Game Preview: UC Irvine

By Jake Eisenberg

The Terps begin their road trip in California Wednesday when they take on the UC Irvine Anteaters (10-6).

Maryland (7-8) is coming off a series win over the Bryant Bulldogs. The Terps enjoyed stellar starting pitching over the three games, as starters went a combined 23 innings, allowing seven runs (five earned) for a weekend ERA of 1.96. Both RHP Mike Shawaryn and RHP Brian Shaffer collected wins, while RHP Taylor Bloom received a tough-luck loss, despite pitching his first complete game.

Freshman Nick Dunn continues to thrive at the plate, and now leads the Terps in most offensive categories. The second baseman has brought his average up to .429 and has reached base in every game this season. But, Dunn isn’t the only freshman to contribute. Marty Costes went 3-9 over the weekend with two runs and two RBIs. The outfielder has worked his way into the starting lineup, getting the nod in each of the last nine games.

However, the Terps are still struggling on the defensive end. Maryland committed five errors over the weekend, bringing the season total to 21 through 15 games. Those 21 errors include six each from shortstop Kevin Smith and third baseman Andrew Bechtold, and have led to 14 unearned runs.

The Anteaters look to bounce-back from series loss to Tennessee, an opponent the Terps faced in the 13th Annual Keith LeClair Classic earlier this year. The Terps defeated the Volunteers 10-9. UC Irvine lost the first two contests with Tennessee by wide margins—12-1 and 14-4—before ending the weekend on a positive note with a 2-0 victory on Sunday.

Keston Hiura leads the Anteaters offensively and leads the team in most of the offensive categories. The outfielder has started in all 16 games, slashing .467/.551/.833. Hiura has score 13 runs, collected 28 hits and driven in 16 runs. To top it all off, the sophomore not only leads the team in home runs with five, but is the only Anteater to leave the yard this season.

Shortstop John Brontsema is also a key contributor for the Anteaters. After not playing the first nine games of the year, the junior has started each of the last seven, batting leadoff and hitting a blistering .423. Brontsema has reached base in six of his seven games, and is in the midst of a four-game hitting streak.

STARTING PITCHING MATCHUP

WED AT 9:30 PM ET (6:30 PT)

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So. RHP Alonzo Garcia (1-1, 4.97 ERA) vs. Jr. LHP Tayler Stiles (1-1, 7.59 ERA)

Stiles will be making his first start of the season against the Anteaters. The southpaw has begun the year in the bullpen, and was tabbed the closer to start the year, but has since been used in more of a middle and late relief role. Last year, Stiles won the Saturday starting job before sustaining a season-ending injury against Cal St. Fullerton, the Terps’ weekend opponent. Stiles has struggled somewhat this season, as opposing batters are hitting .292 against him, but he also sports an impressive K:BB ratio of 12:3.  In six starts last season, Stiles went 3-3 and recorded a 3.46 ERA (ERA includes relief appearances).

Garcia will make his third start of the season against the Terps. The sophomore got the nod in the Anteaters’ first Saturday (San Diego St.) and went five innings, but allowed six runs (five earned) on eight hits in a 9-3 loss. He’s since moved into a relief role, until starting last Tuesday against CSU-Bakersfield. Garcia went four innings, allowing just one run and striking out four en route to his first win. The right-hander has struck out 11 and walked just three in his 12.2 IP this season.

 

 

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