphere. And I was able to do that by kind
of getting out in the first inning, just 1-2-3, pounding the strike
zone and executing pitches.”
finished the day striking out 12 batters, allowing only two base
hits, one of which was a solo home run off the bat of Appalachian
State catcher Zach Hummel in the top of the sixth. He attacked the
strike zone and changed speeds effectively, routinely staying ahead
of hitters and keeping the basepaths free of opposing baserunners.
been kind of the key throughout the whole year, coming out strong,
and we've been able to do that so far this year,” Shawaryn added.
“We've gotten down, but we haven't really given up. We grind
through it, continue to put runs up on the board, and the next thing
you know we're looking at a win. I think that's the biggest thing for
us this year, just kind of grinding through. The circumstances may
not be ideal, but we're a pretty experienced bunch from last year so
we're able to handle the circumstances pretty well.”
sophomore ace is now 3-0 on the season with a 1.80 ERA and impressive
20-to-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 20 innings of work, and leads a
talented pitching staff, that like its offense, is very strong from
top to bottom.
just very, very consistent,” coach Szefc said of his star pitcher.
“Talk about knowing what you're getting with that guy. He's very
reliable, very dependable; you could throw a lot of adjectives out
there. But he's as good a young guy as I've been around as far as
being a dependable guy, and we obviously know that. We feel great
playing behind him and he's your quintessential Friday night
stuff has matched his success so far this season, and on Friday
Shawaryn sat at 90-93 with his fastball while also showing his
continually improving slider. With three pitches in his arsenal he
continues to build a case as one of the top pitchers projected to be
eligible for the 2016 draft. He also recognizes the amount of work
needed to put in to achieve his potential, and despite not pitching
last summer after throwing 92 1/3 innings as a freshman, he knew it
wasn't time to take off.
just lifted, got stronger, stuff like that,” Shawaryn said of his
offseason. “I had a plan going into the offseason; get stronger,
faster, and in the fall work on some mechanical stuff on the baseball
side, and so far three games into the season it's paid off.”
coach Szefc and the entire Terrapins squad are playing at the PG Park
South Fields at LakePoint Sports of course to the bad weather that
has settled over much of the nation the past two weeks. Maryland and
Appalachian State were actually pro-active about their decision to
move their three-game series, recognizing a week ago that there was a
good chance they would not get their games in as originally
just lucky,” Szefc said about his team being able to play. “We're
really really fortunate to be here. The Perfect Game folks have been
great to us, letting us come here. I've been working with Taylor
(McCollough) and Kevin (Herlihy) since last Friday and just the fact
they've helped us put this together, I can't say it any other way,
we're just really thankful.”
Shawaryn was just happy to be able to play to continue their early
always great when you don't have to bang a series. When they said we
were going down to Georgia to play I was happy. The conditions up
north are terrible right now, so I think a lot of us are just happy
to be playing baseball right now, especially with the stuff going on
read more about Friday's action at LakePoint visit the 'Scouting the
Spring Swing' scout blogs:
the diamond notes
West Coast offense rarely produces a big inning but it is designed to
be able to beat a true ace. This proved accurate on Friday as the
Ducks were able to defeat UCSB's Dillon Tate on a day when he was
flat out dominant.
solidified his spot in the first pick of the draft conversation with
both premium stuff and an outstanding performance today. His fastball
was 95-97 mph in the first inning and he showed a slider at 85-87.
Overall, Tate threw four pitches for strikes and took a no-hitter into
the sixth inning. There were approximately 70 scouts on hand so it's
safe to say that Tate made some money this afternoon.
tied the game in the sixth inning by going old school team offense
against Tate. It started with J.B. Bryant's opposite field single,
who advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt. Matt Eureste then
chopped an infield single and Austin Grebeck drove in the run with a
well executed safety squeeze bunt.
then chased Tate in the seventh inning with a single and a walk. The
Ducks went on to score two runs in that inning and that proved to be
the difference in the game. it was a vintage West Coast offense
performance as Oregon handed Tate the loss by utilizing timely
offensive execution despite very few well-hit balls.
was a great start for the Ducks as they look to win a series against
a NCAA Regional participant for the first time since 2012. Winning
this series remains a great challenge as the Gauchos will run Shane
Bieber out there for the Saturday game followed by Cape Cod all-star
Justin Jacome for Game 3. Game 1 certainly proved that these two
teams are strong Super Regional contenders.
junior righthander Conor Harber and redshirt sophomore Cole Irvin
have become an outstanding 1-2 punch on Friday nights in 2015. Irvin,
who sat in the upper-80s in Friday's game, is 12 months removed from
his Tommy John surgery and he is currently on a pitch count of
approximately 50 pitches. Harber has finished all three of Irvin's
starts this year and the two have combined to allow just one earned
run over those 27 innings.
North Carolina pitching staff flexed their collective muscle today in
a doubleheader sweep of Rhode Island. Benton Moss peaked at 95 as the
starter in Game 1, going seven innings. Usual Friday starter Trent
Thornton closed out both games, collecting a pair of saves in two 1
2/3 inning performances, striking out seven is his 3 1/3 innings on
Duchene made his season debut on Friday night for an Illinois team
that was already looking like a highly intriguing rising contender in
the early weeks of the season. And a healthy Duchene proved to be an
enormous lift for the Fighting Illini, as he was strong from pitch
one against Ball State. Duchene tossed seven innings of shutout
baseball, striking out nine batters, allowing five hits and walking
none. Duchene worked mostly at 88-89 mph, touching 90 consistently.
But, more importantly, as is usually the case with Duchene, he had
outstanding feel for his vast array of secondary pitches. Illinois
was a dangerous team before Duchene's return, but returning a true
Friday night ace like him makes them a fascinating commodity to watch
has been making a lot of very strong statements in the early part of
the 2015 season, and they made another one on Friday night, toppling
a tough Ole Miss team, which was led by one of the best Friday night
starters in the nation, Christian Trent. UCF is now 9-0 on the young
season and would send a serious early season message with another win
over Ole Miss this weekend.
of statement games, Clemson opened eyes in a big way on Friday night
with a convincing victory over South Carolina. Despite consistently
topping at 95 mph with his fastball in this game, the typically
lights out Gamecocks' ace, Wil Crowe, was given a difficult night by
the Tigers. Clemson tallied nine runs (eight earned) off Crowe in six
innings, on their way to an 11-4 victory. The win can be credited to
Clemson's high upside bats suddenly coming to life, as Chris Okey
busted out of an early season slump with a 2-for-4, four RBI night.
And Tyler Krieger stayed hot with a three-hit performance.
to tonight's game, the Gamecocks had won 13 of the last 16 meetings,
including two heartbreakers in 2014 in which Clemson held significant
leads late in the game. The best cure for a fragile confidence is a
blowout victory and that is just what the Tigers, which last advaned
to a Super Regional in 2010, got on Friday night.
throwing just 10 pitches and leaving with a minor injury last weekend
against the University of Miami, Florida Gators ace Logan Shore returned
this weekend and made his presence felt in a big way in a 1-0
win over the Stony Brook. Shore threw 6 1/3 shutout innings, allowing
just a double to the first batter of the game and locked it in from
that point forward. Though he walked three, he also struck out three
while living in the low-90s with his fastball, peaking at 94 mph
while improving to 2-0 on the season. Lefthander Bobby Poyner picked
up the two-plus inning save and pounded the strike zone by throwing
20 of his 28 pitches for strikes, punching out two while allowing
just one base hit.
lone run scored in the game came from a familiar offensive duo for
the Gators as freshman J.J. Schwarz hit a double down the left field
line, plating Harrison Bader who is as hot as any hitter in the
country. Bader finished the night going 3-for-4 with three singles,
showing the ability to hit to all fields while raising his average to
win marked head coach Kevin O'Sullivan's 300th with the Gators, whose
list of achievements includes three trips to Omaha in
just seven seasons.
Canyon swept Wisconsin-Milwaukee in a doubleheader on Friday, moving
their overall record to 9-1. This includes an impressive road sweep
of a banged-up Cal Poly team last week. The 'Lopes are led by head
coach Andy Stankiewicz whose impressive resume include Major League
service with the New York Yankees and three Pac-12 championships as
an Arizona State assistant coach.
is no surprise that Grand Canyon is one of the most fundamentally
sound teams in the country. The 'Lopes excel at the bunting game, run
the bases aggressively and their opposite field hitting and
two-strike approach are exhausting for opposing pitchers. Their
victory over Wisconsin-Milwaukee in Game 1 Friday culminated with a
fitting walk-off safety squeeze bunt.
the mound, Grand Canyon's front of the rotation emphasizes
pitch-making over raw stuff. Crafty lefthander Andrew Naderer pitches
off of his changeup and keeps hitters honest with a mid-80s fastball
that he busts in on rightys with regularity. Senior righthander Coley
Bruns follows with a classic college sinker-slider mix and he also
touches 88 mph but works in the mid-80s.
middle infielders Paul Panaccione and Chad De La Guerra steady
defense and also provide steady production in the middle of the
order. The 'Lopes are ineligible for the postseason as they continue
their transition period into Division I but it is clear that a
mid-major power is building in west Phoenix.
Seth Heck of Mississippi State may be the most underrated shortstop
in the country. On Friday, Heck reached base safely for the 40th
straight game, good for the second-longest streak in the country.
Heck is a plus defender and made a mere four errors in 55 starts at
shortstop in 2014 while fielding at a .984 clip.