Series Preview: Iowa Hawkeyes

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By Ben Harris

Maryland (10-10) enters Big Ten play on the heels of two 2016 firsts; the Terps notched their first midweek win on Tuesday and currently ride a season-long three game winning streak. Despite winning four of their first five series/tournaments, Maryland had only won consecutive games once prior (March 4-5 vs. Tennessee, Southeastern Louisiana).

However, head coach John Szefc is no Lou Brown. This team knows how to win, and has won before. All but three returning players haven’t experienced a season that didn’t end in an NCAA Super Regional run, and the 15 freshmen have been immersed in that winning culture since they stepped onto campus. The Terps most reliable hitter (Nick Dunn, .359/.452/.500) and breakout power bat (Marty Costes, .296, 15 RBIs) are both first year players under Szefc.

Headlined by their three-headed monster topping the rotation (Mike Shawaryn, Taylor Bloom and Brian Shaffer), Maryland has fared well during weekend matchups going 9-6 against formidable opposition (10th highest strength of schedule in the country). Szefc’s club has traveled to Alabama, a tournament in Greenville, N.C., and Fullerton, Calif.Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 2.43.59 PM

This weekend they fly east to face the Iowa Hawkeyes, a team struggling to repeat last season’s success. Iowa went 41-18 in 2015, but has lost 11 games thus far this season.

The Hawkeyes (7-11) have faced tough opposition as well, with a 43rd ranked strength of schedule, but have been unable to claim a series victory traveling to Dallas Baptist, Southern Illinois or Missouri State. They enter their Big Ten season opener, and simultaneously their first home weekend series, having lost five of their last seven. They’re 2-0 at home this season and, like the Terps, won their midweek contest in a ninth inning thriller.

Prior, the Hawkeyes were swept in devastating fashion this weekend at the hands of Missouri State. They outhit the Bears Friday but lost 4-1, blew a three run lead on Saturday (losing on a walkoff walk), and gave away a 6-2 seventh inning lead on Sunday, losing 8-6.Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 2.52.57 PM

Iowa’s primary weapon is shortstop Nick Roscetti – fifth-highest batting average in the Big Ten – a multi-tool player who supplements his surging bat with an infield arm Baseball America ranked best in the Big Ten. The senior supplied the walkoff single to power Iowa past Bradley on Tuesday.

Roscetti enters conference play amidst a 15-game hitting streak. He’s tallied multiple hits in his last six games, hitting .541 with six runs and nine RBIs in just over a week. Not to be outdone, senior Joel Booker his batting .382 (12th in the conference) riding a 13-game hitting streak of his own. Booker was awarded Baseball America’s top outfield arm heading into the season. Stellar defensive play has propelled Iowa to the top defensive ranking in the Big Ten.

STARTING PITCHING MATCHUP

FRI at 4:05

1Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logo  1Shawaryn vs. 10290761.jpeg 500px-Iowa_Hawkeyes_Logo_svg.png

Jr. RHP Mike Shawaryn (2-1, 2.97 ERA) vs. So. RHP C.J. Eldred (1-2, 2.43 ERA)

Mike Shawaryn, a preseason All-American, has had the least impressive numbers on this Terps staff, that is, if you call a sub-three ERA, sub-one WHIP and winning record unimpressive. The Unicorn will square off with sophomore C.J. Eldred, Iowa’s team leader in innings pitched. The right-hander has allowed eight earned runs in 29.2 innings, holds opponents to a .221 batting average and minimizes damage allowing just two extra base hits on the year (both doubles).

STARTING PITCHING MATCHUP

SAT at 3:05

1Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logo  1Bloom vs. 9240766.jpeg  500px-Iowa_Hawkeyes_Logo_svg.png

So. RHP Taylor Bloom (3-2, 2.19 ERA) vs. TBA – expected Sr. RHP Tyler Peyton (0-3, 6.16 ERA)

Saturday’s pitching matchup will feature the starter from each club with the highest K/BB ratio. Maryland’s Taylor Bloom (9.33 K/BB ratio) enters his Saturday start coming off of consecutive complete games against Bryant and Cal State Fullerton. He’s allowed just two earned runs per game in his last two starts, striking out nine and walking just one. Opposing Bloom is senior two-way player and MLB draftee Tyler Peyton, who earned Baseball America’s honors for best changeup and best defensive first baseman in the Big Ten. Peyton has tossed 2.5 strikeouts per each walk surrendered in 19 innings this season.

STARTING PITCHING MATCHUP

SUN at 2:05

1Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logo  1Shaffer vs. 8118804.jpeg  500px-Iowa_Hawkeyes_Logo_svg.png

So. RHP Brian Shaffer (2-1, 2.83 ERA) vs. Sr. RHP Calvin Mathews (0-1, 4.82 ERA)

Brian Shaffer strolls into his usual Sunday slot with supreme confidence after last week’s complete game 1-0 shutout – clinching a Terps series win over Cal State Fullerton – and the subsequent Big Ten Co-Pitcher of the Week award that followed. Iowa’s Calvin Mathews will take the mound for the sixth time this season still in search of his first win. As Mathews is more susceptible to extra base hits than his two fellow Hawkeye starters (five doubles, one triple, three homers allowed), this may prove a favorable matchup for a potentially decisive Sunday game for the Terps who rank third in the conference in both extra base hits (63) and home runs (19).

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