Game Preview: James Madison

Heading into the final tilt of a five-game homestand, The Terrapins are flying high, with blowout wins in each of their last four games. After being swept at Coastal Carolina to finish February play, Maryland has righted the ship in a big way, outscoring opponents 48-18 over its last four games.

Before heading to their spring break road trip in Texas, Maryland will welcome James Madison to Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium to wrap up one of their longest homestands of the season.

While the Terps’ weekend rotation has been solidified, approaching only their third midweek it’s still uncertain whether junior Zach Thompson will get his third midweek start, or whether senior Tyler Blohm may finally make his return to the mound.

Thompson was dominant to start against Delaware, completing a perfect first trip through the order on just 27 pitches. After a long layoff prior to the fourth, Thompson struggled, finishing the afternoon after just 4 ⅓ innings with five runs charged to him. 

Coming off of his junior campaign, in which he went 1-2 in six starts and struggled with injury, Blohm has the potential to make his first start of the season. After throwing over 50 innings in each of his first two years, Blohm was limited to 15 ⅔ innings last season. If he can return to form, the southpaw would provide a big boost to the Terps’ stable of arms, which currently leans heavily on underclassmen. 

While the Terrapins have seen offensive production throughout the lineup, the top of their order has been a force to be reckoned with so far. Chris Alleyne, Randy Bednar, and Maxwell Costes are all batting over .340, with Costes boasting a .439 average and an impressive .627 on-base-percentage to go with four homers and 14 RBI.

Alleyne and Bednar are tied for team lead with eight doubles and Alleyne leads the conference with 18 runs scored, while Bednar is third in the conference with 16 RBI.

Outside of those three atop the order, the Terps’ biggest bat has been shortstop Ben Cowles, who has three home runs and has driven in 13 runs, batting mostly out of the seven-hole. Cowles is currently on a six-game hit streak and a four-game RBI streak, and has two home runs and 10 RBI on the four-game home stand.

James Madison Dukes (8-6, 0-0 CAA)

Last Season

The Dukes finished last season 31-26, but were bounced in just two games in the CAA tournament. James Madison had a 9-13 overall record away from home last season, but that did include a 14-1 win over the Terps in College Park.

This Season

James Madison started the season getting swept by then-No. 16 NC State before rattling off six straight wins. Since then, the Dukes have won two of their last five and will be heading to College Park after playing VMI at home on Tuesday. 

Hitters to Watch

The Dukes’ top run producers on the young season have been a trio of underclassmen. Freshman two-way player Chase DeLauter and sophomore Nick Zona boast identical .383 batting averages and have driven in 13 and 12 runs, respectively. The team’s RBI leader is sophomore Kyle Novak, who has 14 RBI this spring to go along with a .333 average. 

Pitchers to Watch

In two midweek games this season, the Dukes have yet to have a starter go more than five innings. In their first midweek, Justin Showalter went two innings, but has since settled into a weekend starting role. In their second midweek, the Dukes used Liam McDonnell for 4 ⅔ innings in which he fanned seven while allowing five hits and two runs.

With freshman Hunter Entsminger the announced starter for Tuesday’s matchup with VMI, it seems likely that James Madison could turn to McDonnell on Wednesday, as he has only 5 ⅔ innings on the season and has not pitched since his appearance against VMI in February. 

Series Preview: Bryant

 The Terps got back on track Wednesday with a win over the Delaware Blue Hens and are set to face the Bryant Bulldogs this weekend at “The Bob.” Last weekend Maryland was swept by Coastal Carolina, in what was an eye-opening couple of days for the Terps. 

“They just out-executed us all weekend in every phase of the game,” said Chris Alleyne on the series against the Chanticleers.

The Bulldogs also had a tough test last weekend, getting swept by Virginia Tech and posting a -22 run differential over the three-game span. Needless to say, the Tech offense was on fire just like Coastal’s offense was last weekend. 

Right now, Maryland sits at 7-4, with a 4-1 record in College Park even with a few injuries to start the season.

“I got my shot and a lot of other guys are too right now because we are so injury plagued but everybody is taking it day by day, working hard,” said freshman Matt Orlando, who stepped up in place of third baseman Tommy Gardiner, who is out with a shoulder injury. Catcher Justin Vought is another notable starter on the shelf.

Despite the injuries, the Terps put up 13 runs on Wednesday against Delaware and, besides the Coastal series, have shown they have a high-powered offense this season. They are averaging 6.7 runs a game being led by Maxwell Costes and Randy Bednar.

Costes has carried his dominance over from last year’s Big Ten Freshman of the Year performance. He currently has three home runs and is getting on base at a .588 clip, enough for second and third in the Big Ten, respectively. He was 2-for-4 with two RBI against Delaware on Wednesday. 

Bednar has also raked for the Terps this season. The junior currently leads the team in RBI with 12 and has an OPS of 1.057. He went 3-for-5 with two doubles on Wednesday. 

Maryland also continued to show plate discipline in its latest midweek, drawing seven walks for a season total of 63. Freshman Tucker Flint leads the on-base charge for the Terps, with a team-high 10 walks and seven hit-by-pitches.

For an up-and-coming rotation, the Terps’ pitching has been relatively solid this season. Without their three games in which they allowed 10+ runs, Maryland’s arms have only allowed more than three runs from an opponent once–against Delaware Wednesday. 

One reason for Maryland’s strength on the mound is redshirt freshman Sean Burke, who leads the Terps’ starters in most categories.

“I thought Sean Burke was tremendous again, that’s three straight starts for him that were really, really good,” said Head Coach Rob Vaughn.

Even with minimal innings, Elliot Zoellner has looked solid out of the bullpen. In 5 2/3 innings he has proven consistent, with a 0.00 ERA, and has held hitters to a .059 average. 

Bryant Bulldogs (2-8, 0-0 Northeastern)

Last Season

Bryant finished last season with a 40-20 record and went 19-5 in conference play during the regular season, finishing first in the NEC. The Bulldogs couldn’t make an NCAA big, however, losing to Central Connecticut in the NEC Tournament championship game.

This Season

The Bulldogs have struggled so far this season, starting off 2-8 Their two wins came against Georgia State two weekends ago in Atlanta. Despite their record, Bryant has been competing in tight ball games, losing only four by five runs or more. 

Hitters to Watch

As Bryant work to overcome its early slump, with a team-wide .169 average, there are two Bulldogs who are putting up solid numbers at the plate. Senior James Ciliento, whose .314 average and seven home runs are a team-high. The outfielder has also swiped eight bags so far. The Bulldogs’ other slugger is junior Shane Kelly,  who is batting .297 with a .357 on-base-percentage. He also has one home run with 11 hits.

Relievers to Watch

So far, Bryant’s most reliable arm out of the bullpen has been Matthew Stansky. The right-hander has six innings pitched in four appearances with a 3.00 ERA; he is also the only Bryant pitcher with a save so far this season. After Stansky, the next pitcher in line out of the ‘pen  would be Jack Ipsen, who has 4 1/3 innings pitched with a 4.15 ERA.

Probable Starting Pitcher Matchup

Friday, 4 p.m. ET

Jr. RHP Tyler Mattison (0-2, 6.00 ERA) v. Jr. LHP Sean Fisher (2-1, 6.14 ERA)

imageimage vs. imageFisher090518_06

In Mattison’s last start, against Virginia Tech, the righty allowed six earned runs and nine hits over only four innings pitched against the powerful Hokies lineup. Prior to last weekend, surrendered only two earned runs in each of his previous two starts. Arguably one of Mattison’s biggest strengths is his ability to prevent base-on-balls, having allowed only five walks in 15 innings pitched.

Like Mattison, Fisher’s ERA is bit inflated because of his start last weekend. Again st Coastal Carolina Fisher went only three innings, allowing nine earned runs and 10 hits. Fisher looked sharp against Rhode Island and Charleston Southern earlier this season, though, allowing only three runners to cross the plate his the 11 2/3 innings pitched over those two starts.

Saturday, 2 p.m. ET

 Jr. RHP Tyler Schoff (0-3, 7.90 ERA) v. Fr. RHP Nick Dean (0-1, 5.65 ERA)

imageimage.png vs. imageDean_2020

 

Another junior right-hander, Schoff enters the weekend with an inflated 7.90 ERA over 13 2/3 innings pitched. Though he has suffered a loss in each of his starts this season, Schoff has also struck out 10 batters and given up only one home run on the year. 

The only true freshman in Maryland’s starting rotation, Dean has proven himself worthy, after a promising start against Coastal Carolina last weekend. Deal went five innings against the Chanticleers, allowing only two runs on six hits with six strikeouts. Dean has tossed around five innings in each of his three starts so far, and whiffed at least five batters in each start. 

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

Jr. RHP Will Treuel (0-2, 6.75 ERA) vs. R-Fr. RHP Sean Burke (1-0, 1.62 ERA)

 imageimage.png vs. imageBurke_2020

Treuel’s strongest appearance this year came out of the bullpen against Georgia State, when he threw 3 1/3 innings and allowed only one run, striking out an impressive six batters. In his two starts, coming against Dayton and Virginia Tech, Treuel struggled some, allowing  a combined nine earned runs in 10 innings total and letting up a homer in each.

For Maryland, Burke has showed his prowess on the mound, proving the Terps’ most consistent starter so far in this young season. Against Coastal Carolina Burke allowed only three hits and two earned runs over six innings, his longest start of the season. Though dominant on the mound, Burke has struggled some with walks, so it will be important for him to limit free bases this weekend against the Bulldogs.

Game Preview: Delaware Blue Hens

After a difficult weekend series with Coastal Carolina, Maryland will look to get back in the win column when it welcomes Delaware to Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium on Wednesday for a 4 p.m. first pitch.

Coming off two blowouts and a heartbreaking late loss to the Chanticleers in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, the Terps will play their second home midweek of the season, with a 13-3 drubbing of George Mason already under their belts. 

Maryland has five key home games over the next week, starting with the game against the Blue Hens, followed by a three-game set with Bryant, and then another midweek game against James Madison.

With this five-game stretch sandwiched between tough series at Coastal Carolina and TCU, the home stand should allow time for the Terps to bounce back from their trip to South Carolina and gain momentum before heading to Texas.

On offense the Terps will look for sophomore Maxwell Costes to remain their most dangerous hitter and to continue his scorching form at the Bob, where he is six for his last seven with three home runs and a double.

Junior outfielder Randy Bednar, who leads the team with 11 RBI, also comes into the series hot. Hitting .351, Bednar had a tremendous game in Maryland’s last midweek, roughing up the Patriots to the tune of three hits and three RBI, including a mammoth home run. 

On the mound the Terrapins may turn to junior Zach Thompson, who excelled in his first appearance of the season last week. Thompson shut down George Mason, allowing one run on four hits over five innings, and was efficient, tossing 66 pitches through his five frames of work.  

With strikeouts coming at a premium, whoever starts for Maryland will need to hope for his defense to be better than it has in the season’s early-going, where the Terps have a .949 fielding percentage and have gotten through only one game error-free (Game three against Rhode Island).  

Delaware Blue Hens (4-5, 0-0 CAA)

Last Season

Delaware finished 2019 with a record of 21-33. The Blue Hens were 7-21 on the road, and went 7-3 in midweeks, including a pair of midweek losses to the Terps (both by a score of 11-6).

This Season

The Hens are 4-5 this year, as of Tuesday morning, but come in hot with wins in four of their last five games. They head to College Park as the second part of a midweek back-to-back after facing the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore on Tuesday. 

Hitters to Watch

Delaware brings a dangerous offense to the Bob, with 50 runs scored over nine games and five qualified hitters batting above .300, as of Tuesday morning. Sophomore first baseman Josh Carpenter enters Tuesday leading the squad with a .419 average and four doubles, while senior backstop Jack Goan is pacing the Blue Hens with 10 RBI to go along with two long balls and junior Jordan Hutchins leads the team with three home runs. 

Pitchers to Watch

While Delaware’s offense has produced well, the Blue Hens have struggled on the mound, with a team-wide 6.59 ERA. The Hens’ arms have struggled to find the plate, with 58 walks already issued this season. Opposing hitters have also had success when Delaware pitchers have thrown strikes, hitting .272 against them and knocking 28 extra-base hits.

The Blue Hens do have a trio of reliable arms out of the bullpen, with relievers Winston Allen, Bryce Greenly, and Nate Rolka combining for just two earned runs over 11 ⅔ innings. Only four pitchers have made starts for the Hens so far this season, so with five games in six days and a series with Rider beginning on Friday, head coach Jim Sherman may have to get creative with how he uses his arms. 

Series Preview: Coastal Carolina

Maryland travels down to East Coast to Conway, South Carolina, to take on Coastal Carolina in their the Terps’ first true road series this weekend, after picking up a 13-3 midweek victory over George Mason on Tuesday. Though Maryland has played on the road this season, this will be the first time it plays one team in a three-game set. 

For Coastal Carolina, they own a 4-3 record and they’ve played all seven of its games on its home field; last season the Chanticleers were dominant at home with a 24-12 record. 

After a pair of double headers last weekend, including a pair of double-digit offensive outpourings on Sunday (13-5 win over Kennesaw State and 14-2 win over West Virginia), Coastal Carolina had a bit of a break this week, as their midweek game against Charleston was cancelled due to inclement weather. 

Last season, the Terps and Chanticleers met at the start of the year for the Brittain Resorts Invitational, hosted by Coastal Carolina, where the Chanticleers came out on top, 7-2. 

While Maryland’s offense struggled against Coastal Carolina last season, this year the team has the most home runs in the Big Ten entering the third weekend of regular season play (7). Three of those long balls have come off of Maxwell Costes’ bat. The reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year leads the Terps with a .429 average and a .647 on-base percentage.

As a whole the Terps have succeeded in large due to their ability to draw walks; in their seven games thus far Maryland has walked 46 times to their opponents’ 27. (Coastal has drawn 28 walks to their opponents’ 17).

While, on the offensive side of the ball, Maryland has shown great discipline at the plate and the it has resulted in a lot of run scoring opportunities. But on the defensive side the Terps have worked on cleaning up their fielding, especially with regard to infield fly balls. 

“We just have to come out of the gate and be clean on defense, that’s really one thing I want to see” Vaughn said. “And with really good starters, you get them in one or two spots. You get them in the first when they’re trying to settle in or you gotta grind them out and get them in the sixth or seventh when they get tired. So that’s going to be our biggest thing.”

Though Coastal Carolina’s pitching staff will be potent, Maryland’s barrage of arms is nothing to disregard.

The Terps’ pitching staff currently holds the second-lowest team ERA in the Big Ten (2.53), while starters Sean Fisher and Sean Burke have the fourth- and eighth-lowest ERAs in the Big Ten, respectively. Plus, Maryland’s freshman arms have recorded a combined 44 strikeouts, the most by a freshman pitching staff in the Big Ten.

“I think there’s some confidence with our guys,” head coach Rob Vaughn said. “I think we have a little bit more depth on the mound than we’ve had to attack them with the last couple years.”

Despite playing a tougher opponent like Coastal Carolina, Vaughn told his team that there’s no need to try to play different, though they should expect fewer offensive chances against the Chanticleers’ talented pitching staff. 

“It’s gonna take a full team effort.,” Vaughn said. “We know what they’re capable of and we’re just going to have to match energy and play clean baseball. We don’t have to do anything different, we just have to come out and take advantage of our opportunities and grind them out and create things.” 

 

Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (4-3, 0-0 Sun Belt)

Last Season

Coastal Carolina finished the year with a 36-26-1 record and went 15-13 in conference play during the regular season. The Chanticleers got hot during the Sun Belt Tournament and took home the championship, but couldn’t make it out of their regional in the NCAA Tournament and was eliminated after a loss to Georgia Tech.

This Season

So far this season the Chanticleers have had a bit of a slow start as they sit at just 4-3. Coastal Carolina hasn’t suffered a blowout loss yet, as its few losses have all been single-digit run differences. But, when the Chanticleers win it is usually a result of an offensive explosion. Through just seven games, the Chanticleers are outscoring their opponents 48-26. 

Hitters to Watch

Coastal Carolina lost a few of its best bats after last season, but not its hits leader from last season, Scott McKeon. This season McKeon has continued to be one of the Chanticleers’ best bats; the senior is the only player with double-digit hits so far, as he has gone 11-for-28, posting a .393 average. 

Another offensive threat for Coastal Carolina this season has been sophomore catcher, B.T. Riopelle. The sophomore leads the team with seven RBI and has also recorded seven hits. Riopelle also leads the team in home runs with two. 

Relievers to Watch

Sophomore Alaska Abney has had the most appearances out of the bullpen for Coastal Carolina and has proven dominant on the mound. The righty has appeared in four games and tossed 7 ⅔ innings, while allowing just one hit and picking up eight strikeouts. 

Redshirt sophomore Shaddon Peavyhouse has been another reliever that has found success four the Chanticleers this season. The right-hander has thrown four innings and has not allowed an earned run, while striking out four batters. 

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup

Friday, 4 p.m. ET

Jr. LHP Sean Fisher (2-0, 0.77 ERA) v. Jr. RHP Zach McCambley (1-1, 2.08 ERA)

 

Fisher090518_06image vs. imageimage.png

After moving from the bullpen in 2019 to a starters’ spot in 2020, Fisher has been solid as Maryland’s Friday starter. Through his first two starts the southpaw has tossed 11 ⅔ innings and allowed just one earned run, plus nine strikeouts. In both of his starts the Terps’ offense provided a plenty of run support, so it will be interesting to see how Fisher fares when he may not have the same backing.

“Ending guys’ at-bats quicker is the biggest thing,” Fisher said of what he’s been working on heading into the weekend. “Not getting in deep counts and not walking guys.”

Last season, McCambley started 11 games on the mound, posting a 6-3 record with a 5.21 ERA. The righty showed he had strikeout stuff as he tallied 76 strikeouts in just 67 ⅓ innings pitched for the Chanticleers. This season, McCambley has allowed three runs in 13 innings, while racking up 18 strikeouts. 

“When you’re facing McCambley on Friday night from Coastal, you might not get seven innings of opportunity like we got [against George Mason],” Vaughn said. “That game could be won or lost in the first or second inning on offense or defense, just because he’s that kind of arm.”

 

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup

Saturday, 2 p.m. ET

Fr. RHP Nick Dean (0-0, 6.75 ERA) v. R-Sr. LHP Scott Kobos (0-2, 2.45 ERA)

Dean_2020image vs. imageimage.png

After a stellar collegiate debut against Iona, Dean ran into some trouble against Rhode Island, allowing five runs through 4 ⅔ innings. Dean has thrown 9 ⅓ innings so far this season, and has allowed seven runs and picked up 11 strikeouts. The freshman will have an opportunity to bounce back this weekend against the Chanticleers.

In the 2019 season, Kobos only started five games for Coastal Carolina and recorded a 2-2 record with a 6.04 ERA. This season, the southpaw has put together some solid starts, but his offense hasn’t been able to provide run support. Through two games, Kobos has pitched 11 innings and allowed just three runs, while totaling nine strikeouts. 

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

R-Fr. RHP Sean Burke (1-0, 0.84 ERA) v. So. RHP Nick Parker (1-0, 2.70 ERA)  

Burke_2020image vs. imageimage.png

Though he missed last season due to injury, Burke has been dominant in his first collegiate season on the mound. The righty has picked up eight strikeouts in each of his two starts and has only allowed one run through 10 ⅔ innings. Maryland has come out on top in both of his starts, beating Charleston 4-2 and Rhode Island 3-0. 

Parker had 16 appearances in the 2019 season and pitched in 46 innings, while he posted a 6.07 ERA. This season, the sophomore has made two starts and has thrown 10 innings. Through his two starts, he has allowed 10 hits and three earned runs, while tallying six strikeouts. 

 

Game Preview: George Mason Patriots

After taking two-of-three from Rhode Island over the weekend, Maryland hosts George Mason for its first midweek game of the season on Tuesday at 4 p.m. The two teams met in mid-April last season in Virginia, where the Patriots came out on top 9-5. 

Now, George Mason it still looking for its first victory. The Patriots started the season 0-5 and they have struggled to limit their opponent’s offense. Through five games, George Mason has been outscored, 55-21. 

For Maryland, the Terps look to continue their great start to the season. Last season Maryland had success in its midweek matchups, posting a 9-4 record. The Terps look to duplicate that success this season, beginning with the Patriots.

Through its first six games, Maryland has impressed on both sides of the ball. Offensively the Terps have tallied 43 runs, averaging just about seven runs per contest and outscoring opponents 43-20.

Junior Randy Bednar leads the team in RBI (6) while also posting a .333 average. Fellow junior Tommy Gardiner, tied for the team-high in hits (7) with Bednar, has also been impressive at the plate. Gardiner leads the team in average (.412) and has totaled four RBI and scored three runs. 

This past weekend, reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year Maxwell Costes’ bat began to heat up. Against Rhode Island, Costes went 4-for-9 with three RBI and four runs scored. Costes also belted his first home run of the season on Sunday and went on to hit his second in the same game en route to a 3-0 victory. 

On the mound Maryland has added depth, as junior Zach Thompson, who was the typical Saturday starter last season, will get the midweek nod this Tuesday. The start will be the right-hander’s first appearance for Maryland since last season, when he tossed a 5.08 ERA on his way to a 3-6 record in 14 starts, including 63 strikeouts.

The Terps’ bullpen has also been solid so far this season and a few more arms should get their opportunity in this midweek game. So far, the bullpen has allowed six earned runs in 23 ⅓ innings pitched, and the Terps’ pitching staff as a whole has the second-lowest ERA in the Big Ten (2.45, behind Penn State’s 1.68 ERA). 

George Mason Patriots (0-5, 0-0 Atlantic 10)

Last Season

George Mason finished last year 19-35 and went 5-19 in conference play, which kept the Patriots out of the Atlantic 10 Tournament. They also finished the season on an eight-game losing streak. 

This Season

With a rough start to the season the Patriots have continued their losing streak from last season and they are still on the hunt for their first victory of 2020. George Mason has lost all three of its road games so far. 

Hitters to Watch

George Mason lost one of its most powerful bats, Logan Driscoll, to the MLB draft last season. Now, it’s graduate transfer Cooper Mrowka who has been one of the players to step up offensively.

Mrowka is tied for the team-high in hits with five and is hitting .333 this season, including one RBI and four runs scored. Junior Scott Morgan has also been an offensive threat for George Mason. Morgan is batting .333 with two home runs, three RBI and four runs scored.

Pitchers to Watch

Sophomore southpaw Nate Young will get the nod on the mound for the Patriots. Young currently holds a 9.00 ERA after a three-inning relief outing, though it’s still early in the season. As a freshman Young made five starts and three relief appearances, and though he struggled on the mound does at least have some experience starting.

Out of the pen, sophomore Patrick Halligan has thrown the most innings with 4 ⅔ and has allowed three runs while freshman Lyle Miller-Green has thrown 4 ⅓ innings out of the bullpen and has also allowed three runs.

 

Series Preview: Rhode Island Rams

After a 3-0 road trip to kick off the 2020 season, the Terrapins will be opening up their home schedule when they host the Rhode Island Rams this weekend. Maryland returns to College Park after dominating a trio of Charleston Southern, Iona and College of Charleston, outscoring the three teams 23-6 on the weekend.

Rhode Island wasn’t as fortunate as Maryland in its first three games of the season, putting up a 1-2 record, including two blowout losses (7-3, 8-2) versus Lamar on the road last weekend.

The last time the Rams clashed horns with the Terps was in a similar fashion, facing off in the teams’ second series of the 2016 season. Maryland bagged two of the three games, the first of which featured an eight-inning shutout performance by former Terp and current Boston Red Sox pitcher Mike Shawaryn.

With Maryland’s pitchers showing nothing but pure dominance in its opening series, they’ll look to replicate Shawaryn’s past work against Rhode Island and keep the train rolling. Despite the Terps’ rotation not being set in stone, they’ll run out the same starters this weekend — Sean Fisher, Nick Dean and Sean Burke — according to Maryland head coach Rob Vaughn. Between the three, they only surrendered three total runs over 15 innings pitched while racking up 19 strikeouts.

As for Maryland’s offense, the plus-17 run-differential last weekend speaks for itself. But, the biggest highlight from the opening weekend was the hitting prowess displayed by freshman outfielder Tucker Flint. Flint, ranked the No. 1 recruit out of Rhode Island, paced the Terps with a .545 batting average in 11 at-bats and currently leads the Big Ten with a .667 on-base percentage.

“That’s a really competitive kid,” said Vaughn about the Rhode Island native. “He’s got a really high level of confidence and that’s what you need to be a good hitter in this league.”

Meanwhile, Rhode Island’s bats weren’t as strong, combining for a .194 batting average through their three games, although redshirt-sophomore Joe Fortin (.400 average) and freshman Alex Ramirez (.300) seem to be the early offensive leaders.

Rhode Island Rams (1-2, 0-0 Atlantic 10)

Last Season

Rhode Island finished the 2019 season with a 24-29 record but going 14-9 within the Atlantic 10, good enough to make it into the conference’s tournament. But as the No. 6 seed in the tournament the Rams suffered a first-round loss to the Dayton Flyers.

This season

Starting the season 1-2 isn’t the start that Rhode Island likely wanted, but one win is better than none. With a collective .569 on-base plus slugging percentage through three games, the Rams’ offense seems to be having some early struggles.

Hitters to watch

Rhode Island only has three hitters with an OPS greater than .750: Fortin, Ramirez, and junior Jackson Coutts. Coutts is right on the fence with a .250 OBP and .500 slugging percentage, but Fortin and Ramirez have carried the offense so far with a .971 OPS and .800 OPS, respectively, in the early season.

Pitcher to watch

“Their Friday night guy can really, really pitch,” said Vaughn of Rhode Island sophomore Justin Cherry. “He’s only a sophomore, but he’s got a really, really good feel for what he’s doing.”

Cherry threw 6 1/3 innings in his start against Lamar, striking out seven batters while giving up just one earned run.

But the Rams also have some solid arms in their bullpen; after its opening weekend Rhode Island boasts three relievers with 0.00 ERAs after throwing at least one inning, including redshirt-senior Tyler Brosius, who tossed six strikeouts in 3 1/3 innings over two relief appearances, including one save.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup

Friday, 4 p.m. ET

So. RHP Justin Cherry vs. Jr. LHP Sean Fisher

Image result for rhode island logoJustin Cherry vs.   imageFisher090518_06

In 2019, Cherry only spent half of his time pitching, as a two-way player he took reps in the infield as well. But what’s important is that Cherry made nine starts last season, pitching to the tune of a 2.93 ERA over 55 1/3 innings.

Fisher kicked off the 2020 season in quality fashion, pitching 5 1/3 innings with zero earned runs to go along with five strikeouts. After struggling out of the bullpen in 2019, Fisher will look to continue his success as a starter.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup

Saturday, 2 p.m. ET

 Sr. RHP Nick Robinson vs. Fr. RHP Nick Dean

Image result for rhode island logoNick Robinson vs.   imageNicholas Dean

Robinson spent the earlier half of his college career pitching out of the pen, but he was given the opportunity to start ten games in 2019 where he went 2-7 with a 6.13 ERA. In his first start this season, he was lit up by Lamar for three runs, six hits, and a walk over just 3 1/3 innings. Robinson is also the younger brother of former Maryland left-hander Alex Robinson.

Dean’s first career start went just as well as a freshman could imagine, as he struck out six batters while limiting Iona to only two runs over 4 2/3 innings. With a foundation to build on, Dean will seek to repeat that performance versus the Rams.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

Sr. RHP Vitaly Jangols vs. R-Fr. RHP Sean Burke

Image result for rhode island logoVitaly Jangols vs.   imageBurke_2020

After posting a stellar 2.23 ERA over 60 2/3 innings in his freshman year, Jangols has seen that number increase each year since, as his 2019 ERA reached 6.61. While he spent his first three years at Rhode Island pitching half of his appearances out of the bullpen, Jangols received the ball versus Lamar and pitched 4 2/3 innings, giving up just one earned run.

Vaughn perfectly described Burke’s start against Charleston as “electric,” after the redshirt freshman showed his team what they missed last year while he recovered from an injury. Burke tallied eight strikeouts over just five innings, setting a great first impression heading into the Terps’ home opener and the remainder of the season.

Preseason Countdown No. 1: Opening Weekend Preview

25

Previewing the Terrapins

The 2020 season is finally here and the Terrapins are ready to get things underway this weekend in South Carolina.

After finishing last year with an even record of 29-29, Maryland is looking to get back to its winning ways and reach the NCAA Regionals for the first time since 2018. The team closed out the regular season with four consecutive wins, going on to play three games in the conference tournament, winning one against Illinois.

The new-look Terrapins have 13 freshmen entering the clubhouse, along with two transfers. Maryland’s Class of ’23 ranks as the highest in team history, setting up shop at No. 7 according to D1Baseball.com.

Alongside the young players are five returning starters from last season to round out the Terrapins’ defense. The outfield will again consist of Chris Alleyne in center and newly No. 3 Randy Bednar in right. Sophomore Ben Cowles is making the move to shortstop to replace A.J. Lee, and will be joined by first baseman Maxwell Costes and catcher Justin Vought, one of the team’s 2020 captains.

“We have a very young team this year,” Costes said. “Having a presence like Randy [Bednar] or [Justin] Vought or [Sean] Fisher really brings something kind of invaluable.”

Coach Vaughn talked about rounding out the team’s defense, and how some of the new guys can jump in and contribute right away. The depth on the team is unlike what Vaughn had last season, with a lineup that can “stretch to 12 or 13 deep.” The weekend’s lineups will likely be based on pitching matchups and will include multiple pinch-hitters.

“It’s gonna come down to how we play, that’s the only thing we can control,” Vaughn said. “Everyone’s gonna be super amped up…it’s all about getting some of those nerves kicked off and go play a good brand of baseball.”

On the mound for Maryland will also feature some new faces. After the loss of ace Hunter Parsons, the team’s Friday starter in his senior campaign, Vaughn named 2019 bullpen arm Sean Fisher to toss the Terrapins’ first game of the year.

“We have a lot of youth on the pitching staff, a lot of inexperience,” Vaughn said. “We wanted to put the ball in the hands of our toughest dude.”

“I was pretty excited to [get the start],” Fisher said. “I feel like I put in a lot to earn that, but I’m just really looking forward to going out there and competing with my guys.”

The rest of the weekend will involve a bullpen-heavy performance as Vaughn looks to work guys in to start the season with a deep roster. Freshman Nick Dean will get the start on Saturday, followed by redshirt freshman Sean Burke on Sunday.

The Weekend Slate

Though the Terps are familiar with facing three separate teams during opening weekend, it’s often in the form of a tournament. This season, though not explicitly a tournament, Maryland starts with a Friday game against the Charleston Southern Buccaneers, before facing Iona on Saturday and the College of Charleston on Sunday.


Friday – Charleston Southern Buccaneers

Last season

With a record of 23-36 in 2019, the Buccaneers continued to slide in the wrong direction. The team last finished with a record above .500 in 2014, and have compiled a 7-24 record against Power Five conference schools in that span.

This season

Charleston Southern has just two of its top five hitters returning for the 2020 season, including the loss of sophomore outfielder Max Ryerson who posted .322 average with 43 RBI in his freshman campaign. Ryerson transferred in the off-season. The team ranked seventh in the Big South Preseason Poll to start the season.

Hitters to watch

Aside from Ryerson, the Buccaneers also have their power-bat back in the lineup for this season. Senior first baseman Ryan Stoudemire hit 14 long balls last season for a team high. He also led the Buccaneers in doubles, slugging and was second in average behind Ryerson.

Pitchers to watch

One of Charleston Southern’s most impressive arms is sophomore R.J. Petit. The righty ended his stellar freshman season with All-American honors from Collegiate Baseball and was named First Team All-Big South. Petit was named as the Preseason Big South Pitcher of the Year prior to the 2020 season.

The most experienced arm out of the bullpen for the Buccaneers is senior Seth Owens. In 31 appearances, he posted a 4.06 ERA and 41 strikeouts.

Probably Starting Pitching Matchup

Friday, 6 p.m. ET

Sr. LHP Jaret Bennett vs. Jr. LHP Sean Fisher

image.pngimage  vs. imageFisher090518_06

One of two weekend starters returning for the Buccaneers, Bennett finished last season with the second-most innings pitched on the team (71 1/3), including a complete game shutout over USC Upstate. With a 5.30 ERA over 14 starts, including 44 strikeouts last year, the southpaw is looking to continue his success in his senior campaign.

For the Terps, Fisher maintained a bullpen role last season, finishing the year with a 6.90 ERA in 25 relief appearances over 30 innings. Over the summer on Cape Cod, Fisher took on more of a starters role, a spot Vaughn decided to try the southpaw in to start Maryland’s 2020 campaign.


Saturday – Iona Gaels

Last season

The team finished with 14 wins in 2019, a low since 2016. The Gaels haven’t earned a winning record in the 21st century, with four of their last 19 seasons ending with single-digit win totals.

This season

The Gaels are projected to finish 10th in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference this season after last year’s disappointing end. The team has an abundance of returning arms that can hopefully help in the long-run of the season.

Hitters to watch

Junior catcher Sam Punzi was the team’s best hitter from a season ago, leading the Gaels in average, home runs and RBI, and will be returning for his third season with the team.  Sophomore infielder Jake Field led the Gaels in at-bats in his first year, and will look to improve on his .214 average from a season ago.

Pitchers to watch 

Most of the big arms are returning for the Gaels this season, including senior righty Stephen Hansen, who tossed with a 3.23 ERA last year. Other heavy throwers coming back are senior southpaw Chris Dodrill and sophomore right-hander Hunter Sibley. Out of the bullpen is righty Antonio Velardi, who had a sub-three ERA with six saves in 2019.

Probably Starting Pitching Matchup

Saturday, 11:30 a.m. ET

Sr. LHP Mario Ferraioli vs. Fr. RHP Nick Dean

imageimage.png  vs. image Dean_2020

Ferraioli missed his junior season with the Gaels due to injury; as a sophomore in 2018, however, the southpaw made five starts over 15 total appearances, earning MAAC Pitcher of the Week once and finishing with a team-best 1.29 ERAA over 42 innings.

One of the Terps’ young arms, Dean missed his senior season of high school recovering from injury, but led the team to a district championship his junior season with 60 strikeouts and a 1.16 ERA over 48 1/3 innings.


Sunday – Charleston Cougars

Last season

The Cougars went 4-1 against ranked opponents in 2019 and finished 15 games over .500. Charleston’s year earned the team a spot in the Colonial Athletic Association Conference tournament, where the Cougars dropped both games.

This season

After losing a core chunk of their roster last spring, the Cougars will have trouble finding their third consecutive 35+ win season. Baseball America still projects them to finish in third place in the CAA standings.

Hitters to watch

Three players hit for a plus-.300 average last year, none of which are returning for the start of the 2020 season. Senior outfielder Chris Graham finished his junior campaign with a .291 average and 15 RBI in 47 games played, the most for returning players on Charleston’s roster.

Pitchers to watch 

Charleston lost its go-to closer, Nathan Ocker, and strong righty Griffin McLarty after last season, who both threw a good amount of innings for the Cougars last season. Key returners include senior Tradd James, who had a 2.77 ERA in 2019, and junior lefty Zach Williams.

Probably Starting Pitching Matchup

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

Fr. RHP C.J. Czerwinski vs. R-Fr. RHP Sean Burke

image.pngimage   vs.   imageBurke_2020

Like the Terps, the Cougars have injected some youth into their starting rotation heading into the first weekend of the season. Czerwinski comes to Charleston out of Pennsylvania, where he was named his county’s Player and Pitcher of the Year as a senior, after he went 3-3 with 77 strikeouts and a 0.79 ERA in 53 innings.

Burke, who was recovering from injury during the Terps’ 2019 season, has what Vaughn calls “electric stuff” on the mound. As a senior in high school the righty went 5-0 with a 0.44 ERA. The hope is that Burke will bring the same power to the mound for Maryland as he did two years ago.