Series Preview: Maine Black Bears

It’s finally time for a weekend at home.

Maryland baseball gets set for its first home weekend series of the young season as the Maine Black Bears of the America East Conference travel to Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium.

The Terps are coming off a victory against the neighboring UMBC Retrievers, who traveled down I-95 for a midweek matchup in College Park. Matt Woods was a major benefactor in Maryland’s 12-6 win after his bases-clearing triple.

Prior to the rout of the Retrievers, Maryland struggled in the Cambria College Classic at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn., dropping all three of its contests of the weekend to No. 4 Ole Miss, No. 7 Vanderbilt, and Hawaii.

Sitting at 5-7 and falling out of the D1 Baseball Top 25 Rankings, the Terps look to hit the reset button this weekend and get back to an even record.

Here is what to look out for against the visiting Black Bears.

Maine Black Bears (3-6)

Last Season

Maine concluded last season with a 27-22 record and finished atop Baseball Division A of the America East Conference. Competition was not the strongest in that division with the likes of University of Massachusetts Lowell, Hartford, and Albany, but the Black Bears did finish in first place by a landslide and tied Stony Brook – members of Baseball Division B – for the best record in the entire conference.

Hosting the America East Tournament last May at Mahaney Diamond, the Black Bears lost to both UMass Lowell and New Jersey Institute of Technology. 

This Season

Currently sitting at 3-6, Maine won its opening series of the season against Pittsburgh, then lost two games to Monmouth, one game to Northern Illinois, and two games to Winthrop. Though, the team salvaged the last game of the Winthrop series and comes into this weekend after that win, succeeding the five-game losing streak.

The Black Bears have a long stretch of games in the DMV, as they face George Mason and George Washington next Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, and UMBC for a weekend series. They then play Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia and move onto conference play the weekend after.

Hitters to Watch

Maine has put up some strong offense so far this season despite its unfavorable record. Quinn McDaniel, Jake Rainess, and Jeremiah Jenkins have established a splendid trio that has put up great numbers thus far.

McDaniel, a junior infielder, has a .480 batting average and 23 total bases in 25 plate appearances, though he has only driven in five runs. Rainess and Jenkins, a redshirt junior utility player and a sophomore first baseman and designated hitter, respectively, both have a .378 batting average with 37 plate appearances and four home runs. All three players have an above-1.000 OPS and slugging percentages above .700, with McDaniel sitting at an astronomical .920 slugging.

The Black Bears have six players with a batting average above .300, seven players with an OPS above .700, and four players with a slugging percentage above .500, which only includes players that meet a minimum requirement of two plate appearances per game and 75 percent of games played so far this season.

Pitchers to Watch

Colin Fitzgerald has been the best Maine pitcher this season by a wide margin. The sophomore boasts a 1.80 ERA in 15 innings pitched with 15 strikeouts and 14 hits allowed. He has limited opposing hitters to a .246 batting average and has only given up three extra base hits in his three outings.

Probable Starting Pitchers

Friday, March 10th: Jason Savacool and Caleb Leys

Saturday, March 11th: Nick Dean and Colin Fitzgerald

Sunday, March 12th: Nate Haberthier and Noah Lewis