Series Preview: Michigan Wolverines

After splitting a two-game series at UNC Wilmington, Maryland will look to continue their success at home in 2017 as they battle the Michigan Wolverines for a three-game series, beginning Friday at 6:30 p.m. in College Park.

Michigan (16-4), the lone ranked Big Ten team in the country at No. 18 in the D1 Baseball poll, has won 14 of their last 16 games. Maryland (13-7) has won 12 of 14, and including a perfect 8-0 record at home this season.

The Terps had won eight of their last nine heading into their two-game stretch against the UNCW, and after dropping game one to the Seahawks, won again Wednesday thanks to a two-homer game by Kevin Smith.

Smith, who started the season 0-for-8 with six strikeouts, has come on strong as of late. He hit two home runs in each of the two games against UNCW, after also homering over the weekend against Princeton. The junior shortstop is now fourth on team in hits (21), leads in homers (5) and RBIs (18), and is tied for the lead in doubles (6).

After starting the season by splitting a four-game set with Seton Hall, Michigan has dominated since, starting with a perfect 8-0 run in California that included wins over UCLA and University of San Diego. They owe their success largely to their pitching staff, which leads the Big Ten with a 3.22 team ERA and a .233 opponents’ batting average. They have allowed over four runs just twice in their last 16 contests, and has not surrendered more than six runs during that stretch. Junior left-hander Oliver Jaskie has led the Wolverines’ success on the mound, owning a 3-0 record and a 2.60 ERA through five starts.

At the plate, Maryland and Michigan match up almost identically. Through 20 games, the Terps have scored 120 runs, with 18 homers, 29 doubles, and a .269 average. The Wolverines, in 20 games, have scored 128 runs and hit .270, while also racking up 18 homers and 29 doubles. Michigan’s offense is led by Harrison Wenson, who has a .250 average to go with a team-high five homers and 20 RBIs, and Michael Brdar, the team leader in hits (26) and average (.325).

The Terps and Wolverines last met in Ann Arbor in March 2015, when Michigan took two out of three from Maryland.

Starting Pitching Matchup

FRI at 6:30 p.m. EST

Jr. RHP Brian Shaffer (2-1, 1.65 ERA) vs. LHP Oliver Jaskie (3-0, 2.60 ERA)

shaffer1Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logo   vs.  

Brian Shaffer has been everything John Szefc could have asked for from his Friday ace, as the junior right-hander has struck out more than a batter per inning so far this season. His 32.2 innings pitched lead the Big Ten, while his 1.65 ERA ranks second in the conference. He’s coming off his best start this season, an eight-inning, no-run performance with 10 strikeouts that earned him Big Ten Pitcher of the Week honors.

He will share the mound with Oliver Jaskie, who is also averaging over a strikeout an inning. The junior southpaw leads the team with a 2.60 ERA and 32 strikeouts. Jaskie will come into Friday’s game with not having pitched since last Thursday, when he went 5.2 IP and gave up three runs.

Starting Pitching Matchup

SAT 7 p.m. EST

Jr. RHP Taylor Bloom (3-2, 3.86 ERA) vs. Jr. RHP Ryan Nutof (1-1, 6.48 ERA)

bloom1Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logo  vs.  

Taylor Bloom, who is second on the team in innings pitched, is coming off one of the best starts of his season. He went 6.2 innings while giving up just one earned run to the Princeton Tigers. The junior right-hander has rebounded nicely after two rough outings to open the season, and seems to have returned to last year’s form.

Michigan will send Ryan Nutof to the mound Saturday to face the Terps. Nutof struggled mightily in his last start, giving up seven runs without making it out of the fifth inning, and is yet to find his groove in 2017, as he owns a lofty 6.46 ERA and .317 opponents’ batting average.

Starting Pitching Matchup

SUN 1 p.m. EST

Fr. LHP Tyler Blohm (4-1, 1.78 ERA) vs. Jr. LHP Michael Hendrickson (1-0, 3.18 ERA)

blohm 1Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logo  vs. 

Tyler Blohm has had an incredible start to his freshman season, posting a sub-2 ERA, while striking out the second most batters on the team. He is coming off a dominant outing against Princeton in which he pitched seven shutout innings with eight strikeouts, and has been named Big Ten Co-Freshman of the Week for two straight weeks.

Opposing him will be fellow left-hander Michael Hendrickson, who has been a reliable piece of the Michigan rotation this season. He has struck out 20 on the season, and has surrendered just three extra base hits, all doubles, in 22.2 innings on the mound. The junior did struggle in his last start though, giving up 4 earned runs in 4.2 innings.