The nearly year-long drought of college baseball is over. Opening Day for Maryland is at 6:30 p.m. against Michigan State in Greenville, S.C.
The senior outfield tandem of Chris Alleyne and Randy Bednar are expected to focal points for Maryland and the ignition to a potentially potent offense. Collectively, last season Alleyne and Bednar had an OBP of .436 and stole 11-of-13 bases.
“My job is not to hit home runs and drive in RBIs,” Alleyne said. “My job is to get on base and let the guys behind me drive me in.”
On the mound, redshirt sophomore Sean Burke faces Michigan State senior Sam Benschoter. Burke went 2-0 in four starts with a 1.99 ERA and was Maryland’s best pitcher in a COVID-shortened 2020 season. Benschoter was third for Michigan State in innings pitched in 2020.
Head coach Rob Vaughn said Benschoter is an excellent arm in the Michigan State rotation. Benschoter struck out 30 batters in 18.1 innings last season.
In order to find success against the Spartans the Terps will look to play clean baseball limiting the amount of walks on the mound. However, Maryland will also look to limit Michigan State senior outfielder Bryce Kelley, who ranks second all-time at Michigan State in stolen bases (71), from causing havoc. In 2020, Kelley was 8-of-11 at the plate.
The Maryland pitching staff will also be challenged by senior infielder Bailey Peterson. He posted an impressive .528 OBP last season and successful stole eight bases, while being caught just twice.
“If we let them on base, it can become a track meet,” Vaughn said.
The second game will see senior Sean Fisher on the mound for the Terps against the Spartans Mason Erla who has an impressive pitching repertoire. Erla has a fastball that reaches the mid-to-high 90s and dazzled batters with a 1.04 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 26 innings.
“I think guys like [Erla] you have to just roll out and be the aggressor,” Vaughn said “We got to make sure we take the fight to him; we can’t let him set the tempo for the game. When you have a guy like Erla on the mound, you are looking to win a 2-1, 3-1 game.”
Sophomore Connor Staine will get the start for the Terps in game three moving from the bullpen to the starting rotation. In 2020, Staine had a 2.61 ERA in 10.1 innings.
In the final game of the weekend, freshman Jason Savacool will get the start. Savacool was a highly coveted recruit and the New York State Gatorade Player of the Year in 2019-2020. Michigan State hasn’t yet announced its starters for the final two games of the weekend.