Former Terp finds success as slugger for Towson

Maxey's 17 home runs have transfer tied for Div. I lead

College Baseball

April 27, 2005|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

Jason Maxey is a perfect fit for the new Tigers from Towson.

The slugging first baseman has arrived from Maryland just in time to lead a home run assault that has carried Maxey and the Tigers to the top of the NCAA Division I home run charts.

Maxey is tied for the lead in the nation with Oklahoma State's Adam Carr with 17, and the Towson team is No. 1 with 78 homers in 39 games. Maxey is threatening to become the first Tiger to lead the country in home runs.

Maxey's home run show comes from the No. 5 or No. 6 spot in the batting order, with both Casper Wells and Mark Chiccini usually hitting ahead of him.

Wells is right behind Maxey with 15 homers. The sometimes pitcher-outfielder-designated hitter is also hitting a team-leading .398, and his 53 RBIs lead the team.

Chiccini has a .367 batting average and is third on the team in homers with 10.

As for Maxey, the 5-foot-11 slugger is hitting .318 and is second on the team with 44 RBIs.

At Towson, Maxey has been reunited with three former Hammond High teammates, Pat Fields, Adam Heffron and Brian Brewer.

Fields has witnessed a major change in Maxey since he left Maryland. "He was just miserable at Maryland, and now he's always happy," Fields said. "It's definitely good to see."

Said Maxey: "I'm glad I did [transfer]. I just needed a change of scenery. It's worked out great, both academically and socially."

Towson coach Mike Gottlieb, whose team is 21-18, said he wasn't always certain how Maxey would fit in at Towson.

"He's always been the big fish wherever he's been," Gottlieb said of the two-time first-team All-Metro pick at Hammond. "I didn't know how he'd react to coaching, how he'd react to our program. But like I tell everybody, nobody could have fit in more perfectly in our program, with the kids we have, with the coaches we have. Everything is perfect with this kid this year.

Like that rainy April 2 morning when Maxey, struggling at the plate at the time with a .244 average, asked Gottlieb to work with him for 45 minutes on a batting tee after a doubleheader at Delaware was postponed until the next day.

"No one else asked to do that," Gottlieb said. "They all went home and went to sleep."

The next day, Maxey hit two bases-empty home runs in what was one of the greatest comeback victories in school history, a 20-19 win in the second game of a doubleheader after Towson had fallen behind 14-2 to Delaware in the first inning.

Gone but not forgotten are those three years of intermittent success at Maryland.

Maxey batted .287 over three seasons in College Park, with 25 home runs, 103 RBIs and 73 runs. However, he never was truly happy with the Terps and opted to spend his final collegiate season at a mid-level Division I school.

Fields said he nudged him toward Towson.

"I knew he was unhappy down at Maryland for whatever reason," Fields said. "I definitely didn't talk him into it, but I just said he'd be a welcome addition."

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