Ryan Van Buren watched Scott Seeker crush a ball over the right field wall. It was only the second batter he faced against Mount St. Mary’s on Tuesday.

But the right-hander didn’t dwell on it. His focus shifted to the next batter.

Van Buren held the Mountaineers scoreless in his ensuing 4 2/3 innings, allowing just three hits. His dominance kept Maryland baseball within striking distance amid an early offensive drought.

After being held scoreless through six innings, the Terps erupted in the final three. They tallied six runs on five hits, securing a 6-4 win over Mount St. Mary’s at E.T. Straw Family Stadium.

Maryland’s pitchers labored in most of their midweek games last season. The staff combined for a 7.26 ERA and surrendered five or more runs in all but two of 14 games.

Van Buren has been the catalyst for midweek pitching improvements. He sports a 3.32 ERA in four starts. The Terps are undefeated in those games, and have lost just one midweek game this season.

[Behind the technology guiding Maryland baseball’s pitching staff]

The junior worked with pitching coach Jimmy Jackson over the offseason to enhance his pitch arsenal. The two scrapped his two-seam fastball in favor of a four-seam fastball, which aligned more with Van Buren’s natural over-the-top arm slot.

The switch added velocity and precision to his fastball. Van Buren also incorporates a curveball with a larger drop to complement his refined “power slider” and changeup.

In the fall, Jackson noticed Van Buren performed better when he threw one outing per week instead of two or three. He implemented set rest intervals and a bullpen session before each appearance. Van Buren shined with the adjustments.

“Me and Jimmy are pretty confident in my stuff and what we’re capable of doing out there right now,” Van Buren said. “Everything’s different from last year but it’s all looking good.”

The right-hander alternated between starting and relief appearances in 2023. Having a solidified role has helped him gain a rhythm, Van Buren said.

“He’s done a great job of slowing the game down and he’s been a lot better this year,” Kevin Keister said after Van Buren led Maryland to a 3-2 win over Delaware on March 5.

[Kevin Keister coveted Maryland baseball’s captaincy. He earned it after years of growth.]

Jackson discussed the idea of Van Buren becoming the midweek starter with the coaching staff during the winter, but waited to see if his progress continued when players returned in January. Van Buren didn’t miss a beat.

The pitching coach told him in the final weeks of the preseason he’d become the full-time midweek starter.

“You’re starting every midweek, which [is] just as important as any other game of the week because you got to win enough games to get into a regional,” Jackson said.

Coach Matt Swope added pitching depth last offseason, bringing in eight arms from the transfer portal. One of his focuses was to not surrender as many runs during midweek games he said.

The Terps have done that, allowing more than five runs just once in those contests so far.
More importantly, they’ve found a reliable starter in Van Buren. His performances have been what the program has, according to Swope, seeked for years.