Series Preview: Stetson Hatters

Stetson-Maryland

After an offensive breakout led the Terps to an 11-6 win over the Delaware Blue Hens on Tuesday, Maryland (7-4) heads down south for a three-game series against the Stetson Hatters (5-7). While the Terps will have had a full two-day break heading into the series, the Hatters will operate on only one rest day after playing five games in the past seven days.

Last season, the Terps’ 2-1 come-from-behind series win over the Hatters in College Park marked Maryland’s biggest series victory. Now, the Terps will look for another series win as the fresh Maryland squad faces a new Stetson team — a total of 34 new faces on both teams combined.

Two newcomers helped lead the Terps to their victory over the Blue Hens Tuesday; Maxwell Costes and Sebastian Holte-Mancera each notched their first-career home run with Maryland. Costes, the Terps’ freshman designated hitter, moved to first base on Tuesday so that head coach Rob Vaughn could push Holte-Mancera to designated-hitter.

Just one of the lineup changes since the beginning of the season, the move worked and Holte-Mancera went 2-for-2 on the night. With his success in the box Tuesday, the junior transfer is 7-for-13 on the season with a .538 batting average.

Another big lineup move, sophomore Tommy Gardiner took over at second base against Louisiana Lafayette last weekend, after senior shortstop AJ Lee left game two with an apparent injury. Freshman Benjamin Cowles, the then-second baseman, moved to short and Gardiner stepped in to fill his place. After the switch, Gardiner went 2-for-4 Tuesday, reaching base thrice and scoring two runs.

Fellow sophomore Randy Bednar has also provided the Terps with offensive power. Bednar holds a .304 batting average with a .407 on-base percentage.

While Maryland’s lineup has undergone some shuffling, the Terps’ bullpen remains solid. With a wealth of new arms, Vaughn has utilized Maryland’s ability to play to matchups, using multiple relievers per game so far this season.

Stetson Hatters (5-7, 0-0 ASUN) 

Last Season

Though they dropped two to the Terps, the Hatters finished the year with a 48-13 record. They won the Atlantic Sun Conference Championship and advanced to the NCAA Super Regionals before North Carolina knocked them out. Entering the series with Maryland last year, Stetson’s pitching staff ranked No. 1 in the nation.

This season

The Hatters had a rocky 0-5 start to the season, but bounced back, winning three of their last four games including a series win over Sacred Heart this week. With the home-field advantage, Stetson will come out strong against Maryland with hopes of gaining momentum as they near conference play.

Hitters to watch

The Hatters have only two batters hitting over .300; junior Austin Bogart and senior Baylen Sparks have provided Stetson’s offense with a combined 25 hits, with .362 and .308 batting averages, respectively. Bogart is also one of only two Hatters to homer so far this season, as junior shortstop Jorge Arenas provided the other blast.

Boggart, Jacob Koos and Jonathan Meola lead Stetson in at-bats, as the three have graced the top of the Hatters’ order for most of the season so far.

Relievers to watch

Freshman right-handers Danny Garcia and Bret Neilan lead the charge from Stetson’s bullpen. Both hold the team’s only sub-zero ERAs in at least five appearances. Two of the Hatters’ freshest arms, expect each of the righties to take the mound at least once this weekend.

Vlad Nunez has been another productive arm for Stetson. The senior righty has recorded 16 strikeouts in 12.2 innings pitched, set to eclipse his strikeout total of 20 from 2018.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Friday, 6:30 p.m. ET

Sr. RHP Hunter Parsons (2-0, 1.35 ERA) vs. R-So. RHP Robbie Peto (0-1, 2.30 ERA)

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Last year, Parsons’ Sunday start against Stetson marked his first complete game shutout in his collegiate career. Now, as Maryland’s Friday ace, Parsons has the chance to set the tone of this year’s series. Parsons enters the weekend with a 1.35 ERA, the lowest of non-relievers. The senior right-hander also has 13 strikeouts in 20 innings pitched.

Taking the mound for Stetson, Petro has recorded 16 strikeouts in just under 16 innings of work so far this season. With one of the lowest ERAs among the Hatters’ starters, Petro could turn Friday’s competition into a pitchers’ duel.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Saturday, 6:30 p.m. ET

Jr. RHP Zach Thompson (1-1, 4.24 ERA) vs. Fr. LHP Daniel Paret (0-0, 4.50 ERA)

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After redshirting last season due to transfer rules, right-hander Zach Thompson has secured his spot as the Terps’ Saturday starter. Entering the series against the Hatters with a 4.24 ERA, the junior leads Maryland in strikeouts, with 17 total in his 17 innings pitched.

A youngster on the Stetson squad, Saturday’s contest will be only the second start of Paret’s career with the Hatters. In his first start last Sunday against Sacred Heart, the freshman lasted five innings and struck out eight.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET

Fr. RHP Trevor LaBonte (0-0, 1.46 ERA) vs. TBD

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Freshman right-hander Trevor LaBonte will receive the nod as the Terps’ game-three starter. After starting the past two Sundays, LaBonte has proven himself with a 1.46 ERA in 12.1 innings pitched, and 10 strikeouts.