The Maryland Terrapins have hit their stride, winning five consecutive games after a shaky 1-5 start. The Terps swept the USA Baseball-Irish Classic last weekend, and defeated William & Mary and St. Joseph’s in midweek home games.
Maryland’s next test will be a weekend series against the Bryant Bulldogs (3-7). It will be a reunion of sorts for Terps pitching coach Ryan Fecteau, who spent six years at Bryant before joining Maryland’s coaching staff last July. The Bulldogs won their first two contests, both against New Mexico State, but then lost their next seven games before picking up a third win against Liberty.
In the two midweek games, the Terrapins have benefited from outstanding efforts from their bullpen. After the Terps’ starter failed to get through the second inning in back-to-back games, Maryland’s bullpen allowed just two earned runs in 15.1 innings.
Although a pair of poor outings by starters set the Terps behind, their offense was able to make up for the early deficits. Maryland scored nine runs Tuesday against William & Mary, and followed that with an 11-run outburst against St. Joseph’s in which the team hit four homers for the first time since February 28, 2016 against Rhode Island.
Meanwhile, Bryant’s pitching staff has struggled post-Fecteau, as they have struggled to a 6.94 ERA in 10 games this season after posting a 3.22 mark under Fecteau a year ago. However, after a series against Arkansas in which the Bulldogs allowed 40 runs in three games, they rebounded nicely against Liberty, allowing 13 runs in three games.
This weekend, Bryant will have the tough task of facing a Terps lineup that has scored nine runs or more in each of their last four games. That task will be made tougher as the ace of the Bulldogs rotation, James Karinchak, will not pitch against Maryland. The 2015 Northeast Conference Rookie of the Year posted a 2.00 ERA in 94.2 innings last year, and owns a 3.29 mark through three starts this year.
The Bulldogs have put up impressive numbers at the plate, however, hitting 13 home runs in 10 games and averaging 6.1 runs per contest. Their lineup is highlighted by junior Mickey Gasper, who leads the team with a .405 average, 15 hits, and nine RBIs. Freshman Jimmy Titus has started his college career with a bang, hitting .315 while leading the team with three homers through 10 games.
These numbers are impressive, especially considering Bryant lost seven positional starters from the 2016 season, a year in which it won 47 games, the NEC-record for wins in a single season.
Last season when these two teams met, the Terps took 2-of-3 from the Bulldogs. In the rubber game of the three-game set, Brian Shaffer threw seven innings of one-run ball for Maryland. He’ll get a chance to repeat his impressive outing this time around to open the series on Friday.
Starting Pitching Matchup
FRI 2 p.m. EST
Jr. RHP Brian Shaffer (0-1, 2.55 ERA) vs. So. LHP Steve Theetge (1-2, 8.53 ERA)
As the ace of the Maryland staff, Brian Shaffer has turned in three solid starts to open the year, but is still searching for his first victory. In his last start, the junior pitched six innings, allowing just one earned run and striking out a career-high eight in a win over Notre Dame. He surrendered just three hits and walked one batter.
On the other side, left-hander Steve Theetge had a dominant freshman season for Bryant in 2016. His second campaign got off to a rough start, as he allowed six earned runs in just 2.1 innings against Arkansas on Feb. 25, his second start of the season. However, he bounced back in his last start, allowing three earned runs in five innings against Liberty last Saturday.
Starting Pitching Matchup
SAT 2 p.m. EST
Jr. RHP Taylor Bloom (1-2, 7.50 ERA) vs. Fr. LHP Chris Wright (0-1, 21.60 ERA)
After leading the team with a 2.45 ERA a year ago, Taylor Bloom struggled in his first two starts of this season, but the junior right-hander returned to last season’s form against NC State last week. He picked up his first win of the year after tossing seven innings of two-run, five-hit ball with five strikeouts.
Chris Wright, a freshman left-hander who will get the nod for the Bulldogs, is set to make his second career start on Saturday. In his first start, which came against New Mexico State, Wright lasted just two innings and allowed five runs, four of which were earned. He has since made two relief appearances, allowing four earned runs in two innings.
Starting Pitching Matchup
SUN 1 p.m. EST
Fr. LHP Tyler Blohm (2-1, 3.65 ERA) vs. Jr. RHP Ross Weiner (1-0, 4.11 ERA)
Terps freshman Tyler Blohm started his third game last week against Dayton and put together a nice outing: five innings pitched, one earned run allowed and a career-high six strikeouts. His performance was a nice bounce-back effort after a rough start against powerhouse LSU, in which he failed to get out of the third inning, and the left-hander now owns a 2-1 record on the season.
He’ll face off against junior right-hander Ross Weiner, who is coming off his first win of the season against Liberty last week. He has turned in three solid starts on the season but has failed to work deep into games, going no more than 5.1 innings in any of his outings.