Series Preview: Minnesota Golden Gophers

maryland-minnesota

Maryland (23-25, 8-10) enters its last road series, a three-game set in Minnesota, hovering in eighth place in the Big Ten standings.

After struggling against the first-place Michigan Wolverines last weekend, the Terps will look to bounce back against the fifth-place Golden Gophers. The last time Maryland faced Minnesota was in 2016, when the Golden Gophers took two of three.

Now, the Terps likely need at least two games over last year’s conference champs in order to have a shot at a Big Ten Tournament appearance. Maryland didn’t play a midweek this week, so it enters the series on four days of rest, compared to Minnesota’s two rest days. 

Sophomore Randy Bednar and senior AJ Lee both enter the weekend on the cusp of .300, batting .294 and .291, respectively. Bednar leads the Terps in doubled (19) and RBIs (44), while Lee has the highest on-base percentage (.429) of Maryland’s squad. 

Third baseman Taylor Wright, another Terrapin multi-base hit powerhouse, also rests just below the .300 mark (.281). Prior to last weekend, Wright led Maryland in doubles. Now, the senior has 18, trailing Bednar by one double. Bednar leads the Big Ten in doubles, with Wright just behind him.

In recent weeks Maryland’s bullpen depth has been tested, but the Terps held their own. Left-hander Andrew Vail and righty Nick Turnbull have both thrown sub-3.00 ERAs, with 2.60 in 17.1 innings pitched and 2.76 in 16.1 innings pitched, respectively. Vail proved particularly vital to the Terps’ bullpen, with 24 strikeouts in his 18 relief appearances.

Closer John Murphy enters the weekend with nine saves, tied with Michigan’s Willie Weiss for the third-most saves in the Big Ten. Murphy’s 45 strikeouts in 27.2 innings pitched are the third-most Ks among the Terps’ pitchers, and the most Ks among Terrapin relievers.

Minnesota Golden Gophers (22-23, 11-7 Big Ten)

Last Season

Minnesota dominated the Big Ten in 2018, finishing the regular season with a 44-15 record and a 18-4 conference record, walking away with the Big Ten regular season and tournament titles. The Golden Gophers made it to the NCAA Super Regionals, where the Oregon State Beavers handed them a pair of losses and ended their postseason run.

This season

Now, the Golden Gophers are struggling to recreate last year’s success. With an 11-7 Big Ten record, Minnesota hovers in fifth place in the conference standings, right behind Iowa (29-17, 11-7). The Golden Gophers enter the weekend matchup riding a three-game sweep of the Ohio State Buckeyes, and a midweek victory over South Dakota State on Tuesday.

Hitters to watch

Catcher Eli Wilson leads Minnesota’s offense, the only Golden Gopher batting above .300. Not only does the junior lead Minnesota in batting average (.314), but he also has a team-high 53 hits. Senior outfielder Ben Mezzenga is on the cusp of breaking .300, batting .281 with a team-high 29 walks.

Though his batting average isn’t remarkable (.244), redshirt-junior Jordan Kozicky leads the Golden Gophers with nine home runs.

Relievers to watch

Southpaw Jeff Fasching leads Minnesota with a 1.38 ERA in 26 innings pitched, followed by fellow lefty Nick Lackney (2.68 ERA in 20.1 innings pitched). For a Terrapin squad that has struggled against lefties this season, the pair will likely get the call at least once over the weekend.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Friday, 7:30 p.m. ET

Sr. RHP Hunter Parsons ( 8-3, 3.73 ERA) v. So. RHP Max Meyer (4-3, 2.18 ERA)

RMZBYNJDDYBZPMM.20150924191225 1Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logo  vs.1200px-Minnesota_Golden_Gophers_logo.svg.pngMeyer_Max.jpg

After a solid start to the year, Parsons has proven he deserves his spot as the Terps’ ace. The senior has a team-high eight wins in his 12 games started, with the lowest ERA of all Maryland starters. The righty also leads the Terps with 62 strikeouts in 82 innings pitched.

For Minnesota, two-way player Meyer has settled into his role as the Golden Gophers’s Friday starter. With a team-high 79 strikeouts in 70.1 innings pitched, including nine starts and five relief appearances, Meyer enters the weekend a serious threat for the Terrapin offense.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ET

Jr. RHP Zach Thompson (2-5, 5.43 ERA) v. So. RHP Sam Thoresen (4-3, 5.19 ERA)

 Thompson082818_021Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logo  vs.1200px-Minnesota_Golden_Gophers_logo.svg.pngThorensen_Sam.jpg

Entering the weekend, the Terps have won only two of Thompson’s 12 starts. Though the righty has 52 strikeouts in 69.2 innings pitched, Maryland’s offense has struggled to provide the redshirt junior with adequate run support.

Minnesota’s Saturday starter, Thoresen has the second-most strikeouts (63) among the Golden Gophers’ staff. The right has made 11 starts on the year, pitching 43.1 innings for Minnesota. The Thompson-Thoresen matchup has the potential to turn into a pitcher’s duel, if Maryland’s offense shows up.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET

Fr. RHP Trevor LaBonte (1-3, 7.02 ERA) v. So. RHP Joshua Culliver (2-4, 5.47 ERA)

Labonte082818_021Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logo  vs.1200px-Minnesota_Golden_Gophers_logo.svg.pngCulliver_Joshua.jpg

LaBonte enters the weekend with the highest ERA of the Terps’ starters, in the fewest innings pitched (50). In freshman’s first season with Maryland, the righty has 40 strikeouts in his 11 starts and one relief appearance.

For Minnesota, the sophomore Culliver has developed into an average Sunday starter, entering the series with 42 strikeouts in 51 innings pitched, including 10 starts and four relief appearances.

 

Series Preview: Michigan Wolverines

Following a 5-2 road victory Wednesday afternoon against the Villanova Wildcats, the Terrapins (23-22) return home this weekend to face the first-place Michigan Wolverines (31-11). With only three conference series remaining on the schedule, Maryland will need to play its best baseball of the season to continue their postseason push.

Since joining the Big Ten in 2015, the Terrapins have faced off with the Wolverines on three different occasions: 2015, 2017, and 2018. In eight games, the Terps have gone 3-5 versus Michigan and picked up their sole series win against them in 2017. While Maryland won its three games versus Michigan by a combined nine runs, they’ve been pummeled in their losses, losing by a combined 25 runs.

Maryland is coming off a rather successful series at Penn State, winning two of three games in State College, Pennsylvania. While the Terps had caught somewhat of a breather by playing against a team that had lost its last seven games, the Terps offense remained relentless, especially with the top third of the lineup continuing to wreak havoc against Big Ten pitchers.

Senior AJ Lee had himself another impressive weekend showing, bumping his season average to .313 as he tallied six hits and three RBI between the Penn State series and Wednesday afternoon’s matinee versus Villanova.  At the same time, Randy Bednar collected a trio of two-hit games plus four RBI, while senior Taylor Wright had a big Friday night versus Penn State, cumulating three hits, two RBI, and a walk over five plate appearances.

The Maryland pitching also held up nicely over the four-game span, with ace Hunter Parsons appearing to come back to form with a nine-strikeout, seven-inning effort that led to Friday night’s 5-2 win. Redshirt sophomore Zach Thompson followed up his teammate with a quality start of his own, tossing seven innings of three-run ball. The only blemish on the Terps pitching last weekend was when Sunday starter Trevor LaBonte surrendered five runs over two innings in what led to Maryland’s lone loss of the Penn State series.

Michigan Wolverines (31-11, 11-3 Big Ten)

Last Season

The Michigan Wolverines had a rather successful 2018 season despite not reaching the NCAA tournament. Finishing the season 15-8 in the Big Ten, the Wolverines placed third in the conference and reached the second round of the Big Ten tournament before getting knocked out by the second seed Purdue Boilermakers. It was hard to find a weakness in the 2018 Wolverines, as their weekend rotation sustained a 2.98 earned run average while their offense slashed an exceptional .275/.371/.400.

This Season

Despite losing one of their best hitters in Jonathan Engelmann (.952 on-base plus slugging percentage in 2018) to the 2018 MLB Draft, the Michigan Wolverines’ strengths have only improved over the span of a year. Now in first place with a conference record of 11-3, the Wolverines are being paced by an offense that’s putting up an outrageous .888 OPS and nearly a .300 average in conference play. Their pitching improved immensely over the year as well, coming in at a 3.09 team ERA despite losing starting pitcher Ben Dragani, who led the team in ERA last year (2.76), to Tommy John surgery.

Hitters to Watch

The Terps are going to need quite the lengthy scouting report in order to figure out this Michigan lineup. Out of the nine Wolverine batters who have over 100 at-bats, seven of them have OPS’s greater than .800. While all seven of those hitters have been red-hot all season long and have been pacing the offense of the first-place Wolverines, the biggest force to be reckoned with is junior Jordan Brewer. In 37 games, the outfielder leads the Big Ten in average (.378), slugging percentage (.685), and places in the top ten for on-base percentage (8th, .428), hits (5th, 54), RBI (3rd, 41), home runs (4th, 11), and stolen bases (3rd, 13). If anything is going to be a thorn in the Terrapin pitching’s side, it’s going to be the monstrous bat of Jordan Brewer.

Pitchers to Watch

It’s hard to find a weekend rotation in the Big Ten better than Michigan. In fact, it’s virtually impossible. All three Wolverine pitchers – Karl Kauffman (2.40), Tommy Henry (2.61), and Jeff Criswell (2.61) – have ERAs that place within the top ten in the Big Ten. The trio also has an impressive nine strikeouts per nine innings with all three pitchers placing in the Big Ten’s top 15 for strikeouts. Their bullpen is highlighted by closer freshman Willie Weiss, who has maintained a 2.86 ERA while earning eight saves over 17 appearances.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Friday, 6:30 p.m. ET

Sr. RHP Hunter Parsons ( 8-2, 3.51 ERA) v. Jr. RHP Karl Kauffman (7-3, 2.40 ERA)

RMZBYNJDDYBZPMM.20150924191225 1Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logo  vs. Michigan_Wolverines_Block_M Karl Kauffmann

Hunter Parsons is coming off his best start in a couple of weeks, pitching seven innings of two-run ball while nearly striking out double-digits. Of course, Parsons had faced a last-place offense in Penn State, so facing the slaughterhouse that is the Wolverines offense will be the toughest challenge for the righty as his season is slowly nearing its end.

Karl Kauffman will be entering the weekend series after wrapping up his best start of the season since February 23rd. Facing the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, the junior Kauffman dominated with eight shutout innings while only letting three opposing batters reach base en route to picking up the win and being named Big Ten Pitcher of the Week.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Saturday, 2:00 p.m. ET

Jr. RHP Zach Thompson (2-4, 5.12 ERA) v. Jr. LHP Tommy Henry (7-3, 2.61 ERA)    Thompson082818_021Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logo  vs. Michigan_Wolverines_Block_M Tommy Henry

Zach Thompson, like his teammate Hunter Parsons, also found success in his start versus the Nittany Lions last Saturday. The junior recorded a quality start, pitching seven innings and limiting Penn State to three runs on the way to his second win of the season. Thompson continues to right the ship of his season after experiencing several hiccups in recent weeks, and he’ll have a chance to keep up the effort versus Michigan.

Just like several of Maryland’s starters, Tommy Henry has been on the opposite side of fireworks shows as of late. Although his worst start of the year is a few weeks in the past (four innings, six hits, six runs, and four walks), Henry hasn’t completely returned to his early-season self in which he once recorded a complete-game shutout one-hitter. However, he appears close after limiting Rutgers to one run over six innings of work.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET

Fr. RHP Trevor LaBonte (1-5, 6.56 ERA) v. So. RHP Jeff Criswell (2-1, 2.86 ERA)Labonte082818_021Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logo  vs. Michigan_Wolverines_Block_M Jeff Criswell

The only pitcher to end up on the losing end of the Penn State series was Trevor LaBonte as he continues to struggle at keeping the ball in the strikezone. Since his first start in March, LaBonte has failed to limited his walks to less than three in each of his starts, and after a five-run outing at Penn State which bumped his season ERA to 6.56, LaBonte desparately needs to find some sort of bounceback as the threat of Michigan looms in the distance this Sunday.

Even sophomore Jeff Criswell, the Sunday starter for Michigan, has been on a tear this season. Coming in at a 2.61 ERA, the best by any Sunday starter in the Big Ten, Criswell is coming off his longest start of the season – a 7.2-inning effort against Rutgers in which he only allowed three hits.

Game Preview: Villanova Wildcats

MD-NOVA

After taking two of three against Penn State over the weekend, Maryland heads back up to Pennsylvania for a midweek matchup with the Villanova Wildcats on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. The matchup marks the first time the teams have met in over 20 years, as the Terps and Wildcats enter with a split series history, each team with two wins.

Maryland, hovering around the .500 mark for the past few weeks, will look for the midweek victory to provide added momentum heading into a tough series against Michigan starting Friday. For the Wildcats, who haven’t finished the regular season with a winning record since 2012, the Wednesday meeting marks a much-needed non-conference win.

The Terps’ offense, which fell quiet toward the start of conference play, has rebounded of late. With seniors A.J. Lee (.313) and Taylor Wright (.303) leading the team in batting average, Maryland poses an offensive threat to Villanova.

Lee enters the matchup riding a 10-game hitting streak and a 19-game on-base streak, while Wright and sophomore Randy Bednar (.286) are tied for the most doubles in the Big Ten, with 18 apiece.

Bednar also leads the Terps in RBIs (42), the second-most in the Big Ten, just behind Indiana’s Matt Lloyd (45).

A handful of Maryland pitchers could take the mound for the midweek start, including left-handers Drew Wilden (8.74 ERA) and Tuck Tucker (6.14 ERA), and righty Mark DiLuia (5.65 ERA). Wilden and Tucker started most of the Terps’ midweeks so far this season, with combined seven starts. Junior right-hander Tyler Blohm (4.15 ERA in 4.2 innings pitched) may also get the call to the mound, after a solid two-inning start last week against VCU.

From the bullpen, southpaws Sean Fisher (4.44 ERA) and Andrew Vail (2.03 ERA) and right-hander Sean Heine (9.45 ERA) are likely to make relief appearances, as is closer John Murphy (3.97), if the righty gets a save opportunity.

Villanova Wildcats (11-29, 3-6 Big East)

Last Season

The Wildcats struggled last year, finishing with a 9-38 record, including going 1-17 in the Big East.

This Season

Villanova’s struggles are far from over, however it has proved its 2019 campaign to be better than that of 2018. With a 11-29 record, the Wildcats enter the midweek on a one-game winning streak, after splitting a two-game series with Delaware last weekend.

Hitters to Watch

Freshman two-way players Nick Lorusso (.310) and senior catcher Doug deMarrais (.302) lead the Wildcats in batting average, the only players hitting above .300. The pair is also in a three-way tie for the second-most home runs (3), and Lorusso leads Villanova in hits (45).

Pitchers to Watch

The Wildcats appear to be in a similar pitching situation to the Terps; in a pair of midweeks last week, Villanova used a total of 10 different pitchers, four of which made appearances in both games. None of the Wildcats’ pitchers hold sub-3.00 ERAs. Most likely to make mound appearances for Villanova are right-handers Cameron Mathes (5.97 ERA) and Jason Applegate (7.84 ERA).

Series Preview: Penn State Nittany Lions

MD-PSU

After a promising midweek 10-5 victory over the VCU Rams on Tuesday to cap off a .500 homestand, the Terrapins resume conference play as they travel to University Park, Pennsylvania to take on the last place Penn State Nittany Lions in a weekend series.

The Terps (20-21) currently hold the eighth spot in the Big Ten standings, so taking advantage of the Nittany Lions, who are 1-13 in conference play, will be a huge indicator of Maryland’s chances at making the conference tournament with the regular season slowly reaching its end.

The Terps and the Nittany Lions previously met at two other occasions since Maryland joined the Big Ten in 2015. In those two series, the Terps went 5-1 against Penn State, including a three-game series sweep in 2017. Between those six games, Maryland has outscored Penn State 40-12.

While Maryland couldn’t make it a winning homestand, going 2-2 versus Ohio State and VCU between last weekend and Tuesday, the performances that a handful of Terrapins put together were quite promising, and a lot of that came from the top of the lineup.

Between seniors AJ Lee and Taylor Wright and sophomore Randy Bednar, the top third of the Terps lineup slashed a monstrous .538/.593/.769 while driving in 17 runs over the four-game stretch. Even if the top of the order can come close to that level of production against Penn State, keeping up in the playoff race should be a breeze.

Unfortunately, the Terrapin bats weren’t the only ones providing the fireworks during the homestand. In the weekend series versus the Buckeyes, the Terps’ starters recorded no quality starts, allowing 15 runs over 19 innings. The bullpen also struggled in the same fashion, allowing five runs over 10 innings. One pitcher did stick out as someone to watch. That pitcher is righty sophomore Mark DiLuia, who tallied three strikeouts as he cruised through 3.1 innings of work over the weekend.

Penn State Nittany Lions (17-18, 1-13 Big Ten)

Last Season

To say that the Nittany Lions’ 2018 season was full of shortcomings would be an understatement. Penn State, which has failed to reach the Big Ten tournament for the last six years, finished the 2018 season with a 15-34 overall record while finishing conference play 3-21. The offense mustered up a collective .674 on-base plus slugging percentage while just one pitcher on the roster succeeded at keeping his earned-run average under 4.60.

This Season

Penn State at this point in the season appears to be nearly replicating its 2018 performance, coming in at a 17-18 overall record, but more importantly, a 1-13 record in the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions are also in the middle of their worst stretch of the season, losing their last seven games after being on the brush-end of two-straight sweeps by Nebraska and Illinois. Certainly, a lot of that has to do with the team slashing .230/.338/.327.

Hitters to Watch

The Nittany Lions offense, despite its struggles, still boasts a couple of strong bats in their lineup. The two that have played major roles in their run production this season include senior Jordan Bowersox and junior Gavin Homer. Bowersox leads Penn State in both average (.346) and OPS (.880) by a wide margin as he’s in the midst of a 16-game hit streak. While Homer’s average sits at .259, he is Penn State’s only other bat with an OPS over .800 (.819) and is tied for the team lead in home runs (4).

Pitchers to Watch

The Penn State bats may have not come around yet, but their pitching surely has. Through 56.2 innings, their ace, redshirt sophomore Dante Biasi, has pitched to the tune of a remarkable 1.75 ERA while striking out 12.6 batters per nine innings. Sophomore Mason Mellott has proven to be a deadly arm out of the Penn State bullpen, logging a 2.02 ERA in 15 appearances, all 15 of those being at least two innings long.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Friday, 6:30 p.m. ET

Sr. RHP Hunter Parsons ( 7-2, 3.60 ERA) v. R-So. LHP Dante Biasi (3-3, 1.75 ERA)

           RMZBYNJDDYBZPMM.20150924191225 1Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logo  vs500px-Penn_State_Nittany_Lions_svg.Dante Biasi

Hunter Parsons came out as the winner in the midst of last Friday’s offensive explosion versus Ohio State despite allowing seven runs on 11 hits. Now at a season-worst 3.60 ERA, Parsons looks to bounce back versus a rather weak Penn State lineup.

Dante Biasi is in the midst of an amazing comeback season. Just last year, his ERA mounted to an abysmal 5.20 at season’s end, and now he’s Penn State’s clear ace with an incredible 1.75 ERA. After striking out nine Illini as he cruised through 5.1 shutout innings in Illinois, he’ll be a scary matchup for the Terrapins.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Saturday, 2:00 p.m. ET

Jr. RHP Zach Thompson (1-4, 5.28 ERA) v. R-Jr. Eric Mock (2-2, 3.55 ERA)

           Thompson082818_021Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logo  vs.500px-Penn_State_Nittany_Lions_svgMock, Eric

Although it wasn’t a quality start, Zach Thompson was able to keep the Terps in the lead for the length of his start against the Buckeyes (7.0 innings). After a streak of mediocre starts (20 earned runs in 21.1 innings in last four starts), a date with Penn State should help Thompson’s season numbers.

Eric Mock was just a bullpen arm for the Nittany Lions last year, and not particularly a great one with a 5.97 ERA in 15 appearances. Like Biasi, he’s pitched much better this year, but he’s just coming off his worst start of the season, giving up six runs on eight hits and walking five batters versus Illinois.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET

Fr. RHP Trevor LaBonte (1-4, 5.87 ERA) v. So. RHP Bailey Dees (2-1, 4.00 ERA)

Labonte082818_021Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logo  vs.500px-Penn_State_Nittany_Lions_svgDees, Bailey

Trevor LaBonte nearly mirrored Zach Thompson’s Saturday start, giving up four runs to Ohio State through six innings. LaBonte may have still been shaking off the jitters after getting blasted for eight runs against Northwestern two weeks ago, but he’ll look to level his numbers when he takes to the mound in University Park.

Just like his fellow teammate Mock, Bailey Dees was also a relief pitcher in 2018, appearing in 12 games with an ERA of 5.14. Dees has since improved, pitching his way to a 4.00 ERA in 2018 while walking the least amount of batters (15) out of Penn State’s weekend starters. Dees pitched well in his last start versus Illinois, striking out seven and limiting Illinois to a run over six innings of work.

Game Preview: VCU Rams

Maryland at VCU

Maryland finishes its four-game homestand with a matchup against the VCU Rams on Tuesday afternoon. The Terps are coming off a rough weekend series against Ohio State, in which they lost two of three.

The Terps and Rams have already faced off twice this season and met twice last season, as well. Last season, the two teams split their two matchups while this season Maryland has won both matchups, 5-3 and 4-3, respectively.

Last season, Maryland took the first meeting, winning 2-0 in a low-scoring pitchers’ duel. However, VCU bounced back in mid-April routing the Terps by a score of 14-3.

VCU comes into this game 5-5 in their last 10 games, struggling to put together winning streaks after a great start to the season. Like Maryland, VCU lost two out of their three games over the weekend to Richmond. However, two of those losses were by one run and its game on Sunday was lost in an 11-inning marathon.

The Terps continue to struggle at home after the weekend’s two losses, dropping their record at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium to a less than spectacular 7-12. Maryland is currently 11-8 on the road this season and this has kept their overall record close to .500 at 19-21.

The bats produced a combined 24 runs in the weekend series against Ohio State and this type of sustained offensive pressure will be key if Maryland wants to continue to win games moving forward. The Terps also allowed 23 runs, however, and the pitching staff will look to complement an offense that has been good as of late.

After the weekend, the Terps continue to get closer to having a hitter over the .300 mark as shortstop AJ Lee is now the team leader in batting average at .294. Hunter Parsons leads the team on the mound, leading the team with 70 innings pitched and is fourth on the team with a 3.60 ERA.

VCU Rams (28-12, 11-4 A10)

Last Season

Last season, VCU mustered a 34-23 record, enough for a sixth place finish and a berth in the Atlantic 10 conference tournament. VCU was good all season but were outstanding in March going on a 14-game winning streak between March 7 and March 30. The Rams were then knocked out of the Atlantic 10 tournament by No. 3 seed Fordham 3-2 to end their season.

This Season

The Rams have been solid for most of this season with an overall 28-12 record. They had an eight-game winning streak between March 2 and March 13. The Rams currently lead the Atlantic 10 conference by one game over the Dayton Flyers.

Hitters to Watch

The Rams are currently led by sophomore Liam Hibbits, who leads the team with an outstanding .399 batting average. Hibbits also has three home runs, which are third on the team and has 38 RBIs as well. Senior Zac Ching leads the team in home runs with six while junior Paul Witt leads the team with 40 RBIs.

Pitchers to Watch

The pitching attack for the Rams is led by junior Connor Gillispie who currently leads the team with 56.1 innings pitched in 14 starts. He has walked just 14 and has struck out 77 batters over those appearances with a 1.92 ERA. The Rams have mainly relied on Connor Dum out of the bullpen. In 14 appearances Dum has walked 10 and struck out 51 batters; he currently holds a solid 2.90 ERA.

Series Preview: Ohio State Buckeyes

maryland-ohiostate

It’s been 16 years since Maryland baseball last won three consecutive conference series.

This weekend against Ohio State, the Terps can accomplish the feat for the second time this century. The last occurrence was in 2003 when Maryland won three straight series against former ACC foes Clemson, Duke and NC State.

That season ended at 20-33 after the Terps lost in a play-in game of the conference tournament as the No. 8 seed. But a series win against the Buckeyes this weekend would potentially help Maryland rise higher than the current fifth-place position in the conference standings with one month left in the regular season.

But the Buckeyes are hot, winning five of their last six games, including a convincing series win against Michigan last week. While Ohio State took down a perennial conference contender in the Wolverines, it was swept by a Northwestern team that Maryland just beat twice on the road.

Ohio State has played nine of its last 10 games at home in Bill Davis Stadium, but will visit a ballpark that Maryland has struggled in this season with a 6-10 record, and most recently, suffered a 14-1 beatdown at the hands of James Madison on Tuesday.

The Terps fell behind 7-0 through six inning on the road Wednesday against George Mason and eventually lost 9-5. Taylor Wright, AJ Lee and Michael Pineiro all recorded multi-hit games, but it was too little too late as Maryland has now dropped three straight midweek games.

Ohio State Buckeyes (21-17, 4-5 Big Ten)

Last season

The Buckeyes were eliminated in the Big Ten semifinals in 2018 before losing both of their NCAA tournament games against South Carolina and UNC-Wilmington. Ohio State was one of the four Big Ten representatives in the national tournament and headed to the tournament for the second time in the last three years.

This season

Ohio State is hovering just above the .500 mark after wining five of its last six games. A four and five-game losing streak stunted the Buckeyes momentum, but after a big series win against Michigan, they’re playing well headed into this weekend, despite sitting in 10th place of 13 teams in the Big Ten standings.

Hitters to watch

Only two Buckeyes have started in all 38 games this season, and they’re both the team’s best hitters. Junior outfielder Dominic Canzone ranks second in the Big Ten with a .368 batting average and leads the conference in hits and runs. Senior utility man Brady Cherry trails on Canzone in hits in the conference and is tied for fourth with 33 runs batted in.

Pitchers to watch

Junior left-hander Andrew Magno and freshman righty Bayden Root have combined for 31 appearances out of the bullpen this season. Magno leads the team with five saves, holding opponents to a .235 batting average while maintaining a 3.57 ERA. Root has struck out 37 hitters in only 25.1 innings while holding competition to a slim .217 batting average.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Friday, 6:30 p.m. ET

Sr. RHP Hunter Parsons ( 6-2, 2.95 ERA) v. Fr. RHP Garrett Burhenn (5-1, 3.16 ERA)

RMZBYNJDDYBZPMM.20150924191225 1Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logo  vs.Buckeyes_logo.svg.pngGarrett_Burhenn-e1539266988875-1024x993.jpg

Parsons finally had another subpar start after three incredible outings, yet Maryland still walked away with a win last weekend against Northwestern. The righty conceded seven runs over seven innings while striking out seven. The seven runs and hits he conceded were both the most he’s allowed all season.

The freshman has been dominant this season for the Buckeyes, but he’ll face a veteran counterpart in Hunter Parsons. Burhenn doesn’t hand out too many free passes; he’s walked just 19 hitters in 57 innings and has only hit two batters. He’s also only conceded two home runs thus far.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Saturday, 2:00 p.m. ET

Jr. RHP Zach Thompson (1-4, 5.29 ERA) v. R-Fr. LHP Seth Lonsway (5-3, 3.88 ERA)

 Thompson082818_021Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logo  vs.Buckeyes_logo.svg.pngSeth_Lonsway-e1539265886218-1024x952.jpg

After conceding five runs last weekend against Northwestern, Thompson has now conceded more than three runs in each of his last three starts. Even when Thompson has fared well, Maryland hasn’t. The Terps have only won one of the nine games Thompson has started in, the last coming on Feb. 22 against Maine.

Also in his first season pitching for the Buckeyes, Lonsway has held opposing hitters to a slim .215 batting average in nine starts this season. He’s struck out 61 hitters in only 51 innings, but he’s also handed out 30 walks. He was the Big Ten pitcher of the week earlier this month.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET

Fr. RHP Trevor LaBonte (1-3, 5.85 ERA) v. So. LHP Griffan Smith (3-2, 4.25 ERA)

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LaBonte got off to a very hot start to his college career, but has now given up 18 earned runs over his last three starts. He conceded eight runs on seven hits in five innings against Northwestern last weekend, but Maryland’s offense provided enough run support to hand LaBonte a no-decision.

Technically the “veteran” of the Buckeyes weekend rotation, Smith is the only one of the three with an ERA north of 4.00. He won’t pitch as deep into ballgames as Lonsway or Burhenn, and has allowed just over one hit per inning this season.  Last year, Smith made 23 of his appearances as a reliever.

 

Game Preview: George Mason Patriots

Maryland vs George Mason

Maryland baseball (18-18) lost 14-1 on Tuesday against James Madison but will look to put that showing in the past when the Terps take on George Mason on the road Wednesday in another midweek game.

George Mason took down Maryland 8-5 in the last matchup, which was in 2017 since last year’s game was cancelled and not rescheduled. The two sides will not play each other again for the rest of this season. The Patriots are 2-14 in their last 16 games. Their last series win came against Manhattan College in early March.

Maryland will look to improve on its 4-1 record in road midweek games this year. Overall, the Terps have performed better on the road than at home with an 11-7 record away from College Park.

Before Tuesday, the Terps bats had been hot as of late. Despite only the one run against James Madison, they’ve still plated 50 runs in their last 6 games. The now three-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week Maxwell Costes is slashing .280/.411/.500 on the season. He leads all eligible Maryland hitters in batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage.

Randy Bednar is also having a successful season at the dish, leading the Terps with 39 hits, seven home runs, and 33 RBI. Freshman Andrew Vail is having himself a solid season out of the bullpen, leading all Maryland pitchers with an 1.86 ERA in 12 appearances.

George Mason Patriots (13-21, 1-8 A10)

Last Season

George Mason was 29-27 last season, making it to the Atlantic 10 Tournament championship but lost to No. 1 seed Saint Louis. They posted a 16-8 record in conference play which earned them the No. 2 seed in the A10 Tournament.

This Season

George Mason comes into Wednesday’s game with a 13-21 record but have defended its home turf well with a 9-6 record in Fairfax. On the road, the Patriots are an abysmal 1-15. They are last in the conference standings with a 1-8 record.

Hitters to Watch

Junior Logan Driscoll leads the Patriots in every major offensive category with a .339 batting average and eight home runs. He is also getting on base at an outrageous clip with a .475 OBP. Sophomore Cam Reckling has also stood out at the plate for the Patriots, batting .282 with 37 hits.

Pitchers to Watch

James Beasley, a reliever, leads the Patriots with a 3.31 ERA and an 0.93 WHIP in 10 appearances. None of the Patriot starting pitchers are posting quality numbers this year with ace Brian Marconi leading the rotation with a 5.03 ERA in 48.1 innings pitched.

Game Preview: James Madison Dukes

Maryland vs JMUMaryland hosts the James Madison Dukes on Tuesday, as the Terps look to stay consistent after taking two out of three from the Northwestern Wildcats over the weekend.

The two teams faced off twice last season and Maryland took both of those matchups, 2-1 and 6-1. The two sides will face off twice again this season, with the second game scheduled for May 14.

James Madison comes into this game on a two-game win streak after beating the William & Mary Tribe twice over the weekend. However, before this win streak, the Dukes had lost eight in a row and have only won two out of their last 10.

Maryland will look to improve upon their less than spectacular 6-9 record at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium on Tuesday, as they continue to play better on the road than at home. The Terps are currently 11-7 on the road this season.

The Terps bats will also look to stay hot heading into this week after scoring a combined 32 runs over the weekend series against Northwestern. The Terps have also scored four or more runs in seven of their last 10 games and will look to continue this against the Dukes.

After the weekend, freshman Maxwell Costes leads the team in batting average, currently hitting at .287. The Terps have struggled to get someone above the .300 plateau for most of the season but do have multiple hitters close. Hunter Parsons continues to lead the starting pitchers with a 2.95 ERA, and over 64 innings, he’s struck out 49 and walked just 16.

James Madison Dukes (20-17, 4-8 CAA)

Last Season

James Madison had a modest 26-26 record last season and was not able to qualify for the CAA tournament. The Dukes won 13 games both on the road and at home last season amassing their 26 wins. The Dukes were right around .500 all season until they lost seven in a row between April 25 and May 11.

This Season

This season the Dukes have been trending upward as they are currently three games above .500 at 20-17. They have also been far more successful at home, going 15-9 at Eagle Field. However, the Dukes are disappointingly 5-8 on the road and this has pulled them down to seventh in their conference standings, the same place they finished last year. The Dukes will look to get even higher above the .500 mark in this upcoming matchup against the Terps.

Hitters to Watch

The Dukes have two players hitting above .300, including freshman Nick Zona who is hitting .337 heading into the week. The other is Tevon Dabney hitting at .321. Dabney is also a freshman infielder similar to Zona. Not far behind Zona and Dabney are juniors Brady Harju and Matt Dipasupil who are currently hitting at a .290 clip. Dabney currently leads the team in home runs with six and Harju leads the team with 25 RBI.

Pitchers to Watch

Another junior, Kevin Kelly, has led the attack in terms of starting pitching for the Dukes as he leads the team with 53.2 innings pitched. Sophomore Nick Stewart however, leads the starters in ERA, posting a 2.80 in 45 innings pitched. Kelly is second with a 3.86 ERA. The relief attack for the Dukes is led by Nick Robertson, who currently has a 1.08 ERA and six saves in 16 innings.

Series Preview: Northwestern Wildcats

Maryland vs Northwestern

Maryland (16-16) is coming off a 1-1 record in its midweek games against William & Mary and West Virginia. Now, the Terps are on the road to take on Northwestern (15-14), which is riding a four-game winning streak. 

Maryland’s midweek games were two very different tales. Against William & Mary, the Terps poured on a season-high 16 runs on 12 hits, including four homers en route to a 16-10 win. The following game against West Virginia, the Terps only totaled one run on five hits and fell 8-1.

During the midweek games, the Terps used 10 different pitchers, resulting in 14 earned runs over the two games. Maryland hopes to get solid starts out of the starting pitchers this weekend, similar to last weekend against Illinois, where starters only accounted for seven earned runs.

In terms of hitting, sophomore Justin Vought, who has struggled as of late, belted a grand slam against William & Mary, accounting for four of his five RBIs on the day. Freshman Josh Maguire is continuing to make an impact after recently being inserted into the starting lineup. Maguire hit .375 in the midweek games with two RBIs and three runs scored.

Senior Taylor Wright continues to lead the team in batting average, hitting .276 and also leads the Big Ten in doubles with 12. Sophomore Randy Bednar ranks third on the team with a .260 batting average but leads the team in RBIs (28). The outfielder also is tied for the team-high in home runs (5).  

Northwestern Wildcats (15-14, 4-2 Big Ten)

Last season

Northwestern was near the bottom of the Big Ten with an overall record of 17-32, while posting a 6-18 record in conference play. Maryland hosted Northwestern dropping the first game of the series, but picked up the next two to win the series. Both of the Terps’ wins were decided by one run.

This season

The Wildcats are one of the hottest teams in the conference, winning nine of their last 10 games. Northwestern also possesses a four-game winning streak, including a series sweep against Ohio State. During this hot streak, Northwestern has outscored its opponents 36-12.

Hitters to watch

As a team, Northwestern is hitting .270 and leads the Big Ten in stolen bases with 49. The Wildcats have four batters hitting .300 or better, as the Dunn brothers stick out. Senior Jack Dunn leads the Big Ten with a .374 batting average, while his younger brother, David Dunn posts a .333 batting average. Along with the Dunn duo, senior Willie Bourbon leads the team in RBIs (23) and is tied with a team-high in home runs (3).

Relievers to watch

Junior Nick Paciorek posts a 2.08 ERA and has picked up a team-high, three saves. The righty has appeared in 13 innings and has allowed three earned runs, while limiting opposing hitters to a .156 batting average. Sophomore Anthony Alepra has done the most work out of the Northwestern bullpen, totaling 16 innings with a 2.81 ERA.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup

Friday, 4:30 p.m. ET

Sr. RHP Hunter Parsons (5-2, 2.21 ERA) vs. So. LHP Quinn Lavelle (3-3, 4.08 ERA)

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Parsons, the Maryland ace has been very consistent on Friday nights. In each of his last three starts, the Senior has pitched into the eighth inning. Parsons leads the team with 42 strikeouts in 57 innings pitched.

For the Wildcats, Lavelle has won his last two starts, including one complete game shutout against San Jose State. The sophomore has the most innings pitched for Northwestern with 46.1 and is tied for a team-high in strikeouts with 31.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup

Saturday, 3:00 p.m. ET

Jr. RHP Zach Thompson (1-4, 5.04 ERA) vs. Fr. RHP Mike Doherty (2-0, 6.35 ERA)

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Thompson will be looking to pick up hist first win since February. The Junior had a solid outing last weekend against Illinois, tossing seven innings, while surrendering four earned runs. Thompson ranks second in most innings pitched (44.2) and strikeouts (34).  

Doherty has done a lot of work out of the bullpen but is expected to make his fourth start on Saturday. In his first two starts, the freshman threw five innings in each but last weekend he only tossed two innings. Doherty has thrown 17 innings, racking up 15 strikeouts but also walking 12 batters.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET

Fr. RHP Trevor LaBonte (1-3, 4.63) vs. TBD

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The Terps’ Sunday starter, LaBonte threw a solid 5 ⅓ innings, allowing just one earned run last weekend against Illinois. The freshman has pitched 35 innings and has picked up 30 strikeouts.

Game Preview: West Virginia Mountaineers

Maryland at WVU

After a come-from-behind win over William & Mary on Tuesday, Maryland takes on West Virginia in College Park for the second game in as many days. With Tuesday’s win, the Terps improved to 16-15 on the year and 6-1 in midweek matchups.

In the 2018 campaign, the Terps faced the Mountaineers in West Virginia to begin their last month of regular-season play. But West Virginia won 9-5, and Maryland came home with the loss.

Now, Maryland enters the Wednesday contest against West Virginia riding a two-game win streak, having won three of its last four games; the Terps took down the Fighting Illini last weekend with a 2-1 series win.

Three Terps are batting over .250: senior Taylor Wright (.280), sophomore Randy Bednar (.270) and freshman Maxwell Coster (.270). While Maryland’s lineup may not be stacked with high batting averages, almost all of the Terps’ usual starters have an OBP of .350 or above.

With a plethora of young arms in the bullpen, Maryland has been well-set on the mound in midweeks, and has the ability to pitch by committee if needed. With only four pitchers contributing in Tuesday’s matchup, the Terps have plenty of fresh arms to call upon on Wednesday, including Nick Turnbull (2.61 ERA) — who hasn’t pitched in almost a week — and closer John Murphy (3.68 ERA), who last pitched on Friday against Illinois.

West Virginia Mountaineers (19-12, 4-5 Big 12)

Last Season

West Virginia defeated Maryland 9-5 in West Virginia. The Mountaineers went on to a 29-27 record, 9-15 in Big 12 play, enough to qualify for the Big 12 tournament, of which they were eliminated from by TCU. As a team, it finished the season hitting .280, backing a pitching staff with a 4.79 ERA. 

This Season

The Mountaineers head to College Park coming off a 2-1 series win over No. 23 Oklahoma State. West Virginia will look to add to their 19-12 record, including a 6-1 record in midweek matchups.

Hitters to Watch

Only one Mountaineer — sophomore infielder Tyler Doanes — is batting above .300 (.306). Including Doanes, West Virginia has six players hitting above .250, including the team leader in OBP, senior Ivan Gonzalez (283 AVG, .425 OBP). Sophomore catcher Paul McIntosh, batting .257, leads the Mountaineers in homers with seven on the year — one-fourth of the team’s 28 so far this season. 

Relievers to Watch

With a pitching staff throwing a 3.46 ERA, the Mountaineers have three relievers with 0.00 ERAs, though two have pitched fewer than five innings. 

On Wednesday, the Mountaineers’ defense will be lead by junior Nick Snyder, who holds a 1.75 ERA in 51.2 innings pitched and six games started. The left-hander also has 38 strikeouts in those 51.2 innings, giving up only seven runs on 15 hits and 27 free bases (16 walks and eight hit batters).