Nick at Night: Dean, Lorusso lead the way to Terps win in Big Ten opener

Friday night’s date with Penn State could be described with just one name: Nick. Between Nick Dean’s performance on the mound and Nick Lorusso’s performance at the plate, the Terps were able to maneuver their way to an 8-4 win over Penn State to open up Big Ten competition.

Facing a Penn State lineup that’s among the bottom of the Big Ten in just about every category, Nick Dean was given the perfect opportunity to bounce back after a pair of miserable starts — and that’s exactly what he did.

While shaky Terps defense proved to be a challenge behind Dean, he was able to navigate through six innings with two earned runs, picking up his first quality start since March 4. At the plate, Nick Lorusso opened his night with three-straight walks before driving in a clutch, game-tying run in the seventh inning to fuel a late Maryland comeback.

Penn State opened up scoring with a run in the second inning courtesy of Maryland’s defense. With sophomore Jay Harry stealing second, Luke Shliger airmailed the ball into the outfield, and on the rebound attempt to third base, Chris Alleyne sailed the ball into the Terps’ dugout. Harry came all the way around to score, and it wouldn’t be the last time that Maryland’s defense would hand over scoring opportunities.

Thankfully for Head Coach Rob Vaughn — who was coaching his 200th career game Friday night — the Terps were able to use everything from small ball to long ball to give his squad a 3-1 lead. Bobby Zmarlzak contributed in both fashions, knocking down a perfect sacrifice bunt to score Maxwell Costes in the second and later crushing a no-doubter to left field for the Terps’ third run.

The momentum was in the Terps’ favor up to that point, but with one out in the sixth inning, Troy Schreffler misplayed a Johnny Piacentino base hit, allowing it to roll towards the outfield wall and letting Piacentino pick up a triple. In the moment, the momentum did a complete flip as Penn State rallied to tie the game.

In the seventh, the combination of a walk, wild pitch and passed ball from Noah Mrotek allowed the Nittany Lions to take the lead. Luckily for Maryland, Penn State would switch out relief pitcher Tyler Shingledecker in favor for a struggling Mason Mellott. Shingledecker went 1 1/3 innings with four strikeouts before he was replaced, and Mellott immediately surrendered the lead on Lorusso’s RBI single.

Costes would then have a chance to drive in the go-ahead run, and he converted in the clutch with two outs. An inning later, Alleyne would blow the doors off this game with a massive three-run home run to straight-away center field.

After pitching the seventh and eighth innings, Mrotek returned to the mound in the ninth to pick up a nine-out save and stamp a “W” on the series opener.

Series Preview: Penn State Nittany Lions

Big Ten play is finally here, and the Terps couldn’t look hotter going into the weekend.

Despite a rough outing against the No. 1-rated RPI team Dallas Baptist, the Terps had a record-setting midweek performance against Towson, followed by a decisive victory over George Mason.

The 26 runs and 23 hits that the Maryland lineup produced Tuesday evening were season-highs, and the highest the program has totaled since March 14, 2007. A few players, including Nick Lorusso and Troy Schreffler, enjoyed career days at the plate. The two combined for 11 RBI and two home runs, and their teammate Maxwell Costes picked up his 34th home run as a Terrapin, tying Will Frazier (2002-2005) for the second-most home runs in a Maryland uniform.

The win over George Mason was a much closer contest, featuring typical midweek hurler Logan Ott pitching a career-high five innings of shutout baseball against George Mason. The game came down to the wire, with senior Sean Heine defending a 3-1 lead against a bases-loaded threat in the ninth inning before neutralizing the Patriots for good.

Maryland now turns its head to its first Big Ten opponent — a struggling Penn State — as it looks to add to its current winning streak.

Penn State Nittany Lions (9-13)

Last Season:

An 18-24 record in 2021 led to the Nittany Lions finishing in the bottom-half of the Big Ten standings, and with no Big Ten Tournament last year, their season came to an end on May 29.

Despite its losing season, Penn State’s overall performance held up a lot better than it has this season. The Lions were tied for third in the conference in batting average and sixth in on-base percentage. Part of that has to do with the presence of Gavin Homer and Justin Williams in the lineup, who were the Lions’ best two hitters.

This Season:

The Nittany Lions are on track to finish with a similar record to last season’s as they own a .409 winning percentage. They also happen to be crawling into the weekend, losing four of their last six games. Two of those losses came against Rutgers last weekend, featuring a 20-6 blowout in the series finale. Their second taste of Big Ten play against the Terps may be even more bitter as Maryland is off to its best start in program history.

Penn State comes into the weekend hitting at the bottom of the Big Ten with a .669 OPS, and is last in the conference with seven home runs. The Lions pitching hasn’t been doing them many favors either, as seen last weekend with 32 total runs surrendered to Rutgers and nine total games where they’ve given up 10+ runs. Their staff has a 6.00 ERA, which is fourth-worst in the conference.

The departures of Bailey Dees, Kyle Virtbitsky and Conor Larkin have left Penn State with a completely new rotation that’s still getting figured out, but the Lions may have a long way to go in order to do that.

Hitters to Watch:

Juniors Matt Wood and Johnny Piacentino are the two next best hitters remaining on Penn State’s roster with Homer and Williams gone, but it’s Wood who has easily been the Lions’ top performer. In 21 starts at catcher, Wood is batting .375 and has a 1.134 OPS. He’s done just about everything Penn State could want, leading the squad with four home runs, hitting five doubles, two triples and even one stolen base.

Pitchers to Watch:

As of now, Penn State hasn’t really gotten ahold of a new rotation since the departure of its past weekend trio. Five pitchers have shared weekend starts, but the two who have performed the best — Mason Mellott (3.86 ERA) and Kellan Tulio (3.52 ERA) — haven’t had starts since mid-March and February, respectively. With those two pitchers in shifting to the bullpen, along with closer Jaden Henline (2.75 ERA) and Steven Miller (3.38 ERA), the Nittany Lions boast a very solid bullpen.

Probable Starting Pitcher Matchups

Friday, 6:30 p.m. ET

Jr. RHP Nick Dean (2-1, 3.54 ERA) vs. So. RHP Travis Luensmann (0-2, 6.18 ERA) 

vs.

After a couple of rough outings in a row, Nick Dean looks to take advantage of a weak Penn State offense to get back on track of what started as a picture-perfect season for the Terps ace. Prior to that rough patch, Dean was cruising with a 0.93 ERA, but the junior has given up nine runs in his last two starts, including a tough battle against Dallas Baptist.

Luensmann has been given the ball every Friday for Penn State thus far, but he has yet to go more than 4 2/3 innings since February 25. With a 6.18 ERA, clean starts have been hard to come by for the sophomore, and he’s had just one shutout performance (March 11 vs. UMass), albeit he combined to surrender 11 hits and walks.

Saturday, 2:00 p.m. ET

Jr. LHP Ryan Ramsey (6-0, 2.11 ERA) vs. Fr. RHP Tommy Molsky (0-3, 5.40 ERA)

vs.

A big part of Maryland’s lone win against Dallas Baptist was the valiant effort put out by Ryan Ramsey. Despite an abnormal four walks and two strikeouts, Ramsey navigated through seven innings of one-run baseball to pave the way for an 11-5 victory over the Patriots. With his season ERA down to 2.11, he’ll look to get it to sub-2.00 in his start Saturday afternoon.

Just like the Lions’ ace, Molsky has been the only other Nittany Lion getting consistent starts, as he’s taken the ball every weekend thus far. His best performance came in his very first, pitching six shutout innings, but the freshman hasn’t had a clean slate like that since. Molksy’s last start did come Wednesday afternoon, but despite pitching on short rest a couple of times this season, it’s uncertain if he gets the ball at all.

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET

So. RHP Jason Savacool (4-2, 2.72 ERA) vs. Fr. RHP Chase Renner (1-1, 9.00 ERA)

vs.

Savacool went from the highest of highs against Siena to the lowest of lows this season against Dallas Baptist, so like Dean, he’ll also be hoping to take advantage against Penn State to right the ship. Compared to last year, Savacool has been much more consistent, and has been showing a lot more life in his fastball which contributed to his season-best 14 strikeout performance against Siena. While Penn State’s hitting has struggled immensely this season, they’ve kept strikeouts to a minimum (third-lowest in the Big Ten), so Savacool will need to work hard to bounce back from last Sunday’s blunder.

The final spot in Penn State’s rotation has been tricky all season, as it has yet to find a reliable arm to fill the start with. However, Chase Renner pitched in that spot most recently, throwing an inning in what could have been an “opener” role. Renner could have hoped for better, allowing three runs in the frame before being replaced in the second. He did pitch a pair of innings in Penn State’s win over St. Bonaventure Wednesday, so like Molsky, it’s unclear if he will get the ball Sunday.

Maryland bats erupt for 26 runs in clobbering of Towson

After a rough weekend in Dallas knocked Maryland out of the NCAA Top 25, the Terps bounced back with authority. Scoring a season-high 26 runs, the Terps dominated Towson, 26-8, in the first of two midweek games before Big Ten play begins. The 26 runs are the most that Maryland Baseball has scored in one game since March 14, 2007.

The first four innings tell the whole story as the Terps picked up all 19 of their runs in that span, including the third inning that featured three home runs and six total runs. By the time the fourth inning ended, every hitter in the Terps’ lineup reached base at least once.

Maryland picked up four runs in the first and second innings each, and once the Tigers threatened with three runs of its own, the Terps bounced back with six runs in the third — and five more in the fourth.

The game could have ended after the fourth inning, and Nick Lorusso would still have himself the best game of the season thus far. The Villanova transfer reached base in each of those innings including six RBI and a three-run home run in the third to get back all the runs Towson had scored in the prior frame.

Outside of Towson’s three-run inning in the third, Maryland’s pitching tandem of Ryan Van Buren — making his first collegiate start — and Andrew Johnson cleaned up very nicely. Having an enormous lead behind them helps that, and from the fourth inning on, the Terps were able limit Towson to four runs en route to the big win.

Freshman Michael Walsh made his collegiate debut in the seventh inning, but surrendered three two-out runs.

Towson’s lone bright spot of the game was the one pitcher who was able to keep the Terps’ lineup at bay. Junior Josh Seils took to the mound in the fifth and pitched a pair of shutout frames. For the Tigers, it was just too little, too late.

That bright spot lasted just two innings, as Seils let up a pair of runs in what turned into a seven-run seventh inning that all but put the nail in the coffin.

Most of the Terps’ starters had been replaced late in the game, but Troy Schreffler remained. Just like Lorusso, Schreffler had himself a stellar performance, racking up four hits and five RBI.

With the final box score looking somewhat like a lottery machine, the Terps will be heading into Wednesday’s afternoon date with George Mason with their heads held high.

Midweek Preview: Towson and George Mason

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)

Last season:

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.

This season:

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)

Last season:

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.

This season:

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.

Terps bats go cold, fall to Patriots in series opener


(RECAP COURTESY OF MARYLAND ATHLETICS)

DALLAS, TX – Playing against the nation’s No. 1-rated RPI team, the 22nd-ranked Maryland baseball team lost at Dallas Baptist, 8-3, on Friday night in the series opener at Horner Ballpark. 

The Terps (17-4) took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning, but the Patriots scored the next eight runs of the game to move to 14-7 on the season. 

Troy Schreffler Jr. drove in the Terps’ first two runs on a first-inning single. Luke Shliger doubled in Sean Lane in the ninth inning. Nick LorussoKevin Keister and Matt Shaw had Maryland’s other hits.

Terps’ starting pitcher Nick Dean fell to 3-2 on the season as he allowed three runs in 4.1 innings. 

Maryland saw its four-game win streak come to an end in the first-ever meeting against Dallas Baptist, which has played in the last seven NCAA Division I Baseball Tournaments. 

Series Preview: Dallas Baptist Patriots

No. 22 Maryland has certainly picked up its stride once again over the last week, now on a four-game winning streak going back to a series sweep of Siena last weekend. Now, the Terps return to the Lone Star State nearly a month after their first trip as they begin a weekend series against Dallas Baptist.

The Terps’ first trip to Texas couldn’t have ended better, as they swept the Baylor Bears to set the tone for the dominant season (thus far) to come. Despite being unranked, Dallas Baptist presents arguably the biggest test to Maryland’s strong season, as the Patriots rank No. 1 in RPI heading into the weekend.

However, the Patriots are catching the Terps at a time when the Maryland bats couldn’t be much hotter. Between last weekend’s series against Siena and a midweek game against UMBC, the Terps put up double-digits in the score column three times. Overall, they outscored their opponents 53-18, crushing nine home runs between the four wins.

Dallas Baptist Patriots (13-7)

Last season:

The Patriots cruised their way to a Missouri Valley Conference title last season, going 41-18 in the regular season and outscoring opponents 44-9 en route to winning the MVC tournament. They had a great NCAA tournament run as well, making it to the Columbia Super Regional but ultimately falling short to the Virginia Cavaliers.

This season:

The unranked Patriots’ 13-7 record is a little deceiving, as they’ve gone consecutive weeks being ranked No. 1 in NCAA’s RPI rating. Six of those losses have been one-run losses, while their overall run differential sits at +24. Like Maryland, Dallas Baptist is enjoying a four-game winning streak, including a sweep over Oral Roberts last weekend.

Hitters to watch:

As a team, Dallas Baptist’s OPS sits at an impressive .798, and that’s held up by five hitters boasting an .800+ OPS. Three of them — Luke Heefner, Blayne Jones, and Cole Moore — also own a batting average over .300.

Their home run leader, George Specht, has launched six long balls this season and while he’s hitting .221 on the season, he has slugged an impressive .515. Just one player — Moore — slugs better than him, sitting at .539 himself.

Pitchers to watch:

Maryland will certainly have its hands full up against a Patriots rotation that’s as well-rounded as the Terps’. Their three-headed monster of Jacob Meador, Luke Eldred and Ryan Johnson has combined for a 2.07 ERA in 73 2/3 innings. Individually, they all come in at a 2.79 ERA or lower, making for a scary obstacle to the Terps lineup.

Probable Starting Pitcher Matchups

Friday, 7:30 p.m. ET

Jr. RHP Nick Dean (2-0, 3.09 ERA) vs. So. RHP Jacob Meador (4-0, 1.35 ERA) 

Saturday, 3:00 p.m. ET

Jr. LHP Ryan Ramsey (5-0, 2.30 ERA) vs. R-Sr. RHP Luke Eldred (3-0, 2.28 ERA)

Sunday, 2:00 p.m. ET

So. RHP Jason Savacool (4-1, 2.19 ERA) vs. Fr. RHP Ryan Johnson (2-0, 2.79 ERA)

Maryland sweeps doubleheader and series, hits historic mark

Saturday’s doubleheader was an historic one for the Maryland Baseball program, as its sweep over the Campbell Fighting Camels gave it a 7-0 start to the 2022 season — the best start to a season in program history.

With the weekend rotation proving once again that it’s a terrifying three-headed monster, Ryan Ramsey and Jason Savacool made for smooth sailing in the doubleheader sweep, starting with Ramsey’s game one gem.

It may have taken the lefty a few innings to settle in as walks posed an early struggle, but Ramsey was in cruise control from the third inning on. Following a one-out walk, he sent down 11-straight batters through the next three innings, rendering the Campbell offense useless.

“He’s coming out 95-97 in the first, just with some power stuff,” said Coach Rob Vaughn on Ramsey’s performance. “On the other side I don’t think Ramsey had his best stuff today, but that’s what I said. That’s the definition of what competing is — Ramsey didn’t have his best stuff but he got better as the game went, and he went seven innings, one run.”

It was Ramsey’s best start since his pivotal eight-inning outing in the Greenville Regional last year, as he ultimately pitched seven innings of one-run ball to go with six strikeouts.

The Terps offense wasn’t much to write home about as well, as Campbell’s Cade Kuehler didn’t allow any runs on hits. But it was the Terps’ ability to manufacture runs that led the way to a 3-1 win in game one.

All it took were three RBI groundouts split evenly between Chris Alleyne, Bobby Zmarzlak, and Troy Schreffler.

With the overall offense fizzling out after the sixth inning, it was up to the Terps’ bullpen to shut the door. That duty would fall between Will Glock and Nigel Belgrave, who together recorded the final six outs to get Maryland to its historic 6-0 start.

Just a few hours later, that would turn into a 7-0 start as the pitching dominance continued into game two, and it would also be Coach Vaughn’s 100th career coaching win.

This time, Savacool — on a day short of normal rest — carved up the Camels for a career-high 10 strikeouts in seven innings of stress-free pitching. The Terps offense made it quite easy for the righty to cruise along, piling on nine runs against some shaky Campbell pitching to take the series finale, 9-2.

“We talked to him yesterday when we thought we were going to play a doubleheader just to see where he’s at,” said Vaughn on Savacool. “That guy’s just the ultimate competitor. He wants the ball, he never wants to be taken out of games, and as a coach those are fun guys to run out there.”

The Camels deployed George Ferguson for three innings, and he successfully kept his team in the game for three innings before errors started piling up, allowing the Terps to break through in a big way.

A Camels solo home run may have tied the game in the third, but six runs between the fourth and fifth innings gave the Terps an insurmountable lead the rest of game.

The middle of the Terps’ order was to thank for most of the damage, as Zmarlzak, Maxwell Costes, and Schreffler accounted for five hits, three RBI and three runs scored.

The Terps’ bats would cool down in the last few frames of the game, and with Campbell mustering up just one more run against Savacool, it was an easy finish for the Terps as the bullpen closed the door.

The bullpen effort was split between Matt Orlando and Ryan Van Buren, who both recorded their first career strikeouts and wrapped up an historic series sweep.

While the weekend was certainly memorable, Coach Vaughn isn’t letting the program-best 7-0 start get to his players’ heads.

“I think we’re in a good place as far as where we’re at right now,” said Vaughn. “But like we said, that means nothing. Delaware does not care about our record, I can tell you that, and they’re playing pretty good baseball right now, so we’ll have to come out on Tuesday and take another step forward.”

Dean edges Harrington, Terps reign victorious in Friday night pitchers duel

The stage was set between two of the nation’s best pitchers Friday night in Buies Creek, North Carolina, as the Terps kicked off a three-game set with Campbell. With Maryland’s Nick Dean matched up with Campbell’s Thomas Harrington, hits were scarce. But a manufactured run in the first inning would kick off the Terps’ offense and help them to a 4-0 victory over the Fighting Camels.

Neither pitcher ran into virtually any trouble during their outings, allowing seven total baserunners through seven innings of work each.

Dean’s scoreless outing made it 14-straight shutout innings for the junior since last Friday, and he has yet to surrender a single run through two starts.

While Harrington was given the loss tonight, his performance was just about everything Campbell could have hoped for. The sophomore struck out nine Terps over seven innings, with the first-inning run being the only damage.

The Terps got on the board early thanks to Chris Alleyne’s craftiness, as the veteran took a walk in the first inning, stole second base, and arrived at third courtesy of an errant throw by Campbell’s catcher.

Matt Shaw then came to the plate and put up the best at-bat of the season thus far, battling away at 13 pitches before ultimately lofting the 14th pitch into right field and scoring Alleyne from third on a sacrifice-fly. The Terps wouldn’t have to look back, and were lucky to have gotten that early run because Harrington was purely untouchable since.

The 2021 Big South Freshman of the Year sent down 18-straight Terps following the sacrifice-fly, not allowing another baserunner until the seventh inning. Despite Maryland running up his pitch count to 31 from the first inning, he would cruise through the next six frames on 72 pitches.

The eighth inning would present some trouble for Maryland, as Noah Mrotek allowed the first two Campbell batters to reach base in relief of Dean. Sean Heine immediately replaced him on the mound, and the Terps picked up two huge outs thanks to Luke Shliger throwing out the lead runner at third and Heine punching out the first batter he faced.

The pitch of the night came at the very end of the eighth. Facing a base-loaded jam, Heine struck out Campbell’s Bryce Arnold to keep the Camels scoreless.

A half-inning later, the Terps would finally grab some insurance off Campbell reliever Ryan Chasse. Chasse filled the bases on a pair of walks and a hit batter, and Nick Lorusso made him pay with a two-run single up the middle. The rally wouldn’t end as Troy Schreffler added a RBI of his own, paving the way for a stress-free, scoreless ninth for Heine.

Maryland now stands at 5-0 to begin the season — the first time since 1968 — and will look to make it 6-0 Saturday afternoon.

Series Preview: Campbell Fighting Camels

Riding on a hot 4-0 start to the season, No. 22 Maryland will head south to Buies Creek, North Carolina this weekend to face the Campbell Fighting Camels for three games. It’s the second must-see non-conference series in a row, as the Camels owned the best conference record in the Big South conference last year. However, opposite of the Terps, Campbell has dropped its last three games — getting outscored 20-8 in that span.

The Terps will be bringing some of the hottest hitters in the country to this series, including the blistering bats of Maxwell Costes and Matt Shaw that were seen against Baylor and UMBC this past week. Costes led the way, picking up five extra-base hits against the Bears and cruising to a .529 on-base percentage and 1.071 slugging percentage. Shaw comes next, compiling a .474 and .824 on-base and slugging percentages, respectively. Both Terps had multi-home run performances in the same game last Saturday in Waco, Texas.

While much of the Terps’ success has arrived due to the heavy hitters, the starting pitching has held an equal amount of the responsibility, carving its way to three wins to start the season and allowing just six runs in 25 innings. The three-headed monster of a weekend rotation was as advertised against Baylor, and it’ll look to repeat its stellar performance against the Camels.

The fourth “starter” to have pitched so far was Logan Ott in a four inning outing against UMBC on Wednesday. The sophomore gave up a pair of runs and left the game with a no-decision, but he certainly helped display the front-end pitching depth the Terps have, and could very well find himself in the reliever role this weekend if things get dicey.

Campbell Fighting Camels (1-3)

Last Season

The Fighting Camels finished the 2021 season atop the Big South standings, boasting a 37-18 record en route to the Starkville Regional. Similar to the Terps’ journey in the Greenville Regional, Campbell crawled back to a winner-take-all game after losing the first game of the regional, but ultimately fell to Mississippi State. In the regular season, Campbell led its conference in quite literally every offense category. The Camels’ team slash line sat at .306/.423/.516, while they crushed 73 home runs and 135 doubles. Those 135 doubles were 42 more than the next-up team in USC Upstate. The stat that stands out the most about the 2021 Camels’ offense was the +184 run differential, which led the Big South by a whopping 65 runs. While their pitching didn’t top the Big South like their lineup did,

This Season

The Fighting Camels began their tremendous 2021 season with a 3-1 start, but this time they head into their fifth game with a 1-3 record. They lost their first series against a middling Appalachian State team, and dropped a midweek game against No. 25 East Carolina, who the Terps will be playing next Sunday. Little fault could be given to the Campbell starting pitching that gave up just two runs in 17 innings, but the lineup that recorded a .203 batting average and .268 slugging in its four games is certainly where Campbell dropped the ball.

Scoring eight runs in its last three games is not going to cut it against the Terps’ rotation, and their lineup has also shown to be very prone to the strikeout, doing so 47 times against 17 walks.

Hitters to Watch

The Camels have not brought much to the table if anything in terms of their lineup. With a total .583 OPS, there are two batters who have prevented that number from becoming much worse. Leading the way is Zach Neto, a redshirt-junior who took home Big South Player of the Year last season. His 2021 numbers are nothing to scoff at, as he finished the season with a .405 batting average, good for 12th-best in the nation. Doing so in 44 games, he also totaled 32 extra-base hits along with elite plate discipline — striking out 30 times in his 173 at-bats. It’s a steep drop-off from Neto, but the next best bat comes from Zach Williams, the only Camel with a home run this season. Williams had been productive in two of the three games he played this season, hitting a double and swiping two bags in one, and hitting the Camels’ first long ball in the other.

Pitchers to Watch

If the Camels’ hitters can’t get it done this weekend, then the starting pitchers will. As mentioned earlier, their weekend rotation allowed just two runs in 17 innings last weekend against Appalachian State. It’s a very well-rounded rotation — much like Maryland’s — but the Friday and Saturday starters are easily the most imposing. Thomas Harrington will get the ball Friday evening, and he’s fresh off six inning, scoreless outing, striking out 13 batters in the process. Harrington was named Big South Freshman of the Year in 2021, paving the way with a 3.45 earned run average in 14 starts. He is followed by fellow sophomore Cade Kuehler, who similarly threw seven innings with no earned runs last Saturday. The righty punched out 10 batters and only walked one. The Fighting Camels have a generally strong pitching staff, but these two have certainly carried the freight thus far.

Probable Starting pitching matchups:

Friday, 5:00 p.m. ET

Jr. RHP Nick Dean (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs So. RHP Thomas Harrington (1-0, 0.00 ERA)

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Nick Dean couldn’t have kicked off his 2022 better, pitching seven shutout frames against Baylor last Friday en route to an opening day win. Four hits and a walk was all the damage he allowed, and he punched out eight Bears. Dean will be looking to replicate that performance (and then some) when he takes the mound Friday evening.

Harrington comes into the weekend firmly as Campbell’s ace, earning multiple honors as a freshman last year and displaying the improvements he’s made this year in his start last week. The sophomore struck out 13 in six innings of work, limiting Appalachian State to win hit and leading the way to Campbell’s first and only win of the season so far. Friday night could very well end up being an intense pitcher’s duel between Harrington and Dean.

Saturday, 3:00 ET

Jr. LHP Ryan Ramsey (1-0, 3.00 ERA) vs So. RHP Cade Kuehler (0-1, 0.00 ERA)

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Ryan Ramsey made his first career regular season start last week against Baylor, and it went just as expected. He limited the Bears to two runs and led the way to his first win of 2022 behind three strikeouts and no walks. The lefty will make his third career start this Saturday.

Behind Harrington, Kuehler presents his own danger against the Terps’ lineup. He carved up Appalachian State last Saturday for 10 strikeouts, and went seven innings allowing no earned runs. One run did score on his watch, but it came from an error by his shortstop. Just like Friday night, it appears that Saturday could be another low-scoring affair between two talented starters.

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET

So. RHP Jason Savacool (1-0, 2.25 ERA) vs R-Jr. RHP Aaron Rund (0-1, 4.50)

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Jason Savacool’s biggest goal for the season is consistency, and Sunday’s start should be his first test at that. He delivered in his debut this season, going eight innings deep with six strikeouts and just two runs on his tab. Now, he can show his stability as a starter and try to replicate that performance against a rather weak lineup in Campbell. Savacool did allow seven hits, but walked no batters against Baylor. If he can limit the walks and keep the hits at bay, Sunday should be a great day for the righty.

Aaron Rund brings up the tail end of the Campbell rotation, and there’s a decent gap between him and his predecessors. Rund wasn’t terrible in his 2022 debut last Sunday, but he was taken out in the fifth inning after failing to record an out. He had ultimately pitched four innings, giving up a pair of runs on five hits and a walk. Having pitched to a 5.97 ERA in 2021, Rund may be in line for a lot of damage from this Terps lineup.

Preseason Countdown No. 3: Outfield Preview

Rounding out the preview of Maryland’s roster, the outfield presents arguably the strongest group of players on Head Coach Rob Vaughn’s squad.

With Fifth-Year Chris Alleyne headlining a group loaded with rising, young talent, much of the outfield will likely be found in the heart of the lineup, and the Terps look to have as much depth in the field as they ever had.

Meet the outfield.

Chris Alleyne, Fifth Year

Alleyne will be returning to Maryland for his fifth year after a summer of big decisions. He very well could have gone pro, but Alleyne opted to return for one more run with the Terps after finishing last year with second-team All Big Ten honors.

Alleyne earned that honor with the best season of his career. In 45 games, he hit for a .306 batting average, and he reached career-highs in SLG (.561), home runs (8), hits (55), and stolen bases (22).

Leading the way in terms of veteran experience, Alleyne will certainly have a monumental impact on the Terps’ overall season as the likely leadoff man.

Bobby Zmarzlak, Junior

After enjoying a successful first full season with Maryland — slashing .286/.398/.536 — Zmarzlak looks to carry the biggest bat out of any Maryland outfielder.

Having a share of fourth in the Terps’ home run standings with seven, Zmarzlak took his talents to the Alexandria Aces over the summer and picked up five long balls in just 16 games. Not to mention, he accumulated a .732 slugging percentage with Alexandria.

Troy Schreffler, Junior

Out of anybody on the Terps — not just outfielders — Troy Schreffler could be a favorite for most-improved heading into the season. Last season wasn’t anything to write home about, as Schreffler amounted a .275/.341/.350 slash line with four extra-base hits in 26 games.

However, a summer with the NECBL’s Keene Swamp Bats offered a very positive glimpse at what Schreffler has improved on.

In 33 games with Keene, Schreffler collected 20 extra-base hits including six home runs and three triples. While his biggest struggle was still his ability to get on base, he hit for a .336 batting average — a vast improvement over his 2021 season number.

Ian Petrutz, Freshman

Ian Petrutz is proof that the Terps’ biggest strength is their outfield depth. Behind the forces of Alleyne, Zmarzlak, and Schreffler comes the No. 2 ranked outfield recruit of New Jersey. In his senior season at Bishop Eustace, Petrutz slashed .449/.531/.652 with three home runs and 15 stolen bases.

Petrutz also came into Maryland as the No. 22 overall recruit in New Jersey and the No. 152 overall outfield recruit in the country. It’s safe to say that Maryland’s outfield pipeline is in good hands.

Zach Martin, Freshman

The Middletown, Maryland, native rounds out the Terps’ outfield as the No. 2 outfield recruit from Maryland, and the No. 6 overall recruit in the state.

In an exhibition against Virginia last October, Martin offered a glimpse at what he’ll bring to the Terps this season hitting a big home run and showing off his wheels — scoring a game-tying (and game-ending) run on a Virginia error.