Clemson travels to College Park for their last ACC series with the Maryland Terrapins. Due to impending inclement weather, they start with a doubleheader on Friday. First pitch is set for 3:00pm. The second game will follow about half an hour after the conclusion of game one and the series will wrap up after a Saturday 2:00pm game.
STS: Maryland sits at a respectable 5-4 in ACC play and 16-6 overall (Clemson is 15-9) having already played both FSU and UNC. They're tied with Wake Forest for third in the Atlantic division. Furthermore they hold a five game winning streak that includes a home sweep of NC State. This is now year two of John Szefc's tenure as UMD Head Coach. Is there a feeling that this program is finally moving in the right direction and is there concern that it will come crashing back down with the move to the baseball apathetic B1G?
TT: The program started getting its legs in 2010 when head coach Erik Bakich was hired. Bakich was known for being a phenomenal recruiter, and he brought some good talent to Maryland. The Terps were beginning to be pesky in 2012 but Bakich left for a more lucrative (but not more illustrious) position at Michigan. John Szefc was hired and 2013 was his first year at the helm for Maryland. He had a different style of play (discussed below) from Bakich and certain players didn’t fit or want to fit that mold. This year's team includes Szefc’s first crop of freshman and it’s a good one. The program is definitely moving in the right direction
The move to the B1G next season is not one that I like. Maryland will be at or near the top of a conference that couldn't hold a candle to the ACC in baseball. I’d much rather see us play Clemson than Northwestern, not because our chances of winning are better, they're actually the opposite, but I’d be watching better baseball.
STS: Friday nights in the ACC are tough. Even teams that we expect to beat may have one ace they can throw out on Friday to hold down our offense (that's exactly what Jack Fischer of Wake Forest did). Jake Stinnett is the ace for the Terrapins and looks to be a good one. He was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 29th round of last year's MLB First Year Player Draft, but elected to bring his blazing fastball back to campus for one more year. What can we expect on Friday?
TT: Stinett’s fastball has been in the low 90’s, at times touching 94-95. He can maintain his velocity late into a game. His slider is much improved over last year, plus he has a nice change-up. Last but not least, his command of the strike zone has been outstanding. Last year he put a lot of hit batsman on base; not so this year. He’s being projected now as a second or late first round draft pick.
STS: Outside of Stinnett, are there any other players we should take note of?
TT: Freshman RHP Mike Shawaryn has shown unbelievable poise. He’s 5–0 and no team (including FSU) has hit him hard. He’ll undoubtedly start on Saturday and it will be fun to see how he fares against Clemson’s lineup. Kyle Convissar is a senior second baseman-turned-outfielder that consistently bats over .300, and leads the ACC in HBP. I mention the HBP because it happens at a rate of over once per game! Charlie White is a preseason third-team All American CF that got off to a slow start. He’s beginning to resemble his 2013 self, which hit .350 and stole 39 bases. Shortstop Blake Schmit is good for at least one fielding web gem per game, bats around .290, and leads the team with 10 steals.
STS: Finally, can you just tell us a little about the type of baseball we can expect Maryland to play.
TT: They’re a well-coached team with great pitching. Maryland plays "heady" ball, rarely making mistakes and taking advantage of opportunities that opponents give them. Other than at 3B and LF their fielding has been awesome. They won’t beat you in a slugfest, but they can get on base, steal, and take what’s given. In essence, they can "small ball" you to death. It’s a team that might not have a position player that makes the all-ACC first or second team, but will battle you tooth and nail.
STS: A big thank you to Andrew Kramer for swapping questions and helping us get ready this weekend's road ACC series. You can read our answers to his questions over on Testudo Times by clicking here.