Series Preview: Stetson Hatters

The Maryland Terrapins (10-11) snapped a five-game losing streak Wednesday against Elon, capitalizing on opportunities that were left mostly unconverted during the team’s spring break trip. The Terps scored 11 runs on 11 hits against the Phoenix, hitting over .300 with runners on base and in scoring position.

Maryland ended its six-game road trip with a win, gaining momentum heading into a weekend series back at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium against the Stetson Hatters, a team that has only lost three games this season and boasts the nation’s best team ERA.

Wednesday’s win wasn’t just a tune up for one or two Terps, as every starter reached base and scored at least once. Every starter except second baseman Nick Dunn—who went 0-for-3— recorded at least one hit. The junior still leads the team with a .338 batting average.

In Maryland’s win against the Phoenix, the Terps didn’t use extra-base hits and home runs to fuel its scoring. Eight of the team’s 11 runs were driven in with singles, showing success with moving runners into scoring position and generating runs.

The other three runs the Terps scored were gained from a sacrifice fly, a balk and, most importantly, a Marty Costes solo homer. Costes’ home run may have come with the Terps already leading 10-3, but it was a very meaningful hit, nonetheless. It was just his second home run this season and the first since Feb. 18 against Tennessee over a month ago.

After conceding double-digit runs in a 13-1 loss to North Carolina on Tuesday, Maryland’s pitching staff used six arms against the Phoenix. Right-hander Mike Vasturia received the start, conceding no runs while allowing just two base runners in two innings. Two other Terps—John Murphy and Kevin Biondic—pitched two innings without an earned run. Vasturia and Biondic both dropped their respective ERAs below 1.00.

While the Terps finished their spring break trip to North Carolina with four losses, Stetson has dropped just three games this season. The Hatters lost one game to George Washington, Army and Rhode Island. This weekend will be Stetson’s first trip away from its warm home weather in DeLand, Florida, following a 21-game home stand.

Even though an 18-3 record hasn’t garnered a top-25 ranking in any of the national polls, Stetson has the No. 1-ranked pitching staff in the country. Boasting a 1.89 team ERA, the Hatters concede just 2.1 runs per game. They also strike out over 11 hitters per game, while walking just 3.6.

Stetson’s pitching staff is led by three quality weekend starters— All-American Logan Gilbert, Jack Perkins and Mitchell Senger—who combine for a 2.57 ERA with over 90 innings pitched. The Hatters aren’t short of successful arms behind these three, with only one pitcher with an ERA above 4.00.

The Hatters’ leading two relievers are right-hander Brooks Wilson and left-hander Ben Onyshko. Wilson has allowed just one earned run in 20.1 innings, good for a 0.44 ERA. Onyshko has conceded three earned runs in 18 innings, a 1.50 ERA. These two players are used out of the bullpen much more than any other option, with no other reliever pitching more than eight innings this season.

Offensively, Stetson hits .271 as a team and averages 5.9 runs per game. The Hatters have three players hitting over .300, while the Terps have just one. Junior outfielder Jacob Koos has started in all but one game this season, leading the team with eight extra-base hits. Koos played with Maryland’s Justin Morris, John Murphy and Zach Jancarski for the Bethesda Big Train last summer.

Senior Brooks Wilson, who was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 2017 MLB Draft, decided to return to the Hatters. Along with a sub-1.00 ERA, he’s second on the team with a .341 batting average. Stetson isn’t a team that relies on home runs, as they’ve hit just seven through its first 21 games. Sophomore outfielder Andrew MacNeil leads the Hatters with just two homers. The Terps have 15 home runs as a team through Wednesday.

The two teams haven’t played each other since the opening weekend of the 2003 season, where the Terps defeated the Hatters, 7-3, in the middle of a tournament. Prior to that meeting, Stetson won all four meetings from 1979 to 1982.

Starting Pitching Matchup 

Friday, 4:00 p.m. EST

 Jr. RHP Logan Gilbert (4-0, 2.67 ERA) vs. Sr. RHP Taylor Bloom (2-3, 3.53 ERA)

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There’s no shortage of accolades when it comes to Logan Gilbert. He was the ASUN Pitcher of the Year in 2017 and an All-American. He came into 2018 with the same All-American expectations and he’s delivered. The junior allowed five runs in his first start of the season but, since then, he’s given up the same amount of runs in his last four starts. He’s a strikeout machine, recording double-digit K’s in four of his five appearances. He ranks seventh in the country with 50 strikeouts.

Taylor Bloom returned to form against East Carolina last weekend after a couple of uncharacteristic starts, but received a loss despite a great performance. The right-hander pitched the maximum eight innings, allowing just three earned runs. He gave up five hits while striking out five and walking three hitters. Runs will likely be hard to come by for the Terps on Friday night, so Bloom will have to outduel one of the nation’s top pitchers.

Starting Pitching Matchup 

Saturday, 2 p.m. EST

 Jr. RHP Jack Perkins (2-1, 3.14 ERA) vs. So. LHP Tyler Blohm (2-2, 4.94 ERA)

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Perkins started 13 games as a sophomore, earning a sub-3.00 ERA in just under 100 innings pitched. Now a junior, Perkins has picked up right where he left off. His numbers are inflated by one really bad start, one in which he allowed seven earned runs in three innings. Aside from that poor performance, the right-hander has conceded three earned runs in 25 innings. He ranked second in the ASUN in strikeouts last season, and he’s averaging one per inning this year.

Blohm struggled last Saturday against East Carolina, a game in which Maryland eventually lost 18-4. The sophomore allowed six earned runs in four innings of work. He was hurt less by the six hits he allowed, but more with his control issues. The southpaw walked five and threw two wild pitches in his performance. Against a quality East Carolina offense, Blohm didn’t generate a single swing and miss. The left-hander will look to bounce back against the Hatters.

Starting Pitching Matchup 

Sunday, 1 p.m. EST

So. LHP Mitchell Senger (3-0, 1.86 ERA) vs. Jr. RHP Hunter Parsons (2-2, 4.20 ERA) 

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Based strictly off numbers, Senger has been the most successful weekend starter for the Hatters. Compared to his All-American and projected first-rounder teammate Logan Gilbert, Senger has a better ERA, more shutouts, less hits allowed, fewer home runs allowed, a better K/9 ratio and is holding hitters to a lower batting average. On Feb. 25, Senger tossed Stetson’s first no-hitter since 1986. He had two HBPs and a walk in the outing, but struck out 16 batters. He’s coming off his worst start of the season, though, allowing five earned runs in 2.2 innings against Rhode Island.

Parsons continued his resurgence last weekend, allowing just one earned run in seven innings against East Carolina. The right-hander had to work through three Terps errors, including two in the first inning. Despite the adversity, the junior battled throughout his performance to keep his team in the game for as long as he could. He allowed five hits and walked just one. His ERA continues to decrease with each start, and now has the second-lowest ERA among the three weekend starters after last weekend.