Left-hander Tayler Stiles was frustrated when assistant coach Ryan Fecteau approached him in the sixth inning of the Maryland baseball team's 6-2 win against UMBC on Tuesday night. Stiles had tossed five scoreless innings and wanted to remain in the game. The senior already recorded the longest outing by a Maryland midweek starter this season.
The top of UMBC's lineup was due up to begin the sixth, and it would've been the third time Stiles faced the Retrievers' top three hitters. Instead of giving UMBC's offense the chance to adjust to Stiles' offspeed pitches, Fecteau elected to have right-handers Ryan Hill and John Murphy pitch the final four innings.
Before the game, Stiles told Fecteau if the first-year pitching coach wanted him to pitch a complete game, he would oblige. Nonetheless, Stiles' second start this season ended the Terps' skid of short midweek outings. Coach John Szefc said Stiles could pitch relief Saturday or Sunday in the Terps' series against Northwestern this weekend at Bob "Turtle" Smith Stadium.
"I felt good," Stiles said. "The changeup was down. The slider was good. Luckily, everything felt really good [Tuesday]."
Though the Retrievers' lineup featured all right-handed hitters against Stiles, who boasts a 4.15 ERA over 26 innings pitched, he incorporated his changeup to attack the UMBC offense. He worked around center fielder Andrew Casali's two-out triple in the third and left fielder Raven Beeman's two-out double in the fifth.
When it seemed the Retrievers might begin a rally after first baseman Jamie Switalski's leadoff single in the fourth, designated hitter Zack Bright hit into an inning-ending double play.
Over five innings, Stiles allowed four hits and struck out six while not issuing a walk.
"Throwing strikes, getting ahead of hitters," coach John Szefc said. "We needed a good midweek start. He gave it to us. Five scoreless, I'll take that any day."
Stiles' control of and ability to use all his pitches was evident in the second inning. Bright swung and missed at an elevated fastball, striking out to end the frame. He lost control of his bat, which spiraled into Maryland's dugout.
In his pregame conversation with Fecteau, Stiles requested the pitching coach relay the pitch call to catcher Dan Maynard immediately so they wouldn't waste time between pitches. Fecteau did so, and Stiles responded, working swiftly through the Retrievers lineup. Stiles' tempo helped the Terps end the game in less than two-and-a-half hours.
"I love playing defense behind him," left fielder Madison Nickens said. "He works fast and throws strikes. It keeps me on my toes. You looked up and it was the sixth inning already an hour and a half ago. We've played some dragged out games this year."
As the Terps prepare for their final conference series of the regular season, Stiles is unlikely to be available to pitch Friday, Szefc said, but he should be able to throw in the other two games as needed. While Stiles may not start again until the postseason since the Terps don't play any more midweek games, his extended outing helped secure Maryland's eighth midweek win.
"Everything was working, the fastball, locating it in and locating it out," Stiles said. "This is the best I've felt all season, which is great."