Weekend Preview: 13th Annual Keith LeClair Classic

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By Liam Beatus

Following a road loss against Delaware, Maryland travels to Greenville, NC to play Tennessee, Southeastern Louisiana, and Eastern Carolina University on consecutive days starting Friday at noon.

The tournament is named after former Western Carolina and Eastern Carolina’s head coach. He was the second winningest head coach in ECU history with a 212-96-1 from 1998-2002 including four super regional appearances. LeClair was forced to step down in 2002 due to illness and the same year ECU inducted him in to their Athletic Hall of Fame. In 2006 LeClair passed away from ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

The first matchup for Maryland will be against the 5-1 Tennessee Volunteers. The Volunteers just finished a three game stretch at the Grand Canyon classic where they scored a combined 51 runs. Their overpowering offense has been lead by senior second baseman Jeff Moberg, whom before this season has never batted higher than .250. Moberg leads the team in hits and batting average at .556. In addition, senior outfielder Vincent Jackson has a .474 batting average with three home runs, a single-season career high despite playing in only six games.

STARTING PITCHING MATCHUP

FRI AT 12:00 PM

Tennessee KNOXVILLE, TN - 2016.01.26 Headshot vs. Shawaryn HS  1Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logo    

Sr. LHP Andy Cox (1-0, 7.36 ERA) vs. Jr. RHP Mike Shawaryn (1-1, 1.38 ERA)

Mike Shawaryn will take the mound against the Vols as the reigning Big Ten Pitcher of the Week. Shawaryn earned the honor after completing eight dominating innings in a win against Rhode Island last Friday. He faced the minimum 24 batters over his eight innings, striking out five and retiring 20 of the final 21 batters he faced.

Cox is coming off a start in which he allowed five runs over 3.1 innings against Grand Canyon. The senior southpaw struck out five and walked four, recording a no-decision thanks to the Tennessee offense exploding for 25 runs on 21 hits.

The second game of the series will be against Southeastern Louisiana. Despite losing their last weekend series against Troy, the Lions have a 4-3 record. Redshirt Jr. Jameson Fisher leads the Lions in nearly every hitting category, with 13 hits, two home runs, seven RBIs, and a batting average of .481. Most impressively is Southeastern’s pitching, the team has a combined era of 1.83 and their allowed batting average is below .200.

STARTING PITCHING MATCHUP

SAT AT 12:00 PM

SELouisianaLions b_player_hat_Sceroler_Mac.JPG vs. Bloom  1Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logo    

S0. RHP Mac Sceroler (1-1, 1.64 ERA) vs. So. RHP Taylor Bloom (1-1, 3.00 ERA)

Bloom shined in his last start, tossing a career-high seven innings and striking out a career-high nine batters. However, the sophomore did yield eight hits, which led to two runs (one earned). That would be enough for Rhode Island, giving Bloom the tough-luck loss.

Sceroler also suffered a tough-luck loss in his last outing. The sophomore righthander fanned 10 in five innings against Troy, but allowed seven hits, leading to three runs (one earned).

The third and final game of the tournament will be against the host of the tournament, #16 ECU. ECU (6-1) won its first six games before dropping the final game of a three-game series against defending national champion #4 Virginia. Leading up to their first loss, ECU managed to score at least five runs in every game while maintaining at least a two run advantage. This will be another big test for Maryland whose sub-.500 record has had multiple tough early season games.

STARTING PITCHING MATCHUP

SUN AT 3:30 PM

imgres.jpg 11368712.jpeg vs. 1Shaffer  1Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logo    

Sr. RHP Jimmy Boyd (1-1, 3.75 ERA) vs. So. RHP Brian Shaffer (0-1, 7.36 ERA)

Shaffer was the tough-luck loser in his first start against Alabama, where he tossed five innings of two-hit ball, allowing just two runs. However, Shaffer struggled in his second start, allowing four runs on four hits in just 2.1 IP against Rhode Island. The sophomore’s strikeout-to-walk ratio thus far sits at 3:4, well-off from his 52:9 mark last season.

Boyd faced off with defending national champion Virginia in his most recent outing, and turned in a quality start. The right-hander allowed four runs (three earned) over seven innings, striking out three and walking two. However, the Cavaliers secured the Sunday win to give ECU their first loss of the season. Boyd is penciled in to start the final game of the weekend tournament, but only if he is not used out of the bullpen on Friday or Saturday. With Evan Krucynski and Jacob Wolfe schedule for Friday and Saturday, respectively, it could be Kirk Morgan or Denny Brady on Sunday, should Boyd be used. Morgan and Brady are the only other two Pirates to have made starts this season.

Maryland is trying to rebound following a 12-7 loss at Delaware. John Murphy struggled in his first career start as a Terp, lasting 4.2 IP and allowing five runs on six hits. The good news is that the Terps have broken out of an early season hitting slump, posting back-to-back games of 10+ hits.

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