Game Preview: West Virginia Mountaineers

Maryland dropped two of its three contests over the weekend at Nebraska, losing its first weekend series since being swept Feb. 24-26 at LSU. Before returning to Big Ten play this weekend, the Terps will play two non-conference games, the first at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium Tuesday at 4 p.m. against West Virginia.

Despite Maryland’s first Big Ten series loss, the Terps are still 19-4 in their last 24 games with two chances to regain momentum heading into a home series with Penn State this weekend.

While Maryland (20-10, 6-3 Big Ten) hit just .250 as a team over the weekend and struggled to generate enough offense to keep pace with the Cornhuskers, one Terrapin in particular stood out at the plate. Sophomore third baseman AJ Lee, who started all three games, went 3-for-4 with his second home run of the season, two RBI’s and two runs scored in Maryland’s win on Saturday. He continued his success in the rubber match, collecting two more hits and another RBI in four at-bats.

Only one Maryland starter pitched past the fifth inning against Nebraska. Brian Shaffer tossed eight innings of 3-run baseball in Friday night’s loss. Despite the Terrapin starters short outings, the Maryland bullpen came through on Saturday, allowing just two runs over 7 ⅔ innings. Left-hander Andrew Miller, and right-handers Mike Rescigno and Ryan Selmer all pitched without allowing an earned run over the weekend.

West Virginia (19-11, 6-3 Big 12) comes to College Park Tuesday coming off its first loss in the seven games. The Mountaineers were on a six-game winning streak of their own before dropping Sunday’s game at home against Kansas. West Virginia, like Maryland, is capable of hitting the long ball, as 10 different players have connected for a total of 27 home runs this season. The Mountaineers generate over six runs per game, the second most in Big 12 competition, and six different hitters in their lineup are batting over .300.

The Mountaineers’ team ERA is just below four, but is helped by solid pitching from their top starters. While West Virginia’s Friday and Saturday starters both have ERA’s below 3.60, its midweek starters and bullpen can be prone to give up runs. Eight pitchers have an ERA at least 4.50. West Virginia’s most-used relievers are right-hander Jackson Sigman (4.81 ERA) and Kade Strowd (2.55 ERA).

This is Maryland’s fourth year in a row facing the Mountaineers. The Terrapins were 12-7 winners in the last meeting in College Park in 2015 before losing 4-1 in Morgantown last year.

Starting Pitching Matchup

TUE 4 p.m. EST

Jr. RHP Taylor Bloom (3-2, 4.50 ERA) vs. Fr. RHP Alek Manoah (0-0, 0.77 ERA)

1Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logo   vs.  manoah-alek

Maryland right-hander Taylor Bloom will make his first midweek start of the season. Normally the Saturday starter, the junior threw just 39 pitches in 1.1 innings over the weekend against Nebraska, allowing three earned runs. With the small workload and a chance to claim a solid RPI win over a quality Big 12 opponent, Bloom will try to contain the offensive-minded Mountaineers. He is 3-2 this season with a 4.50 ERA in 36 innings.

The Mountaineers will send right-hander Alek Manoah to the mound for his second start of the season. The Miami, Florida native boasts an 0.77 ERA, pitching mainly in relief. In his first collegiate start, the freshman allowed no runs on just one hit through 3.1 innings against Morehead State. Manoah has held opposing hitters to a .175 batting average in 11.2 innings this season.