Terrapins baseball right-hander Mike Shawaryn focuses on improving one day at a time during the season.
So after losing his season debut last Friday against Alabama, Shawaryn wasn’t upset. Instead, he used the setback as a learning experience.
And in the Terps’ 1-0 win over Rhode Island on Friday, Shawaryn returned to pitching like the All-American he’s been tabbed as.
While the offense recorded just four hits, the junior allowed one hit in eight innings to lead the Terps to a victory in their home opener at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium.
“I didn’t get discouraged,” Shawaryn said. “Games like [Alabama] give you an opportunity to learn from the mistakes you might have made and focus on that the week to come. It’s a good opportunity to learn from what you did and next week you’ll hopefully be able to make those adjustments in the game.”
Last Friday, Shawaryn struck out eight, but he allowed two crucial runs in the Terps’ 3-1 defeat. The Carneys Point, New Jersey, native held a 13-2 record last season, so in his second start, he was in danger of tying his loss total from last year.
But against the Rams (0-4), who hit .196 in their first series of the season against Florida State, Shawaryn resembled the ace who held a 1.76 ERA last season.
He said he didn’t put enough strength on some of his pitches last week, but he executed better Friday.
“Mike has been tremendous in both of his starts,” coach John Szefc said. “We’ve scored two runs for him in two starts. If we scored any type of runs for him last Friday, we would’ve won that game too.”
While Shawaryn commanded the strike zone, Szefc’s squad looked to improve on driving in runners after stranding 18 their 2-1 series loss to Alabama last weekend. Despite working on their approach at the plate in practice this week, though, the Terps struggled to get on base Friday, as the top three players of the Terps’ batting lineup were the only players to notch hits.
So it took an error in the fourth inning for the Terps (2-2) to score the game’s lone run.
Shortstop Kevin Smith and second baseman Nick Dunn singled, and designated hitter Nick Cieri nearly grounded into a double play to end the inning as Dunn was picked off at second base. But second baseman Chris Hess’ throw to first base was wide, and Smith ran home.
Smith, who batted .273 last season, went 1-for-12 this past weekend. But he seemed more comfortable at the plate Friday, going 2-for-3 with a double.
While the less experienced Terps continued to struggle at the plate — Smith was the only player with two hits — Szefc said the Terps offense will be fine, but it will take time for it to improve.
Still, the offense did enough Friday for the Terps to earn the win, as it received support from Shawaryn to win their first home contest. And when the Terps are leading by just one run, Shawaryn said it gives him extra motivation to finish the job.
“You can smell the win,” Shawaryn said. “Especially inning after inning, it’s just like, ‘One less inning, one less inning.’ You use that to motivate you inning by inning. You can smell the blood in the water.”