Matt Shaw had only two choices for where he’d play college baseball. Maryland and Northeastern were the Massachusetts native’s only Division 1 offers. He could either stay close to home or take a chance on an unproven coach.
He picked the Terps. Three years later, he’s their all-time leader in home runs.
Shaw crushed his 44th homer of his career Wednesday in the third inning of Maryland’s 16-3 win at Georgetown. The blast moved the junior into first place in the program’s career home run leaderboard.
“I probably won’t ever coach the combination of talent, the combination of work ethic [and] the combination of attention to detail in everything he does [again],” coach Rob Vaughn said Thursday. “He’s left a serious impact on this program.”
Shaw passed Paul Schager, who hit 43 home runs from 1984 to 1987. The two-run shot was Shaw’s 15th of the season and one of seven long balls the team slugged in Wednesday’s dominating victory.
Kevin Keister, Elijah Lambros, Matt Woods, Luke Shliger and Jacob Orr also added home runs. Keister slugged two, including a grand slam, to give him his second consecutive multi-homer contest.
The shortstop entered the season with 29 career homers, 14 shy of Schager. Early season struggles — one home run in his first 47 at bats — kept him from adding to that total initially. But he found his swing in the weeks leading up to conference play and had 11 home runs in his last 23 games entering Wednesday.
[Maryland baseball hits four home runs in high-scoring 10-9 win over No. 25 Iowa]
Shaw helped Maryland grow into a perennial Big Ten contender over his three seasons. It captured its first regular season conference title and won a record-breaking 48 games in 2022 with him leading the way.
The coach felt questions around the player’s defensive position kept him off rivals’ radars but Vaughn always knew he’d find a defensive home for Shaw’s electric bat.
He made an instant impact as a freshman. The then-second baseman led the Terps in hits and doubles as a centerpiece of Maryland’s first NCAA tournament team since 2017.
That offseason, Shaw told Vaughn he wanted to try shortstop, a position he felt would allow him to maximize his athleticism. He impressed the coach over the fall and winter and quickly became Maryland’s best option at the position.
“He hit .290 with a lot of home runs as a freshman, so you’re like, ‘He’s your best player, you’re gonna let him do what he wants,’” Vaughn said Thursday.
Manning a new position, Shaw hit 22 home runs and earned first team All-Big Ten honors in 2022. He led another Terps team to the postseason, the first time the program made consecutive NCAA tournaments since 2014 and 2015.
[Matt Shaw’s historic three-homer performance boosts Maryland baseball past Michigan, 20-6]
Shaw won player of the year in the Cape Cod League competing against many of college baseball’s best players. He did so ahead of a junior season with immense expectations for him and for the Terps.
Maryland looked to follow up its best season in program history while Shaw, a preseason All-American, had the MLB Draft and a record to chase.
Each of the 44 long balls have come in moments big and small. He’s blasted two postseason home runs, including one in his first NCAA tournament as a freshman. He hit three home runs in a win over Michigan last season, tying a program single-game record. His long ball at Iowa earlier this season, a 507-foot blast, is the farthest Vaughn said he’d ever seen.
His record-setting hit Wednesday isn’t as impactful as those on the scoreboard. But the home run etches his name in the Maryland record book and solidifies Shaw’s place as one of the Terps’ greatest sluggers.
“He’s probably, when it’s all said and done, going to be the best player to ever walk through here,” Vaughn said Sunday.