Series Preview: Creighton Bluejays

With a commanding 12-4 win over the Elon Phoenix, the Terrapins (12-8) capped off a dominant two-game sweep of Elon on the road. The Terps offense, which surged for 23 runs over the two-game swing, will look to stay hot as they travel back home this weekend to face the Creighton Bluejays (8-5).

The series had previously been scheduled to be played in Omaha at TD Ameritrade Park, but due to heavy snowfall, the series was moved to Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium in College Park.

The Terrapins and Bluejays will be facing each other for the first time in over 20 years, so the history between the two schools is relatively short. Maryland will surely be looking to add some of its own success to the schools’ brief history this weekend, and there’s no better time to do so than after outscoring their last opponent 23-8.

The Terps also outhit their last opponent 23-9 with a couple of outstanding performances from senior AJ Lee and junior Caleb Walls. While some Terps notched themselves a pair of hits over the two-game series, Lee compiled three hits in four at-bats including a two-run homer and two-run double while Walls mashed a couple of home runs himself as part of his own four-hit day on Tuesday.

As for Maryland’s pitchers, they’re sitting on just six earned runs over the last two games and were given big enough leads throughout the series to cruise on by with 22 strikeouts and two wins under their belts. While five pitchers mostly split up innings during Tuesday’s 12-4 win, junior Tuck Tucker started Wednesday’s game and provided five one-run, one-hit innings as the Terps eased their way into another dominant win.

Creighton Bluejays (8-5, 0-0 Big East)

Last Season

Despite finishing the 2018 season with an overall record of 34-16, Creighton’s best since 2016, a conference record of 8-9 wasn’t good enough to push the Bluejays into the Big East tournament. While they did win the second-most overall games in the Big East after St. Johns’s 36, it simply wasn’t enough, leaving the Bluejays out of the NCAA Tournament for the sixth straight year.

This Season

Creighton has yet to play a home game this season due to the terrible weather Omaha has had since the season opened up, but they still carry an 8-5 record including some very high-scoring wins. In fact, the Bluejays have scored 10 or more runs in six of their eight wins. However, their opponents have also scored a lot, and they’re coming off of a series loss in which their opponent, Evansville, outscored them 22-11. One of those games was an 11-0 slaughter by Evansville.

Hitters to Watch

The Bluejays have three hitters who each have an on-base plus slugging percentage of over .900. Those hitters are senior Parker Upton (1.084) and juniors Jake Holton (1.022) and Will Robertson (.990). The three of those hitters have combined for 10 home runs and are responsible for nearly 50 percent of Creighton’s RBI this season.

Pitchers to Watch

Creighton’s pitchers have been shelled up to this point in the season. Between the four pitchers who have started games for them, they’ve pitched 54.2 innings while letting up 49 earned runs. Some of their better pitchers reside in the bullpen. Right-handed senior Bobby Kametas has pitched 6.1 scoreless innings in six appearances while striking out seven. Their next best pitcher in relief is righty freshman Dylan Tebrake, who, despite pitching just 3.2 innings this season, has only surrendered one hit while limiting batters to a team-best .091 batting average.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Friday, 6:30 p.m. ET

Sr. RHP Hunter Parsons ( 3-1, 2.45 ERA) v. Sr. RHP Mitch Ragan (2-1, 6.56 ERA)

 RMZBYNJDDYBZPMM.20150924191225  1Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logo  vs.logo_-creighton-university-bulejays-blue-jay-head-cMitch Ragan

Hunter Parsons will surely be looking to bounce back after East Carolina knocked his season ERA up by over an entire run after plating six runs against him. The Terps ace received his first loss of the season from that start, and could certainly use a quality start to bring himself back down to Earth.

While Bluejays ace Mitch Ragan leads his team in strikeouts (23) over his 23.1 innings this season, he also leads in hits allowed and total runs allowed. Ragan is returning to the mound after giving up seven runs (two earned) over 3.2 innings while hitting three batters.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Saturday, 2:00 p.m. ET

Jr. RHP Zach Thompson (1-2, 3.34 ERA) v. Sr. LHP Denson Hull (0-2, 9.15 ERA)

    Thompson082818_02  1Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logo  vs.logo_-creighton-university-bulejays-blue-jay-head-cDenson Hull

Thompson is coming off one of the best starts out of anyone on the Terrapins roster, allowing only two runs over 8.0 innings against East Carolina. That start helped bring his ERA down from 3.74 to 3.34 as he looks to continue his domination on the mound into Saturday.

Denson Hull leads all Bluejay starters in ERA — and by quite a large margin (next lowest is 6.56). He leads Creighton in earned runs (20) while also allowing the highes opposing batting average out of Creighton starters (.297). The last time Hull pitched was last Saturday in Evansville, where he gave up four earned runs after allowing five hits and walking four batters.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET

Fr. RHP Trevor LaBonte (1-1, 2.78 ERA) v. Sr. RHP Evan Johnson (1-0, 5.94 ERA)

Labonte082818_021Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logo  vs.logo_-creighton-university-bulejays-blue-jay-head-cEvan Johnson

Trevor LaBonte, just like Parsons, got roughed up in his last start versus East Carolina. Although his ERA only increased by 0.18, his control was a bit awry, as evident by his three walks and one hit-by-pitch during that start. He’ll also be looking to bounce back against this Creighton team on Sunday.

Johnson had pitched his best game of the season last Sunday, going five innings versus Evansville while only allowing two runs on four hits. However, the senior leads Creighton in total walks (12) this season while also allowing the most extra-base hits by any Bluejay in 2019 (7).

Maryland Dominates in 12-4 win over Elon

Freshman Kody Milton, one of the Terps’ freshman infielders, stepped onto the mound in the eighth inning on Wednesday.  This time, Milton wasn’t there to support his pitcher––he was the pitcher. Maryland’s 12-4 lead allowed the Terps to turn to Milton with the hope of saving some bullpen arms. He did just that and shut down the Phoenix with two strikeouts and a fly out.

Maryland’s offense dominated on Wednesday, defeating Elon 12-4 in North Carolina to sweep the two-game series.

The offense made an immediate impact in the first inning, loading the bases for A.J. Lee with two outs. Lee walked in a run, and consecutive two-run singles from juniors Sebastian Holte-Mancera and Caleb Walls gave Maryland an immediate 5-0 lead. With that, the Terps chased Phoenix starting pitcher Daniel Albrittain from the game after just two-thirds of an inning. Right-hander Adam Spurlin entered in relief.

Following the first, Taylor Wright led off the second inning with a single. After a ground out from freshman Maxwell Costes moved him to second, Wright reached third on a passed ball and eventually scored on another ground out from catcher Justin Vought, giving the Terps a 6-0 lead.

The offense continued to roll in the third inning as sophomore Randy Bednar drove in two more runs with a double. Then, after Bednar stole third, Wright singled him home and the Terps extended their lead to 9-0.

Meanwhile, Maryland starter Tuck Tucker put up a dominant start, keeping pace with the Terps’ offense. Through four innings, Tucker allowed no runs, no hits, and walked just one, giving his offense the opportunity to break the game open.

Elon eventually got on the board with a solo home run from first baseman Joe Satterfield to start the fifth, breaking up Tucker’s no-hit bid. However, Tucker settled back down, retiring the next three batters to get out of the inning. Freshman Sean Heine relieved Tucker to start the sixth.

Maryland’s offensive outburst continued in the sixth inning, as Tommy Gardiner put up a two-run single. Holte-Mancera, who moved to third on Gardiner’s single, then scored on a passed ball to make it 12-1. The Terps challenged the Phoenix pitching staff all day, as even in innings when they did not score they put together solid at-bats and placed runners on base.

Elon scored once in the sixth inning off of Heine and twice in the bottom of the seventh inning against reliever Sean Fisher, making it 12-4, but the Phoenix rally was too little too late as the Terps cruised to victory in the late innings.

Maryland improved its record to 12-8, while Elon drops to 11-10. The Terps look to continue this offensive surge and win streak in their upcoming series against Creighton (8-5).

 

 

 

 

 

Pro Terps Update: Lowe signs six-year deal with Rays, per reports

Former Terrapin infielder Brandon Lowe has signed a six-year extension with the Tampa Bay Rays, per reports. The deal guarantees Lowe with $24 million and includes two club options.

After making his major-league debut last August, Lowe appeared in 43 games for the Rays, batting .233 and ending the season with a .324 on-base percentage in 148 plate appearances.

With his call-up in 2018, Lowe became second Terrapin on the Rays’ active roster, and the third Terp on an active MLB roster in 2018, joining southpaw Adam Kolarek in Tampa Bay and reliever Brett Cecil, who at the time was on the 10-Day Disabled List for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Prior to the draft in 2015, Lowe spent two seasons in Maryland’s infield and helped the Terps make their first two NCAA Super Regionals appearances in program history. He finished his collegiate career with a .338/.448/.509 line, contributing to Maryland’s first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1971 in his first year as a Terp in 2014.

Drafted by Tampa in the third round (87th overall) of the 2015 MLB Draft, it took Lowe less than three years to reach the majors after his entrance into the Rays’ minor-league system in 2016 with the Class-A Bowling Green Hot Rods

Lowe then spent time with the Class-A Advanced Charlotte Stone Crabs and the Class-AA Montgomery Biscuits in 2017, during which he hit .298 with 11 home runs and 58 RBIs between both clubs. He started 2018 in Montgomery, but moved up to the Class-AAA Durham Bulls after 54 games. Lowe spent 46 games with the Bulls, batting . 304 with 14 home runs and 35 RBIs.

Now, Lowe is hitting .359 with two home runs and 14 RBIs in 42 plate appearances with the Rays in the Grapefruit League. With his extension, Lowe is likely to make Tampa’s roster for opening day.

The Tampa Bay Rays have not yet confirmed Lowe’s deal.

Terps Overpower Elon at the Plate for the Win

An offensive explosion complimented by smart base running lifted Maryland over the Elon Phoenix on Tuesday. After falling victim to a perfect game on Sunday against East Carolina, the Terps landed at least one man on base in all nine innings to secure a 11-4 win.

Maryland went hitless in its matchup on Sunday against ECU, but ended the theme early on Tuesday, securing five hits through the first two innings, totaling 15 hits on the day. Catcher Justin Vought, who went 0-9 over the weekend, got a hit in his first at-bat and two more later in the game.

Senior AJ Lee earned three hits, with his second one coming at a great time. After a comeback by Elon where the Phoenix took the lead away from the Terps, the shortstop delivered a two RBI double to break things open, giving Maryland a 7-4 lead in the seventh. Then, in the eighth, Lee belted his first home run of the season for his fourth RBI of the day.

Caleb Walls, with four hits on the day, extended the early lead for Maryland with a two RBI inside-the-park home run in the second, making it 3-0. Later, in the seventh, Walls delivered another big hit where he brought in Maryland’s eighth run of the afternoon. He followed Lee in the eighth inning with a home run of his own, his second of the day, giving him four RBIs in the game.

On the other side of the ball, Mark DiLuia made his first start of the year, where he fanned three batters in 2.1 innings of work, conceding one earned run. A bullpen heavy day for the Terps featured freshmen Daniel O’Connor and Will Glock. Together, they went 4.2 innings as Glock struck out three and did not give up a hit.

Elliot Zoellner also contributed to the Terps’ cause on the mound, striking out three in one inning to set up Billy Phillips in the ninth. The southpaw came in, struck out two and secured Maryland’s first win in a week heading into Wednesday’s matchup against the Phoenix.

Series Preview: Elon Phoenix

The Maryland Terrapins (10-8) are coming off a weekend series against No.17 East Carolina, where they lost all three games to the Pirates. After the sweep at home, the Terps are on the road to take on Elon in a midweek two-game series.

Maryland is 8-6 against Elon in the series history, with the most recent victory coming a season ago when the Terps took the game 11-3. The Terps are looking to do more damage at the plate against the Phoenix in the series after posting only one run in 27 innings over the weekend.

Although the weekend series was not ideal for Maryland at the plate, the pitching staff continued to succeed against a tough lineup. After conceding nine runs in the first game, the Terps gave up five runs in the following two games combined. Junior Zach Thompson threw eight innings in the second game, letting up two runs, followed by six scoreless frames.

The final game of the weekend was quite the pitchers duel. Trevor LaBonte started for the Terps, going 5.1 scoreless innings, striking out four on five hits. On the other side of the ball, however, is where the cheers were. Sophomore Jake Kuchmaner tossed a perfect game for the Pirates, the first of his young career.

The young bullpen worked through tough situations for the Terps, as well. Freshman Andrew Vail fanned two in an inning of work on Saturday, while four relievers came out of the bullpen on Sunday to take over for LaBonte.

Elon Phoenix (11-8, 0-0 CAA)

Last Season

The Phoenix finished the 2018 campaign with their most wins since 2011. A 36-23 record was stopped short with an early exit in their conference tournament after falling to top-seeded Northeastern.

This Season

Elon is off to a good start this season, picking up some big out of conference wins to boost its early season resume. In a two game series against No.20 Wake Forest, the Phoenix split the series with the Demon Deacons. In their last series, the Phoenix won two of three at Western Carolina.

Hitters to Watch

Elon has three hitters with an average above the .300 mark on the year. Leading the team is junior infielder Joe Satterfield, who in 19 games is batting .403 with a .569 slugging percentage. Garrett Stonehouse and Cam Devanney round out the top of Elon’s order that has damaged opposing pitchers this season.

Relievers to Watch

Three arms out of the bullpen for the Phoenix have sub-2.00 ERAs, including Naushon Galbraith (1.00) and Ty Adcock (1.69), with eight and 11 strikeouts, respectively.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Tuesday, 4:00 p.m. ET

So. RHP Mark DiLuia (0-0, 3.68 ERA) vs. Fr. RHP Kyle Greenler (0-0, 1.98 ERA)

Mark DiLuia   1Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logo  vs.Elon_Phoenix_wordmark.svg.pngKyle Greenler Headshot

Tuesday is DiLuia’s first start of the season after coming out of the bullpen seven times. A season ago, he started 12 games in 14 appearances with a 5.62 ERA and 47 strikeouts. His longest outing of his 2019 campaign came in 3.1 innings of work against Delaware where he fanned two and let up one hit.

Greenler has started one game in nine appearances this year. As one of Elon’s strongest arms in the bullpen, Greenler is one of three pitchers with a sub-two ERA in at least nine innings of work.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Wednesday, 4:00 p.m. ET

Jr. LHP Tuck Tucker (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. TBD

  Tuck Tucker    1Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logo  vs.Elon_Phoenix_wordmark.svg.png

The southpaw has yet to let up a run in 2.1 innings of work this season. Tucker will also be getting his first start of the year like DiLuia. Opposing hitters are batting .250 with two hits against the junior.

Kuchmaner throws perfect game, No. 17 ECU sweeps Maryland with 3-0 series finale

After striking out Kody Milton for the final out of the game, East Carolina left-hander Jake Kuchmaner turned to his dugout, gently pumping his fists in the air and grinning. Then, the entire Pirates’ dugout emptied as the team piled on top of the sophomore starter. Kuchmaner had just thrown his first career perfect game.

Maryland (15-6) struggled to produce offensively in the series finals Sunday, falling to No. 17 East Carolina 3-0. With the win, the Pirates swept the Terps for the second consecutive year.

Maryland didn’t get a runner on all game, as  Kuchmaner kept the Terps hitless, giving up no free bases. He went the complete nine innings, striking out eight. It was the sophomore’s first complete game and first perfect game in his career with the Pirates. 

A solo home run from Seth Caddell put the Pirates up 3-0, providing East Carolina with an insurance run, though Kuchmaner didn’t appear to need the additional run as he sent down the Maryland lineup in order again in the ninth.

“We knew he could really pitch,” Maryland head coach Rob Vaughn said of Kuchmaner  after the game. “We just didn’t do a great job of making an adjustment. We let him keep getting us out the same way all day.”

Both teams were slow to start, and though East Carolina (10-8) put at least one runner on base in each of the first six innings, it wasn’t until the sixth that the Pirates pulled ahead and plated any of said runners, taking the 2-0 lead.

After a leadoff double from Spencer Brickhouse, one of East Carolina’s power-batters, a single to right field gave the Pirates runners on the corners with one out. Then, designated hitter Thomas Francisco roped a two-RBI double just out of the reach of a diving Chris Alleyne in right-center field.

With that, Maryland starter Trevor LaBonte’s day was done, and junior Elliot Zoellner took over for the freshman on the mound. LaBonte put up five scoreless innings for the Terps, pitching 5.1 total innings, striking out four on five hits, three walks and one hit-by-pitch.

“[LaBonte] gave us an unbelievable start,” Vaughn said. “[East Carolina] kind of fought some at-bats off and then got the one big swing, but Trevor did a great job.”

Zoellner’s experience as one of Maryland’s older relievers came into play against the first batter he faced, when Brady Lloyd sent a grounder up the middle with one out and a runner on third. Zoellner knocked the ball down, then ran toward the pinch-runner Jayne. the subsequent rundown provided the second out of the inning, allowing Zoellner to strike out the second batter he faced to end the half.

Five Maryland pitchers contributed in the Sunday matchup, giving up three runs on eight hits, striking out 11. Vaughn explained that all the Terps’ relievers did their job out of the bullpen, expressing his pride in how his pitching staff performed the majority of the weekend.

“It’s a little frustrating,” Maryland senior captain A.J. Lee explained, discussing the Terps offense’s inability to provide the pitching staff with run support. “But they’re going to have their bad days and we’re going to have to pick them up. I mean, we’re a team here and that’s kind of what we’re just focusing on.”

Maryland will look to regain momentum this week with a two-game midweek matchup at Elon, before facing Creighton next weekend.

“We’ve got to flush this,” Lee said. “The biggest thing is just to get back to the day-to-day…get back to our routine and our plan, and I think we’ll be fine.”

 

Maryland holds No. 17 ECU two runs but struggles to score in 2-1 loss

When Caleb Walls stepped to the plate in the bottom of the ninth, the Terps trailed the Pirates 2-1 with two outs. Walls was Maryland’s last chance for a comeback. But the left-handed batter grounded out to second base, for the Terps’ second loss of the weekend.

After dropping the series opener 9-0 to the No. 17 East Carolina Pirates on Friday, Maryland came out strong on Saturday and held East Carolina to a one- run lead through eight innings. The Terps were unable to rally in the ninth, however, and lost 2-1 to the Pirates in College Park.

The Terps plated their first run of the series in the fourth inning Saturday, thanks to a combination of free bases from the Pirates and a one-out double from Taylor Wright. The third baseman Wright stole third, then stole home on a passed ball from Smith, cutting East Carolina’s lead to 2-1.

“I was just looking for something kind of out over the plate,” Wright said. “Luckily I found my way to second base, and when I got there it was one out so I was looking to just get to third, with one out  I can score on a ground ball or sac fly…I got a pretty good jump there [and stole], and luckily the ball got past the catcher and we were able to score.”

Maryland seemed to carry its momentum into the fifth, when Terrapin starter Zach Thompson took down the East Carolina lineup in order to start the inning. Then Benjamin Cowles singled through the right side with one out, then took second on a ground out from Caleb Walls. But the Terps could not drive Cowles home, and a fly out ended the inning, stranding the freshman on second.

“You sense some frustration today,” Maryland head coach Rob Vaughn said after the loss. “[East Carolina starter Jake Smith] was really sinking the baseball today, so we got a lot of ground balls and it was really hard to elevate him today…I think we made it a little more complicated than it needed to be…when you have these opportunities that’s the difference.”

After stranding runners on first and second in the sixth inning, the Terps continued gaining momentum in the seventh, loading the bases with one out after the Pirates’ two-way player Alec Burleson walked two and hit one. But again, Maryland struggled to drive in its runners and stranded the bases loaded, still trailing by one run.

East Carolina jumped on Maryland early, taking the two-run lead in the second, after a single from Burleson, who started the game at first base, and a Turner Brown walk gave the Pirates two on and no outs. The Terps turned a 6-4-3 double play, giving the Pirates a runner on third with two outs.

But Maryland struggled to secure the elusive third out, and back-to-back singles from Brady Lloyd and Dusty Baker plated two runs before the Terps got out of the inning.

After East Carolina’s two-run second inning, the junior Thompson went eight innings for Maryland, including seven scoreless innings and six innings facing the minimum three batters. The righty struck out two while walking one and hitting two.

“I just wanted to get ahead and throw strikes,” Thompson said after the game. “They’ve got some special hitters on their team, so I just wanted to have 100 percent belief in what I was doing and let them hit the ball.”

Left-hander Andrew Vail relieved Thompson to start the ninth. The freshmen went one inning, striking out two and giving up one hit, and providing Maryland with the chance for a walk-off that never came.

“I thought Thompson was unbelievable,” Vaughn said. “You saw what [East Carolina] can do offensively last night off one of the bast arms in the country, and Thompson was flat out dominant today…I’m really proud of the way Zach threw the ball today.”

Vaughn also acknowledge that because Thompson lasted almost the full game, Vail only threw one inning, meaning the entire Terrapin bullpen would be available on Sunday, if needed.