At the end of the Maryland baseball team's batting practices, assistant coach Rob Vaughn instructs the Terps to approach their last swing as if there were two outs and a runner on second base in a live game. Each player receives just one opportunity to drive in the hypothetical run.
The two-out drill is conducted to improve Maryland's situational hitting, an area center fielder Zach Jancarski does not usually focus on. Jancarski, a leadoff hitter with a .426 on-base percentage, normally just tries to get on base. But in the Terps' 6-0 Wednesday win over William & Mary, he produced three two-out RBI singles.
Jancarski, along with ninth-hitter AJ Lee, who went 4-for-4 against the Tribe, are hoping for similar run-production in the Terps' three-game series against Michigan State at Bob "Turtle" Smith Stadium this weekend.
"I like to think I do pretty good [in the drill]," Jancarski said. "We try to take that into the game. All of our guys do a really good job with it. It doesn't really matter [where in the order we are], we're really confident we're going to get it done."
Jancarski is one of three players on the roster to start every game this season. He gave right-hander Ryan Hill a one-run advantage in the second inning Wednesday when he sent a 2-1 pitch up the middle. The hit helped Hill, making his first-ever start for Maryland, settle in with an early advantage.
After Lee doubled with two outs in the fourth, Jancarski scored the third baseman with a single through the left side of the infield. Jancarski drove in another run with a base hit in the sixth, giving Maryland a three-run edge.
Jancarski and Lee combined to go 8-for-9 against the Tribe. Wednesday was Lee's second 4-for-4 performance in as many games, and Jancarski's first hit of the night extended his hitting streak to 11 contests.
"It's pretty special when you have two guys in the nine spot and the top of the order who have the same skillset," Lee said. "Guys who can get on base and use their legs a little bit and can still drive people in. It's pretty special when we're both setting the table for guys."
While neither Jancarski nor Lee are traditional RBI threats, both have received increased opportunities with runners in scoring position. In their past three games, they've driven in nine runs.
Still, Jancarski's 18 RBIs and Lee's 20 RBIs trail right fielder Marty Costes' team-leading 31 runs driven in. But due to the pressure-driven final rounds of batting practice, along with their uptick in at-bats with runners on, they've shown improvement.
"Both have more opportunities with runners with runners on than earlier in the year," shortstop Kevin Smith said. "It [had been] one out, two outs, nobody on [and] they have to create something. They're getting a lot more RBI opportunities. They like it and they embrace it."