Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics

Senior send-off: Looking at Maryland baseball’s graduating class

A disappointing season for the Terps, the first under their new head coach, and former assistant coach, Rob Vaughn, ended on Saturday with a 13-3 loss to Indiana. Maryland finished 24-30 on the season, 9-14 in Big Ten play.

While the Terps started the season off slow, it was the senior power that helped Maryland finish the home season with a sweep over Rutgers in College Park, before the Terps headed to Bloomington, Indiana for one final series.

Senior Will Watson, who transferred from LSU-Eunice in 2016, tied the Maryland record for RBIs in a single game at eight, and tied the NCAA record for the second-most single-game RBIs. Watson finished the season batting .254, with 33 hits and six home runs.

Against Indiana on Saturday, senior Kevin Biondic pitched his last collegiate inning. The first baseman transitioned into a two-way player over the summer, developing his pitching arsenal and becoming a key threat from the Maryland bullpen. On the mound, Biondic finished the season with a 2.59 ERA in 24 ⅓ innings pitched, earning two wins and a loss on the season.

Offensively, Biondic was instrumental in a number of Terps victories–the most notable, a come-from-behind win over Northwestern in College Park, when Biondic hit a two-run home run in the eighth inning to put Maryland ahead. He finished with a .279 batting average, with 56 hits and six home runs.

For senior Zach Jancarski, it was SportsCenter-worthy catches that characterized his times with the Terps. The center-fielder made the SportsCenter top 10 plays three times over the 2018 season, coming in at No. 8 with a diving catch in his second-to-last game with Maryland.

Offensively, Jancarski finished batting .279, with 55 hits and seven home runs.

But, Biondic and Jancarski didn’t just contribute on the field. Head coach Rob Vaughn emphasized that the two of them, particularly, grew as people in their time at Maryland.

“You can go talk to Jancarski, just about decisions he made when he was a young player here that weren’t the smartest,” said Vaughn. “Now you come back and look at him and it’s like he’s one of the most mature kids on our team.

“You look at a guy like Kevin Biondic, who will be the first one to tell you that going to class wasn’t something he loved doing early in his career,” said Vaughn. “Now he’s sitting here and making sure our freshmen are getting their butts up and going to class after long road trips.”

Catcher Justin Morris started to heat up along with the weather, finishing the season at home with a three-run home run against Rutgers. He finished the season with a .208 batting average on 33 hits and one home run.

Morris’ contributions off the field helped develop freshman catcher Justin Vought as a player and a student.

“When I caught against Delaware,” said Vought, “I didn’t play very well, and he kind of just took me under his wing and said, ‘you know, you’re going to fail and that’s how you get better.’ That really stuck out to me.”

“No matter how I do on the field,” said Vought, “he’s always going to be there for me. Whether it’s [with baseball], with school work, I can call him any time and ask him anything.”

On the mound, senior weekend starter Taylor Bloom finished the season with an 8.99 ERA in 59 ⅓ innings pitched, making 12 appearances on 11 starts, finishing with a 3-8 record, despite a mid-season concussion. Bloom was sidelined in mid-April after being hit in the head with an errant ball during warm-ups, but was able to retake the mound before the end of the season.

Fellow seniors Ryan Hill and Alec Tuohy also leave College Park this year. Hill was kept off the mound through most of the season due to eligibility issues, returning for the last month of play. His return came at a time that the Terps were in desperate need of a reliable late-inning reliever. Hill finished the season with a 2.92 ERA in 12 ⅓ innings pitched, with 14 strikeouts.

Tuohy, a graduate transfer from the University of Buffalo, made one start on the season, pitching mainly in relief. He finished with an 11.68 ERA in 12 ⅓ innings pitched.

Aside from the seven graduating seniors, the Terps have a few players who will likely be drafted. Among those are juniors Hunter Parsons and Nick Dunn. Both had career-high seasons, with Parsons taking over as a weekend starter and Dunn dominating at the plate.

Parsons pitched to a 3.44 ERA in 89 innings pitched, finishing with a 5-2 record. Among those starts, a complete-game shutout in a win against Stetson in late March, the first of his career.

Dunn, the Terps’ second-baseman, finished the season leading the team in batting average (.330), home runs (10) and hits (70).

Along with Parsons and Dunn, fellow junior Marty Costes may get drafted again. The outfielder was picked up by the Houston Astros in the 25th round of the MLB draft last year, but opted to continue his career at Maryland. Costes struggled early in the season, but started to gain more confidence and control as the season progressed. He finished the season batting .235, with 42 hits and 6 home runs, including a clutch grand slam against Michigan State.

Though the Terps stand to lose at least seven players, the freshman class provides hope for the future.. Outfielder Randy Bednar is likely to take Jancarski’s place in center field, with Richie Schiekofer stepping in for Watson.

Sophomore Barrett Smith will most likely take over for Biondic at first, and freshman Chris Alleyne may take Dunn’s spot at second, with Vought and redshirt freshman Ty Friederich will continue to catch behind the plate.

“There are some freshmen here that got a lot more playing time this year than I maybe anticipated,” said Vaughn. “Whether they put numbers up this year or not, [that] is going to be big moving forward.

“We’ll send them off to play summer ball and get them back in the fall with a new game plan of ‘this is what this team has to do to be successful,’ and go back to work,” he said.

Before the series against Indiana, freshman pitcher Mark DiLuia acknowledged that the last series would be bittersweet.

“It’s definitely going to be sad in the end,” said DiLuia. “But we’re just working day-by-day, kind of soaking each day up. Trying to make the season last a little bit longer than we expect. Every day could be our last day.”