Last Sunday, Maryland baseball was struggling against the College of Charleston, managing just three hits through the first eight innings.
The previous two games were more successful — the Terps rolled over Charleston Southern and Iona to begin the season 2-0, having outscored their opponents 19-6 in that span. However, on Sunday, Maryland needed a boost.
And they got it. Chris Alleyne, Tucker Flint and Randy Bednar strung together a series of big hits and Maryland won 4-2 in 10 innings.
After winning a close game, Maryland passed the litmus test to start the season. This week, going into the Terps’ first home series of the season, morale is high.
“I thought we looked really sharp our first three games,” relief pitcher Elliot Zoellner said. “Pitching was great all weekend and it was just really fun to get down in the South and play in some warm weather.”
Pitching, the biggest unknown to enter the season, looked to solve itself as all three starters gave up two runs or less in their starts, pitching at least 4.2 innings each.
Not only that, but the bullpen stepped up, starting with freshman Sam Bello’s 3.1 innings of relief to close Friday night’s game. On Saturday, a combination of freshman Ryan Ramsey and sophomore Sean Heine threw a combined 4.1 three-hit scoreless innings in relief, striking out seven. That gave the Terps some flexibility on Sunday, using five pitchers on the day.
“It kind of played out about as good as we could’ve, especially on Friday,” head coach Rob Vaughn said. “Being able to go [Sean Fisher] and Bello and just run the game out was huge. It allowed us to have a stable of arms the rest of the way.”
Bullpen depth had been a priority for the Terps this offseason, as pitching coach Corey Muscara worked with the pitching staff to help increase pitch counts.
He plans on using the same rotation when Rhode Island visits this weekend. Fisher, Nick Dean and Sean Burke, will all start on the mound this weekend against a Rams team that went 1-2 against Lamar last weekend.
Vaughn has already established trust in Maryland’s arms and it showed over the weekend. This series looks to be three straight pitcher’s duels, and for what might become his starting weekend rotation, the immediate trust was a confidence boost.
“I think everybody’s pretty confident,” Burke said. “Everyone threw well for this weekend. Going into this next weekend at home, we got a lot of confidence going forward.”