The Maryland Terrapins (24-14) head into an important series in the Big Ten standings going on the road this weekend to Ann Arbor to face the No. 24 Michigan Wolverines (25-13, 23-13 Big Ten). The two teams are currently just separated by one game in the Big Ten standings for third place overall with both teams still having an outside chance at catching Nebraska for the top spot.
These two teams are also familiar with each other with them splitting a previous two game series with Michigan winning 6-5 on April 4 and Maryland winning big 17-7 on April 5. This time around the series will have more meaning in determining the finish of the Big Ten.
The Terps are coming into Ann Arbor red-hot off a series sweep of Purdue winning game one 11-0, game two 6-1 and game three 7-2. The Terps have won five straight games, 11 of their last 12 and five straight series.
The Terps pitching staff overpowered the Purdue lineup holding them to three total runs the entire series. Nick Dean, Jason Savacool and Sean Burke all combined for three quality outings with Savacool picking up his Big Ten-leading seventh win of the season.
The offense exploded for 25 runs the entire series including a grand slam from catcher Justin Vought and star shortstop Ben Cowles hitting his 15th and 16th home runs of the season which continues to lead the Big Ten. Cowles’ batting average sits at .307 and he also ranks second in the Big Ten in slugging percentage at .693.
Maryland’s deep lineup is continuing to get production from the top two spots of the order. Chris Alleyne, who has a .299 batting average, 23 extra-base hits on the season, 28 RBI and 21-23 on stolen base attempts and Matthew Shaw who has a .343 batting average have been excellent in getting the rest of the lineup chances to hit with runners on base.
And a deep lineup could be getting some reinforcements this weekend with the potential returns of Randy Bednar and Maxwell Costes back from their injuries.
The offense, defense and pitching all clicked during that important series with Purdue to help get Maryland off the bubble of the NCAA Tournament. D1 baseball currently has Maryland as the No. 3 seed in Tennessee’s region with the chance to improve its seeding and pad its resume these next two weekends against potential NCAA Tournament teams .
Michigan is coming off taking a crucial series win over then-No. 21 Indiana winning game one 10-3 and winning the series finale 6-1 an important result that jammed up top of the Big Ten standings even more.
Second baseman Ted Burton was named Big Ten player of the week after batting .583 (7-for-12) with three doubles and a home run as well as a 1.083 SLG and a .615 OBP.
Left fielder Tito Flores matched Burton with a .615 OBP during the series and also batted over .500 in the series including four-extra-base hits.
The important series for both teams will also get some television coverage with the first two games of the series being broadcast on the Big Ten Network.
The first pitch of game one of the series is scheduled for Friday night at 5:00 p.m., followed by game two of the series at the same time Saturday and game three on Sunday to close out the series at 1:00 p.m.
Michigan Wolverines (25-13, 23-13 Big Ten)
Last Season: (8-7)
Michigan finished the shortened 2020 season at 8-7 but picked up wins over No. 2 Vanderbilt, No. 9 Arizona State and picked up a win in a series against No. 24 Pepperdine.
Michigan was led last year by star outfielder Jordan Nwogu with a batting average of .353 and a OPS of .845. Jack Blomgren also help pace the offense with a batting average of .286 and an OPS of .837. Both players have moved onto the MLB being drafted and are currently in the minor leagues. Infielder Riley Bertman led the team with 10 RBI.
Pitching-wise for Michigan, Cameron Weston led the team with a ERA of 0.90 in seven appearances with one game started. Steven Hajjar led the teams in wins with a 3-0 record as well as a 2.70 ERA.
Hitters to Watch:
Michigan is one of the most balanced offenses in the nation where eight different players have connected for at least five home runs.
Michigan ranks second in the Big Ten in batting average of .279 and first in RBI with 252 and is also first in walks drawn with 190.
Hitting-wise Burton is the player to watch. He leads the Big Ten in slugging percentage (.694), and a .365 batting average, a .446 on-base percentage and has hit safely in seven straight games and 13 of his last 14.
Shortstop Benjamin Sems also chips in with a .348 batting average and Flores chips in with a .319 batting average and is second on the teams with RBI with 30.
Pitchers to Watch:
Pitching-wise Michigan ranks second in the Big Ten with a 3.98 ERA on the season. The Wolverines pitching staff is led by both Hajjar with a 4-0 and a 3.02 ERA and Weston who is 5-3, and has a 2.85 ERA. Out of the bullpen Isaiah Paige paces the team with a 1.88 ERA in eleven games pitched.
Starting pitching matchups:
Friday: RHP Nick Dean (3-1, 2.68 ERA) vs LHP Steven Hajjar (4-0, 3.02 ERA)
Dean is coming off his fifth-straight quality outing last weekend where he kept Purdue scoreless going six innings and giving up only six hits. Dean also still leads the Big Ten with only nine walks given up and is second in ERA.
Hajjar is coming off a good outing against Indiana last weekend going 6 ⅓ innings striking out eight hoosiers and giving up three runs on a day he got plenty of run support. Hajjar is second in the Big Ten in strikeouts with 88 and has a good chance this week to take over the top spot
Saturday: RHP Jason Savacool (7-1, 4.69 ERA) vs RHP Cameron Weston (5-3, 2.85 ERA)
The freshman Savacool labored through his start against Purdue last weekend but was still able to put together a quality outing going six innings, giving up one run, and picking up his seventh win of the season to continue to lead the Big Ten in that category. Savacool was roughed up back on April 5, in his previous start lasting only two innings and giving up four runs on only four hits.
Weston is coming off a loss against Indiana last weekend where he only gave up one run on four hits in five innings pitched. Weston is fourth in the Big Ten with 66 ⅓ innings pitched on the season. Maryland was able to get to Weston back on April 4, tagging him for four runs on only five hits and drawing four walks.
Sunday: RHP Sean Burke (3-3, 3.90 ERA) vs RHP Jacob Denner (4-3, 3.86 ERA)
Burke had a bounce back quality outing last week against Purdue going six innings giving up only one earned run on only four hits despite not having high strikeout numbers. Burke also comes in at sixth in the Big Ten in strikeouts at 79. Batters are also struggling to hit Burke’s electric stuff, hitting a .187 batting average off of him this season. MLB scouts have certainly noticed this trend.
Denner is coming off a win against Indiana in the series finale. He went 6 ⅓ innings giving up only one run on only four hits and only walking one batter. Denner has 50 strikeouts on the season compared to 17 walks.