Game Preview: VCU Rams

Maryland baseball will look to erase last weekend from its mind when it opens up a six-game homestand Tuesday against VCU, a team it previously shut out on the road earlier this season.

While it was a frustrating three days for the Terps (16-19, 3-5 Big Ten) over the weekend, it wasn’t necessarily because they lost both games of a weather-shortened series. With Michigan unbeaten in eight conference games, on 17-game winning streak and 52-10 in home games in the last four years, losing two games on the road against the Wolverines isn’t all that devastating.

But between six-plus hours of sitting through freezing weather delays and watching two starting pitchers unable to compete because of injuries, it became a long and dreary weekend in Ann Arbor. Aside from a pair of two-RBI doubles from AJ Lee and Nick Dunn on Friday, and two solo homers from Taylor Wright and Kevin Biondic on Sunday, the Terps struggled to keep pace with a Wolverines offense that took full advantage of Maryland’s starting pitching misfortunes.

It’s a new week, though, for the Terps. Maryland will look to complete a sweep against VCU in its two-game season series when the Rams come to College Park on Tuesday for a 4 p.m. first pitch. The Terps won the first matchup this season, 2-0, back on Feb. 28 in Richmond.

Maryland, despite only having two hits in the first contest against the Rams, did just enough offensively to generate a pair of runs. Catcher Justin Morris used a safety squeeze with bases loaded to scored the first run of the game in the fourth inning. The following inning, Nick Dunn drove in the only other run in the game on sacrifice fly.

Freshman midweek starter Mark DuLuia picked up his first collegiate win, tossing four scoreless innings. The right-hander allowed four hits and a walk while striking out seven. Four relievers followed, conceding just one hit combined in the last five innings of the game. Elliot Zoellner pitched two innings out of the bullpen before Sean Fisher, Kevin Biondic and John Murphy each tossed an inning to complete the collective shutout.

Since then, VCU (23-13, 8-4 Atlantic 10) has added several quality wins to its resume while jumping out to an 8-4 start in conference play. The Rams shut out then-ranked No. 17 East Carolina—a team that beat the Terps three times— holding them to just three hits on the road. VCU also beat Virginia, 11-3, at home in a midweek game a few weeks ago.

Paul Witt, Haiden Lamb and and Daane Berezo have started in all 35 games this season, boasting the three highest batting averages on the team. Witt, a sophomore, leads the Rams with 43 hits, 29 RBIs and a .328 batting average. Lamb, a senior, leads the team with 24 runs scored and 17 stolen bases on 21 attempts.

VCU has had strong pitching throughout the season, allowing just four runs per game. Its top bullpen arms—Benjamin Dum, Mac McCarty, Hayden Moore and Jack Alkire—all have thrown more than 20 innings this season. Dum has a bullpen-best 1.17 ERA in 23 innings, while McCarty and Alkire are holding hitters below a .200 average. McCarty also has an incredible 13 saves in VCU’s 23 wins.

The Rams are coming off a series win at home against St. Bonaventure, winning both halves of a Friday doubleheader before dropping the third game of the weekend on Saturday.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 4 p.m. and starting pitchers have yet to be announced for either team.