Midweek Preview: UMBC Retrievers

Maryland is set to head up North to take on their in-state opponent UMBC.

 The Terps achieved their fourth Big 10 series win of the year, taking down the talented Purdue. Winning four of their last five, Maryland hopes to keep their energy alive in Baltimore.

Accumulating an 8-4 conference record, the Terps are just one game behind Indiana, who is coincidentally their matchup this weekend. Maryland must first battle the Retrievers followed by a matchup in Washington D.C. against the Georgetown Hoyas.

Here’s what UMBC is rolling with as we head into the year’s final stretch.

UMBC Retrievers (19-17)

Last Season

The Retrievers struggled in 2022, finishing well below .500 at 23-32 overall and an 11-19 conference record to go along with it. UMBC finished last in the B division of the American East Conference, yet still qualified for their post-season tournament. However, they were a quick exit, losing their third game to NJIT.

Of their two matchups against Maryland, the Retrievers lost both, losing the first by a single run and the second by six runs. UMBC has already improved greatly from last year, now just four wins away from beating their previous record.

This Season

UMBC has had many tough matchups this season, including losses to Maryland and a series sweep handed to them by UConn. Their first conference series of the 2023 season was against Maine, where they lost all three to the current first-place team in the AEC. The Retrievers did bounce back well, sweeping Albany the next weekend.

Conference play has gone well for UMBC, winning two of three against NJIT and taking every game from UMass Lowell. Even though Bryant snatched two games from them in mid-April, UMBC is still third in the AEC. They hold a four-game home win streak and will look to keep it alive tomorrow night versus the Terps.

Hitters to Watch

The Retrievers have an extremely solid first five, all boasting an above .300 batting average and four of those with an above .900 OPS. The man leading the charge for UMBC is freshman Leewood Molessa

Molessa, a 6’2 first baseman, is second in his conference in home runs, hits and runs batted in. UMBC’s four-hole hitter is slashing .333/.398/.687 and has 13 home runs with 47 RBI to go along with it. Look for Maryland to pitch Molessa precariously, as he has the ability to send anything over the fence.

Another threat from the batter’s box is Ian Diaz. The Graduate Student has hit a .321 clip through 36 games and has the fourth-highest on-base percentage in the conference at .465, making him the ideal lead-off guy. A couple of spots behind Diaz is Matt Ryan, the Retrievers’ catcher and stud three-hole hitter. Ryan ranks top 10 in the conference for total bases and RBI at 69 and 29 respectively.

UMBC leads the AEC in hits and doubles, so look for a high-scoring matchup if the Terps pitchers start leaving balls over the plate.

Pitchers to Watch

The Retrievers lack consistency from the starters and the bullpen but have one guy to lean on in Junior, Luke Johnson.

Johnson flaunts a 2.63 ERA and has recorded five wins on the year, both good enough for the best in the conference. The Junior also has 64 strikeouts and holds opponents to a .200 batting average, both good enough numbers to put him in contention for AEC Pitcher of the Year.

Probable Starting Pitchers

Both teams have important conference series this upcoming weekend, so expect them to rest their best arms and get their bullpen guys in for work.