By Jake Eisenberg
The Terps will look to bounce-back against Bryant and end a three-game losing streak. In it’s last three games, Maryland (5-7) has fallen to #16 ECU, Delaware and George Washington.
At the onset of the season, the biggest question mark for the Terps was how they would replace eight draft picks, including four key bats from the starting nine. Through five games, Maryland averaged just 2.6 runs-per-game. However, since then, the Terps have put up 8.6 runs per game, including 10+ three times.
Freshman Nick Dunn has shined in the three-hole. The second-baseman is leads the team in batting average (.442), runs (13), hits (19), slugging percentage (.628) and on-base percentage (.545). His numbers last week (.643/.700/.786) earned him Big Ten Player and Freshman of the Week honors. Through two games this week, the freshman in 4-7 with four runs scored and five RBIs.
It’s the defense and pitching that has been Maryland’s Achilles Heel through the first 12 games of the season. The Terps have logged 16 errors on the year, allowing 11 unearned runs. However, most alarming is the fact that the Terps have two or more errors in six of their last eight games. The pitchers have struggled as well, posting a team ERA of 9.69 during the three-game losing streak.
Bryant (8-2), meanwhile, has accomplished it’s best 10-game start in program history after a series win over George Mason. The Bulldogs won handily in Friday’s matchup (12-2), fell on Saturday (3-2) and took the series finale on Sunday (7-0).
Seniors Robby Rinn (1B) and AJ Zarozny (OF) lead the way offensively for the Bulldogs. Rinn is batting .422 on the season with a team-leading 19 hits and 12 RBIs. Zarozny is tied for the team-lead in doubles (6) with Rinn, and is batting .389. Brandon Bingel, penciled in to start on Saturday, is a two-way player for Bryant. The junior has been in the Bulldog’s lineup in each of the teams’ 10 games as the designated hitter, batting .333 with eight RBIs.
The Bulldogs rely on the two-bagger, not the longball, to score runs. While the Terps have already mashed 14 dingers on the season, including a team-leading five from Madison Nickens, Bryant has launched just four. The Bulldogs have logged 27 doubles in 10 games this season, ranking 12th nationally at 2.7 doubles-per-game.
STARTING PITCHING MATCHUP
FRI AT 4:00 PM
So. RHP James Karinchak (3-0, 1.00 ERA) vs. Jr. RHP Mike Shawaryn (1-1, 3.63 ERA)
The junior righthander will look to bounce back from a rough start last Friday when he lasted just 4.1 innings. Shawaryn allowed six runs (five earned) on four hits against Tennessee, but did strike out four, bringing his total to 17 in 17.1 IP this season. This will be Shawaryn’s second home start of the season. In his last start at home, the junior tossed eight shutout innings and retired 20 of the final 21 batters he faced.
Karinchak has been strong this season, cementing himself as one of the top prospects for the 2017 draft. The sophomore is the reigning Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week after he allowed one hit over six innings, striking out 13 (ties Bryant program record) in a win against George Mason.
STARTING PITCHING MATCHUP
SAT AT 2:00 PM
Jr. RHP Brandon Bingel (1-1, 1.64 ERA) vs. So. RHP Taylor Bloom (2-1, 2.37 ERA)
Bloom has been quietly putting up the best numbers on the Terps’ pitching staff. The sophomore leads the team in innings pitched (19.0), wins (2), ERA (2.37) and strikeouts (19). The best number for the righthander, however, is his strikeout-to-walk ratio. Over 19 innings, Bloom has struck out 19 and walked just two. In his last start, Bloom allowed one run on four hits, striking out five over seven innings. He has now gone seven innings (his career high) in each of his last two starts.
Bingel defeated Maryland’s Big Ten foe Penn St. in his first start of the season, throwing five innings of one-run ball, striking out four and walking two. However, that’s been the best start of the season for the junior. In his next outing, he was chased after allowing four runs in three innings, and then against George Mason, allowed seven hits, but limited the damage to two runs over 5.2 IP. Walks have been an issue for the righthander, as he’s awarded eight free passes on the season, equaling his eight strikeouts.
STARTING PITCHING MATCHUP
SUN AT 1:00 PM
Sr. RHP James Davitt (2-0, 4.91 ERA) vs. So. RHP Brian Shaffer (0-1, 5.68 ERA)
The numbers for Shaffer indicate he’s been struggling, but they don’t tell the whole story. While the sophomore has been rusty to start the season (8:4 K/BB), there have been flashes of his dominance from the end of last year. Despite allowing eight runs in his 12.2 innings, those runs have come on 11 hits, eight of which have been for extra bases, including seven doubles. Shaffer gave up two runs on five hits in 5.1 innings against #16 ECU in his last start, striking out five and walking none. The righthander has pitched well in two of his three starts this year—going at least five innings and allowing just two runs against both Alabama and ECU. However, he faltered against Rhode Island, allowing four runs in just 2.1 IP. Ironically, Shaffer’s start against Rhode Island is the only game the Terps have won this season with the sophomore on the bump.
Davitt is in his first season in the weekend rotation for Bryant after a season of being the Bulldogs’ go-to reliever in 2014. The senior struggled in his first two starts, but dazzled against George Mason, shutting out the Patriots across six innings, striking out a career-high eight. Davitt was along on the mound for Bryant’s win over then-#22 Kentucky, allowing three runs in five innings, mowing down seven.