Series Preview: Northwestern Wildcats

Maryland vs Northwestern

Maryland (16-16) is coming off a 1-1 record in its midweek games against William & Mary and West Virginia. Now, the Terps are on the road to take on Northwestern (15-14), which is riding a four-game winning streak. 

Maryland’s midweek games were two very different tales. Against William & Mary, the Terps poured on a season-high 16 runs on 12 hits, including four homers en route to a 16-10 win. The following game against West Virginia, the Terps only totaled one run on five hits and fell 8-1.

During the midweek games, the Terps used 10 different pitchers, resulting in 14 earned runs over the two games. Maryland hopes to get solid starts out of the starting pitchers this weekend, similar to last weekend against Illinois, where starters only accounted for seven earned runs.

In terms of hitting, sophomore Justin Vought, who has struggled as of late, belted a grand slam against William & Mary, accounting for four of his five RBIs on the day. Freshman Josh Maguire is continuing to make an impact after recently being inserted into the starting lineup. Maguire hit .375 in the midweek games with two RBIs and three runs scored.

Senior Taylor Wright continues to lead the team in batting average, hitting .276 and also leads the Big Ten in doubles with 12. Sophomore Randy Bednar ranks third on the team with a .260 batting average but leads the team in RBIs (28). The outfielder also is tied for the team-high in home runs (5).  

Northwestern Wildcats (15-14, 4-2 Big Ten)

Last season

Northwestern was near the bottom of the Big Ten with an overall record of 17-32, while posting a 6-18 record in conference play. Maryland hosted Northwestern dropping the first game of the series, but picked up the next two to win the series. Both of the Terps’ wins were decided by one run.

This season

The Wildcats are one of the hottest teams in the conference, winning nine of their last 10 games. Northwestern also possesses a four-game winning streak, including a series sweep against Ohio State. During this hot streak, Northwestern has outscored its opponents 36-12.

Hitters to watch

As a team, Northwestern is hitting .270 and leads the Big Ten in stolen bases with 49. The Wildcats have four batters hitting .300 or better, as the Dunn brothers stick out. Senior Jack Dunn leads the Big Ten with a .374 batting average, while his younger brother, David Dunn posts a .333 batting average. Along with the Dunn duo, senior Willie Bourbon leads the team in RBIs (23) and is tied with a team-high in home runs (3).

Relievers to watch

Junior Nick Paciorek posts a 2.08 ERA and has picked up a team-high, three saves. The righty has appeared in 13 innings and has allowed three earned runs, while limiting opposing hitters to a .156 batting average. Sophomore Anthony Alepra has done the most work out of the Northwestern bullpen, totaling 16 innings with a 2.81 ERA.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup

Friday, 4:30 p.m. ET

Sr. RHP Hunter Parsons (5-2, 2.21 ERA) vs. So. LHP Quinn Lavelle (3-3, 4.08 ERA)

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Parsons, the Maryland ace has been very consistent on Friday nights. In each of his last three starts, the Senior has pitched into the eighth inning. Parsons leads the team with 42 strikeouts in 57 innings pitched.

For the Wildcats, Lavelle has won his last two starts, including one complete game shutout against San Jose State. The sophomore has the most innings pitched for Northwestern with 46.1 and is tied for a team-high in strikeouts with 31.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup

Saturday, 3:00 p.m. ET

Jr. RHP Zach Thompson (1-4, 5.04 ERA) vs. Fr. RHP Mike Doherty (2-0, 6.35 ERA)

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Thompson will be looking to pick up hist first win since February. The Junior had a solid outing last weekend against Illinois, tossing seven innings, while surrendering four earned runs. Thompson ranks second in most innings pitched (44.2) and strikeouts (34).  

Doherty has done a lot of work out of the bullpen but is expected to make his fourth start on Saturday. In his first two starts, the freshman threw five innings in each but last weekend he only tossed two innings. Doherty has thrown 17 innings, racking up 15 strikeouts but also walking 12 batters.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET

Fr. RHP Trevor LaBonte (1-3, 4.63) vs. TBD

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The Terps’ Sunday starter, LaBonte threw a solid 5 ⅓ innings, allowing just one earned run last weekend against Illinois. The freshman has pitched 35 innings and has picked up 30 strikeouts.