Maryland enters the new week unranked for the first time this season after dropping last weekend’s series against Dallas Baptist. While the Terps hung in there all weekend — getting outscored by just two runs in the three games — the Patriots proved why they have been the No. 1-ranked RPI team in the country for the past three weeks.
The weekend in Dallas was the last non-conference series for Maryland before it heads into conference play against Penn State next weekend, but before that, they play two midweek games on Tuesday and Wednesday against Towson and George Mason, respectively. Both teams have struggled thus far and present a great opportunity for Maryland to bounce back ahead of Big Ten competition.
Towson Tigers (8-16)
While Towson ended its 2021 season with a 21-36 record, an 11-12 conference record was all it needed to place second in the Colonial Athletic Association North Division. However, the team’s performance was certainly nothing to write home about, as it place last in the entire CAA in batting average and slugging percentage. The only stat that the Tigers excelled in was walks, which they led their conference in with 261.
On the other side of the diamond, Towson’s pitching also led the CAA in walks, giving out 237 free passes. Overall, the Tigers pitching handed in a 5.60 ERA in 2021, and they gave up the most home runs (63) in the conference as well.
Towson is two weeks removed from taking a big four-game series split against Princeton, but its -16 run differential over that weekend paints the bigger picture of how rough 2022 has been for the Tigers. With a .333 winning percentage, Towson is dead last in the CAA with every other team sitting above .500. The hitting has improved from 2021 (to third-worst in the conference), but the pitching has all but hit rock-bottom. A 7.93 ERA tells the whole story, as the combination of walks and home runs has left the Tigers pitching staff helpless.
Hitters to watch:
The improved hitting performance from the 2022 Tigers could arguably be mostly attributed to its two strongest sluggers — Jack McLaughlin and Burke Camper. Both players have posted an OPS beyond 1.100, and McLaughlin alone owns a .409 batting average. Camper leads the team with seven home runs, which has translated to a monstrous .712 slugging percentage. There’s a pretty steep drop-off following those two, but those potent bats could certainly pose a big threat against Maryland pitching.
Pitchers to watch:
With just one pitcher owning at least 10 innings pitched and an ERA below 4.00, Towson’s pitching is exactly what the CAA conference stats show — rock-bottom. The one pitcher who has stayed afloat so far is Tigers closer Jake Pecilunas, who comes in with a 2.70 ERA and four saves out of his 10 appearances. Should the Tigers have a late lead Tuesday evening, it will most likely be Pecilunas taking the ball.
George Mason Patriots (8-14)
Just like Towson, George Mason found itself near the bottom of its conference standings last season. With Massachusetts (.158) being the only team to finish with a worse conference winning percentage, the Patriots ended 2021 with a .292 record in the Atlantic-10 Conference, finishing last in the South Division. The Patriots’ hitting was middle of the pack, slashing .266/.353/.386, but it was the pitching that had them falling into the gutter of the Atlantic-10. The staff’s 6.66 ERA was narrowly better than St. Bonaventure’s conference-worst 6.76, and opposing batters nearly hit .300 against them.
George Mason is on track to finish the season just about where they ended in 2021, currently sitting fourth-to-last in the Atlantic-10. Having dropped a series to The Citadel last weekend, George Mason owns an 8-14 record, and prior to its win on Sunday, George Mason was suffering a six-game losing streak. The offense has put up similar numbers to 2021, slashing .260/.356/.349, but the pitching still remains in dire straits. Its 6.05 ERA stands out the most.
Hitters to watch:
The Patriots have three hitters in their lineup with an OPS over .800, but the most impressive one is Connor Dykstra, who’s been raking to a 1.020 OPS in 58 at-bats. Dykstra leads the Patriots with four home runs, and is the only hitter in the lineup with more than one long ball.
Pitchers to watch:
The two standout pitchers on George Mason’s staff may not even make an appearance in Wednesday’s game. Danny Hosley — owner of a 2.87 ERA and team-best 0.97 WHIP — started on Sunday against The Citadel, and Chad Gartland — owner of a 2.75 ERA — started on Saturday. Matthew Henson is the only other pitcher on the Patriots having pitched over 10 innings and an ERA below 4.00, and he could make an appearance out of the bullpen.
Probable Pitching Matchups:
Maryland is playing back-to-back midweek games for the first time this season, meaning that Head Coach Rob Vaughn will have to deploy two midweek starters as opposed to one. Logan Ott has received the most midweek starts, so he’ll likely take one of the games, but for the other, it’s likely to fall on another bullpen arm, such as Andrew Johnson or Ryan Van Buren.
As for the opposition, Towson has typically sent out Teddy Blumenaur for midweek starts, but that could be up in the air for Tuesday after his last performance against Virginia where he gave up six runs in 2/3 innings. George Mason has split midweek starts between a handful of pitchers, with the most recent being Britt Yount.