Series Preview: Maine Black Bears


Maryland will hold its home opener before March rolls around for the third time in the last four years, setting up another year of unpredictable early-season baseball oftentimes affected by the weather.

In 2016, Maryland took two of three from Rhode Island in a highly competitive first home weekend at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium. Last season, Army came into College Park and shocked the Terps with a series win.

The Terps are coming off a 1-2 weekend in the Brittain Resorts Invitational, where they had a real opportunity to begin the season with a winning record. While head coach Rob Vaughn said he would’ve liked to see a second win, he learned a lot about his team and what it needs to work on moving forward.

Maryland has already used different 16 pitchers through the first three games, more than the 14 that took the mound last year. That depth allowed the coaching staff to have short leases on struggling arms, and to see which pitchers to rely on moving forward.

Nine different relievers didn’t concede an earned run in the opening weekend. Freshmen Sean Heine, Will Glock and Daniel O’Connor shined in their respective one-plus inning outings. Junior transfer Nick Turnbull was arguably the best arm out of the bullpen.

Sophomore Randy Bednar was the story of the weekend on offense. He was one of two Terps to record a hit in all three games. His two-run hit against Coastal Carolina accounted for the team’s only scoring production. He had two RBI singles against VCU, including the game-winner.

Third baseman Taylor Wright and junior transfer Caleb Walls also stood out, both matching Bednar’s four-hit weekend. Walls hit the first home run of the season last Friday against Campbell. Designated hitter Maxwell Costes was the only freshman with a multi-hit weekend.

The series is now a doubleheader on Friday starting at 1 p.m. because of inclement weather on Saturday, while the series finale is still scheduled for Sunday.

Maine Black Bears (0-4, 0-0 America East)

Last season

The Black Bears went 12-12 in conference before winning a pair of games in their conference tournament. But Maine lost twice to Stony Brook to miss out on an NCAA tournament berth. In the offseason, the team’s best two players in shortstop Jeremy Pena and catcher Christopher Bec were selected in the first five rounds of the MLB Draft.

This season

Maine is projected to finish fourth in its conference and struggled against a national powerhouse in No. 13 Florida State during the opening weekend. The Black Bears lost by at least eight runs in three of the four contests, while losing 6-5 in seven innings on a walk-off in the fourth game.

Hitters to watch

Senior infielder Danny Casals went just 2-for-12 to start the year, but he’s one of the best returning players to the Black Bears. He hit .304 with a team-leading 14 home runs and 49 RBIs. He played for the Harwich Mariners in the Cape Cod Baseball League last summer, hitting .217 with three homers.

Junior infielder Hernen Sardinas also hit over .300 for Maine last season, earning conference second team honors. He was the only player to appear in all 54 games. He picked up a team-leading three hits last weekend against Florida State.

Relievers to watch

Junior southpaw Trevor DeLaite has already shown vast improvement from his 8.61 ERA last season. In 3 2/3 innings last weekend, he only allowed one hit while striking out seven Seminoles in two appearances. He was one of two Black Bears with multiple outings during the opening weekend.

Freshman Nicholas Sinacola had the best weekend on the mound for Maine. He shined in a five-inning bullpen appearance, not allowing a hit while striking out five. The only two base runners he allowed were via two walks he mixed into his performance. None of the team’s four starters even lasted more than 3 1/3 innings.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Friday, 1:00 p.m. ET

Sr. RHP Hunter Parsons (0-0, 3.60 ERA) vs. Jr. RHP Cody Laweryson (0-1, 12.00 ERA)

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Parsons wasn’t as dominant last weekend as he had been most of last season. He gave up two home runs, half as many as he allowed in 2018. But overall, Parsons did enough to win the game. He only allowed two earned over five innings. He did walk two three batters and hit two. Still, it was a much better outing than his first one as a junior — a one-inning, eight-run appearance.

Laweryson only started in four games last season, but now he’s the Friday arm for the Black Bears. The right-hander allowed four earned runs in only three innings. Three of the five hits he allowed were extra-base hits. The junior did work a 3.42 ERA in 52 2/3 innings a season ago.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Friday, 4:00 p.m. ET

Jr. RHP Zach Thompson (0-1, 12.27) vs. So. RHP Peter Kemble (0-0, 8.10 ERA)

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Thompson got roughed up in his Maryland debut, allowing five runs on nine hits in 3 2/3 innings of work. That doesn’t tell the whole story, though. The junior was making his first Division I appearance in a true road game against the No. 21-ranked team in the country on opening weekend. He got hurt when he fell behind in the count against Coastal Carolina’s potent offense, something that he’ll look to improve in start No. 2.

Kemble lasted the longest of Maine’s four starters last weekend against Florida State. It was only 3 1/3 innings, though. He allowed three runs on four hits and walked five hitters. The righty had an 8.78 ERA in only 13.1 innings as a freshman. Only two of his nine appearances were starts.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET


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