Series Preview: Illinois Fighting Illini (23-19, 7-8 Big Ten)

By Chris Rogers

After taking two out of three from Penn State on the road last weekend, the Terps (24-19, 9-6) will look to keep their postseason push alive with a series win in this weekend’s three-game set at home against Illinois.

Currently tied with Nebraska for fifth in the Big Ten, the Terps are currently on the bubble for making the tournament. In order to solidify their spot, the Terps need to win impress against Illinois and Rutgers at home before taking on conference powerhouse Michigan State on the road in the final weekend of the season.Illinois Series Graphic

Maryland’s pitching staff shined over the weekend at Penn State. The Terps allowed six runs (five earned) across the three game set, as both Mike Shawaryn and Taylor Bloom tossed complete games. Shawaryn gave up just one run Friday, striking out six en route to becoming the Terps’ all-time strikeout leader. Bloom, who allowed two runs over eight innings in a hard-luck loss Saturday, has been a major part of the Terps success all season, pitching to a 2.12 ERA. Brian Shaffer allowed two runs (one earned) over seven innings in the final game of the series.

Although being shutout in game two, the Maryland offense came out swinging in the other two games against the Nittany Lions. Marty Costes totaled four RBI over the weekend, Madison Nickens went 5-for-13 with a home run, and Kevin Smith had a three-hit game Friday to lead the Terps. A team that has lived and died by the home run this season, they managed to score fifteen runs while only going deep once.

Illnois (23-19, 7-8) has won two in a row and three out of their last four. They defeated Southern Illinois Wednesday and Missouri Tuesday, but lost two out of three at home to Minnesota over the weekend. Their pitching staff sports a 3.76 ERA on the year, led by starters Doug Hayes (2.93) and Cody Sedlock (3.04) and reliever Charlie Naso (2.21). Offensively, the team is led by catcher Jason Goldstein, who leads the team in hitting (.348), RBI (26), and slugging (.477). As a team, the Illini have hit 23 home runs, compared to the Terps, who have gone deep 35 times on the year. Their team average of .259 ranks second-to-last in the Big Ten.

STARTING PITCHING MATCHUP

FRI 6:30 pm EST

Illinois_Block_I  Sedlock_Cody_082315_0276 vs.  1Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logo1Shawaryn       

Jr. RHP Cody Sedlock (4-2, 3.04 ERA) vs. Jr. RHP Mike Shawaryn (4-3, 3.26 ERA)

Maryland will face another tough Friday starter this weekend in Cody Sedlock, who ranks tenth in the nation with 90 strikeouts. He has given up just three runs over 16.1 innings in his last two starts, one of them a 10.2 inning shutout effort against Ohio State. The Terps will counter with Mike Shawaryn, who has returned to old form of late, allowing just four runs (three earned) across his last three starts (23.2 innings). The Unicorn is coming off his first career complete game last weekend against Penn State.

STARTING PITCHING MATCHUP

SAT 2:00 pm EST

Illinois_Block_I  Hayes_Doug_082315_0302  vs.  1Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logo  1Bloom

So. LHP Doug Hayes (6-3, 2.93 ERA) vs. So. RHP Taylor Bloom (5-3, 2.12 ERA)

Saturday, Illinois will send the reigning Big Ten Pitcher of the Week, southpaw Doug Hayes, to the mound. Hayes earned the honor after throwing a complete game shutout against Minnesota last Friday. Maryland right-hander Taylor Bloom has arguably been the Terps’ best starter this year, ranking third in the Big Ten with a 2.12 ERA. He suffered an ankle injury two weeks ago, but pitched well in his return, throwing eight innings of two-run ball.

STARTING PITCHING MATCHUP

SUN 12:00 pm EST

Illinois_Block_I  Bellair_Cole_082315_0317 vs.  1Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logo1Shaffer 

Fr. RHP Cole Bellair (2-3, 3.52 ERA) vs. So. RHP Brian Shaffer (5-3, 2.78 ERA)

Illinois freshman Cole Bellair will take the hill Sunday, coming off a rough start against Minnesota last weekend in which he gave up five runs in two innings. He has pitched well overall this season though, as he entered last weekend with a 2.79 ERA. Brian Shaffer has also been solid for the Terps, as he threw seven innings last weekend, giving up just two runs.

 

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