Rob Vaughn’s Maryland baseball head coaching debut was a good one, as the Terps went on the road and shut out Tennessee 4-0 in their season opener Friday.
Taylor Bloom was fantastic in his first start of the season. The senior lasted seven innings, allowing no runs on six hits and no walks while striking out nine. Last year, Bloom averaged around five innings per appearance, so it was a welcome sight for the Terps to see him go seven strong. One of Maryland’s biggest question marks entering this season was whether it could replace Brian Shaffer, and for at least one day, Bloom answered that question with a resounding yes.
Offensively, it was the Nick Dunn show. The junior second baseman, who hit just five home runs in 2017, drilled two in the game. With Kevin Smith’s departure, Dunn becomes an even bigger key to the offense, and it was a great start for the second baseman. Like with Bloom, Dunn immediately stepped up in game one.
The one area in which Maryland looked rusty to begin the season was on the base paths. In the second inning, A.J. Lee and Will Watson were picked off in back-to-back batters after each reaching first base. In the sixth, Dunn was thrown out at second after Wright’s pop fly dropped, and Wright was immediately picked off following the blunder. In total, Maryland had five outs on the bases. Maryland was noticeably aggressive as baserunners, but wasn’t as efficient as it had hoped to start.
While the offense was quiet for the first three innings, Maryland woke up in the top of the fourth. Dunn got things started with a home run to deep right field. Later in the inning, transfer third baseman Taylor Wright singled, stole a base and scored on a Watson single to make it 2-0.
After another scoreless three innings, Dunn hit his second home run of the game in the eighth, extending Maryland’s lead to three. An inning later, Marty Costes added some insurance himself by doubling in Randy Bednar. However, Maryland still left the bases loaded that inning, and Maryland left nine total base runners stranded throughout the game.
After losing multiple relievers, Maryland had questions regarding bullpen roles entering this season. Up two in the bottom of the eighth, Vaughn went to starting first baseman Kevin Biondic as his first reliever out of the bullpen. Despite hitting the first batter he faced and allowing a single, Biondic got out of a jam to keep the game 3-0 after eight innings, and the righty moved back to first in the ninth when he was done pitching.
John Murphy is the one reliever who knew his role entering the year, and he closed out the game with an easy ninth inning. The righty was a little wild in his debut as closer, walking two batters, but he successfully navigated the trouble to end the game.
The teams have a quick turnaround as they meet again Saturday at 2 p.m. ET. Maryland lefty Tyler Blohm will take the mound against Tennessee righty Garrett Stallings.