Maryland’s upcoming series this weekend offers both the chance to improve their record and the chance to continue the offensive energy that emerged against Penn State this past weekend.
The Terps are coming off an explosive offensive series against the Penn State Nittany Lions and are looking to keep that momentum going this weekend as they travel to Columbus, Ohio to take part in a unique two-team, two-game series against the Iowa Hawkeyes and Ohio State Buckeyes.
The first two games of this weekend will be played against the Hawkeyes, game one kicks off Saturday at 5:00 p.m. and game two against Iowa will be Sunday at 12:00 p.m. Maryland will face Ohio State in the second part of Sunday’s double header at 4:00 p.m. The series will wrap up Monday with one last game against the Buckeyes at 3:00 p.m.
The Terps put up a collective 31 runs across three games including a 19-run slug fest to take the opening game in last weekend’s successful showing at Penn State. Maryland will be looking to Benjamin Cowles to come out swinging again this series following his impressive work in the box during game one in Happy Valley. The junior raked in five runs with his early two-run RBI single and later a pitch out of the park for a three-run homer.
The Iowa Hawkeyes are coming off a 1-2 series loss to Nebraska, both losses of the three-game series ending in double digits. Maryland’s successful offensive game will need to make a comeback this weekend against an Iowa team that has been outscored 60-44 if the Terps want to take the series.
The second half of this weekend’s series will pit the Terps against the Buckeyes, a team that is 6-5 on the season and is coming off a 1-2 series loss to Rutgers (dropping one game to the Scarlet Nights in 11 innings and losing the other without putting a run on the board). Ohio State boasts more of a balanced team than Iowa, only being outscored 53-50 this season. Once again, Maryland’s fate will rest in the batter’s box and whether or not the same offensive energy from this past Penn State series shows up this weekend.
Iowa Hawkeyes (4-7)
The Iowa Hawkeyes finished with a 10-5 record before the season abruptly ended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2020 team boasted a .295/.391/.408 slash line accompanied by a pitching staff finishing with a solid 3.39 ERA.
This year, the Hawkeyes have fallen just short of their 2020 success, putting forth a .224/.344/.356 slash line thus far. Iowa’s offense had yet to truly get the ball rolling until their last series against Nebraska, but even then the Hawkeyes dropped two of the games with final scores of 8-10 and 8-13. They will need to wake up their bats to have a chance against the offensive momentum the Terps have been building up.
Hitters to Watch
The Hawkeyes offense has been off to a sluggish start this season, but the energy needed to propel them can be found in a pair of redshirt seniors: Matthew Sosa and Ben Norman. Sosa has been reliable all season, and arrives in Columbus with a .324 batting average, the highest on the team. He held a career-long eight-game hitting streak through the first eight games of the season. Norman has been heating up this year and had a four-game hitting streak and a six-game on-base streak going into their Nebraska series. He had two home runs against the Cornhuskers, and boasts a .308 batting average, second on the team only to Sosa.
Pitchers to Watch
Iowa’s pitching staff can be described as just average, with the staff putting up a 4.26 ERA so far this year. There is one standout on Iowa that the Terps are lucky to be missing this weekend, and just this past Wednesday he was named Big Ten Pitcher of the Week. Redshirt junior Trevor Wallace boasts a 1.00 ERA and 26 strikeouts on the year. Besides Wallace, redshirt junior Dylan Nedved and senior Trace Hoffman have become strong late-inning options for the Hawkeyes and have a 0.00 and 1.35 ERA respectively.
Ohio State Buckeyes (6-5)
The Ohio State Buckeyes are coming off a 6-8 campaign prior to the 2020 season’s cancellation. The 2020 Buckeyes did not get the chance to face a single Big 10 team before their season ended, making this season the first time they’ll be seeing some of their conference rivals in over a year. Last year’s team finished the short season with a .242/.347/.357 slash line, numbers they are likely hoping to improve this season.
The Buckeyes are coming into this weekend’s series with a 6-5 record. Thus far, Ohio State has produced a .228/.314/.361 slash line, similar numbers to last year yet with better results in terms of record. The Buckeyes are coming off of a 1-2 series loss to Rutgers, three games that resulted in little offensive action from either side as the final scores for either team never exceeded six runs.
Hitters to Watch
True freshman Kade Kern is the head of this Ohio State offense, boasting an impressive .390/.479/.610 slash line for the season. He had a successful showing against Rutgers, contributing three hits in the final game of the series. His two-run homer against Nebraska not only tied the game for the Buckeyes, but it marked his first career homerun in his eighth collegiate game. Other notable offensive contributors are senior Sam Wilson, junior Nick Erwin, and redshirt senior Conner Pohl, each of whom played a part in last weekend’s win against Rutgers.
Pitchers to Watch
Ohio State’s pitching is similar to the first of the Terp’s opponents this weekend in that they are just average. The pitching staff has secured a 4.39 ERA thus far, with two notable pitchers being juniors Bayden Root and TJ Brock, boasting a 1.23 and 1.35 ERA respectively. Maryland will dodge yet another bullet this weekend and avoid meeting either pitcher, and will instead face two players with slightly higher ERA’s but notable performances in the past few games.
Starting Pitching Matchups
Saturday vs Iowa – RHP Sean Burke (1-1, 6.46 ERA) vs. RHP Drew Irvine (0-2, 6.55 ERA)
Burke’s last game against Penn State turned into an all-out slugfest, and while Burke got the start, he was pulled after 4 2/3 innings. He allowed four runs while striking out eight batters, and the game jacked up his ERA from his previous 3.68.
Irvine will arrive in Columbus with a bad taste in his mouth following his most recent 10-8 loss to Nebraska in which he allowed six runs on five hits during his 2 1/3 innings pitched. His previous game against Nebraska didn’t exactly go as planned either, with Irvine giving up another four runs on just six hits, a detriment that couldn’t be countered by his eight strikeouts on the day.
Sunday vs Iowa – RHP Connor Staine (0-1, 6.19 ERA) vs. RHP Duncan Davitt (1-1, 8.18 ERA)
Staine is coming off a disappointing loss to Penn State last weekend, managing to hold the Lion’s off for three scoreless innings. That and his three strikeouts across his five innings pitched weren’t enough to save the Terps as he allowed eight hits, two walks and three wild pitches before being pulled from the game.
A strong performance against Nebraska last Sunday could provide momentum for Davitt heading into Sunday’s game. Davitt held down a no-hitter through 5 1/3 innings before giving up just two hits during his time on the mound. Six strikeouts for the starter secured him a tie for his career-best performance, and the Hawkeye will be coming out of the gates strong when he faces the Terps.
Sunday vs OSU – RHP Nick Dean (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs RHP Jack Neely (1-0, 4.26 ERA)
Dean will be making his season debut for the Terps in the second half of Sunday’s double header. Coming off of a shortened season and finishing with a 3.98 ERA, Dean will look to start the Terps off on the right note against Big Ten rival Ohio State. Listed as one of the top draft prospects in the class of 2022, this sophomore has a lot to prove and a lot to bring to the mound.
Neely’s most recent game secured the Buckeyes a much-needed win over Rutgers, a game which saw the pitcher finish his time on the mound with five strikeouts and allowing just three hits over 4 1/3 innings. This is a similar story to his previous outing against Iowa, in which Neely finished with seven strikeouts, one hit and one run allowed. The Terps offense will need to wake up if the same Neely from the Rutgers and Iowa games decides to show up in Columbus.
Monday vs OSU – RHP Jason Savacool (3-0, 2.28 ERA) vs RHP Will Pfennig (0-1, 7.71 ERA)
Who better to close out the Terps time in Columbus than the most recent Big Ten Freshman of the Week. Savacool will be taking the mound Monday afternoon, and if his second career complete game in just three collegiate showings against Penn State is any indication of the performance than can be expected, the Buckeyes better be ready. Savacool’s most recent performance against the Nittany Lion’s saw him throw only 92 pitches, yet still secured the win for the Terps 7-1.
Pfennig’s last showing played a role in Ohio State’s recent win against Nebraska, a game in which the junior posted six strikeouts, five hits, and two earned runs. He will be facing off against one of the strongest freshman pitchers in the conference, and will need to pull out a similar performance against the Terps in order to help his team secure a win.