by John Vittas
The Terps will play in their second consecutive NCAA Tournament when they take on the Ole Miss Rebels Friday at 7pm. ET in Los Angeles, California. It’s only the second time in school history that they’ve qualified for the NCAA Tournament in back-to-back seasons, and the first since 1970-71.
Maryland is the three seed in UCLA’s Regional and will play the second-seeded Rebels live on the Maryland Baseball Network. The pre-game show begins at 6:30pm ET and will include interviews with several Terrapins. [LISTEN HERE]
The Terps swept top-seeded South Carolina as a 2-seed last year and will look to take down the Tournament’s No. 1 overall seed this season. Ole Miss was a College World Series team in 2014 and finished as the third place team in Omaha.
Game one will be a showdown between aces, both of whom had remarkable postseason success last year:
So. RHP Mike Shawaryn (12-2, 1.65) vs. Jr. LHP Christian Trent (7-6, 3.70)
Shawaryn pitched another gem in the Big Ten Tournament, taking down Michigan State in the opening game. The freshly-minted First Team All-American has been excellent in four career postseason starts. Against some of the best competition, he’s gone 3-1 with a 3.08 ERA. Excluding the lone loss against Virginia, he’s allowed just four runs in three starts, amounting to a 1.77 ERA.
Trent has an impressive postseason track record in his own right. Ole Miss won in all three of his starts in the 2014 postseason. He dominated the No. 1 overall seed UL Lafayette in the Super Regionals, allowing just one unearned run over seven innings. He followed it up with eight shutout innings against Texas Tech in College World Series. Trent has pitched eight innings in three of his last four starts and has gotten through five innings in every start this season.
About the Rebels:
Ole Miss has now made the tournament in 13 of head coach Mike Bianco’s 15 seasons. He’s led the Rebels to five Super Regionals and produced 84 pro draft picks. Over the past decade, Bianco has churned out 26 All Americans as he’s built a college baseball powerhouse in Oxford. Ole Miss has one of the most devout fan bases in college baseball, as they’ve finished top five in the country in attendance for the last nine years.
They’ve produced a host of Big Leaguers over the years, as Rebels baseball dates all the way back to 1893. Current Ole Miss Major Leaguers include Lance Lynn, Zack Cozart, Aaron Barrett, Seth Smith, Drew Pomeranz and Chris Coghlan.
2015 has been a down season for Bianco’s club, despite the fact that they finished above .500 in the SEC and earned a two-seed in the NCAA Tournament.
They’re led by the power hitting Sikes Orvis, who has slugged 16 home runs already this year. Colby Bortles and JB Woodman also provide pop in the middle of the Rebels lineup, while shortstop Errol Robinson serves as a table setter and slick defender. Robinson graduated from St. John’s College High School in Maryland and grew up playing with many of the current Terps.
The Rebels will be playing on nine days of rest Friday. They lost their single-elimination game against Alabama in the SEC Tournament last Tuesday.
Don’t be surprised if all the games this weekend are low-scoring. UCLA has arguably the best pitching staff in the country, and both Trent and Shawaryn have been stingy in the postseason. My take: It’ll come down to defense. Whoever makes the least mistakes will win.