Maryland tops Navy in high-scoring midweek affair

In just the second matchup in eight years between the No. 23 Maryland Terrapins and the Navy Midshipmen, the Terps defeated the Midshipmen, 18-10, in a high scoring bout. Both teams had a bullpen day with a total of 14 pitchers seeing action. The back and forth affair had offense all over the field, but specifically sophomore designated hitter Luke Shliger and senior center fielder Chris Alleyne were firing on all cylinders Tuesday night accounting for seven hits and eight RBI.

Maryland started out a tad slow in the top of the first inning, with two errors leading to two runs. Freshman starting pitcher Andrew Johnson accounted for one of the errors and didn’t last past the opening inning as sophomore pitcher Logan Ott took his spot to start the second frame. 

The Terps regained their footing thanks to a Midshipmen error of their own allowing Maryland to respond with two runs in the bottom half of the first inning. Shliger and senior outfielder Chris Alleyne scored on a lead-off walk and a triple respectively, tying up the ball game 2-2 after the first. 

With the top of the order up again in the third, Shliger and Alleyne capitalized again with a lead-off walk and a nuke to right field for Alleyne for a 4-2 lead. Senior first baseman Maxwell Costes would later drive in another run with an RBI single to give Maryland a 5-2 lead. 

Sophomore shortstop Matt Shaw added a three run home run to the scoreboard in the fifth to break open the game 9-2. On the flip side, the Terps were also looking strong on the mound and in the field through four innings. 

Ott, who frequently pitches midweek games, didn’t flinch as soon as he entered the ballgame. The sophomore got Navy down in order in the second and fourth innings, and didn’t allow a hit until the fifth. While he looked strong, Ott gave up a pair of singles followed by a three-run shot to pull within four runs in the fifth inning. 

The Midshipmen were able to keep pace with the Terps battling back from seven down. Navy answered with seven of their own runs during the fifth and sixth innings, getting the job done in almost every fashion.

Maryland, who looked shaky and potentially ready to cough up a big lead, answered the bell and came back with nine runs of their own over the last three innings. Alleyne added to his home run total yet again, and took sole possession of first place in the Big Ten with a three run blast for his 13th homer of the year. The Terps tallied six home runs against the Midshipmen, 

The Terps, who have now tallied three wins in a row, will turn to the Northwestern Wildcats who will visit College Park and rank in the middle of the pack in the Big Ten. The Wildcats are in the upper echelon of the conference in batting, pitching and fielding which will be a great test for Maryland. 

Midweek Preview: Navy Midshipmen

No. 23 Maryland is coming into the week fresh off a series win against the Illinois Fighting Illini. The trip up to Champaign started very rocky as the Terps’ five game winning streak was put to an end with a 19-1 loss. Maryland used six different pitchers and could barely find its offensive firepower. Before that, Maryland hadn’t conceded more than nine runs in a single game. 

However, Maryland bounced back nicely, picking up two wins on Saturday in a double-header. The first of which took an extra inning to decide. The 13-9 victory for Maryland was earned by extra inning hits from sophomore catcher Luke Shliger and senior outfielder Chris Alleyne, who drove in runs to provide the four run cushion for the Terps. 

The late night game featured sophomore pitcher Jason Savacool getting through eight innings and striking out nine batters. In the 7-4 win, senior Maxwell Costes and junior Troy Schreffler both had two hits and two RBI. The Terps improved to 32-8 on the season and 9-3 in Big Ten play. 

Maryland turns to the Navy Midshipmen for a midweek game in College Park Tuesday evening. 

Navy Midshipmen (18-22, 9-13)

Last Season:

The Midshipmen finished with a 17-15 record last season and an 11-12 record in conference. While Navy isn’t having the hottest year thus far, the Midshipmen are always dangerous and are primed for an upset against anyone in the country with Head Coach Paul Kostacopoulos at the helm. Kostacopoulos is the second winningest coach in program history. 

This season:

Navy is 18-22 on the season and hasn’t played anyone to the level of the Terps this year. They have series wins against Air Force, UMBC and Holy Cross. The Midshipmen aren’t the hottest pitching team in the country with a collective 6.49 ERA, which is where Maryland can make them pay. 

Hitters to Watch For:

Senior catcher Christian Policelli leads the team with 53 hits on the season and a batting average of .342. While Policelli only has two home runs on the season, he gets on base and drives in runs with 28 RBI on the year which also leads the team. 

Junior outfielder Colin Smith also has an average slightly above .300, and leads the team in home runs with three. The Midshipmen don’t have a ton of ammunition when it comes to hitting, but these two can definitely make you pay at the plate. 

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup:

Logan Ott vs. Zach Powers

In Ott’s last outing against Towson, he went 3 2/3 innings, striking out one but only allowing one run as well. He will look to build on his already impressive midweek track record this season and lead the Terps to another victory.

Powers, a sophomore right handed pitcher, is 1-6 in games this season and has only pitched a total of eight innings this season. The Maryland hitters will look to pounce on Powers early and knock him out of the game, which seems to be a common occurrence for the underclassman. 

Series Preview: Illinois Fighting Illini

No. 24 Maryland will take on the Fighting Illini in Champaign, Illinois this week, looking to further improve its conference record with about a month left to go in the regular season.

With a 7-2 record in the Big 10, the Terps are currently in third place, only trailing Rutgers and Illinois, meaning the outcome of this series could go a long way toward final seeding in the conference tournament.

Last time out on Tuesday, Maryland went the distance with Towson, defeating the Tigers, 4-3, in 10 innings. Bobby Zmarzlak continued to play the hero for the Terps, hitting a go-ahead solo home run in the extra frame. David Falco Jr. shut the door in the bottom of the inning, securing Maryland’s 30th victory of the season.

To say Zmarzlak is entering this weekend on a hot streak would be an understatement. In his last five games, the junior is batting .474 with four home runs and nine RBI. His efforts were rewarded on Tuesday when he was named Big 10 Player of the Week.

Kevin Keister has also continued to produce at the plate, driving in three runs on Sunday against Ohio State and another versus Towson on Tuesday. After a slow start to the season, Keister has upped his batting average to .316, good for fourth best on the team.

On the mound this past weekend, Jason Savacool had another solid outing, striking out seven Buckeyes and only allowing five total baserunners in seven innings. To this point, Savacool ranks first in the Big 10 in ERA (2.39), innings pitched (64) and strikeouts (76).

Illinois (19-15)

Last Season

Illinois’ 2021 season was the definition of “middle of the pack,” finishing their conference-only schedule with a 22-22 record and in seventh place in the Big 10. It was night and day when looking at batting versus pitching with this team. The Illini offense hit .278 last season, good for second best in the conference. On the mound however, the Illinois pitching staff posted a 6.44 ERA, second worst in the conference. With no Big 10 Ten tournament last year, Illinois was left without a bid for the 2021 NCAA Tournament.

This Season

The number 15 in the loss column for this team is a bit deceiving, with thirteen of Illinois’ losses coming in non-conference games. At 10-2, Illinois is currently positioned in second place in the Big 10 standings, just one and a half games ahead of the third place Terps. Despite a loss to Indiana State on Tuesday, the Illini will enter this series with just as much momentum as Maryland, winning six of their last seven games, including a sweep of Northwestern last weekend.

Hitters to Watch

Cam McDonald has undoubtedly been the leader of this Illinois lineup. His .361 batting average ranks eighth-best in the Big 10. He also leads the team in hits, home runs and RBI. McDonald by himself will make this Illinois lineup a formidable challenge for the Maryland pitching staff.

Branden Comia has also been excellent for this Illinois offense. His .328 batting average, five home runs and 32 runs driven in are all second on the team only to McDonald. Danny Doligale rounds out Illinois’ trio of hitters batting over .300 that Maryland will have to contend with this weekend.

Pitchers to Watch

Cole Kirschsieper has been fantastic as a starter for the Illini this season, posting a 2.75 ERA and getting 57 strikeouts, eighth best in the Big 10, in 52 1/3 innings. In his last start versus Northwestern, the sophomore struck out seven Wildcats in five innings and gave up only one run, leading Illinois to a win.

After a tough start to the season, Riley Gowens has shown that he deserves to be in this Illinois weekend rotation. Over his past two starts, Gowens has allowed just two runs and struck out twelve over thirteen innings in wins over Iowa and Northwestern.

Probable Starting Pitcher Matchups

Friday, 9:00 p.m. ET

Jr. RHP Nick Dean (3-1, 3.94 ERA) vs. So. LHP Cole Kirschsieper (4-2, 2.75 ERA)

Nick Dean will take the mound for Maryland on Friday night coming off a start against Ohio State with some mixed results. Last time out he gave the Terps six innings of work, allowing four runs in the process. With an ERA currently sitting at 3.94, he will look to bounce back and prove why he is Rob Vaughn’s Friday starter.

It will be Cole Kirschsieper on the mound for Illinois opposite Dean. His 2.75 ERA ranks fourth best in the conference. He also leads this Illini pitching staff in innings as well as strikeouts. Last time out, Kirschsieper put together a solid outing in a win versus Northwestern, giving up just one run and striking out seven in five innings pitched.

Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ET

Jr. LHP Ryan Ramsey (7-0, 2.59 ERA) vs. So. RHP Jack Crowder (2-1, 6.59 ERA)

Ryan Ramsey will pitch Saturday for the Terps, coming off an uncharacteristic outing last weekend. In 4 1/3 innings against Ohio State, the Maryland southpaw gave up three runs, only striking out two Buckeyes and allowing six hits. That start still does not take away from the incredible season Ramsey is having. His seven wins are best in the Big 10. His 2.59 ERA, .186 opposing batting average and 55 2/3 innings pitched are all good for top five in the conference as well.

Jack Crowder will get the nod for Illinois on Saturday. It was a rough beginning to the season for the sophomore. After a solid first start of the season, he was only able to make it through five innings once and allowed 17 runs in his next four starts. He will have some momentum going into this weekend though as in his last outing against Northwestern he gave Illinois five quality innings, only allowing two runs and striking out eight.

Sunday, 2:00 p.m. ET

So. RHP Jason Savacool (6-2, 2.39 ERA) vs. So. RHP Riley Gowens (4-1, 3.97 ERA)

Jason Savacool will get the ball in the series finale on Sunday, and there just isn’t much left to say with regards to how fantastic his pitching has been this season. He currently leads the Big 10 in ERA, innings pitched and strikeouts. His six wins and .190 opposing batting average are also ranked top-five in the conference. His dominance over opposing lineups has solidified a Maryland weekend rotation that stacks up with the best in the country.

On the other side, Riley Gowens will get the start for the Illini. It has been an up and down season for Gowens, going back and forth between fantastic outings and starts where he can’t seem to find a rhythm. He has put together two solid starts in his past two outings, going thirteen combined innings and only allowing two runs, bringing his season ERA back down to 3.97.

Midweek Preview: Towson

No. 24 Maryland continued its good conference play this past weekend as the Terps improved to 7-2 in the Big Ten following a sweep of Ohio State. The Terps managed to win two close games to begin the weekend before exploding offensively on Sunday. Maryland scored 16 runs fueled by six doubles and two solo home runs.

The Terps now turn their attention to the Towson Tigers. The first game between the two teams was not pretty for Towson as Maryland won the game, 26-8. Nick Lorusso, Maxwell Costes, Matt Shaw and Troy Shreffler Jr. all homered in the first game against the Tigers.

Towson Tigers (9-26)

Last season:

Towson’s 2021 was better than their 2022 has been so far. A 21-36 record with an 11-12 conference record gave them a second place finish in the Colonial Athletic Association North Division. The team struggled at the plate finishing as the worst team in batting average and slugging percentage in their conference.

The pitching wasn’t any better for Towson as the team finished with a 5.60 ERA last year. The Tigers best relief pitcher Kody Reeser was a graduate student who is no longer on the team. Reeser finished the season with 2.02 ERA and made 25 appearances for the team.

This season:

Towson has struggled to get anything going this season. The Tigers are 0-9 in conference play this season and are currently on a six-game losing streak. Pitching remains the top concern for Towson as the team does not have a starting pitcher with a sub 5.50 ERA.

Hitters to watch:

Jack McLaughlin continues to be the Tigers best all around hitter this season. The senior infielder has a .357 batting average, .960 OPS and a .500 slugging percentage. Junior catcher Burke Camper brings the power for the Tigers as he has a team leading seven home runs and a .554 slugging percentage. While no qualified hitters have an average over .300 – outside of McLaughlin – the Terps pitching staff will still need to limit giving up the long ball as hitting home runs is the Tigers strength.

Pitchers to watch:

While the pitching staff has struggled as a whole, the Tigers closer Jake Pecilunas has been a bright spot this year. In 2022, the graduate student has a 2.25 ERA, 1.05 WHIP along with four saves. After allowing three runs in his first appearance of the season he has been lights out. Just two earned runs allowed in his last 19 innings of work.

Probable pitching matchup

Logan Ott vs. Teddy Blumenauer

Ott is familiar with this role as he has made eight starts for the Terps this season which is tied for the third most on the team. Ott enters with a 6.67 ERA and a 1-0 record. Ott struggled in his last outing against James Madison as he gave up five earned runs in 2 2/3 innings of work.

Blumenauer has had a rocky season so far posting a 15.19 ERA in seven appearances, five of them being starts. Blumenauer has not pitched since April 10 and could be on the bump to start for the Tigers. No matter who starts the game for Towson, they likely plan to throw a lot of different pitchers.

Series Preview: Ohio State Buckeyes

Entering their third weekend of conference play this season after facing Penn State at home and Minnesota on the road, Maryland takes on the Ohio State Buckeyes for a three-game set in College Park.

The Terps took two of three in both Big Ten weekends so far. They also defeated James Madison on Tuesday, fueling a strong stretch of five wins in their last six games.

Throughout their last six games, Maryland bats have driven in 42 runs, including an 11-run onslaught last Friday against the Golden Gophers. The Terps scored eight times against James Madison on the road earlier this week, as well.

With the team returning home for the first time since April 5, the Terps look to continue their success against conference opponents.

Ohio State Buckeyes (11-18)

Last Season:

The Buckeyes finished last season with a winning record at 22-20, but ended up toward the middle of the Big Ten standings in a season that featured all conference games. They were very streaky throughout the course of the year and Maryland won four of five games against them. The two split a two-game set in Columbus last March and then the Terps swept the Buckeyes in a weekend series at home the following month.

This Season:

Ohio State got off to a strong start by defeating Marshall and Indiana State twice, the latter of whom Maryland demolished at the LeClair Classic earlier this season but then lost seven consecutive affairs to a plethora of teams. They have not been able to find their rhythm since then, as they have not won more than two games in a row since the opening weekend.

Hitters to Watch:

Ohio State has had a few hitters raking at the plate this year, including Marcus Ernst and Trey Lipsey. Ernst has a slash line of .380/.486/.472. The senior infielder is a machine for singles and has started every game so far this year. Lipsey proposes more of a power threat, slugging .517 on the season with four home runs. Buckeye bats have been relatively impressive and scoring runs has not been any issue for them by any means.

Pitchers to Watch:

Ethan Hammerberg has been a strong bullpen arm for the Buckeyes, sporting a 2.45 ERA in 14 appearances. The 6’5 right-hander has put up zeros most of the days he has come into the game, but has had implosions against Cincinnati, Nebraska, and Michigan State. Jake Johnson is also a reliever to keep an eye on. Hammerberg has been slightly better and Johnson has also had a few major slip-ups this season, but both pitchers provide the Buckeyes with support in the late innings.

Probable Starting Pitcher Matchups

Friday, 6:30 p.m. ET

Jr. RHP Nick Dean (3-1, 3.63 ERA) vs. So. LHP Isaiah Coupet (2-3, 4.58 ERA) 

vs.

Nick Dean cashed in six strong innings against Minnesota last weekend, earning his third win of the season. He gave up three runs including a home run, but recorded six strikeouts. Dean had very similar numbers the weekend before against Penn State and has been rock solid this year for the Terps.

Isaiah Coupet has not been very consistent this season to say the least. The sophomore dominated against Marshall, UNCW, and Nebraska, but has severely struggled against Texas State, Campbell, West Virginia, and Purdue. His last start came on April 1 against Nebraska where he fired seven innings of one-run ball.

Saturday, 2:00 p.m. ET

Jr. LHP Ryan Ramsey (7-0, 2.28 ERA) vs. So. RHP Nate Haberthier (0-3, 6.29 ERA)

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Ryan Ramsey earned another win last weekend at Minnesota and lowered his ERA on the season, making his 2022 campaign even more impressive. The southpaw has only given up five runs over his last five starts and has pitched 32 innings over that span. It is safe to say Ramsey has really found his groove this year and leads Maryland pitchers in the win department.

Nate Haberthier is coming off a start where he gave up three runs to Michigan State in an offensive explosion for his Buckeyes The sophomore has not been able to make it deep into games, as the furthest he has gone came against West Virginia in early March (5 2/3 innings pitched).

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET

So. RHP Jason Savacool (5-2, 2.68 ERA) vs. Jr. RHP Wyatt Loncar (1-3, 5.40 ERA)

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Jason Savacool pitched seven innings against Minnesota last weekend and continues the trend of pitching deep into games. The sophomore right-hander has pitched either seven or eight innings in all but one games started so far this season. He recorded seven strikeouts against the Golden Gophers and gave up three runs.

Wyatt Loncar put up an effective performance last weekend against Michigan State, hurling five innings and giving up only one run in the process. That was one of his best games of the season though, having struggles in numerous games earlier in the season. The 6″6 junior has been inconsistent in both innings pitched and runs allowed.

Midweek Preview: James Madison

Despite dropping the last game of its series against Minnesota on Sunday, Maryland won its series against the Golden Gophers and now head to James Madison to take on the Dukes for a midweek game Wednesday. The Terps have been on a roll of late, having won seven of their last nine, including each of their last four midweek games.

Maryland defeated George Mason, 8-5, on April 5 in its last midweek game. The bats carried, as starter Logan Ott couldn’t complete five innings on the mound. Maxwell Costes crushed a two-run homer – his 11th of the season – to put the Terps back out in front in the sixth. Nick Larusso and Chris “Bubba” Alleyne both had great days at the plate – the two of them got on base five and four times, respectively. Maryland’s bullpen pitched well in relief of Ott, allowing only one run in 4 1/3 innings to secure the victory for the Terps.

James Madison (17-14)

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

This season: 31 games into the 2022 campaign, the Dukes’ pitching staff has been without a doubt better than last season with a 4.91 ERA – over a full run better than last season. Hitting wise, James Madison is near the top of the conference in nearly every major statistical category – average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, home runs, walks, and runs.

Hitters to watch: Redshirt sophomore outfielder Chase DeLauter has been a monster at the plate for James Madison. DeLauter leads both James Madison and the CAA in average (.437), slugging percentage (.828), on-base percentage (.576), and home runs (8). Another Duke with an OPS over 1.000 is leadoff man Trevon Dabney. Dabney ranks only behind DeLauter on James Madison in on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, and home runs.

Pitchers to watch: James Madison has started different arms in each of its past three midweek games – Ryan Murphy, Todd Mozoki, and CJ Czerwinski. Right-hander Eli Ottinger has been James Madison’s best arm out of relief, with a 2.41 ERA and sub-one WHIP in 11 appearances, all out of the bullpen.

Probable pitching matchup

Logan Ott vs. TBD

Ott has been Maryland’s primary midweek starter this season, and the sophomore has been a mixed bag in that role. Ott has fired scoreless outings in two of his starts, but in the other five, has an 8.05 ERA.

As previously mentioned, James Madison has used different starters in each of its past three midweek games this season. In its last midweek contest against VMI, Czerwinski started but lasted less than three innings, as the Dukes went with a bullpen game to pick up the 12-2 win.

Series Preview: Minnesota Golden Gophers

A successful series win against Penn State last weekend is exactly what the Terps needed to kick off conference play this season. Maryland continues its campaign Friday when the squad embarks on a journey to Minneapolis for a three-game set with Minnesota.

In between the two Big Ten series, Maryland picked up a midweek win against George Mason on Tuesday afternoon ahead of a nasty weather forecast, which canceled the other scheduled midweek game for Wednesday against Navy.

The win over George Mason was the second time the Terps beat them in a week, and showed that this offense has no intention of slowing down as the most important stretch of the season has arrived. After falling behind, 4-3, in the fifth frame, the offense rallied for five runs between the next three innings and wouldn’t look back.

With its fifth win in six games, Maryland has its head held high going into this series at Minnesota.

Minnesota Golden Gophers (8-18)

Last Season:

The Gophers’ 2021 season was the worst one in the history of their program, winning six games and finishing with a .162 winning percentage. Coming in dead last in just about every statistical category in the Big Ten, Minnesota was a long way from competing with the rest of the conference in a year where that was its only competition. The next-best team was the Purdue Boilermakers, and they had 10 more wins than Minnesota.

This Season:

As of now, the Gophers have made a big leap from last season — owning a .308 winning percentage. They are still 10 games under .500 and are bringing up the bottom of the Big Ten, coming off the receiving end of a sweep last weekend against Rutgers. The slight improvement in overall record is thanks to an offense that’s produced a smidge better than a couple other Big Ten squads, and a pitching staff that has jumped from a 8.06 ERA to a 6.66 ERA.

Hitters to Watch:

Minnesota’s lackluster offense this season has had a couple of bright spots. Those two being redshirt seniors Jack Kelly and Easton Bertrand. Both have had extraordinary seasons at the plate, with Kelly slashing .405/.475/.798 and Bertrand slashing .383/.444/.702. The Gophers’ home run leader, Chase Stanke, isn’t too far behind his teammates, but his eight home runs are one shy of last season’s team-high.

Pitchers to Watch:

One name stands out amongst the abysmal Minnesota pitching staff, and that name is Sam Ireland. The Gophers’ ace was recently ranked the No. 66 starting pitcher in the nation, according to D1Baseball. His 2.79 ERA in seven starts is by far the best on the staff, with 5.68 and 6.68 ERAs behind him. Minnesota also has one standout relief pitcher in Tom Skoro. Skoro has made 13 appearances out of the pen and has a team-best 2.25 ERA.

Probable Starting Pitcher Matchups

Friday, 5:00 p.m. ET

Jr. RHP Nick Dean (2-1, 3.48 ERA) vs. Jr. RHP Sam Ireland (3-1, 2.79 ERA) 

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Nick Dean was able to somewhat right the ship against Penn State after two of his most strenuous starts of the season, going six innings with two earned runs against the Nittany Lions. If Penn State’s average offense offered a great chance to get back to his early-season form, then facing Minnesota should be a blessing for Dean.

When Sam Ireland is on, he’s on. Thankfully for Maryland, he’s coming into Friday night’s game after three of his toughest starts of the season. In his first four starts, he recorded a 1.90 ERA. In his three starts since that stretch, he has a 4.20 ERA. Ireland’s most recent outing was against Big Ten competition in Rutgers, and he surrendered three runs in five innings.

Saturday, 3:00 p.m. ET

Jr. LHP Ryan Ramsey (6-0, 2.33 ERA) vs. R-Jr. RHP Aidan Maldonado (1-3, 5.68 ERA)

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Ryan Ramsey is coming off his longest start of the year — eight innings of work with eight strikeouts against Penn State. A pair of mistakes added three earned runs to his pitching line and wiped away the potential win, but Ramsey left the mound maintaining his incredible ERA despite seeing it rise a tick. In his last four starts, he owns a 1.33 ERA and is amidst the best stretch of his collegiate career.

Aidan Maldonado suffered the biggest blow to his season ERA in his start against Rutgers last Saturday. The Scarlet Knights walloped the righty for seven runs on eight hits and four walks, all within the first four innings. Maldonado had a similar start early in the season with six earned runs against Indiana State, but without those two major blemishes on his season, his ERA would sit at 2.66. The Terps will hope to make it three blemishes on the redshirt junior’s season.

Sunday, 2:00 p.m. ET

So. RHP Jason Savacool (5-2, 2.52 ERA) vs. Sr. RHP J.P. Massey (2-3, 6.68 ERA)

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Jason Savacool came one strikeout away from tying his career-high 14 against Penn State last Sunday. It might be unlikely that he comes close to that total against Minnesota — while the Gophers are at the bottom of nearly every offensive stat, they own the lowest number of strikeouts in the Big Ten. However, Savacool seems to certainly be back in his groove after his Penn State start, which came a week following a rough patch at Dallas Baptist.

J.P. Massey brings up the caboose in Gophers’ weekend rotation with his 6.68 ERA, and he has hardly been able to catch a break. Coming off last Sunday’s start with six earned runs against Rutgers, it’s going to be especially hard for him to catch a break against the Terps’ lineup.

Midweek Preview: George Mason

Fresh off a series win over Penn State this weekend in College Park, Maryland shifts its focus now to George Mason. The Terps defeated the Patriots in Fairfax, Virginia, 3-1, on March 30 in their second midweek contest last week. 

Matt Shaw and Bobby Zmarzlak led the way for Maryland offensively a week ago, each collecting two hits. In the low-scoring affair, starting pitcher Logan Ott shut down the opposition with five scoreless innings on just three hits allowed. The Terps’ bullpen took the baton and shut the door on the George Mason offense with David Falco, Nick Robinson and Sean Heine combining for one earned run over four innings. 

George Mason Patriots (9-17)

Last season: George Mason found itself near the bottom of the Atlantic-10 conference standings last season. With Massachusetts (.158) being the only team to finish with a worse conference winning percentage, the Patriots ended 2021 with a .292 winning percentage, finishing last in the conference’s South Division. The Patriots’ hitting was middle of the pack, slashing .266/.353/.386, but it was the pitching that had them falling into the gutter of the Atlantic-10. The staff’s 6.66 ERA was narrowly better than St. Bonaventure’s conference-worst 6.76, and opposing batters nearly hit .300 against them.

This season: Roughly a third of the way through the season, George Mason finds itself in a similar spot to last year. Only three conference opponents have fewer wins. The Patriots are near league-average in almost every team statistic. They rank sixth in batting average, seventh in on-base percentage and eighth in ERA. 

Hitters to watch: First baseman Scott Morgan leads the George Mason offense, first among qualified hitters in OPS and home runs. Leadoff hitter and second baseman Brett Stallings leads all regular starters with a .333 average. 

Pitchers to watch: George Mason has just one pitcher with an ERA below five, its Friday starter Jared Lyons. Out of the bullpen, the Patriots deploy just one hurler who has not made a start with an ERA below six. Maryland’s offense has been known to chase starters and get to bullpens early in games, where it typically takes advantage. Look for the Terps to do the same again. 

Probable pitching matchup

Logan Ott vs. TBD

Ott has been Maryland’s primary midweek starter this season. Fourth on the team in innings pitched, the sophomore touts a 5.24 ERA in six starts, all but one in midweek games. With just one game this week before the weekend series against Minnesota, Ott should get the ball again today. 

George Mason has deployed a number of different midweek starters this season. In last week’s matchup, Britt Yount got the start and allowed one earned run over three innings. In its previous two midweek contests, Danny Hosley and Chad Gartland started on the mound. Hosley tossed seven scoreless innings in a win over Coppin State, while Gartland went just three innings in a loss to Georgetown. 

Series Preview: Penn State Nittany Lions

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

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

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

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

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

Penn State Nittany Lions (9-13)

Last Season:

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

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

This Season:

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

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

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

Hitters to Watch:

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

Pitchers to Watch:

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

Probable Starting Pitcher Matchups

Friday, 6:30 p.m. ET

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

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

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

Saturday, 2:00 p.m. ET

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

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

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

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET

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

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

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

Midweek Preview: Towson and George Mason

Maryland enters the new week unranked for the first time this season after dropping last weekend’s series against Dallas Baptist. While the Terps hung in there all weekend — getting outscored by just two runs in the three games — the Patriots proved why they have been the No. 1-ranked RPI team in the country for the past three weeks.

The weekend in Dallas was the last non-conference series for Maryland before it heads into conference play against Penn State next weekend, but before that, they play two midweek games on Tuesday and Wednesday against Towson and George Mason, respectively. Both teams have struggled thus far and present a great opportunity for Maryland to bounce back ahead of Big Ten competition.

Towson Tigers (8-16)

Last season:

While Towson ended its 2021 season with a 21-36 record, an 11-12 conference record was all it needed to place second in the Colonial Athletic Association North Division. However, the team’s performance was certainly nothing to write home about, as it place last in the entire CAA in batting average and slugging percentage. The only stat that the Tigers excelled in was walks, which they led their conference in with 261.

On the other side of the diamond, Towson’s pitching also led the CAA in walks, giving out 237 free passes. Overall, the Tigers pitching handed in a 5.60 ERA in 2021, and they gave up the most home runs (63) in the conference as well.

This season:

Towson is two weeks removed from taking a big four-game series split against Princeton, but its -16 run differential over that weekend paints the bigger picture of how rough 2022 has been for the Tigers. With a .333 winning percentage, Towson is dead last in the CAA with every other team sitting above .500. The hitting has improved from 2021 (to third-worst in the conference), but the pitching has all but hit rock-bottom. A 7.93 ERA tells the whole story, as the combination of walks and home runs has left the Tigers pitching staff helpless.

Hitters to watch:

The improved hitting performance from the 2022 Tigers could arguably be mostly attributed to its two strongest sluggers — Jack McLaughlin and Burke Camper. Both players have posted an OPS beyond 1.100, and McLaughlin alone owns a .409 batting average. Camper leads the team with seven home runs, which has translated to a monstrous .712 slugging percentage. There’s a pretty steep drop-off following those two, but those potent bats could certainly pose a big threat against Maryland pitching.

Pitchers to watch:

With just one pitcher owning at least 10 innings pitched and an ERA below 4.00, Towson’s pitching is exactly what the CAA conference stats show — rock-bottom. The one pitcher who has stayed afloat so far is Tigers closer Jake Pecilunas, who comes in with a 2.70 ERA and four saves out of his 10 appearances. Should the Tigers have a late lead Tuesday evening, it will most likely be Pecilunas taking the ball.

George Mason Patriots (8-14)

Last season:

Just like Towson, George Mason found itself near the bottom of its conference standings last season. With Massachusetts (.158) being the only team to finish with a worse conference winning percentage, the Patriots ended 2021 with a .292 record in the Atlantic-10 Conference, finishing last in the South Division. The Patriots’ hitting was middle of the pack, slashing .266/.353/.386, but it was the pitching that had them falling into the gutter of the Atlantic-10. The staff’s 6.66 ERA was narrowly better than St. Bonaventure’s conference-worst 6.76, and opposing batters nearly hit .300 against them.

This season:

George Mason is on track to finish the season just about where they ended in 2021, currently sitting fourth-to-last in the Atlantic-10. Having dropped a series to The Citadel last weekend, George Mason owns an 8-14 record, and prior to its win on Sunday, George Mason was suffering a six-game losing streak. The offense has put up similar numbers to 2021, slashing .260/.356/.349, but the pitching still remains in dire straits. Its 6.05 ERA stands out the most.

Hitters to watch:

The Patriots have three hitters in their lineup with an OPS over .800, but the most impressive one is Connor Dykstra, who’s been raking to a 1.020 OPS in 58 at-bats. Dykstra leads the Patriots with four home runs, and is the only hitter in the lineup with more than one long ball.

Pitchers to watch:

The two standout pitchers on George Mason’s staff may not even make an appearance in Wednesday’s game. Danny Hosley — owner of a 2.87 ERA and team-best 0.97 WHIP — started on Sunday against The Citadel, and Chad Gartland — owner of a 2.75 ERA — started on Saturday. Matthew Henson is the only other pitcher on the Patriots having pitched over 10 innings and an ERA below 4.00, and he could make an appearance out of the bullpen.

Probable Pitching Matchups:

Maryland is playing back-to-back midweek games for the first time this season, meaning that Head Coach Rob Vaughn will have to deploy two midweek starters as opposed to one. Logan Ott has received the most midweek starts, so he’ll likely take one of the games, but for the other, it’s likely to fall on another bullpen arm, such as Andrew Johnson or Ryan Van Buren.

As for the opposition, Towson has typically sent out Teddy Blumenaur for midweek starts, but that could be up in the air for Tuesday after his last performance against Virginia where he gave up six runs in 2/3 innings. George Mason has split midweek starts between a handful of pitchers, with the most recent being Britt Yount.