Game Preview: Delaware Blue Hens

Just five days separate the two meetings this season between the Maryland Terrapins and the Delaware Blue Hens. After taking on Blue Hens at home Thursday, Maryland (9-6) travels to Delaware Tuesday for a rematch.

In that meeting on March 8, the Blue Hens (8-5) snapped Maryland’s five-game winning streak with a convincing 7-1 victory. The Terps bats then stayed cold in a one-hit Friday performance against Bryant. Just as the Terps seemed to be regressing to the mean, however, they exploded for 12 runs in Saturday’s win, and then rallied past Bryant in a gritty 5-3 win on Sunday. The Blue Hens also took two out of three over the weekend, winning their final two contests against Monmouth at home.

Maryland head coach Rob Vaughn will hand the ball back to his freshman midweek starter Mark DiLuia, who got the start last week against Delaware and has settled into a role as the go-to midweek arm. The Illinois native lasted three innings against Delaware Thursday, allowing three earned runs and walking three batters while whiffing five.

“We knew we were gonna run [DiLuia] on Thursday-Tuesday, when one would be a little shorter outing, one would be a little longer,” Vaughn said. “Since we did keep him short Thursday, hopefully he can go have a good start for us on Tuesday.”

For Delaware Thursday, senior southpaw Matt Hornich was effective, throwing five innings and allowing just one Maryland run. He, along with the committee of relievers the Blue Hens utilized, did an exceptional job of working out of jams, stranding 12 Terrapins on the basepaths. In the eighth inning of that contest, Marty Costes struck out with the bases loaded, seemingly ending the Terps’ chance at a comeback. On Sunday, when presented with another critical eighth inning at bat, Costes delivered the go-ahead RBI hit.

“Marty’s working his tail off,” Vaughn said. “When he’s on time, there’s not a more dangerous hitter in America. He’s still working with his consistency there, but he’s going to be just fine.”

Costes heating up could be a game-changer for the lineup in midweek games, which tend to be higher scoring. Maryland allowed 10 runs to William & Mary on Feb. 21 and seven runs to this Blue Hens team during last week’s contest.

Other Terps on recent hot streaks include Nick Dunn and Zach Jancarski, who went a combined 12-for-18 in Saturday and Sunday’s contests. Dunn is the only qualified Big Ten hitter with as many homers (5) as strikeouts, and leads the Terps in round-trippers, batting average (.358), doubles (5), runs scored (15) and RBIs (16).

On the other side, the Blue Hens struggled offensively over the weekend, scoring two runs in each of the first two games of their series against Monmouth. On Sunday, they broke out by scoring seven runs, thanks in large part to Kevin Mohollen, who went 3-for-5 with an RBI in the finale.

Delaware enters Tuesday’s contest with three players hitting over .300, including Diaz Nardo, who lit up the Terps last week by going 4-for-5 with a home run and a season-high 5 RBIs. Erik Bowren is hitting .364 this season, and collected two hits, a walk and a stolen base against Maryland last week.

The Blue Hens’ leading batter, junior outfielder Kyle Baker, is still hitting .400, but went 0-for-5 over the weekend before leaving Saturday’s game early. He did not appear Sunday. Against the Terps last week, he collected a pair of hits, including an eighth inning double off Billy Phillips, and before the weekend series had five consecutive multi-hit games.

If the dangerous top of Delaware’s batting lineup delivers, Maryland will have to find a way to score runs against the Blue Hens’ bullpen. In last week’s game, the Terps had six hits and drew a pair of walks in four innings against Delaware relievers, but failed to score a single run.

Starting Pitching Matchup 

Tuesday, 3 p.m. EST

Sr. LHP Matt Hornich (1-0, 1.74 ERA) vs. Fr. RHP Mark DiLuia (1-1, 5.25 ERA) 

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Mark DiLuia has solidified his spot in the starting rotation, but will look to regain the dominance he had in his first start when he tossed four scoreless innings against the VCU Rams. The freshman right-hander is a strikeout pitcher, and has struck out 15 batters in 12 innings this season, but his K/BB ratio took a hit after issuing three walks against Delaware. He will look to give the Terps some length as they finish a stretch of five games in six days.

Last week was first start of the year for Matt Hornich, who threw five solid innings and earned his first win of the season. It was a big momentum boost for the senior, who completed five innings in just two of his eight starts in 2017. The left-hander has given up just two earned runs in 10.1 innings pitched this season.