After missing out on the NCAA regionals for the last three years, Maryland baseball’s 2021 season was a step in the right direction. But, with key players on the move, the 2022 season seemed anything but certain.
Starting shortstop Benjamin Cowles and right-handed pitcher Sean Burke were each selected in the 2021 Major League Baseball draft, and while outfielder Chris ‘Bubba’ Alleyne declared for the draft, he didn’t hear his name called. Alleyne was dealt two options: sign with an MLB team as an undrafted free agent or return to Maryland for his fifth and final season. Alleyne chose the latter.
This decision more than paid off, as Alleyne went on to have a historic season. He won Big Ten Player of the Year while hitting 24 home runs and stealing 24 bases, the first time a Terp has accomplished that feat.
With holes in the infield, 2022 Big Ten Coach of the Year Rob Vaughn turned to the transfer portal, where he scooped up Nick Lorusso, who served as a swiss army knife all season. During his junior season at Villanova, Lorusso was the only player on the team to hit above .300, and he performed even better against higher-caliber pitching in 2022. The third baseman and occasional pitcher was fourth on the team in batting average (.322) and home runs (15) and second in RBIs (70).
“We win five to seven less games at this point this year without Nick Lorusso on our team,” Vaughn said on April 5th, about halfway through the season.
Star sophomore infielder Matt Shaw earned the starting shortstop spot after Cowles’ departure, leaving the second base position wide open. After a three-way battle for the starting spot, sophomore Kevin Keister came out on top following a six-hit weekend against Siena. Keister started only 12 games in 2021, recording just four hits with a .098 batting average, but he was dominant with a clean slate in 2022.
The sophomore duo each earned First Team All-Big Ten nods, as Shaw was second in the Big Ten in home runs (22) — right behind Alleyne — while Keister raked in 11 homers with a .317 batting average, more than tripling his previous season’s mark.
Rounding out the infield was senior first baseman Maxwell Costes, who has been as reliable as it gets since stepping foot in College Park. Costes was the last piece of the slugging trio that included Shaw and Alleyne, hitting 16 home runs in 2022 to eclipse 40 in his career at Maryland, just three short of the all-time program record.
Similar to Keister, junior outfielder Troy Schreffler Jr. made significant improvement over the past season. He increased his batting average from .275 in 2021 to .340 in 2022, which was good for second on the team. Schreffler Jr. also hit a team-high 23 doubles and added 10 home runs, netting him a Third Team All-Big Ten selection.
The development didn’t stop there. Sophomore catcher Luke Shliger blossomed into one of the best players in the Big Ten during his second year behind the plate, earning Second Team All-Big Ten honors. Batting leadoff, Shliger led Maryland in batting average (.353) and runs (79), and he led the Big Ten with a .495 on-base percentage.
On the mound, the Terps had major question marks coming into the season with Burke moving on. Junior right-handed pitcher Nick Dean and sophomore right-handed pitcher Jason Savacool were set to reclaim their spots as the Friday and Sunday starters, but Saturday’s starting job was a mystery.
Vaughn’s decision seemed like a no-brainer after junior southpaw Ryan Ramsey allowed just five hits and two runs through six innings on opening weekend against Baylor. As a former relief pitcher, Ramsey wasn’t used to pitching more than three innings at a time with the Terps, causing a dip in production once the fourth inning hit. It didn’t take long for Ramsey to figure it out, however, as he threw the second perfect game in school history on April 29 against Northwestern.
Performances like that were why Ramsey was honored with First Team All-Big Ten accolades, along with Savacool. Dean received Third Team All-Big Ten honors.
Grit, determination and contributions from all over the lineup is what made Maryland so successful this season, but a school-record 137 home runs didn’t hurt either. The starting pitchers and all nine batters did their jobs, day in and day out, leading to a school-record 48 wins this season.
While the end of the season didn’t come to a storybook ending like the Terps may have hoped, their accomplishments should not be overlooked as this young and talented roster will be back next year, hungrier than ever.