College Park Regional Preview

For the first time in program history, The “Bob” will be hosting a NCAA Regional.

As the No. 15 seed in the nation, Maryland welcomes a treacherous field of opponents into the College Park Regional, hoping to pick up where last year’s squad left off and renew its College World Series aspirations. The field includes a Wake Forest team lined with dangerous bats, a Connecticut team loaded with pitching, and a Long Island University team that recently won its conference tournament.

Coming off a disappointing end to the Big Ten Tournament in which they lost two of their three games (outscored by eight runs), the Terps turn their attention to the Long Island Sharks when the teams butt heads in game one Friday evening.

The winner of that matchup will face the winner of Wake Forest and Connecticut, who play each other in Friday afternoon’s slot. To get a better grasp at the competition Maryland faces Friday and what it might face later in the weekend, here’s a brief preview of each opposing team in the College Park Regional.

Long Island Sharks (37-19, 18-9 NEC)

The No. 4 seed Sharks are the Terps’ game one competition, and after winning their conference’s tournament to clinch a spot in the NCAA Championship Bracket, Long Island has plenty of momentum behind it. Since LIU merged its Brooklyn and Post programs into one under the Sharks in 2019, the team’s 37 wins this season was the most in program history.

The Sharks didn’t have much of an outstanding offense — ending the season dead in the middle of the Northeast Conference in just about every hitting category. The one category they dominated the conference in — and what could prove to be their deadliest skill at the plate — is walks. The Sharks walked 313 times in 2022, 68 times more than the next best team in Mount St. Mary’s. While they might not dominate with the bat itself, elite plate discipline and the ability to manufacture runs through walks could be Long Island’s secret weapon against the Terps.

Hitters to Watch:

For the most part, the Sharks’ lineup has mostly been a revolving door of batters with only six players starting just about every game this season. The two most impactful bats of that group have been graduate student Michael Edelman and senior Giovanni Ciaccio. Both players have nearly identical slash lines, with Edelman at .326/.419/.496 and Ciaccio at .310/.436/.478.

The Sharks aren’t necessarily a long ball-dependent team, but if there’s going to be one player to send a ball or two over the fence in the College Park Regional, look to junior EJ Exposito, who has a team-leading 13 home runs.

Pitchers to Watch:

With the Sharks most likely sending out their typical Friday starter for game one against Maryland, the Terps might have a lot of work to do to move on in the regional. Senior Joshua Loeschorn is second on the team with a 3.02 ERA, and he has struck out 102 batters compared to 26 walks all season. After Loeschorn, the Sharks bring some solid bullpen arms to the table, including senior Nick Torres, who has 51 2/3 innings of a 3.14 ERA under his belt in 2022.

Wake Forest Demon Deacons (40-17-1, 15-14-1 ACC)

This Season:

Bringing the strongest offense in the field to The “Bob,” the Demon Deacons are an extremely formidable team. Despite not winning the ACC Tournament, Wake Forest’s seventh 40-win season in program history was enough to get them into the College Park Regional as the No. 2-seeded team.

Wake Forest’s biggest strength is its offense, which boasts seven lineup regulars with batting averages over .300. The Demon Deacons also led the way with 115 home runs in the ACC, beating out other extraordinary offenses such as Virginia Tech (110) and Georgia Tech (110). Even when they don’t win using the long ball, their conference-leading .428 team on-base percentage shows how they can easily find multiple ways to out-perform some of the country’s best offenses.

Hitters to Watch:

It’s hard to point out just a couple of Wake Forest’s best hitters when the lowest OPS in the lineup is .771. Simply enough, their whole lineup will be riddled with gritty, powerful bats. If there had to be a couple to highlight, Nick Kurtz and Brendan Tinsman will likely appear plenty in the scoring summary. The freshman Kurtz leads his team in OPS at 1.163, and the redshirt junior Tinsman — who follows Kurtz up in the lineup in the cleanup spot — leads the Deacons with 23 home runs which is tied for fifth in the country.

Pitchers to Watch:

In contrast to its offense, good pitching at Wake Forest is few and far between. In the weekend rotation, the one standout is sophomore ace Rhett Lowder. Lowder has led the Deacons’ starters with a 2.61 ERA — a wide margin over his peers. In the pen, Wake Forest has a few solid options to hand the ball to in the late innings. Three of the bullpen arms have ERA’s below 3.50, including Camden Minacci, who owns a 1.85 ERA and has six saves on the year.

Connecticut Huskies (46-13, 16-5 Big East)

The No. 3 seed Connecticut Huskies are practically complete opposites of the Wake Forest team they face Friday afternoon — stacked on the pitching end, but middle of the pack at the plate. That pitching, which led the Big East in ERA and opposing batting average, carried the Huskies to the second-winningest season in program history — just shy of the 2010 season’s 48 wins.

Out of the 17 pitchers on Connecticut’s roster, 12 of them own ERA’s below 3.50, including all three pitchers in the weekend rotation. While the offense leaves more to be desired, the pitching could easily shut down any offense. In the regular season, it certainly helped propel the Huskies to an 8-1 record against the top three offenses in the Big East (Xavier, Creighton, Butler).

Hitters to Watch:

Sophomore Korey Morton might have less than 100 at-bats with the Huskies this season and was mostly used as a pinch-runner in the early part of the season, but his .442 batting average and .726 slugging percentage in that sample size should be pretty daunting to opposing pitchers. Along with Morton, senior Erik Stock brings just as much power with his bat, but over a sample size of 240 at-bats. That power has translated to a .375/.443/.600 slash line and the best OPS on the team out of qualified batters. Ben Huber and Casey Dana round out the middle of the order that packs an extreme punch — both of those hitters owning OPS’s over .900.

Pitchers to Watch:

There are so many pitchers to choose from on the Huskies’ staff as almost three quarters of their pitchers can provide quality innings. With that being said, their starters this season — Enzo Stefanoni, Pat Gallagher and Austin Peterson — have ERA’s of 3.01, 3.21 and 3.22, respectively. Most notably, Peterson has struck out 129 batters this season compared to walking just 17. Beyond the starters, the bullpen trio of Jack Sullivan, Brendan O’Donnell and Garrett Coe could easily shut down lineups late in games with the three combining for a 1.89 ERA over 66 2/3 innings. In a regional filled with potent bats, Connecticut’s pitching could prove to be a real difference maker.

Big Ten Tournament Preview: Indiana Hoosiers

It’s finally tournament time.

For the first time since 2019, No. 10 Maryland is playing in the Big Ten Tournament in Omaha, Nebraska.

After the best season in program history — a record 44 wins and the Terps’ first conference title in 51 years — Maryland earned the No. 1 seed in the tournament and will face the No. 8-seeded Indiana Hoosiers in game one Thursday morning.

Indiana is one of the few conference opponents the Terps hadn’t faced in the regular season, with Michigan State, Nebraska, and Iowa being the others. The Hoosiers bring new faces into the fray, but as the final team to make the cut in the conference tournament, they also bring a glaring weakness: the worst ERA in the Big Ten. Less than a week ago, the Indiana pitching staff gave up 30 runs in a loss to Iowa — the most runs scored in a single game in Hawkeyes history.

Coming off five-straight games of putting up double-digits in the run column, the Terps’ bats couldn’t be hotter as they look to take advantage of the struggling Hoosier pitching.

Indiana Hoosiers (25-30, 10-14 Big Ten)

Last Season:

The Hoosiers’ ended 2021’s Big Ten-only season with a 26-18 record, which had them tied for fourth in the conference standings as their dominant pitching led the way. It wasn’t enough to get them into the NCAA Tournament, but in a season that had the top five teams in the Big Ten beating up the rest, Indiana was in that top tier. The final series of last season came against the Terps, where the Hoosiers dropped two very important games that could have made the difference between fourth and second place.

This Season:

Indiana’s biggest strength in 2021 turned into its greatest weakness in 2022. With its top two starters — McCade Brown and Gabe Bierman — getting selected in the 2021 MLB Draft, the Hoosier weekend rotation took a major blow, losing two arms that put up sub-3.50 ERA’s. Overall, the staff went from a collective 3.18 ERA to a 7.16 ERA between the two seasons, and has been the biggest reason for the team’s 25-30 record.

Hitters to Watch:

The Hoosiers’ lineup includes a handful of potent bats, as five of the nine regulars own an OPS over .900. The strongest of those bats is freshman Carter Mathison, who slashed .275/.402/.601 in 193 at-bats. While the Hoosiers as a team didn’t hit the long ball that frequently, Mathison (17) and team-leader redshirt junior Matthew Ellis (18) carried the freight, contributing to almost a half of the team’s 71 home runs. There aren’t many easy outs in the Indiana lineup, but watch for Mathison and Ellis to be potential difference-makers.

Pitchers to Watch:

With just one pitcher owning an ERA below 5.00, there’s just about nothing overly positive about the Indiana pitching staff. That one pitcher who sticks out is redshirt junior Ty Bothwell, who has a 4.03 ERA in 17 relief appearances and one start. If the Hoosiers manage to get themselves a lead in the later innings, Bothwell is likely the man they’ll send out to maintain it.

Probable Pitching Matchup:

With Ryan Ramsey (10-0, 2.98 ERA) and Jason Savacool (8-2, 2.71 ERA) earning First Team All-Big Ten Honors Tuesday, it’s hard for Head Coach Rob Vaughn to go wrong with who he gives the ball Wednesday night. Ramsey’s last start came on May 14, so with the extra rest it’s likely he could start against the Hoosiers.

Redshirt junior Jake Perkins’ 5.17 ERA is the lowest out of any Hoosier starter this season, and Indiana’s options don’t get much better from there. With Perkins likely to be the man on the mound tomorrow night — less than a week after being tagged for nine earned runs against Iowa — Charles Schwab Field should be ready for some fireworks.

Midweek Preview: James Madison

Following a home weekend sweep against Michigan, No. 15 Maryland has a matchup on the horizon against James Madison, the second time the Terps and the Dukes will play this season. In their contest a month ago in Harrisonburg, Virginia, the Terps downed the Dukes in a thriller. James Madison got out to a 3-0 lead and following back-and-forth play, led 7-5 entering the eighth inning. After Jacob Orr recorded a two-run single to tie the game in the eighth, Chris “Bubba” Alleyne smacked a solo home run over the wall in right in the ninth, putting Maryland ahead 8-7. David Falco shut down the Dukes in the bottom of the inning, securing the Terps’ 8-7 victory.

Against Michigan this past weekend, the Terps’ bats were on full display. Maryland outscored Michigan 43-23, including a 20-run showing on Saturday. Matt Shaw had a series to remember — the sophomore shortstop went 7-13 with seven runs scored, 12 RBI, and six home runs.

The midweek game against James Madison is the Terps’ last home game of the season, with their regular season finale set for this weekend on the road against Purdue.

James Madison (26-23, 11-9 CAA)

Last Season:

James Madison was one of the worst teams in the CAA last season, as the Dukes were in the bottom half of the conference in both conference and overall win percentage. The Dukes’ pitching staff was their big weakness last season, as they ranked second-to-last in the CAA with a 6.38 ERA. The only Duke that threw double-digit innings with a sub-4.00 ERA last season was Donovan Burke, with a 3.00 ERA. Burke was one of the few consistent Duke arms last season, as he led James Madison in appearances, strikeouts, and WHIP, and was top-three in batting average against.

This Season:

The Dukes rank in the middle of the pack this season in the conference in both batting and pitching. James Madison relies on the home-run ball more than most of its conference, as the Dukes rank third in the CAA in slugging percentage and second in home runs.

Pitching-wise, James Madison is much improved from 2021 — a near two-run decrease from last season. The Dukes’ pitching staff is one of the best in the conference in terms of control, as James Madison ranks third-best in the CAA with 160 walks allowed.

Hitters to Watch:

Redshirt junior backstop Travis Reifsnider has been a wrecking force in the Dukes’ lineup this season. Reifsnider leads qualified Dukes in average (.299), OPS (.988), home runs (12), and slugging percentage (.628). Another redshirt junior, Trevon Dabney, has been a threat at the top of the order for James Madison. Dabney ranks first on James Madison with a .452 on-base percentage, and is a perfect 9-9 in steal attempts.

Pitchers to Watch:

James Madison has started a number of arms in each its past midweek games this season – Ryan Murphy, Todd Mozoki, and CJ Czerwinski. Right-hander Eli Ottinger has been one of James Madison’s best arms out of relief, with a 3.86 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in 19 appearances, all out of the bullpen. Ottinger also has a slim batting-average-against of just .214.

Probable pitching matchup

Logan Ott vs. CJ Czerwinski

Ott has been Maryland’s primary midweek starter this season, and the sophomore has been a mixed bag in that role. Ott has fired scoreless outings in two of his starts, but has struggled in the others. Ott enters with a 6.70 ERA.

In its previous midweek matchup this season, the Dukes sent out Czerwinski as the starter against the Terps. Czerwinski struggled, allowing two runs in just 2 1/3 innings pitched. The redshirt sophomore has struggled to a 9.17 ERA on the season.

Maryland uses small ball, long ball to pick up thrilling victory over Michigan

After storming in front via the long ball, the Terps offense used small ball to save a struggling bullpen in a thrilling 8-7 victory over Michigan on Friday night.

Following a steal of third base, Troy Schreffler scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the eighth off a wild pitch from Connor O’Halloran. There was no sign from third base coach Matt Swope. It was purely impulse from Schreffler.

“The adrenaline took over and I just started running,” Schreffler said. 

Head Coach Rob Vaughn praised the junior’s bold approach on the basepaths. 

“He won the game for us because he was fearless,” said Vaughn. “He was unafraid to crash and burn, and that’s something this group’s done all year.”

Schreffler’s dash for home capped off a wild three innings for No. 17 Maryland in which they relinquished a 7-0 lead before ultimately gaining it back. 

The Terps were in control throughout the first five innings. The offense jumped out to an early lead, connecting on back-to-back solo blasts from Nick Lorusso and Matt Shaw in the bottom of the first.

On the mound, Jason Savacool showed no signs of a back ailment that caused him to exit last Sunday’s start after one inning. The right-hander brought his swing-and-miss stuff against a Wolverines offense that ranks top five in the conference in runs, hits, home runs and RBI. Making his first Friday night start of the year, the righty recorded seven strikeouts through the first three innings.  

Maryland broke the game open in the fourth. Maryland extended their lead to 4-0 on a Bobby Zmarzlak two-run single. Freshman Ian Petrutz followed Zmarzlak with an RBI double to right-center. Five pitches later, Kevin Keister hit a two-run homer to extend the Terps’ lead to 7-0.

When these two teams met back in March, Maryland led 4-0 at the start of the sixth before Michigan scored seven unanswered runs to win 7-4. Friday’s game played out similarly.  

Once again, the Wolverines offense awoke in the sixth, but this time Michigan was spearheaded by an unlikely source. Nine-hole hitter Jake Marti hit his first homer in a Michigan uniform to start the rally.

Michigan proceeded to load the bases with one out, bringing up Tito Flores, the team leader in homers, to the plate. Savacool was able to work out of the jam by getting Flores to ground into a double play. That would be Savacool’s final batter of the night, as the sophomore went six innings, gave up two earned runs on four hits and recorded seven strikeouts along with two walks. With his third-inning strikeout of Ted Burton, Savacool became just the ninth Maryland pitcher to record at least 100 strikeouts in a single season.

After using four of their top bullpen arms on Friday night, Vaughn hinted at bringing in some young arms out of the bullpen on Saturday. 

“There’s some young pups that might get the ball tomorrow,” said Vaughn. “I want them to pitch without any fear of the negative of what could happen because they’re not freshmen anymore. You know, we’re six games left in our year.”

Michigan’s hitters immediately took advantage of Savacool’s exit. Sean Heine entered the game for Savacool and failed to record an out. After a leadoff double and back-to-back walks, Michigan loaded the bases for the second consecutive inning. Right-hander Nick Robinson replaced Heine but could not contain the Wolverine offense. A sac fly followed by a Joe Stewart two-run single cut Maryland’s lead to 7-4. 

Then Matt Frey delivered the biggest blow of the night. The graduate student hit a three-run homer that seemed to keep on carrying, as center fielder Chris Alleyne watched it sail over the batter’s eye. 

Down 7-0 to start the sixth, the Wolverines had stormed back to tie the game in the seventh.

The small but loud Michigan faithful erupted in cheers as the rest of Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium fell silent. But the Wolverines were not finished.

They threatened to score once more in the inning, putting runners on second and third before redshirt sophomore David Falco retired Joey Velazquez and Riley Bertram to end the inning. 

Schreffler and Maxwell Costes worked back-to-back one-out walks to fuel the Terps’ eighth inning rally before Schreffler used his speed to create the go-ahead run.

Schreffler talked about the team’s ability to not only hit for power, but get on base in a variety of ways. “We’re able to hit the long ball and extra bases, and also be able to work the walks, work the hit by pitches and put the ball in play a lot,” said Schreffler. 

The Wolverines would not go quietly in the ninth. Frey worked a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a Nigel Belgrave wild pitch. The hard-throwing right-hander set down the next three hitters, capped off by a called strike three on Velazquez. 

The team’s confidence in their ability to win never wavered, even after the Wolverines came back to tie the score at 7-7, Vaughn said. “I think they expected to win tonight even when it got bad. When I went out to the mound to make a visit there was no panic. It was like, man, they got to get us out nine more times. We’re in a good place,” said Vaughn.

The Terps earned their regular-season record 39th win of the season, just three behind the program’s all-time winningest season set in its run to the Super Regionals in 2015. 

Maryland and Michigan play game two of the series at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday. Lefty Ryan Ramsey is slated to start for the Terps while righty Cameron Weston is expected to start for the Wolverines.

Series Preview: Michigan Wolverines

No. 17 Maryland’s quest for a Big Ten regular season title continues this weekend as the Terps take on the fifth-place Michigan Wolverines. 

The Terps met Michigan back in March as part of the Keith LeClair Classic in Greenville, N.C. The Terps led 4-0 at the start of the sixth inning before Michigan came back and won 7-4 to hand the Terps their first loss of the season. The game did not count in the Big Ten standings. 

While the Terps dropped two of three that weekend, including a defeat in a regional finals rematch with East Carolina, Maryland comes into Friday’s game with high spirits. The Terps took two of three from first-place Rutgers in a series that concluded on Monday due to the weekend rain.

The Terps offense was out in full force, scoring 32 runs, including 11 home runs, over the three-game series. That continues an excellent last two weeks for Maryland hitters, who have scored at least seven runs in nine of their last 10 games.

Michigan Wolverines (25-21, 10-8 Big Ten)

Last season

The Wolverines finished third in the conference last season, one game behind Maryland. Like Maryland, they qualified for the NCAA Tournament. They went 0-2 in the regional series, losing by five or more runs to both Connecticut and Central Michigan. Michigan dropped three of the five games played against the Terps last season. Three of those games were played during the second-to-last weekend of the regular season, just like this year’s series.

This season

The Wolverines are full of offensive weapons, led by MLB Draft prospects Clark Elliott and Tito Flores. As a team, Michigan ranks top five in the conference in runs, hits, doubles, home runs, RBI, slugging percentage and stolen bases. They are coming off a season-high 21-run performance against a Wright State squad that made the NCAA Tournament last season. 

The Wolverines’ pitching, however, has struggled. The team has the third-worst ERA in the conference at 6.41. They rank among the Big Ten’s worst in runs, hits, walks and batting average against.

Hitters to Watch

Elliott, a preseason All-Big Ten selection, paces the team in batting average, OPS, runs, walks and RBI. The junior has collected multiple hits in eight of his last 14 games, including a three-hit afternoon with four RBI versus Wright State on Wednesday.

Flores ranks among the team’s top 3 in batting average, OPS, hits, RBI and home runs, which he leads the Wolverines with 10. The Detroit native has collected at least two hits in six of his last 11 games, including a two-hit, 3-RBI day against Wright State. Flores was named Second Team All-Big Ten last season. 

Michigan has four other hitters with at least eight home runs each: graduate students Joe Stewart (9) and Matt Frey (8), d1baseball.com’s top infield draft prospect Ted Burton (8) and Third Team All-Big Ten honoree Jimmy Obertop (8).

Pitchers to Watch

Right-hander Chase Allen holds a team-low 3.84 ERA and has made 19 appearances, including five starts, for the Wolverines. The sophomore also leads the team with a perfect record of 6-0 and is holding opponents to a .224 batting average. Each of his last four outings have been Sunday starts, in which he’s gone at least five innings in each start. The righty presents Michigan’s best opportunity to win when he is on the mound.

Friday night starter Connor O’Halloran is another starter expected to see action this weekend. The lefty leads the team in innings (67.1) and strikeouts (80) and has started in all 13 games he’s appeared in this season. O’Halloran has the ability to pitch deep into games, going seven-plus innings three times this year. However, the pitch count can be a concern for him, as he’s thrown at least 107 pitches in five of his last six starts.

Probable Starting Pitcher Matchups

Friday, 6:30 p.m. ET

So. RHP Jason Savacool (7-2, 2.59 ERA) vs. So. LHP Connor O’Halloran (4-3, 4.41 ERA)

Savacool will make his first Friday start of the season after lasting only one inning on Sunday due to back soreness. In his shortened outing, the righty gave up two hits on three runs (two earned) along with one strikeout and one walk. Despite lasting only one inning, he still remains the conference leader in innings pitched (80) and strikeouts (95). His seven wins rank second in the Big Ten and his 2.59 ERA ranks third. 

O’Halloran earned a no-decision last Friday versus a solid Indiana lineup, going 5.1 innings, surrendering four runs on six hits, striking out eight and walking three. The key for the lefty is striking out hitters- Michigan is 5-0 when he records at least eight punchouts. However, the home run ball has bitten the sophomore lately. After allowing no home runs through his first 50.2 innings this season, he’s surrendered six homers in his last three outings, including three in last Friday’s start.

Saturday, 2:00 p.m. ET

Jr. LHP Ryan Ramsey (9-0, 2.47 ERA) vs. Jr. RHP Cameron Weston (4-3, 4.72 ERA)

Arguably the top pitcher in the Big Ten, Ramsey continued his dominance last weekend versus one of the best hitting teams in the nation in Rutgers. Ramsey went six innings, gave up two earned runs on four hits, recorded one strikeout and allowed two walks on 91 pitches en route to his conference-leading ninth win of the year. 

Weston had heightened expectations coming into the season, as he was ranked a top-five Big Ten pitching prospect by d1baseball.com. The righty has been consistent all season long, but not as effective as many predicted. The junior has given up between two and four earned runs in all but one of his starts. Weston is coming off a mediocre outing in which he allowed three earned runs on eight hits in 5.1 innings. He walked three and struck out five on 102 pitches.

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET

Jr. RHP Nick Dean (4-2, 4.01 ERA) vs. So. RHP Chase Allen (6-0, 3.84 ERA)

Since being moved to a Sunday starting role, Dean has shined on the mound, allowing just two earned runs on four hits in 11 innings. The junior earned the win in Monday’s rubber match in Piscataway, going six innings, allowing two earned runs (both solo homers) on three hits while striking out nine and walking two. The righty will look to continue his momentum against a hot Michigan lineup.

Recently moved into a starting role, Allen has been the Wolverines’ most consistent pitcher all year. The righty sits just outside the conference top 10 in ERA and has made the second most appearances (19) for Michigan this season. Last Sunday’s start versus Indiana was his worst outing of the season, as he allowed a season-high six earned runs in six innings and earned the no-decision. Allen will return to the site of his collegiate debut, which he made last April. 

Series Preview: Rutgers Scarlet Knights

First place in the Big 10 is on the line this weekend as No. 18 Maryland travels to Piscataway, New Jersey for a three-game series against the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers. This Rutgers team will pose the most difficult challenge yet in conference play for the Terps, both teams entering action with 36 wins on the season. If Maryland can pick up a sweep this weekend, they’ll find themselves leaders of the Big 10 with six games to go.

It was another successful week for the Terps, winning a weekend series over Northwestern that saw three fantastic starting pitching performances including Ryan Ramsey’s perfect game on Friday night. Tuesday’s showdown with Georgetown saw another dominating performance by this Maryland lineup, lighting up the Hoyas pitching staff for 19 runs.

Chris Alleyne and Maxwell Costes continue to provide the power to this lineup, each hitting a home run over the weekend against Northwestern. The pair of sluggers currently sit at one and two in the Big 10 for homers, Alleyne on top with fourteen and Costes right behind him with thirteen.

Kevin Keister had a huge game on Tuesday, going four of five and driving in three runs against Georgetown. After a really difficult start to the season that saw him platooning with Drew Grace and Jacob Orr, Keister is now batting .328 and has firmly secured his spot as the starting second baseman.

Freshman pitcher Matt Cunningham made a great first impression on Tuesday, striking out the side in order in his first outing as a Terp.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights (36-10, 15-3 Big Ten)

Last Season

2021 saw a middle-of-the-road year for Rutgers in a season of conference-only games, going 21-23 and finishing eighth in the Big 10. Hitting was a struggle for this team a year ago, having a conference third worst .257 batting average. Pitching was a bit better but still toward the middle of the league, finishing seventh in the Big 10 with a 5.00 ERA. By the end of the season, 21 wins were not enough to earn the Scarlet Knights a bid to the NCAA Tournament.

This Season

There were not too many people outside the Rutgers dugout who would have told you back in February that this team would be in first place in the Big 10 with three weeks to go in the regular season, not even projected to finish in the top six based on the preseason coaches poll. Yet after the first week of May, that’s exactly where they find themselves. At 15-3, the Scarlet Knights enter the weekend two and a half games ahead of second place Maryland, meaning only a Terps sweep will be able to dethrone them. Timely hitting and dominance on the mound have been key for Steve Owens’ team. At the plate, the Scarlet Knights lead the Big 10 in batting average, hits and runs scored. At 3.52, Rutgers also boasts the second-best team ERA in the conference.

Hitters to Watch

You would be hard-pressed to find a hitter in this Rutgers lineup who is not having a fantastic year. Currently, there are seven players, all consistent starters, who are batting over .300 on the season.

The best among them has without a doubt been redshirt junior Nick Cimillo. His name appears all over the Big 10 leaderboards, sitting in the top five for batting average, slugging percentage, OBP, OPS and runs scored.

Sophomore Ryan Lasko was awarded national player of the week by D1 Baseball for his performance last week where he went a combined 14 of 21 against Hofstra and Ohio State, hitting five home runs and driving in fourteen. He has also won Big 10 Player of the Week twice this year, consistently providing a spark for this Rutgers lineup no matter who the opposing pitcher may be.

Pitchers to Watch

Redshirt junior Dale Stanavich has been almost unhittable out of the bullpen this year for Rutgers. In 18 appearances, the Scarlet Knights closer has allowed just three earned runs across 23 1/3 innings. He will be a lethal weapon against the Maryland lineup late in games this weekend.

Redshirt sophomore Sam Bello has been a great bullpen piece this year for Rutgers as well. Aside from one tough four-run outing against Coastal Carolina, the reliever has not allowed more than two runs in any appearances and enters the weekend with 2.10 ERA. His best outing of the season came back in February where he provided 4 1/3 shutout innings out of the bullpen in a win over Houston Baptist.

Probable Starting Pitcher Matchups

Saturday, 1:00 p.m. ET

Jr. LHP Ryan Ramsey (8-0, 2.42 ERA) vs. 5th Year Sr. RHP Jared Kollar (7-1, 2.76 ERA)

There really isn’t much more to say about Ryan Ramsey’s performance last Friday night that hasn’t already been said. He completely outmatched Northwestern’s lineup on the way to throwing just the 34th perfect game in the history of college baseball. It was an utter display of dominance that truly encapsulated how good he has been this season. Entering the weekend, the Maryland lefty finds himself fourth in the conference in ERA, second in opposing batting average, first in wins and seventh in strikeouts.

Jared Kollar will get the start opposite Ramsey on Saturday. A graduate transfer from Seton Hill University, he has provided a great lift to this pitching staff, posting a 2.73 ERA and 1.02 WHIP to this point. His best start of the season came back in March against Omaha where he went 7 1/3 shutout innings, only allowing two total hits.

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET

So. RHP Jason Savacool (7-2, 2.39 ERA) vs. 5th Year Sr. Nathan Florence (5-2, 2.94 ERA)

Jason Savacool will get the ball in game two of the series, coming off yet another fantastic performance. With so much to live up to following Ramsey’s perfect game, the sophomore went seven shutout innings, only allowing three hits and lowering his season ERA to 2.39, good for second best in the Big 10. With nine punchouts in the performance as well, he continued on his path to striking out the most batters in the conference, now 15 K’s ahead of second place in that category. A late-inning comeback by Northwestern prevented Savacool from getting the win, but he’ll enter the weekend with lots of momentum on his side.

Another graduate transfer for Rutgers, Nathan Florence has been a welcome addition to this pitching staff alongside Kollar. He hasn’t necessarily been an innings eater for the Scarlet Knights, only pitching up to six innings in one start, but he has very effective nonetheless. His best outing by far came against Nebraska on April 9, where he went five innings, only allowing two total baserunners and striking out seven.

Monday, 1:00 p.m. ET

Jr. RHP Nick Dean (3-2, 4.12 ERA) vs. So. LHP Justin Sinibaldi (2-0, 5.81 ERA)

Moving to the Sunday spot seemed to have worked for Nick Dean as we saw a version of him closer to what he looked like back in February and early March. Over five innings he did not allow a run to Northwestern and only gave up one hit. There still seemed to be some issues with his command though as he allowed four walks, but the outing as a whole was still very encouraging as the end of the regular season draws closer.

It’s been tough going for Sinibaldi since he assumed the Sunday starter role at the beginning of April, only going more than three innings once in his past four starts. In his last start against Ohio State he only lasted 2/3 of an inning, allowing four runs, three hits and three walks to the Buckeyes lineup. He was also brought out of the bullpen on Tuesday to face two batters in a loss to Seton Hall, so it will be interesting to see how long he is allowed to go on Monday given the abnormal week he has had.

Midweek Preview: Georgetown Hoyas

With two midweek games remaining in the 2022 season, No. 18 Maryland will square off with a familiar foe in the Georgetown Hoyas Tuesday evening at The “Bob.” It’s the third time the Terps will play the Hoyas this season, having won their two previous meetings in early March, and they’ll be looking to take care of business again for what could be Maryland’s eighth-straight midweek victory.

The Terps enter Tuesday coming off yet another series win in Big Ten play, taking two of three from a middling Northwestern Wildcats squad. Despite the series win, which keeps the Terps undefeated in Big Ten series, Maryland still finds itself in second-place in the conference standings.

With the first-place Rutgers Scarlet Knights looming large this weekend, Tuesday’s date with Georgetown should serve as a tune-up before heading into the arguably the most important series of the season.

Georgetown Hoyas (26-18, 7-8 Big East)

Last Season:

The Hoyas were the gutter of the Big East last season, going 6-19 in the conference. Many of the heavy-hitters on today’s squad hadn’t reached that level in 2021, and the Georgetown pitching weighed the team down with a collective 5.83 ERA.

This Season:

The Hoyas at this point have gone eight games over .500 overall, but are struggling to stay above that mark when it comes to their 7-8 conference record. There are really just two main contenders in the Big East this season (Connecticut, Creighton), which has left the Hoyas in the middle of the pack. Their hitting is what has separated them from the bottom-tier Big East teams, but the pitching — especially the starting pitching — has kept them from making a serious push at the top-tier teams.

Hitters to Watch:

Jake Hyde has stood out the most for the Hoyas lineup this season, and he’ll certainly be the top priority for Maryland’s scouting after his three-hit performance in an earlier matchup this season. One of those hits was a home run against midweek starter Logan Ott, and Hyde leads his team with 17 of those. Right behind him in long balls is Ubaldo Lopez with 16. Together, Hyde’s 1.157 OPS and Lopez’s 1.062 OPS continue to pose a threat to Maryland pitching.

Pitchers to Watch:

Georgetown’s pitching strength comes directly out of the bullpen as four Hoyas relievers have posted ERA’s below 3.50. With probable starter Andrew Williams tending to go just an inning deep like he has in recent starts, it may be a relay race to the finish out of Georgetown’s bullpen. Most notably, Anthony Redferd owns a 2.50 ERA in 15 appearances and has notched two saves.

Probable Pitching Matchup

The Terps have won six-straight Logan Ott starts, and there doesn’t seem to be any reason for them to divert from him as the midweek guy to round out the season. Although his last start against the Hoyas wasn’t very strong (5 ER, 2 IP), the Terps offense rallied to claim a 10-9 victory.

Judging by that last Ott matchup against Georgetown, the Hoyas are likely to send freshman Andrew Williams to the mound again. Most of Williams’ last several starts haven’t gone beyond an inning, and his season ERA sits at 5.54. The freshman is capable of a quality outing, having pitched eight strikeouts in five innings against UMass (March 4) and seven strikeouts in seven innings against Mount St. Mary’s (March 18).

Maryland wins rubber match, takes down Northwestern 10-5

Even before the rain started to come down, Maryland’s pitchers struggled with command. Starter Nick Dean and relievers Nick Robinson and Nigel Belgrave combined to issue eight walks, a few of them proving costly. Three free passes in the top of the seventh allowed Northwestern to take its first lead of the afternoon, going ahead, 4-3. 

The answer came quickly. Immediately, the Terps loaded the bases. Freshman Ian Petrutz came to the plate with the bases full and no outs. He spiked a ball into the infield turf, giving the Wildcats’ second baseman a tough play. The fielder fumbled, unable to get a glove or hand on it as the rain grew stronger. 

The run tied the contest and sparked a rally. Maryland scored three more in the inning to regain a lead it wouldn’t relinquish. The score ultimately grew to 10-5, giving the Terps their fifth straight weekend series victory. 

Dean, pitching for the first time on Sunday, settled into the role the way Coach Rob Vaughn hoped he would. Although he worked slow, allowing several counts to go deep and issuing more free passes than strikeouts, he held Northwestern scoreless in the early innings. 

Troy Schreffler Jr. second inning solo home run, his seventh of the season, was it as far as offense went. Through the opening four innings, his run was the source of the only scoring. 

“The past few weeks I’ve been struggling a little bit,” Schreffler Jr. said. “I wanted to get back in the action.”

Wildcats starter Grant Comstock worked nearly as efficiently as Dean did through four, but Maryland jumped on him in the fifth. A Bobby Zmarzlak single scored Schreffler, who led the inning with a double. 

An inning later, Luke Shliger began with a double, tagged on a fly ball to advance to third and scored on a Lorusso sacrifice fly. The small ball approach gave Maryland, the Big Ten’s leading team in home runs, a 3-1 lead.

After loading the bases in relief of Dean, Maryland reliever Nick Robinson stared down the heart of Northwestern’s lineup in the sixth inning. Leading by two runs, a one-out groundout scored one and cut that advantage in half. Again facing the bases loaded with Maryland’s lead in danger, Robinson induced another ground ball. 

This one was stung, unlike the prior hitter’s soft grounder to second base. This one went to third baseman Lorusso. On one hop, he threw his glove at the ball, spun around allowing his momentum to take him, and threw flat-footed to a fully extended Maxwell Costes at first base to keep the lead alive. 

In the bottom half of the sixth, it was Lorusso’s turn to come through in the clutch with a runner in scoring position. After Luke Shliger doubled to leadoff the frame and eventually advanced to third, a long fly ball to the centerfield warning track was enough to extend the lead to 4-1. 

When Maryland’s bullpen blew up an inning later, Vaughn called on David Falco Jr. to halt the slide. After cleaning up the mess Belgrave handed him, Falco came back for the eighth, where a strikeout and two weak balls in play ended the inning quickly. 

With the rain impacting his ability to grip the ball and move on the muddy mound, Falco Jr. was forced to adjust. 

“Just simplify my mechanics the best I can,” he said. “You don’t want to get too crazy, you start sliding.” 

After a three-run bottom of the eighth, Sean Heine killed a small Northwestern rally before it could linger.

“I talked to David and Heine both yesterday after the game,” Vaughn said. “Let’s just call it was it is, they were bad yesterday and I told them that. If we have another opportunity we’re going right back to you guys.” 

NO. 23 TERPS DROP 7-4 DECISION TO NORTHWESTERN 


(RECAP COURTESY OF MARYLAND ATHLETICS)

COLLEGE PARK, MD — After Jason Savacool threw seven scoreless innings, No. 23 Maryland allowed five runs in the eighth inning as Northwestern beat the Terps, 7-4. The Terps are now 34-9 and 10-4 in the Big Ten. On Maryland Day Saturday, a crowd of 2,576 came out to Bob ‘Turtle’ Smith Stadium, the largest in the last 30 years. This was just Maryland’s second loss at home this season, as the Terps are now 18-2 in College Park. 

Savacool continued his stellar pitching as he threw those seven innings, allowing just three hits. He struck out nine.  

Nick Lorusso drove in two runs as he went 3-for-4 with two RBIs with a home run. Matt Shawalso hit a home run, coming back-to-back with Lorusso’s blast in the eighth.  Luke Shliger hit a solo homer to center field in the ninth. 

Northwestern moved to 20-18 and 7-7 in the Big Ten. 

Breaking Down The Action
• Maryland took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first on Lorusso’s rip down the line to scored Alleyne. 
• The teams traded six scoreless innings through the seventh.
• Northwestern tied the game on a line sacrifice fly to left by Jay Beshears to score Tony Livemore.  Then the Wildcats scored four more runs to take a 5-1 lead in the top of the eighth. 
• Lorusso clubbed his ninth home run of the season — a blast off The Shell —  to cut the defcit to 5-2 in the bottom of the eighth. The next batter, Shaw smashed a solo homer to nearly the same place in leftfield. 
• Anthony Calarco added a run with a homer to left in the top of the ninth to make it 6-3. Northwestern tacked on another score to make it 7-3. 
• Shliger hit the Terps’ third homer in two innings, leading of the bottom of the ninth to make it 7-4. 

Series Preview: Northwestern Wildcats

Winners of 13 of its last 16 games, No. 23 Maryland enters this weekend’s series against Northwestern as one of the country’s hottest teams. In a similar standing in the RPI leaderboard (24th), the Terps have positioned themselves nicely for a favorable postseason draw. Some projections have Maryland hosting a regional, something it has never been able to do and an accomplishment Coach Rob Vaughn desires but won’t let it distract the team. 

Prior to its 18-10 win over Navy on Tuesday at home, Maryland took two of three at Illinois last weekend. After losing the series opener by a lopsided score of 19-1, the program’s largest margin of defeat since joining the Big Ten, the Terps crawled back and took games two and three in a Saturday doubleheader. Luke Shliger and Chris Alleyne combined to drive in seven of Maryland’s 13 runs in the afternoon battle, whereas the middle of the order came through in the evening contest. Matt Shaw, Max Costes and Troy Schreffler scored six of the seven total runs. 

Northwestern (19-17, 6-6)

Last season

In a shortened 2021 schedule against only conference opponents, Northwestern finished 15-21 including four losses in as many games to Maryland in two separate two-game series. 

This season

While Northwestern currently sits above the .500 mark, it’s a measly 6-14 away from Evanston, Illinois this season. At seventh in the Big Ten standings, the Wildcats sit almost perfectly average in several statistics. They’re seventh in team batting average, fifth in home runs and seventh in on-base percentage. Northwestern pitchers sport the fourth-lowest ERA in the conference and have given up the seventh-fewest long balls. 

Hitters to watch

Outfielder Ethan O’Donnell and infielders Anthony Calarco, Jay Beshears and Patrick Herrera all tout batting averages north of .300 and an OPS of over .900, the only Wildcats who have that distinction. O’Donnell leads the team in home runs with nine with catcher Stephen Hrustich trailing just behind with eight. 

O’Donnell, Calarco and Beshears typically go 1-2-3 in the Northwestern batting order, a potential source of early torment for the Maryand pitching staff. 

Pitchers to watch

Outside of its weekend rotation, Northwestern’s most used and best reliever this season has been right-handed junior Coby Moe. His 3.67 ERA and 1.44 WHIP are both fourth best of the Wildcats’ entire staff. He’s thrown 27 innings to date this year.

From there, the bullpen drops off considerably. Only one other pitcher who has logged at least 10 innings has an ERA below four. Four relievers who’ve garnered considerable innings bring ERA’s over seven into this weekend’s series. 

Moe should be Northwestern’s go-to option out of the bullpen again this weekend, but Maryland’s best chance to win will come through getting to the rest of the Wildcats’ thin bullpen. 

Probable starting pitcher matchups 

Friday 6:30 p.m.

Jr. LHP Ryan Ramsey (7-0, 2.77 ERA) vs. Fr. LHP Sean Sullivan (5-0, 2.68 ERA)

vs.

MBN’s Matt Levine reported Thursday that Nick Dean was going to slide into the Sunday spot in the weekend rotation, likely due to his recent struggles along with Ryan Ramsey and Jason Savacool’s strong recent outings. Ramsey now moves up to the Friday night role, and deservedly so; He’s allowed more than three runs in a start just once this season. His dominance has allowed the Maryland pitching staff to not skip a beat despite Dean’s recent shortcomings.

Saturday 2:00 p.m.

So. RHP Jason Savacool (7-2, 2.63 ERA) vs. Gs. RHP Michael Fairnelli (4-4, 3.59 ERA)

vs.

Savacool has been one of the conference’s, if not the country’s, best hurlers in recent weeks. He’s lasted at least seven innings in each of his last four starts and has let up three or fewer runs in five of his last seven. He’s been dominant for Maryland on Sundays, and now moves up to Saturdays.

Fairnelli has been a workhorse for the Wildcats. He leads the team in innings pitched, has worked at least into the sixth inning in all but two starts and has gone at least seven innings in four of his last five games. 

Sunday 1:00 p.m.

Jr. RHP Nick Dean (3-2, 4.53 ERA) vs. Fr. RHP Grant Comstock (0-3, 6.20 ERA)

vs.

Dean’s last start at Illinois was a continuation of what’s been a disappointing second half to his junior season. He allowed five runs in four innings to the Illini and has now let in nine runs over his last 10 innings. Since returning from an arm injury in mid-March, the Big Ten’s preseason pitcher of the year has allowed four or more runs in half of his starts. Sunday is another chance to right the ship, but he’s running out of opportunities with just a few weeks remaining before the postseason.