At 35-18 (13-8), the Terrapins have already set a new regular season record for wins, with three games remaining, are tied for third in conference as they prepare to take on the Northwestern Wildcats in Evanston, Ill.
Despite dropping a mid-week game to Liberty, the Terps find themselves in a good position to make the postseason, and have all but locked up a top-4 seed in the Big Ten tournament after taking two of three from Ohio State last weekend.
While the offense struggled for much of the game Tuesday, the Terps bats exploded over the weekend, tallying 39 runs in three games. Of the 39 runs, 20 were driven in with two outs. Each member of the starting lineup had at least one RBI.
LaMonte Wade, sitting atop the lineup, is swinging the hottest bat. In his past five games, Wade is batting .524 with two home runs and 10 RBIs.
The Wildcats are almost polar opposite of the Terps. With a 16-35 (6-15) record, Northwestern lays claim to the basement of the Big Ten Conference. In their last 10 games, they are 2-8 and have been outscored by opponents 62-26.
The pitching has been the biggest weakness, as all three starters have ERAs over 4.00, with the team average at 5.72. Opponents are hitting .312 against the Wildcats.
Additionally, the team has been without their best hitter, fifth-year senior center fielder Kyle Ruchim, for a few weeks due to injury. Ruchim was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals last season but elected to return and was suspended for the first six games due to an NCAA violation.
This season, he leads the team in batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, runs scored and home runs, but has yet to play this month due to an oblique injury.
Some of the Wildcats struggles can also be attributed to playing in unfamiliar places. The team unveiled a new stadium—Rocky Miller Park—this season on April 21, when they beat Milwaukee 9-5. Prior to that game, their “home opener,” the Wildcats had played 37 straight road games. They play 14 of their last 17 at home—including their series with the Terps, going 4-7 so far in their new ballpark.
The first ever meeting between these two teams will also be the last for Northwestern Head Coach Paul Stevens, as he is set to retire after leading the program for 27 years.
THURSDAY AT 4:00 ET
So. RHP Mike Shawaryn (11-1, 1.71) vs. Sr. RHP Brandon Magallones (3-5, 6.21)
In his final regular season start of 2015, the Terps ace will attempt to break his own single-season record for wins, as he goes for number 12. Shawaryn tied his record last week in a 13-4 win over Ohio State. The sophomore pitched seven innings of one-run ball and struck out eight.
Despite having the most strikeouts on the pitching staff (60), Magallones hasn’t fared well this season. Opposing batters are hitting a whopping .335 against the senior—a big reason why his 6.21 ERA is his highest in four years of collegiate baseball. In his last outing, Magallones gave up five runs in five innings en route to a loss to Michigan.
FRIDAY AT 4:00 ET
TBD vs. Jr. LHP Matt Portland (2-6, 4.28)
Last week, it was Rob Galligan who took the mound for the Terps in the second game of the series. But, the Syosset, NY, native gave up five runs in three innings, and then gave up one run in 1.1 innings Tuesday. It looks like coaches John Szefc and Jim Belanger will give someone else a chance come Friday.
Matt Portland has been the most reliable starter for the Wildcats, despite a personal record below .500. The lefty has the most innings on the staff with 82.0, and threw a complete-game shutout against Nebraska back on May 2, striking out eight in the effort. In his last start, Portland gave up six runs in four innings to the Wolverines, recording a no-decision in the 9-8 win.
SUNDAY AT 2:00 ET
Fr. RHP Brian Shaffer (4-0, 4.97) vs. Jr. LHP Reed Mason (2-9, 5.72)
Brian Shaffer will make his eighth start for the Terps in the regular season finale. He struggled last week against Ohio State, giving up four runs in five innings. However, in his two previous appearances, Shaffer turned in quality starts, throwing a combined 10 innings against Delaware and Towson, striking out 12 and giving up just two runs.
Mason has the most losses of any Wildcats pitcher, including last week against Michigan, when the lefty gave up five runs (three earned) in five innings. After Mason left the game, the Wolverines poured it on and went on win 19-1. Mason has given up 89 hits in 67.2 innings, good for a .316 opponent’s batting average. All three Wildcat starters have opponent’s batting averages over .300.
You can catch all three games this weekend on BTN2Go.