Series Preview: Creighton Bluejays

With a commanding 12-4 win over the Elon Phoenix, the Terrapins (12-8) capped off a dominant two-game sweep of Elon on the road. The Terps offense, which surged for 23 runs over the two-game swing, will look to stay hot as they travel back home this weekend to face the Creighton Bluejays (8-5).

The series had previously been scheduled to be played in Omaha at TD Ameritrade Park, but due to heavy snowfall, the series was moved to Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium in College Park.

The Terrapins and Bluejays will be facing each other for the first time in over 20 years, so the history between the two schools is relatively short. Maryland will surely be looking to add some of its own success to the schools’ brief history this weekend, and there’s no better time to do so than after outscoring their last opponent 23-8.

The Terps also outhit their last opponent 23-9 with a couple of outstanding performances from senior AJ Lee and junior Caleb Walls. While some Terps notched themselves a pair of hits over the two-game series, Lee compiled three hits in four at-bats including a two-run homer and two-run double while Walls mashed a couple of home runs himself as part of his own four-hit day on Tuesday.

As for Maryland’s pitchers, they’re sitting on just six earned runs over the last two games and were given big enough leads throughout the series to cruise on by with 22 strikeouts and two wins under their belts. While five pitchers mostly split up innings during Tuesday’s 12-4 win, junior Tuck Tucker started Wednesday’s game and provided five one-run, one-hit innings as the Terps eased their way into another dominant win.

Creighton Bluejays (8-5, 0-0 Big East)

Last Season

Despite finishing the 2018 season with an overall record of 34-16, Creighton’s best since 2016, a conference record of 8-9 wasn’t good enough to push the Bluejays into the Big East tournament. While they did win the second-most overall games in the Big East after St. Johns’s 36, it simply wasn’t enough, leaving the Bluejays out of the NCAA Tournament for the sixth straight year.

This Season

Creighton has yet to play a home game this season due to the terrible weather Omaha has had since the season opened up, but they still carry an 8-5 record including some very high-scoring wins. In fact, the Bluejays have scored 10 or more runs in six of their eight wins. However, their opponents have also scored a lot, and they’re coming off of a series loss in which their opponent, Evansville, outscored them 22-11. One of those games was an 11-0 slaughter by Evansville.

Hitters to Watch

The Bluejays have three hitters who each have an on-base plus slugging percentage of over .900. Those hitters are senior Parker Upton (1.084) and juniors Jake Holton (1.022) and Will Robertson (.990). The three of those hitters have combined for 10 home runs and are responsible for nearly 50 percent of Creighton’s RBI this season.

Pitchers to Watch

Creighton’s pitchers have been shelled up to this point in the season. Between the four pitchers who have started games for them, they’ve pitched 54.2 innings while letting up 49 earned runs. Some of their better pitchers reside in the bullpen. Right-handed senior Bobby Kametas has pitched 6.1 scoreless innings in six appearances while striking out seven. Their next best pitcher in relief is righty freshman Dylan Tebrake, who, despite pitching just 3.2 innings this season, has only surrendered one hit while limiting batters to a team-best .091 batting average.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Friday, 6:30 p.m. ET

Sr. RHP Hunter Parsons ( 3-1, 2.45 ERA) v. Sr. RHP Mitch Ragan (2-1, 6.56 ERA)

 RMZBYNJDDYBZPMM.20150924191225  1Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logo  vs.logo_-creighton-university-bulejays-blue-jay-head-cMitch Ragan

Hunter Parsons will surely be looking to bounce back after East Carolina knocked his season ERA up by over an entire run after plating six runs against him. The Terps ace received his first loss of the season from that start, and could certainly use a quality start to bring himself back down to Earth.

While Bluejays ace Mitch Ragan leads his team in strikeouts (23) over his 23.1 innings this season, he also leads in hits allowed and total runs allowed. Ragan is returning to the mound after giving up seven runs (two earned) over 3.2 innings while hitting three batters.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Saturday, 2:00 p.m. ET

Jr. RHP Zach Thompson (1-2, 3.34 ERA) v. Sr. LHP Denson Hull (0-2, 9.15 ERA)

    Thompson082818_02  1Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logo  vs.logo_-creighton-university-bulejays-blue-jay-head-cDenson Hull

Thompson is coming off one of the best starts out of anyone on the Terrapins roster, allowing only two runs over 8.0 innings against East Carolina. That start helped bring his ERA down from 3.74 to 3.34 as he looks to continue his domination on the mound into Saturday.

Denson Hull leads all Bluejay starters in ERA — and by quite a large margin (next lowest is 6.56). He leads Creighton in earned runs (20) while also allowing the highes opposing batting average out of Creighton starters (.297). The last time Hull pitched was last Saturday in Evansville, where he gave up four earned runs after allowing five hits and walking four batters.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET

Fr. RHP Trevor LaBonte (1-1, 2.78 ERA) v. Sr. RHP Evan Johnson (1-0, 5.94 ERA)

Labonte082818_021Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logo  vs.logo_-creighton-university-bulejays-blue-jay-head-cEvan Johnson

Trevor LaBonte, just like Parsons, got roughed up in his last start versus East Carolina. Although his ERA only increased by 0.18, his control was a bit awry, as evident by his three walks and one hit-by-pitch during that start. He’ll also be looking to bounce back against this Creighton team on Sunday.

Johnson had pitched his best game of the season last Sunday, going five innings versus Evansville while only allowing two runs on four hits. However, the senior leads Creighton in total walks (12) this season while also allowing the most extra-base hits by any Bluejay in 2019 (7).

Month in Review: Top 5 Defensive Plays

Highlights galore.

The 10-5 Terps have officially wrapped up their first month of baseball in the 2019 season, and they did not go without making several SportsCenter Top Ten-caliber plays. From gracious leaping catches with the game on the line to pure domination on the pitcher’s mound, many of the Terrapins made great first impressions for themselves as the season progresses. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at the top five plays from the Terps during the past month.

No. 5: Hunter Parson’s Ten-Strikeout Performance Leads Team to Shut-Out W

Terps ace Hunter Parsons reached a new career-high in strikeouts on March 8, as he punched out Stetson University’s Noah Dickerson in the seventh inning. The strikeout, which came of the swinging variety, was Parsons’ 10th of the game all while Parsons did a magnificent job at controlling the game. With only one walk and six hits allowed, he let up zero runs en route to a dominating 7-0 victory over Stetson.

No. 4: Justin Vought Prevents Winning Run from Scoring with a Diving Tag

The first of three jaw-dropping defensive plays the Terps made during their three-game swing at Louisiana Lafayette, catcher Justin Vought displayed his sharp instincts when an 11th-inning safety squeeze attempt by the Ragin’ Cajuns nearly brought in the game-winning run. By the time Vought had picked up the ball, which was bunted about five feet in front of home plate, the lead runner was already halfway home from third base. With only milliseconds left to make a decision, Vought threw his body straight at the sprinting Cajun — ball in hand — to apply the tag and send the game into the 12th inning.

No. 3: Michael Pineiro’s Diving Catch Eliminates Potential Extra-Base Hit

In the midst of the Terrapins dominating home series sweep against the Maine Black Bears, sophomore right fielder Michael Pineiro put his body on the line after ranging far to his left to prevent a bloop hit from falling near the foul line for what surely would have been more than a single for Maine catcher Ryan Turenne. With the Terrapins leading the Black Bears 6-4, this catch was even more crucial considering an extra-base hit would have brought two runners into scoring position while one out still remained in the inning. Pineiro’s stellar catch neutralized the threat and ended the Maine sixth while maintaining the lead.

No. 2: Randy Bednar Somersaults on Warning Track to Rob Extra-bases

The second SportsCenter Top Ten-caliber play to come out of the Louisiana Lafayette series came from sophomore Randy Bednar, who was manning right field for the first game of the series. Similar to Pineiro’s near-foul line layout, Bednar found himself ranging far to his left to make this play. However, this ball was hit further — right in front of the right-field wall to be exact — which forced Bednar onto the warning track where he made an incredible rolling catch to steal a potential run-scoring extra-base hit from Louisiana Lafayette’s catcher Handsome Monica.

No. 1: Chris Alleyne’s Jumping Catch with his Back Turned to Save the Game

Are you kidding me?!? In Chris Alleyne’s first season playing as an outfielder, he makes arguably one of the best catches of the season. With the game on the line — runners on first and second in the bottom of the 13th — Handsome Monica belted a Will Glock pitch deep to right-center for what easily would have been a walk-off hit,  had it not been for Alleyne’s insane athleticism and vision.

Alleyne was positioned in shallow center field and was narrowly able to track down the Monica blast as he approached the warning track. Then, with the help of his great athleticism, Alleyne leaped into the air grasping for the soaring baseball as he crashed straight into the wall. After a quick pause, the mind-blowing play became a reality. Alleyne had caught the ball, ending the Ragin’ Cajuns’ threat and sending the game into the 14th inning as the Terps hopes of winning lived on.