Riding on a hot 4-0 start to the season, No. 22 Maryland will head south to Buies Creek, North Carolina this weekend to face the Campbell Fighting Camels for three games. It’s the second must-see non-conference series in a row, as the Camels owned the best conference record in the Big South conference last year. However, opposite of the Terps, Campbell has dropped its last three games — getting outscored 20-8 in that span.
The Terps will be bringing some of the hottest hitters in the country to this series, including the blistering bats of Maxwell Costes and Matt Shaw that were seen against Baylor and UMBC this past week. Costes led the way, picking up five extra-base hits against the Bears and cruising to a .529 on-base percentage and 1.071 slugging percentage. Shaw comes next, compiling a .474 and .824 on-base and slugging percentages, respectively. Both Terps had multi-home run performances in the same game last Saturday in Waco, Texas.
While much of the Terps’ success has arrived due to the heavy hitters, the starting pitching has held an equal amount of the responsibility, carving its way to three wins to start the season and allowing just six runs in 25 innings. The three-headed monster of a weekend rotation was as advertised against Baylor, and it’ll look to repeat its stellar performance against the Camels.
The fourth “starter” to have pitched so far was Logan Ott in a four inning outing against UMBC on Wednesday. The sophomore gave up a pair of runs and left the game with a no-decision, but he certainly helped display the front-end pitching depth the Terps have, and could very well find himself in the reliever role this weekend if things get dicey.
Campbell Fighting Camels (1-3)
The Fighting Camels finished the 2021 season atop the Big South standings, boasting a 37-18 record en route to the Starkville Regional. Similar to the Terps’ journey in the Greenville Regional, Campbell crawled back to a winner-take-all game after losing the first game of the regional, but ultimately fell to Mississippi State. In the regular season, Campbell led its conference in quite literally every offense category. The Camels’ team slash line sat at .306/.423/.516, while they crushed 73 home runs and 135 doubles. Those 135 doubles were 42 more than the next-up team in USC Upstate. The stat that stands out the most about the 2021 Camels’ offense was the +184 run differential, which led the Big South by a whopping 65 runs. While their pitching didn’t top the Big South like their lineup did,
The Fighting Camels began their tremendous 2021 season with a 3-1 start, but this time they head into their fifth game with a 1-3 record. They lost their first series against a middling Appalachian State team, and dropped a midweek game against No. 25 East Carolina, who the Terps will be playing next Sunday. Little fault could be given to the Campbell starting pitching that gave up just two runs in 17 innings, but the lineup that recorded a .203 batting average and .268 slugging in its four games is certainly where Campbell dropped the ball.
Scoring eight runs in its last three games is not going to cut it against the Terps’ rotation, and their lineup has also shown to be very prone to the strikeout, doing so 47 times against 17 walks.
Hitters to Watch
The Camels have not brought much to the table if anything in terms of their lineup. With a total .583 OPS, there are two batters who have prevented that number from becoming much worse. Leading the way is Zach Neto, a redshirt-junior who took home Big South Player of the Year last season. His 2021 numbers are nothing to scoff at, as he finished the season with a .405 batting average, good for 12th-best in the nation. Doing so in 44 games, he also totaled 32 extra-base hits along with elite plate discipline — striking out 30 times in his 173 at-bats. It’s a steep drop-off from Neto, but the next best bat comes from Zach Williams, the only Camel with a home run this season. Williams had been productive in two of the three games he played this season, hitting a double and swiping two bags in one, and hitting the Camels’ first long ball in the other.
Pitchers to Watch
If the Camels’ hitters can’t get it done this weekend, then the starting pitchers will. As mentioned earlier, their weekend rotation allowed just two runs in 17 innings last weekend against Appalachian State. It’s a very well-rounded rotation — much like Maryland’s — but the Friday and Saturday starters are easily the most imposing. Thomas Harrington will get the ball Friday evening, and he’s fresh off six inning, scoreless outing, striking out 13 batters in the process. Harrington was named Big South Freshman of the Year in 2021, paving the way with a 3.45 earned run average in 14 starts. He is followed by fellow sophomore Cade Kuehler, who similarly threw seven innings with no earned runs last Saturday. The righty punched out 10 batters and only walked one. The Fighting Camels have a generally strong pitching staff, but these two have certainly carried the freight thus far.
Probable Starting pitching matchups:
Friday, 5:00 p.m. ET
Jr. RHP Nick Dean (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs So. RHP Thomas Harrington (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
Nick Dean couldn’t have kicked off his 2022 better, pitching seven shutout frames against Baylor last Friday en route to an opening day win. Four hits and a walk was all the damage he allowed, and he punched out eight Bears. Dean will be looking to replicate that performance (and then some) when he takes the mound Friday evening.
Harrington comes into the weekend firmly as Campbell’s ace, earning multiple honors as a freshman last year and displaying the improvements he’s made this year in his start last week. The sophomore struck out 13 in six innings of work, limiting Appalachian State to win hit and leading the way to Campbell’s first and only win of the season so far. Friday night could very well end up being an intense pitcher’s duel between Harrington and Dean.
Saturday, 3:00 ET
Jr. LHP Ryan Ramsey (1-0, 3.00 ERA) vs So. RHP Cade Kuehler (0-1, 0.00 ERA)
Ryan Ramsey made his first career regular season start last week against Baylor, and it went just as expected. He limited the Bears to two runs and led the way to his first win of 2022 behind three strikeouts and no walks. The lefty will make his third career start this Saturday.
Behind Harrington, Kuehler presents his own danger against the Terps’ lineup. He carved up Appalachian State last Saturday for 10 strikeouts, and went seven innings allowing no earned runs. One run did score on his watch, but it came from an error by his shortstop. Just like Friday night, it appears that Saturday could be another low-scoring affair between two talented starters.
Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET
So. RHP Jason Savacool (1-0, 2.25 ERA) vs R-Jr. RHP Aaron Rund (0-1, 4.50)
Jason Savacool’s biggest goal for the season is consistency, and Sunday’s start should be his first test at that. He delivered in his debut this season, going eight innings deep with six strikeouts and just two runs on his tab. Now, he can show his stability as a starter and try to replicate that performance against a rather weak lineup in Campbell. Savacool did allow seven hits, but walked no batters against Baylor. If he can limit the walks and keep the hits at bay, Sunday should be a great day for the righty.
Aaron Rund brings up the tail end of the Campbell rotation, and there’s a decent gap between him and his predecessors. Rund wasn’t terrible in his 2022 debut last Sunday, but he was taken out in the fifth inning after failing to record an out. He had ultimately pitched four innings, giving up a pair of runs on five hits and a walk. Having pitched to a 5.97 ERA in 2021, Rund may be in line for a lot of damage from this Terps lineup.