Series Preview: Maine Black Bears


Maryland will hold its home opener before March rolls around for the third time in the last four years, setting up another year of unpredictable early-season baseball oftentimes affected by the weather.

In 2016, Maryland took two of three from Rhode Island in a highly competitive first home weekend at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium. Last season, Army came into College Park and shocked the Terps with a series win.

The Terps are coming off a 1-2 weekend in the Brittain Resorts Invitational, where they had a real opportunity to begin the season with a winning record. While head coach Rob Vaughn said he would’ve liked to see a second win, he learned a lot about his team and what it needs to work on moving forward.

Maryland has already used different 16 pitchers through the first three games, more than the 14 that took the mound last year. That depth allowed the coaching staff to have short leases on struggling arms, and to see which pitchers to rely on moving forward.

Nine different relievers didn’t concede an earned run in the opening weekend. Freshmen Sean Heine, Will Glock and Daniel O’Connor shined in their respective one-plus inning outings. Junior transfer Nick Turnbull was arguably the best arm out of the bullpen.

Sophomore Randy Bednar was the story of the weekend on offense. He was one of two Terps to record a hit in all three games. His two-run hit against Coastal Carolina accounted for the team’s only scoring production. He had two RBI singles against VCU, including the game-winner.

Third baseman Taylor Wright and junior transfer Caleb Walls also stood out, both matching Bednar’s four-hit weekend. Walls hit the first home run of the season last Friday against Campbell. Designated hitter Maxwell Costes was the only freshman with a multi-hit weekend.

The series is now a doubleheader on Friday starting at 1 p.m. because of inclement weather on Saturday, while the series finale is still scheduled for Sunday.

Maine Black Bears (0-4, 0-0 America East)

Last season

The Black Bears went 12-12 in conference before winning a pair of games in their conference tournament. But Maine lost twice to Stony Brook to miss out on an NCAA tournament berth. In the offseason, the team’s best two players in shortstop Jeremy Pena and catcher Christopher Bec were selected in the first five rounds of the MLB Draft.

This season

Maine is projected to finish fourth in its conference and struggled against a national powerhouse in No. 13 Florida State during the opening weekend. The Black Bears lost by at least eight runs in three of the four contests, while losing 6-5 in seven innings on a walk-off in the fourth game.

Hitters to watch

Senior infielder Danny Casals went just 2-for-12 to start the year, but he’s one of the best returning players to the Black Bears. He hit .304 with a team-leading 14 home runs and 49 RBIs. He played for the Harwich Mariners in the Cape Cod Baseball League last summer, hitting .217 with three homers.

Junior infielder Hernen Sardinas also hit over .300 for Maine last season, earning conference second team honors. He was the only player to appear in all 54 games. He picked up a team-leading three hits last weekend against Florida State.

Relievers to watch

Junior southpaw Trevor DeLaite has already shown vast improvement from his 8.61 ERA last season. In 3 2/3 innings last weekend, he only allowed one hit while striking out seven Seminoles in two appearances. He was one of two Black Bears with multiple outings during the opening weekend.

Freshman Nicholas Sinacola had the best weekend on the mound for Maine. He shined in a five-inning bullpen appearance, not allowing a hit while striking out five. The only two base runners he allowed were via two walks he mixed into his performance. None of the team’s four starters even lasted more than 3 1/3 innings.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Friday, 1:00 p.m. ET

Sr. RHP Hunter Parsons (0-0, 3.60 ERA) vs. Jr. RHP Cody Laweryson (0-1, 12.00 ERA)

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Parsons wasn’t as dominant last weekend as he had been most of last season. He gave up two home runs, half as many as he allowed in 2018. But overall, Parsons did enough to win the game. He only allowed two earned over five innings. He did walk two three batters and hit two. Still, it was a much better outing than his first one as a junior — a one-inning, eight-run appearance.

Laweryson only started in four games last season, but now he’s the Friday arm for the Black Bears. The right-hander allowed four earned runs in only three innings. Three of the five hits he allowed were extra-base hits. The junior did work a 3.42 ERA in 52 2/3 innings a season ago.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Friday, 4:00 p.m. ET

Jr. RHP Zach Thompson (0-1, 12.27) vs. So. RHP Peter Kemble (0-0, 8.10 ERA)

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Thompson got roughed up in his Maryland debut, allowing five runs on nine hits in 3 2/3 innings of work. That doesn’t tell the whole story, though. The junior was making his first Division I appearance in a true road game against the No. 21-ranked team in the country on opening weekend. He got hurt when he fell behind in the count against Coastal Carolina’s potent offense, something that he’ll look to improve in start No. 2.

Kemble lasted the longest of Maine’s four starters last weekend against Florida State. It was only 3 1/3 innings, though. He allowed three runs on four hits and walked five hitters. The righty had an 8.78 ERA in only 13.1 innings as a freshman. Only two of his nine appearances were starts.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET


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Preseason Countdown #1: Brittain Resorts Invitational Preview

The wait for Maryland baseball is nearing an end, but there are still many questions without answers.

While head coach Rob Vaughn said he and the coaching staff have a good idea of their primary starters, the batting order and certain position battles won’t be officially decided until the team’s bus ride on Thursday to the Brittain Resorts Invitational in Conway, South Carolina.

Offseason turnover leaves many aspects of the Terps a mystery heading into the season-opener Friday morning against Campbell. Among Maryland’s 35-player roster is 17 first-year Terps, a DIII transfer that had to sit out last year, a redshirt who never touched the field last year and a pitcher coming off Tommy John Surgery.

That’s 57 percent of the team that hasn’t played a single pitch in the Maryland baseball uniform. That stat will decline shortly into the 2019 campaign, with four positions still up for grabs and the bullpen filled with young and eager arms.

As of Wednesday’s media availability with Vaughn, only half of the positions had a locked starter — sophomore Justin Vought at catcher, senior Taylor Wright at third, senior AJ Lee at short, sophomore Randy Bednar at one of the three outfield spots and senior right-hander Hunter Parsons on the mound.

The starting rotation behind Parsons was finally revealed for the first three games. Per Vaughn, right-hander Zach Thompson will start Saturday against Coastal Carolina and southpaw Tyler Blohm will start on Sunday against VCU. Initially, it seemed Blohm might not be ready for opening weekend due to an undisclosed injury sustained late last season.

The only other sure thing is that senior right-hander John Murphy is the team’s closer. But he’ll watch the first two games this weekend from the hotel, serving the remainder of a three-game suspension required from an ejection in the final weekend of last season.

Last year, a transitioned pitcher in then-senior Kevin Biondic was the first arm out of the bullpen. So anything can happen when Maryland baseball finally kicks off the 2019 campaign.

Friday — Campbell Fighting Camels 

Last season

Campbell went 35-26 last season, winning the Big South regular season and tournament titles for the first time in program history. The Camels thus earned an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2014 but were eliminated swiftly with losses to regional host Georgia, and Duke.

This season

The Camels were chosen by the conference to repeat as Big South champions, as they return five starters and 11 pitchers from last year’s successful team. Redshirt junior outfielder Matthew Barefoot was named the conference’s preseason player of the year, becoming the second player in program history to earn the honor.

Hitters to watch

Barefoot is a standout star getting national attention. He hit a conference-high .364 last season, smashing eight homers while swiping 33 bases. The outfielder was also named the Cape Cod Baseball League MVP this summer after hitting .379 during the regular season.

Barefoot was the only Camel to hit above .300, and the next two highest batting averages are now graduated. So sophomore catcher Ty Babin is the next-highest returning average at only .255. He started in 36 games and led the team with three triples.

Relievers to watch

Senior right-hander Tyson Messer came out of the bullpen 27 times last season for the Camels. While he had a lofty 4.72 ERA, he held hitters to a .191 average. He did struggle with command. His 28 walks were as many as his strikeout total in only 26.2 innings of work.

With the Camels’ top two relievers gone from last year, senior lefty Phil Simpson might more responsibility in filling that workload. He threw 32.2 innings last season, the most of any returning bullpen arm.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Friday, 11 a.m. ET

Sr. RHP Michael Horrell vs. Sr. RHP Hunter Parsons

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Horrell started in all 14 games he appeared in as a sophomore. He went 6-4 with a 3.75 ERA, but did not pitch in the NCAA tournament. He conceded five earned runs in less than four innings in his last outing of the season in the Big South tournament.

Parsons went 5-2 with a 3.44 ERA last season, beginning the season on Sunday’s and eventually working his way into the Friday role. He’s coming off a standout season that included two complete games. After surpassing all expectations last year, he’s now the leader of Maryland’s rotation.

Saturday — No. 21 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers 

Last season

Invitational host Coastal Carolina went 43-19 en route to a Sun Belt tournament title last season. The Chanticleers hosted an NCAA Regional, but after winning their first game, were bounced by Washington and UConn. Coastal lost to Maryland, 7-6, last year on the same day of a similar weekend it hosted.

This season

In no surprise, Coastal received the most first-place votes to take home another Sun Belt crown this year. The Chanticleers return three of their top five hitters, two of which hit above .300. Coastal also returns the lowest four ERAs on its team from 2018, and sits just outside the top 20 in the national polls.

Hitters to watch

Sophomore outfielder Parker Chavers had an unbelievable rookie campaign, hitting .323 with seven homers and 42 RBIs. He started in 60 games as a freshman, and was named an All-American by multiple national media outlets. He enters 2019 as on the Sun Belt’s preseason All-conference team.

Senior Zach Biermann brings more than just veteran leadership. He hit for average and power last season, hitting .302 with 13 home runs that somehow ranked third on his own team. He was named last season’s Sun Belt tournament most outstanding player.

Relievers to watch

Senior right-hander Matt Eardensohn was one of the three Chanticleers on the Sun Belt preseason team and the only reliever on the entire list. He sported a 2.18 ERA in 57.2 innings pitcher. He went 7-0 in 20 appearances, holding hitters to a .188 batting average.

Redshirt junior southpaw Jay Causey is another top returning relievers after pitching 43.1 innings a season ago. His five saves only trailed Eardensohn’s six, making the duo stiff task to handle if trailing at the end of games. He had a 2.28 ERA in 24 outings in 2018.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Saturday, 3 p.m. ET

Jr. LHP Anthony Veneziano vs. Jr. RHP Zach Thompson

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Veneziano will have the clear experience advantage in this matchup, a starter for two seasons already at Coastal. He went 7-1 with a 3.81 ERA last year. In the NCAA tournament, he pitched seven scoreless frames with only allowing three hits in Coastal’s lone win of the Regional.

Zach Thompson won’t wait long to make his Maryland debut. After having to sit out last season after transferring from a DIII program, the right-hander instantly finds himself in a huge weekend role. Head coach Rob Vaughn has continuously raved about Thompson since he stepped on campus before last season.

Sunday — VCU Rams 

Last season

VCU went 34-23 in 2018, but its offense didn’t show up when it mattered most in the Atlantic 10 tournament. The Rams scored three runs in their postseason losses and missed out on the NCAA tournament. VCU and Maryland split a home-and-home series last year, with the road team winning both games.

This season

The Rams were picked second in the A10 preseason poll, receiving two first-place votes. VCU will return an All-Conference outfielder and a preseason All-American closer. The Rams and Terps will face off twice more after this weekend, scheduled to complete a home-and-home for the second straight year.

Hitters to watch

Sophomore Hogan Brown had an unbelievable freshman campaign with the Rams, hitting .344 with a .436 on-base percentage. He ranked second on the team in both runs (34) and doubles (11). He played against Maryland once last season and went 3-for-5 with two runs, three RBIs and a walk.

Junior Paul Witt started in all 57 games for the Rams a season ago. He led VCU with 61 hits and 43 RBIs, while making pitchers struggle to strike him out. He only went down on strikes 20 times, and he walked 16 times.

Relievers to watch

VCU played in a lot of close games last season, helping senior righty Mac McCarty compile the third most saves in the country with 16. He went 1-1 with a 3.26 ERA in over 38 innings. McCarty did not pitch against Maryland in either of the two meetings last season.

Senior right-hander Benjamin Dum was the most dominant arm out of the Rams bullpen in 2018. In 17 appearances, Dum boasted a 1.64 ERA and held hitters to an abysmal .195 average. He was the most featured relievers for VCU a season ago, but he also got one start — a one-inning spot start against Maryland.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Sunday, 11 a.m. ET

RSo. RHP Justin Sorokowski vs. Jr. LHP Tyler Blohm

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Sorokowski is set to make his first-career start for VCU after transferring from Tallahassee Community College, where he put up a 2.35 ERA for the Eagles in 2018. He started 13 games and had 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings.

Two weeks ago, it didn’t appear Blohm would be ready in time for the 2019 season. He’s back, though, and instead of assuming last year’s Saturday role, he’ll begin the year back in the Sunday role he held as a freshman. The southpaw went 5-2 with a 4.10 ERA in 2018.

Series Preview: Indiana Hoosiers

Maryland (24-27, 9-11 Big Ten) swept Rutgers last weekend in College Park to move into eighth place in the conference, the last spot that qualifies for the tournament. The Terps now control their own destiny, knowing they’ll clinch a postseason opportunity if it wins all three games on the road against Indiana.

Anything short of a second straight sweep will require help to get in. MBN’s Justin Gallanty and Connor Newcomb broke down every scenario going into the final week of the regular season in the latest podcast. But simply put, Maryland likely needs to mirror whatever Michigan State does against Ohio State. Because Maryland took two of three against the Spartans, it owns a tiebreakers right now despite having the same exact conference record.

Nebraska is the only other team that has a realistic chance of catching the Terps. If Maryland only wins one game and Nebraska sweeps Illinois, then the Cornhuskers jump the Terps by half of a game. Rutgers, technically, isn’t out, but the Terps pretty much ended the Scarlet Knights’ season last weekend.

Scenarios can be described over and over but at the end of the day, Maryland doesn’t need to worry about them as long as it continues to win in Bloomington. The series will begin on Thursday at 7:05 p.m. and end Saturday, instead of the typical Friday-Sunday.

Maryland is riding a four-game winning streak, its longest in over a month. The offense took full advantage of a weak Rutgers pitching staff, outscoring the Scarlet Knights 30-10 in the three games. Nick Dunn continues to lead the Terps with a .335 average, but it was Maryland’s senior bats that stood out last weekend. Will Watson hit two home runs in one inning, Kevin Biondic’s batting average inches closer to .300, Zach Jancarski made two more highlight-reel catches and Justin Morris provided a much-needed boost at first base and at the bottom of the order.

While the Terps might be playing their best baseball at the right time, the Hoosiers have lost five of their last eight games. Indiana was the only Big Ten team ranked to begin the season, tabbed as the favorite to win the conference. However, the Hoosiers head into the final weekend ranked sixth in the Big Ten, and no longer included in the national top-25 polls.

Indiana (34-15, 11-9) has been average on the road with a 10-9 record, but 18-5 in Bloomington. The Hoosiers are 6-0 against Maryland during the regular season since the Terps joined the Big Ten, but 0-3 in the postseason. Indiana swept Maryland in Bloomington last season.

Indiana hits .287 as a team — third in the conference — with four starters batting above .300 and seven players with at least six home runs. Sophomore infielder Matt Gorski leads the team with 68 hits, 13 doubles and 19 stolen bases. Senior outfielder Logan Sowers — a 2017 Big Ten All Second Team selection — is hitting over .300 with seven home runs in the middle of Indiana’s lineup.

Juniors Matt Lloyd and Luke Miller are both hitting below .300, but each lead the team with eight home runs this season. Indiana’s 54 team home runs lead the Big Ten, but the Hoosiers also strike out the second-most times. Only Maryland has more strikeouts as a team.

Indiana’s 2.88 team ERA is the lowest in the conference. All of its most-used starters have an ERA below 4.00 and every player who has started in at least one game has an ERA below 5.00. Sophomore right-handed reliever Cal Krueger has a 3.13 ERA in a team-leading 37.1 innings out of the bullpen, while senior lefty B.J. Sabol has a 1.05 ERA and a .198 batting average against in 25 innings this season.

Starting Pitching Matchup 

Thursday, 7:05 p.m. EST

Jr. RHP Hunter Parsons (5-2, 3.47 ERA) vs. Jr. RHP Jonathan Stiever (5-4, 2.98 ERA)

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Parsons made his first-career Friday night start last weekend and will take the ball for Game 1 against the Hoosiers. The right-hander allowed just one earned run over seven innings, walking three and striking out seven in the win against Rutgers. The late-season injuries have shifted the weekend rotation, and Parsons rose to the occasion last weekend and he’ll need a similar appearance Thursday against the Hoosiers. He’s allowed just three homers all season — the fewest among Maryland’s starters — which will come into play against a power-heavy Indiana team.

Stiever has by far pitched the most innings for the Hoosiers this season, tossing 84.2 innings in 13 starts this season. No other Hoosier has pitched more than 61 innings this year. The right-hander holds hitters to a .244 average, striking out more than one batter per inning and walking only 25. In his last start against Nebraska, he allowed five runs (three earned) in six innings. He’s conceded at least three runs in each of his last three starts, receiving a loss in all of them.

Starting Pitching Matchup 

Friday, 6:05 p.m. EST

Sr. RHP Taylor Bloom (3-7, 4.92) vs. Jr. RHP Pauly Milto (6-2, 2.04 ERA)

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Bloom pitched last Saturday as he continues to work back from his concussion last month. He matched the performance of Parsons, allowing just one earned run over seven innings. He didn’t walk anyone, hit just one batter and struck out six. Bloom hasn’t had the season many expected him to have, but as someone who has pitched in big games since his freshman year, Friday’s could certainly be up there as one of the biggest and definitely one of, if not the last opportunity for the senior.

Milto has the best ERA of any Indiana starting, also holding opposing hitter’s to the lowest batting average. The junior has also only allowed one home run the entire season. His best performance came early in the season against Boston College, throwing a complete-game shutout. In his last start against Nebraska, he earned the win by allowing two runs over 6.2 innings. He walked one and struck out five.

Starting Pitching Matchup 

Sunday, 2:05 p.m. EST

Fr. RHP Mark DiLuia (3-4, 5.17 ERA) vs. Jr. LHP Tim Herrin (4-0, 3.00 ERA)

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After starting on several straight Fridays, DiLuia’s permanent role for the rest of the season appears to be on Sundays. With Tyler Blohm’s status looking improbable, the freshman will remain in the weekend starting rotation. He started for the first Sunday last weekend against Rutgers, tossing six solid innings. He allowed two runs on six hits, walked one and struck out four. His start may very well end up deciding whether or not the Terps will make the Big Ten Tournament.

Herrin has made a lot his early-season appearances out of the bullpen, but has transitioned into a weekend starter. He’s now made eight stands and, on the season, has an 3.00 ERA in 51.0 innings. He’s not an overpowering thrower, striking out just 29 batters this year. He earned a win in his last start against Nebraska, allowing one run on five hits while striking out three. He has yet to allow more than three runs in an appearance the entire season.




Series Preview: Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Maryland baseball showed in Wednesday’s extra-inning victory over Towson that it will be fighting until the very end of the season. The Terps played from behind the entire contest, tying the game in both the eighth and ninth innings before Nick Dunn delivered the game-winning hit in the bottom of the 10th — the first walk-off in his Maryland career.

Now, the Terps will host Rutgers this weekend in another pivotal conference series with postseason implications.

After Wednesday’s game, head coach Rob Vaughn said everyone in his dugout still believes they’re not finished just yet. With six games left in Big Ten play, the Terps are still mathematically in contention despite three teams separating them and the No. 8 seed in the tournament. The current Big Ten standings:

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Losing two of three on the road last weekend against Nebraska hurt, as it put the Cornhuskers one spot ahead of Maryland. But looking ahead to Rutgers, the Terps have a great opportunity to jump up a couple positions with a possible sweep. A positive week can keep Maryland’s hopes alive heading into the final three games of the season next week on the road against Indiana.

The Terps have won four of six games against Rutgers since joining the Big Ten, including a three-game sweep on the road last season. It was a very successful series for Maryland, which held the Scarlet Knights to just one run in each of the three games. Two seasons ago, Rutgers took two of three against the Terps in College Park.

Rutgers is trending downward as the Big Ten season progresses, and has an even more difficult road to the tournament than Maryland. The Scarlet Knights are 1-5 in conference games over the last two weeks, losing two of three to Michigan and being swept against Purdue. Like the Terps, Rutgers will be giving its all with three games on the road this weekend before hosting first-place Minnesota to end the regular season.

The Scarlet Knights are a good offensive team that is often held back by its pitching. They hit .276 as a team with three different players hitting above .301, but their two primary weekend starters haven’t been too successful, and neither have the carousel of Sunday starters they’ve employed.

Senior infielder Kyle Walker leads the team with a .310 average and a .438 on base percentage. He’s walked 23 times with just 16 strikeouts. He was one of Rutgers’ hottest hitters in the beginning of the season, hitting over .400 until April. He’s used primarily as a designated hitter, but only started once last weekend.

Junior third basemen Carmen Sclafani spent the last two games in the four-hole for Rutgers, second on the team with a .305 batting average. He’s third on the team with three home runs and has four multi-hit performances in his last 10 games. Junior Nick Matera is on the 2018 Johnny Bench Award Watch List, awarded to the best catcher in college baseball. He started in 42 of 44 games this season, leading the team with five home runs.

Rutgers’ weekend starting pitching has been suspect for much of the season, with none of their current three players with an ERA below 4.82. Senior right-hander John O’Reilly and freshman left-hander Harry Rutkowski have started every weekend for the Scarlet Knights, while right-hander Karl Blum has turned into the most recent Sunday starter as a graduate student.

The bullpen for Rutgers isn’t the strongest, but they’ve had seven different players make at least 10 appearances out of the pen. Ryan Wares and Serafino Brito have each had over 20 outings in relief duty.

Starting Pitching Matchup 

Friday, 6:30 p.m. EST

Sr. RHP John O’Reilly (5-2, 5.28) vs. TBD

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Rutgers plays well with their Friday night guy on the mound, winning in nine of his 12 starts. In the middle of the season, the Scarlet Knights won six consecutive games the right-hander started in. He has a winning record this season, but it’s been more because of run support than his perforance. O’Reilly’s 5.28 ERA isn’t great, and he has allowed 87 hits and 27 walks in 73.1 innings this season. O’Reilly is a workhorse that’ll preserve the bullpen for Saturday and Sunday. He averages six innings per start and has one complete game this year. In his last start, he allowed seven earned runs in 6.1 innings against Michigan.

Maryland’s starter is TBD. Freshman right-hander Mark DiLuia has started the last three Friday nights, though.

Starting Pitching Matchup 

Saturday, 2:00 p.m. EST

Fr. LHP Harry Rutkowski (4-5, 4.82) vs. TBD

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In just his freshman season, Rutkowski has filled the Saturday starting role for Rutgers this season. A 28th round draft pick by the Cincinnati Reds out of high school, the left-hander has had ups and downs this year. He’s conceded at least three earned runs in seven of his 12 starts and each of the last three. He had a stretch of five straight starts of at least six innings, including a season-high 8.1 innings of one-run ball against La Salle. In his last start, Rutkowski gave up five earned runs on six hits in 4.2 innings against Michigan.

Maryland’s starter is TBD. Junior right-hander Hunter Parsons, though, has started the last three Saturdays.

Starting Pitching Matchup 

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. EST


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Both starters for Sunday are to bet determined. For the Terps, senior right-hander Taylor Bloom and sophomore left-hander Tyler Blohm have alternated Sunday starts over the last two weekends.


Game Preview: Towson Tigers

Maryland baseball’s chances at making the Big Ten Tournament took a big hit after losing two of three on the road against Nebraska this past weekend. Mathematically, though, there’s still a chance to sneak into the last spot with little room for error against Rutgers and Indiana.

Before then, the Terps will host Towson on Wednesday for their last midweek game of the season. Maryland has won its last seven games against the Tigers dating back to 2012, including a thrilling 6-5 victory last season at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen.

Maryland used seven different pitchers, with no one player throwing more than two innings. Ryan Hill tossed the first two scoreless frames, but then the Terps employed six more arms en route to the victory. Of those relievers, though, on John Murphy is still on the roster.

The Terps and Tigers were tied going into the bottom of the eighth, but then AJ Lee launched a solo homer to give Maryland the lead. Will Watson provided an essential insurance run with an RBI single later that inning. Towson cut its deficit to one in the top of the ninth and then loaded the bases, but former right-handed pitcher Ryan Selmer struck out a batter to end the game.

Towson (13-35, 6-12 CAA) has not been great this year, and if the Terps stay focused, it could be an opportunity to get the bats hot and keep the arms fresh before Rutgers comes to College Park this weekend. The Tigers are ranked 266th out of 297 teams in the RPI.

Towson snapped a nine-game losing streak Sunday against the College of Charleston, fending off a two-run ninth inning to win 5-3. During their last 10 games, the Tigers have been outscored 114-35. Towson is 4-8 in midweek games this season.

The Tigers have struggled to match the offense of their opponents. They score 4.7 runs per game with a .233 team batting average, while their opponents average 7.9 runs per game with a .301 average. Towson has conceded double-digit runs 16 times, and three of those occurrences have yielded over 20 runs.

Despite all the troubles, two players have been consistently good for the Towson offense: junior infielder Richie Palacios and senior infielder Billy Lennox. Nobody on the team is hitting above .259 except Palacios and Lennox, who are hitting .322 and .292, respectively.

Palacios became the first Tiger to win the CAA Rookie of the Year back in 2015 and hasn’t looked back. He hit .329 in his freshman season, .338 last year and .322 through 48 games as a junior. He has 16-multi hit games this season, leading the Tigers in runs (50), hits (57), doubles (16), home runs (8), RBIs (30), among other categories. He has 44 walks to only 15 strikeouts and is 22-for-23 on stolen bases.

Lennox played two seasons at Frederick Community College before transferring to Towson, where he hit .256 last season. He’s increased that average to .292 this season, with nine doubles and a triple. He’s one of three players on the team with at least 40 starts this season.

Towson’s pitching is a major weakness, as it has a 7.05 ERA. As a team, the Tigers have given up 493 hits and 288 walks in 407 innings pitched this season. Not one pitcher has found any success; of players with at least 10 innings this season, the lowest ERA is a 4.12.

Starting Pitching Matchup 

Wednesday, 4:00 p.m. EST

Jr. RHP Dean Stramara (2-1, 4.12) vs. RFr. LHP Billy Phillips (1-1, 8.47)

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 Stramara has been the best regular pitching for the Tigers, posting a 4.12 ERA in 43.2 innings this season. This will be only his third start of the season, though, and he isn’t accostumed to pitching deep into games. His season-high for innings is five, and that was back on March 14. Since then, he hasn’t pitched more than 3.2 innings and an outing, so this will likely be a bullpen-heavy game for Towson. Stramara does get into trouble, as opponents are hitting .330 against him. He conceded five runs in 3.1 innings on Saturday.

Phillips will be making his third consecutive midweek start of the season against the Tigers. He had a very successful first-career start two weeks ago, but struggled against West Virginia in his last outing. Phillips allowed eight runs in 1.1 innings, but only five were earned. In the 13 batters he faced, he allowed five hits and walked two to get knocked out early. Phillips is still working his way back in his first season pitching for the Terps, and Towson and its .233 average poses a good opportunity for him to record another successful start.



Series Preview: Nebraska Cornhuskers

The Maryland Terrapins will look to rebound from a tough 9-5 midweek loss to West Virginia — and continue their Big Ten momentum — when they travel to Lincoln, Nebraska to battle the Cornhuskers.

It’s a crucial series, as both teams are toward the bottom of the Big Ten standings. Maryland enters with a 5-9 conference record and Nebraska enters with a 4-9 conference record, 10th and 11th place respectively. The top eight teams in the conference earn a berth in the Big Ten tournament.

While the Cornhuskers have gone nearly two weeks without Big Ten play (they hosted Nevada in a three-game set late last week), Maryland had arguably it’s most impressive conference weekend just days ago. After losing 4-2 on Friday despite starting freshman Mark DiLuia on the mound, Maryland bounced back with a pair of convincing wins — 8-2 on Saturday and 5-3 on Sunday.

Maryland got major contributions from various offensive weapons, and will need that to continue this upcoming weekend. Nick Dunn hit a pair of homers in the Spartan series, increasing his total to a team-high 10, and a slumping Marty Costes hit a crucial go-ahead grand slam on Sunday.

It’s unsurprising that the Terps utilized the long ball to win the series, as the Terps enter the weekend tied for the third-most homers in the conference.

Although Maryland has a powerful lineup, from Nick Dunn to Randy Bednar, Nebraska boasts arguably the best power hitter in the league: Scott Schreiber. The 6-foot-3 senior outfielder is tied for first in the conference with 16 home runs. He has performed even better in Nebraska’s 13 conference games, during which he ranked first in home runs, hits, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, and batting average.

With his home run in the series finale against Nevada, Schreiber moved into a tie for fifth on Nebraska’s all-time home run list.

Aside from Schreiber, the Cornhuskers’ next-biggest threat is Jesse Wilkening, the junior catcher who leads the club with 46 RBI.

Both teams will have opportunities to use the long ball weekend, as the two teams enter the weekend tied for last in the conference in earned runs (219) and home runs allowed (33).

The last time the Cornhuskers faced a Big Ten foe was the weekend of April 20, when they lost two-of-three games to Rutgers. The Saturday game in that three-game set was a dominant offensive performance for Nebraska, which racked up 12 runs and 19 hits in one of its best performances of the year. Aside from that, the offense slumped against a decent Rutgers team, scoring six runs in the other two games combined.

Starting Pitching Matchup 

Friday, 7:35 p.m. EST

Jr. RHP Matt Waldron (5-2, 3.88 ERA) vs. Fr. RHP Mark DiLuia (1-4, 5.68 ERA)

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Waldron got off to a rough start in his last appearance, a Friday start against Nevada last week, but responded to adversity well. After back-to-back homers in the second, Waldron settled down, allowed just one more run, and struck out seven batters in six innings. He has also thrown some of his best games in Big Ten play, as he earned wins against Iowa (seven innings, three earned runs) and Rutgers (six innings, two earned runs) in his last two conference starts.

Since DiLuia took over the Friday starting role two weeks ago, the freshman has thrown two of his better games. The Illinois native still has struggled with his control, as he walked eight batters in 12.2 innings over those two starts, but he has worked into through six innings in both starts. Last weekend against the Michigan State Spartans, he threw 6.2 innings, allowing six hits and three earned runs. His 5.16 ERA in his two weekend starts has lowered his ERA from 5.92 to 5.68.

Starting Pitching Matchup 

Saturday, 3:05 p.m. EST

Sr. RHP Luis Alvarado (3-5, 3.19 ERA) vs. Jr. RHP Hunter Parsons (4-2, 3.01 ERA)  

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Nebraska’s best starter is coming off one of his best starts last Saturday against Nevada. In the series finale against the Wolf Pack, the senior took a no-hit bid into the sixth inning, and progressed through eight innings. He struck out three batters and only allowed two hits. A 13th round pick by the Seattle Mariners in the 2017 MLB Draft, Alvarado has made the most of his final season in Lincoln. The outfielder-converted-reliever-converted-starter is in the top 10 of Big Ten pitchers’ batting average against and strikeouts.

Since his rough first two starts, during which he allowed 11 earned runs in 5.2 innings, Parsons has reliably been Maryland’s best starter. Last week, he threw seven innings against the Spartans, allowing just two earned runs on five hits, and picking up his fourth win of the season. Since those first two starts, Parsons has allowed 13 earned runs in 64.2 innings, while allowing just 46 hits over that span. The junior right-hander has returned to his freshman year form and responded from a shaky sophomore campaign. With the Big Ten tournament just around the corner, it would seem that Maryland’s best chance to make the dance is to ensure it wins every one of Parsons’ outings.

Starting Pitching Matchup 

Sunday, 2:05 p.m. EST

TBD vs. Sr. RHP Taylor Bloom (2-6, 5.34 ERA)

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Game Preview: West Virginia Mountaineers

Maryland baseball (19-24, 5-9) kept its Big Ten Tournament hopes alive over the weekend, taking two of three games from Michigan State on the road. The Terps sit in 10th place in the conference, with Rutgers and Michigan State still in between them and an opportunity in the postseason. Now, before their next conference challenge, they’ll travel to Morgantown, West Virginia to take on the Mountaineers on Tuesday evening.

The Terps began their weekend at Michigan State poorly at the plate, recording just three hits in a 4-2 series-opening loss to the Spartans. Freshman Mark DiLuia made his second consecutive Friday night start, allowing four runs (three earned) in 6.2 innings, but the offense struggled to back him up.

Maryland responded to the tough result on Friday with two big wins to finish the weekend. Hunter Parsons and Kevin Biondic held the Spartans to just two runs on seven hits en route to an 8-2 win on Saturday. Second baseman Nick Dunn went 3-for-4 with four runs, including his ninth and tenth homers of the year. Biondic and shortstop AJ Lee also recorded multi-hit games to help even the series.

In what was perhaps a must-win game on Saturday, left-hander Tyler Blohm and left fielder Marty Costes rose to the occasion. The southpaw allowed just one earned run over six innings, while Costes hit a go-ahead grand slam and later made a diving catch to preserve the lead.

The Terps will turn their attention to West Virginia for a midweek road content. Maryland and the Mountaineers met three times last season, with the Terps taking the regular season matchup at home, while West Virginia returned the favor twice in the NCAA Winston-Salem Regional to eliminate Maryland from the tournament.

The Mountaineers (22-19, 6-9 Big 12) have taken a step back from last season and have struggled in conference play. West Virginia has won just two of its five conference series, but just took two of three from No. 19 Texas at home. The team is now 12-6 at home this season.

West Virginia’s biggest strength is its offense. The Mountaineers hit .273 as a team and average 5.7 runs per game, with three hitters — Marques Inman, Kyle Gray and Darius Hill — all hitting over .300 on the season.

Inman, a sophomore infielder, has been great after taking a medical redshirt season last year. He leads the team with a .349 average and 32 RBIs. Gray, a junior infielder, is arguably the biggest power threat for the Mountaineers. He’s hitting .333 with a team-leading nine home runs. Hill, a junior outfielder, is one of three players who has started in all 41 games, leading the team in hits. He’s also only struck out 10 times in 175 at-bats.

West Virginia’s pitching, though, has given up nearly six runs per game and its weekend pitching hasn’t been as effective as it could be.

Senior right-hander Shane Ennis has been the most-used reliever for the Mountaineers, pitching 37.2 innings in 22 appearances this season. Twenty-one of those outings have come out the bullpen. Ennis has a 3.11 ERA while holding hitters to a .265 average.

Sam Kessler and Jackson Wolf have nearly identical statistics this season, each with a .284 ERA in 19 innings. Kessler has 20 strikeouts to just eight walks, holding hitters to a .236 average, while Wolf has 17 strikeouts to 10 walks while holding opponents to a slim .209 average.

All three of West Virginia’s weekend starters have struggled at times this season, and all have ERAs above 4.00. Opponents have hit .273 against the trio of weekend starters, a main reason the Mountaineers have struggled in conference play.

Starting Pitching Matchup 

Tuesday, 6:30 p.m. EST


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 Starters for both team have yet to be announced.