Maryland baseball’s new-look roster saw its first action under first-year coach Matt Swope on Sunday in a pair of exhibition games against Virginia.
The Terps fell 16-6 and 8-2 in nine and seven-inning contests. But nonetheless, the team’s litany of newcomers saw their first action in Maryland uniforms.
Swope swiftly rebuilt the roster in the off-season after seven Terps were selected in the MLB draft and a plethora of players transferred following previous coach Rob Vaughn’s departure to Alabama. Only 15 players returned from last year’s Big Ten title-winning squad.
To supplement those loses, the Terps brought in 14 transfers and 16 freshmen.
“[Virginia’s] a top tier program in the northeast and in the country,” Swope said. “Really just a good barometer for our guys to see what we got to do to go back to work on Tuesday.”
Pitching changes were frequent on Sunday as Swope aimed to get a look at his new arms — 13 different pitchers took the mound over 16 innings.
There are open spots in the starting rotation with Jason Savacool and Nick Dean’s departures and Kyle McCoy’s season-ending offseason surgery. Nine pitchers joined the Terps through the transfer portal this offseason, a welcome sight for a staff that toted the fourth-worst ERA in the Big Ten last year.
But the group failed to impress Sunday. The Terps gave up a combined 24 runs across 16 innings.
Newcomers Trystan Sarcone, a fifth-year from Dartmouth, and Logan Berrier, a redshirt senior from Longwood, started the two games. Both will compete for a starting spot but struggled in short appearances, giving up a combined seven runs.
Sarcone earned All-Ivy League Second Team honors in 2022 but followed it with a 7.65 ERA last season before coming to College Park.
Of Maryland’s nine transfer pitchers, he was one of seven who took the mound Sunday.
“I thought there was times where we got some really, really good pitches and some swing-and-miss but overall we were just too behind,” Swope said.
Transfer Sam Hojnar is expected to be one of Swope’s most impactful additions. He started at second base and hit fourth in the first game, a potential preview of the role Swope sees the redshirt senior from Iowa playing in the spring. Hojnar rewarded that faith with a three-run homer.
“He’s been on a team that’s won a lot of games in Iowa over the years,” Swope said. “It was a huge get being able to steal him and get him. He’s just a consummate professional.”
Senior Kevin Keister started at shortstop for the first game Sunday, where he’ll likely start in the spring. Keister batted third, but exited in the second inning with an injury.
Swope said the shortstop spot is Keister’s to lose but that freshman Chris Hacopian also received reps there before breaking his foot.
Swope has multiple options for Luke Shliger’s replacement at catcher. Sophomore Devin Russell returns while Charlie Glennon and Alex Calarco transferred from Denison and Northwestern respectively.
Russell started at catcher for the first game and slugged a home run in the second game at designated hitter, while Glennon started game two behind the plate. Calarco is still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, but said he will be healthy by the spring.
Junior Eddie Hacopian also missed Sunday. He’s sidelined with a broken foot but will likely start at first base after hitting .328 and starting all 63 games last season.
Fifth-year transfer Ben Nardi is a strong candidate to start in the outfield alongside junior returners Elijah Lambros and Jacob Orr. Lambros and Orr batted second and fifth in both games respectively, while Nardi started in left field in the second match.
Nardi set the Division III Catholic University career home run record with 29 in his four-year career there. He came to College Park for his final year of college baseball.
“I just want to help the team win in any facet that I can,” Nardi said. “The goal for everyone should be get over the hump and win a regional, win a super regional, and find a way to Omaha.”