Two weeks ago, on April 10, the Maryland Terrapins traveled to Harrisonburg, Virginia, where they defeated the James Madison Dukes, 2-1, in a gritty 12-inning contest. The victory was the Terps’ second in three contests, and brought them to within a game of .500, at 16-17 on the season. It’s been all downhill for Maryland since then, however, as they haven’t won since, dropping six straight contests over the past two weeks.
Wednesday, the Terps (16-23, 3-8 Big Ten) look to right the ship when they host James Madison for the second part of their 2018 home-and-home set. They are coming off a rough weekend in which they lost all three contests against Purdue, the first time they were swept at home since losing three straight to Indiana in May 2015.
After losing Friday’s contest, Maryland had a chance to take the final two games of the series. The Terps carried a 3-2 lead into the ninth on Saturday, but surrendered homers in the ninth and 11th to lose. Leading 6-2 after six innings in Sunday’s contest, Maryland surrendered five runs in the seventh en route to Purdue’s sweep.
Even after breaking out for six runs Sunday, the Terps are still struggling at the plate, with a team batting average of .232 while averaging 4.4 runs per game. Nick Dunn leads the team in most offensive categories, including hitting (.344), on-base percentage (.433), slugging (.556), homers (7), RBIs (28) and runs scored (27). Zach Jancarski started to heat up over the weekend, notching an RBI double Saturday and a three-run homer Sunday. He and Dunn are tied for the team lead with 11 doubles. Kevin Biondic continues to rank second behind Dunn in average (.273), RBIs (21) and slugging (.473). This week, Maryland will benefit from the return of outfielder Marty Costes, who was suspended for the Purdue series.
In addition to his success at the plate, Biondic has been the Terps’ best reliever this season. Despite not throwing a collegiate pitch until February, the senior right-hander leads the team with an 0.87 ERA in 20.2 innings, while holding opponents to a .118 ERA. Other than Biondic, the bullpen has been shaky at best. John Murphy ranks second with a 4.29 ERA in a team-high 17 appearances.
After losing to Maryland two weeks ago, the Dukes (21-19, 6-9 CAA) won five straight contests, but since then have lost three of their last four. Over the weekend, they dropped the first two at Delaware before salvaging the third game with a 6-0 victory Sunday.
Infielder Fox Semones has been hot since the Terps and Dukes met, hitting three homers in the past nine games while raising his average to .304. He paces the team with seven home runs and a .514 slugging percentage, while tying for the team lead in doubles (8) and RBIs (17). Adam Sisk, who has kept pace with Semones in doubles and RBIs, also leads the team with a .397 on-base percentage and 28 runs scored. Josh Jones leads the team with a .316 batting average, but has four hits in his last six games, and did not play in one of the contests against Delaware over the weekend.
On the mound, James Madison carries a 3.59 ERA as a team. Five of the regular Dukes relievers – not including Wednesday’s starter Michael Bechtold – have ERAs under 3.00. Brett Ayer owns a minuscule 0.71 ERA despite getting tagged with the loss against the Terps two weeks ago. Nick Robertson leads the team with three saves, while posting a 1.83 ERA in 19.2 innings of work. Matt Colon, Matt Marsili and Garrett Richards have also impressed in relief.
Starting Pitching Matchup
Wednesday, 4:00 p.m. EST
R-Fr. RHP Michael Bechtold (1-0, 2.45 ERA) vs. R-Fr. LHP Billy Phillips (0-0, 8.49 ERA)
The brother of former Terps infielder Andrew Bechtold, right-hander Michael Bechtold gets the ball for James Madison on Wednesday, making his fourth start of the season (and ninth overall appearance). His last time out, last week against Longwood, he threw a season-high 4.2 innings, allowing just one run on five hits while striking out three. He has pitched well in his 18.1 innings of work this year, as seen by his 2.45 ERA, but he does allow baserunners, with a .260 opponent’s average.
After sitting out two years while battling cancer, left-hander Billy Phillips finally took the mound this season. In his first career appearance against Tennessee, he struck out the first hitter he faced before inducing a double play. Now, on Wednesday, he will make his first collegiate start, after making his first nine appearances of the season out of the bullpen. In 11.2 innings this year, he’s allowed 11 runs, all earned, while walking six and striking out six.