Matt Swope called the abrupt finish to Maryland baseball’s 2024 season “devastating” after its season-ending loss to Penn State in May. His squad had just been left out of the eight-team Big Ten tournament following a home sweep to a conference rival.

Reflecting now, Swope said he feels good about what his team accomplished in a transition year. The Terps tied their 2002 campaign for the sixth-most wins in program history despite returning just 12 players from the previous season. Swope himself won the most games as a first-year coach in Maryland history, while the Terps’ freshman core saw significant playing time.

“I’m just excited for the future,” Swope said. “I thought it was a really, really, really strong first year for me and the program.”

Swope said his new role in 2024 wasn’t a challenge. He credited former Maryland coach John Szefc for teaching him how to be a head coach after his hire in 2013 as director of baseball operations. He learned how to manage administrative tasks such as fundraising and budgeting for the team. Swope further assisted on the team’s scheduling as an assistant and associate head coach.

He kept most of the program’s identity intact after his promotion last June. Team practices held the same structure and were held at the same time. Team traditions, such as the captain donning the number three, remained.

“It didn’t feel like a big change,” first baseman Eddie Hacopian said. “It wasn’t very noticeable and everything was smooth … [Swope] did a really good job of keeping that group together.”

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The seamless transition resulted in the Terps winning their first six weekend sets. But the Big Ten slate wasn’t as friendly, as Maryland dropped five of their eight conference series. It hit rock bottom in mid-April after losing two of three games to Northwestern, which won four Big Ten games all season.

Bullpen depth depleted toward the end of the season due to injuries, which Swope factored into the late-season decline. The skipper added eight transfer arms last offseason to solidify relief pitching, only to have four of them injured throughout the year. Garrett French and James Gladden each missed either a large portion or the entire season.

With an entirely new starting weekend rotation from last year and three newcomers finishing in the top-five in at-bats, Maryland went 9-6 against NCAA tournament opponents. It earned a series win against the Big Ten regular season champions, Illinois, in April.

Maryland’s freshmen proved to be a bright spot throughout the year. Among the team’s 26 newcomers in 2024, 13 were first-year players. The group instantly entered the fold, with outfielder Brayden Martin and third baseman Chris Hacopian batting first and second in the Terps’ season opener.

Both freshmen missed just one game the entire season. Infielder Michael Iannazzo closed the year with 19 starts in the last 21 games.

Chris Hacopian earned All-Big Ten second team honors after knocking the second-most home runs as a freshman in program history. Martin had the team’s third-highest on-base percentage. Jordan Crosland added three home runs in 29 games.

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Swope declared that the trio could all be top-five round MLB draft selections after a win over James Madison in March.

“I see a lot of the people within our class, they’re just hungry,” Crosland said. “They’re eager to learn and to get better.”

Maryland also relied upon freshmen pitchers on the mound. Right-hander Joey McMannis entered the starting rotation in week three and finished the year with a 4.99 ERA in ten starts. Evan Smith stepped up with three spot starts in 15 appearances. Duke McCarron tallied the third-most freshman appearances with eight.

“If their progression stays, I think … all three have a chance to be three of our top guys going into next year and especially their junior draft season,” pitching coach Jimmy Jackson said.

With 11 seniors and graduate students departing, Maryland’s young core will step into a larger role in 2025. Swope is confident they are ready.

“It’s not easy to make an impact as a freshman,” Swope said. “Just having that experience and confidence coming back will really help us propel forward.”