Tournament Preview: Greenville Regional

For the first time since 2017, Maryland (28-16) is in the NCAA Tournament thanks in part to a late-season 20-5 stretch from March 29 to May 21 to set the best 25-game stretch in program history. The Terps won seven straight series wins to end the season and finish second in the Big Ten standings. 

Maryland is slated as the No. 3 seed in the Greenville Regional which features the host No. 1 seed East Carolina, the No. 2 seed Charlotte and No. 4 seed Norfolk State.

Helping lead Maryland back to the NCAA Tournament was the top three guys in their lineup all earning Big Ten honors. Shortstop and Big Ten home run leader Ben Cowles was named First-team All-Big Ten. Center Fielder Chris Alleyne was named to the Second-team All-Big Ten and Second Baseman Matt Shaw was an at-large on the All-Big Ten Freshman Team.

Pitching wise, Jason Savacool was named to the All-Big Ten Freshman Team, and Ryan Ramsey out of the bullpen was named Second-team All-Big Ten. 

Luke Shliger was also named to the All-Big Ten Freshman Team.

Maryland enters the postseason being ranked No. 24 in the D1 Baseball top-25. This weekend will also feature the first time all season Maryland faces a non Big Ten opponent.

Maryland owns an all-time record of 8-9 in the NCAA Tournament with its best performances being back-to-back super regional appearances in 2014 and 2015. In its last appearance in 2017, Maryland went 1-2 and did not make it out of the opening round.

Being four years since their last appearance, Maryland does not have much NCAA Tournament experience on the roster. Only two players remain from that 2017 team, pitcher Tyler Blohm, who’s battled injuries all year, and Elliot Zoellner, a key part of the Maryland bullpen. 

This is Rob Vaughn’s first NCAA Tournament as a head coach but he is not a stranger to the big stage here as he was a part of the staff under previous head coach John Szefc during the 2014, 2015 and 2017 NCAA Tournament appearances. Vaughn also made it as a player in 2009 for Kansas State and 2011 as an assistant coach. 

Maryland will face Charlotte for the first time ever in program history at 6:00 P.M. Friday from Clark-LeClair Stadium with Jason Savacool taking the mound. In a double elimination format a win would send them to the winners bracket Saturday against the winner of East Carolina/Norfolk State matchup which is at noon Friday. A loss would mean they play the loser of that matchup also on Saturday with their season being on the line. 

Charlotte 49ers (39-19)

Last Season

Charlotte’s season was cut short after 17 games due to the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving the 49ers with a 9-8 record. Their biggest win was against No. 8 NC State but they were also swept by No. 22 East Carolina. 

This Season 

Charlotte won the Conference-USA regular-season championship and was ranked throughout the season and was in the host discussion for the NCAA Tournament but settled for the No. 2 seed in the Greenville Regional after being bounced from the Conference-USA tournament. 

Hitters to watch 

Charlotte’s lineup is well-balanced across the board but is led by third baseman Austin Knight and first baseman LuJames Groover III. Knight has a .351 batting average, a 1.024 OPS and a team-high 61 RBI on the season. Groover III sits just behind in batting average with a .350 average. Groover III also has a .880 OPS and 34 RBI on the season. 

Pitchers to watch  

Starting pitching-wise Charlotte is led by Andrew Lindsey who will get the start Friday against Maryland. Lindsey has a 6-1 record, a 4.64 ERA in 77 2/3 innings pitched this season. Bryce McGowan is the second guy to watch for with a 7-4 record and a 4.62 ERA in 78 innings pitched this season. Out of the bullpen, Christian Lothes has a 2.72 ERA and a 4-0 record in 20 appearances and one game started as well. 

East Carolina Pirates (41-15)

Last Season 

East Carolina’s season was cut short after 17 games due to the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving the Pirates with a 13-4 record. While they did not play any ranked teams they did sweep Charlotte but did lose to Indiana and Ole Miss. 

This Season

East Carolina is one of college baseball’s biggest powerhouses getting the No. 13 national seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Pirates won the regular season AAC title but lost in the semifinals of the AAC conference tournament to UCF. However, on paper this is a team capable of making a deep run into the tournament ranking among the national leaders in nine different categories such as in hits, sac bunts and K to BB ratio.

Hitters to watch 

Where do we start with a dangerous team like this? What about the AAC Conference Player of the Year and Second Team All-American Connor Norby who has a .424 batting average, a 1.173 OPS, 51 RBI on the season and at one point set the school record with a 56-game on-base streak going back to 2020 that ended on May 21. Thomas Francisco is another name to watch with a .368 batting average, a .992 OPS and 44 RBI on the season. Josh Moylan also checks in with a .321 batting average, a .887 OPS and 32 RBI. 

Pitchers to watch

AAC Pitcher of the Year and First-Team All-American Gavin Willams is the ace of the East Carolina pitching staff. Williams has a 1.32 ERA which is fourth in the NCAA, a 10-0 record, allowing 10 earned runs on the season while opponents only have a .176 batting average hitting off of him. Another starter to watch out for is Carson Whisenhunt who is 6-1 with a 3.52 ERA. Out of the bullpen, Cam Colmore is the name to watch. Colmore made 28 appearances with one start and posted a 1.74 ERA.

Norfolk State (25-26)

Last season 

Even though it was shortened due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 season was not kind to the Spartans finishing with a 3-13 record. They did get a win against Old Dominion but had losses against VCU and Kentucky.

This season 

Despite the under .500 record it has been a historic season for Norfolk State which is making its first ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament. They did it in dramatic fashion by winning the MEAC conference tournament in extra innings, 7-6, over North Carolina Central to earn an automatic bid. 

Hitters to watch

Norfolk State is led by two-way player and MEAC Player of the Year Danny Hosley who has a .375 batting average, a .961 OPS and has 23 RBI on the season. First-team All-MEAC second baseman Aslander Womack is another name to watch with a .358 batting average, a .899 OPS and leads the team with 36 RBI. First-team All-MEAC outfielder Dionte Brown checks in with a .312 batting average, and a .790 OPS. He also leads the team in stolen bases with 19.

Pitchers to watch 

Hosley is the name to watch on the Norfolk State staff making Second-team All-MEAC as a pitcher. Hosley posted a 2.95 ERA and leads the team with 79 strikeouts. Left handed pitcher and Third-team All-MEAC James Deloatch is another name to watch. Deloatch has a 2.58 ERA and a 7-2 record but gives up a lot of walks with 41 on the season, the most on the team. Out of the bullpen, Nolan Manzer has a 0.81 ERA and a 1-1 record in 13 appearances and 22 1/3 innings pitched.

Maryland selected to NCAA Tournament for first time since 2017

For the first time since 2017, the Maryland Terrapins are dancing.

Following the conclusion of the 2021 regular season — a disappointing loss on Senior Day to Indiana — the Terps (28-16) were elated to find out they were named on Monday’s selection show as the No. 3 seed in the Greenville Region.

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To put the cherry on top, the Terps also climbed up in the D1 Baseball top-25, being ranked No. 24 to enter the week.

Maryland joins No. 12 East Carolina (41-15), Charlotte (39-19) and Norfolk St. (25-26) in the Greenville Region, and it will meet with the No. 2 seed Charlotte 49ers in game one Friday at 6:00 P.M..

Early in the 2021 season, Maryland had quite the mountain to climb to even be recognized in the Big Ten, but a strong second-half performance jettisoned the Terps to second place in the regular season standings. In its final 21 games, Maryland won 17 contests and won its last seven series.

With this being the program’s first tournament appearance since it was eliminated in regionals in 2017, there are huge expectations for this extremely hot team to carry its regular season momentum into the postseason as the road to Omaha begins.

Hoosiers spoil Terps’ Senior Day, salvage a win in regular season finale

On an emotional day for many senior Terps — those who returned for their senior season following the 2020 season’s cancelation and the seniors of 2021 — the Indiana Hoosiers rained all over Maryland’s parade, salvaging a win after being victim to a doubleheader sweep Saturday.

What looked like a promising start for the Terps quickly turned into a bullpen implosion, as the Hoosiers scored all seven of its runs in the middle innings to claim a 7-3 win.

With Nick Dean day-to-day due to a wrist injury, Senior Sean Fisher took his spot as the Sunday starter and looked fiery in his first three frames. In what would be his final appearance at the Bob in his Terps career, Fisher fired three scoreless innings with two strikeouts.

Meanwhile, the Maryland lineup kept up its trend of scoring early, getting on the board first with a solo bomb off the bat of Senior Randy Bednar. Chris Alleyne came around to add to Maryland’s early lead after back-to-back Hoosier errors allowed him to score from first base.

Fisher, and the proceeding outing of Zach Thompson, would keep Indiana at bay through the first four frames, but then the implosion began. Bullpen implosions had been hard to come by in the spectacular 18-3 stretch this Terps team entered this game amidst, but with the reliable arm of Dean absent, the bullpen was forced to take on some extra workload this afternoon.

Indiana would load the bases in the fifth after Thompson hit Jeremy Houston with a pitch, and a Drew Ashley sacrifice fly would quickly halve Maryland’s lead. In came Senior Tyler Blohm to douse the Hoosier rally, but Grant Richardson battled through a seven-pitch at-bat to tie the game with a RBI single that just rolled past Benjamin Cowles into left field.

With rain being a common theme of this weekend series, the Hoosiers let the runs pour in just an inning later, putting up a four-spot against the combined efforts of Blohm and Sean Heine.

Fucci came around an inning later to double his home run total for the day and give Indiana a commanding 7-2 lead.

Indiana’s pitching — reflecting Maryland’s “bullpenning” — was extremely hard to penetrate in its Sunday outing, and held the potent Terps lineup to two earned runs. John Modugno started the Hoosiers off with four innings of work to keep Indiana in the game long enough to spark its offensive rally.

Next came Nathan Stahl, who surrendered the game-tying home run to Maxwell Costes in game one Saturday. This time, he promptly threw three one-run innings and left the door open for Braden Scott to close out the final two innings.

The only ounce of a comeback Maryland could muster against the strong Hoosier bullpen was a two-out RBI double off the bat of Cowles, but the Terps ultimately fell to Indiana in the season finale.

Maryland now awaits the Selection Sunday show later this afternoon, where it stands in as a national tournament hopeful.

Terps secure seventh-straight series win, lock in on second-place with doubleheader sweep over Hoosiers

With a monsoon-like rainstorm wiping out any chance of Friday night’s game being played, the Terps were be forced to play a straight doubleheader Saturday afternoon. The rain didn’t entirely disperse Saturday as the Terps kicked off the final series of the season with a sweep of the doubleheader over the Indiana Hoosiers, winning game one, 4-3 and game two, 5-2.

Game one pitted two of the best starting pitchers in the conference against each other, with Freshman Jason Savacool matching up with Gabe Bierman. Savacool came into this start as a three-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week, while Bierman owns the third-best ERA in the Big Ten (2.78).

The pitchers’ duel was as advertised as scoring was limited to just four runs between the two starters, and not surprisingly, only one of those runs was scored on a hit.

The Terps kicked off the scoring with Bobby Zmarzlak drawing a two-out walk with the bases loaded, but the Hoosiers didn’t wait too long before matching the score.

While Savacool did his job to keep Indiana scoring to a minimum, his one flaw was allowing the dreaded leadoff walk, which he did in back-to-back innings as his control seemed to drop off throughout his outing. The first walk came in the fourth inning, and the free pass came around to score off a sacrifice fly courtesy of Cole Barr.

Savacool’s struggles only got worse when seeing the Hoosiers lineup the third time around in, as the leadoff hitter Jeremy Houston served a pitch to deep left field for a double to lead off the sixth frame. A couple batters later and Grant Richardson would loop a single into center field to bring home Houston, giving Indiana its first lead of the day.

Indiana would extend its lead in the sixth as Savacool came undone, loading the bases thanks to a hit batter and a walk. The consequential, second sacrifice fly of the day would provide Indiana with some insurance as they jumped to a 3-1 lead.

As Savacool exited after six innings of work with his team trailing, it was still a positive outing for the freshman. He recorded his sixth quality start of the season and nearly matched his season-high in strikeouts with six on the afternoon.

David Falco entered from the bullpen to limit the Hoosiers to their three runs, and that’s just what he did with three scoreless frames.

But with the Maryland offense unable to come up with anything following the first-inning bases-loaded walk, the stellar pitching in relief would appear to be for naught — that is until the ninth inning.

After Bierman and the Hoosiers bullpen sent down 13 of Maryland’s last 14 batters prior to the ninth, Maxwell Costes would become game one’s hero, smashing a solo bomb to left-center field to tie the game at three runs and giving the Maryland offense life.

The Maryland bullpen continued to shove in extras, as Ryan Ramsey replaced Falco in the tenth frame and promptly retired the side.

While the offense was more than anemic for a majority of game one, the Terps would finish off the Hoosiers in a similar fashion to how they started them off.

After loading the bases on a walk and two hit batters, the Terps offensive MVP Benjamin Cowles stepped to the plate. Working the count full against Nathan Stahl, Cowles drew the bases-loaded walk to walk it off against Indiana, 4-3 — making it the third time the Terps have won in that fashion this season.

Game two presented yet another pitchers’ duel — this time between two 2021 MLB Draft hopefuls: Sean Burke and McCade Brown.

With both starters being ranked within the top-100 of MLB Pipeline’s Top 200 Draft Prospects list, it arguably should have set up for a more intense battle than game one’s pitchers’ duel. However, Brown’s rare struggle with command would put Indiana into an early hole.

Walking five batters in the first inning, Maryland stole an early 2-0 lead on Brown’s shaky command — a lead they would take and never look back. In total, Brown walked a career-high eight batters in just three innings, easily his worst outing of the season.

Burke would pitch from the opposite side of the spectrum as he stayed sharp on the mound, lighting up Indiana’s lineup for 12 strikeouts — a new season-high.

As Burke butchered the Hoosiers, the Terps lineup would still struggle to get hits against the Hoosiers, especially after Brown exited the game in favor of Braydon Tucker. Tucker immediately struck out the side in his first frame, but the Terps bats would finally heat up in the fifth inning.

After Cowles picked up a rare infield single, Costes launched a Tucker pitch off the top of the right field wall to score Cowles from first and extend the Terps lead to 3-0.

While Maryland may have struggled to find just a few hits in game two, the Hoosiers struggled even more as they were held hitless through 6 2/3 innings. They finally broke through when Kip Fougerousse slapped a single to center field.

It would be the first time Indiana really threatened to that point as it loaded the bases on a walk against Elliott Zoellner, who replaced Burke after his 6 2/3 innings of work. A lined shot off the bat of pinch-hitter Ethan Vecrumba to center field would have Terps fans holding their breaths — but it fell just short of the wall into the glove of Chris Alleyne to keep a zero in the Hoosier run column.

Maryland’s offense found some life in the seventh inning, as the first five Terps would reach base and add two more runs onto the lead. Justin Vought nearly blew game two wide open with a deep blast with the bases loaded but just fell short of his second grand slam of the season.

A solo home run from Drew Ashley in the seventh and a two-out Jacob Southern RBI single were the only blemishes on Zoellner down the stretch, and he was able to safely navigate the Terps through the final few innings to secure the doubleheader sweep.

The sweep gives Maryland its seventh-straight series win, and gives them the chance to sweep the series Sunday at noon in the regular season finale.

Series Preview: Indiana Hoosiers

For the first time since 2017, the Maryland Terrapins (26-15) will be entering a series as a ranked team coming into the 2021 season finale as the No. 25-ranked squad in the country, according to D1 Baseball.

Maryland’s placement amongst the top-25 in the nation is greatly due to getting hot at the right time, as the Terps have won more games than any other Power Five school in the past 19 games (16). As it stands, Maryland owns a second-place tie with Michigan in the Big Ten standings with a chance to cement its position against the Indiana Hoosiers.

Part of the Terps’ scorching-hot stretch comes from Big Ten Freshman of the Week Matt Shaw. After leading Maryland to a series win last weekend against the Wolverines, Shaw’s batting average for the second half of the season stands at over .400. Playing all but three games this season, Shaw is slashing .346/.413/.532 with five home runs and 27 RBI.

Shaw’s infield-mate Benjamin Cowles has also continued to be a powerful catalyst in the Terps’ lineup, owning a sizable lead in the Big Ten home run standings with 17 bombs on the year, four more than the three batters tied for second.

While the offense has certainly stolen the show for Maryland, the pitching has also had great contributions to the second-half success the Terps have seen. Last weekend’s series isn’t the best indicator of what the rotation has done, but ever since Head Coach Rob Vaughn shifted the weekend starters to Nick Dean-Jason Savacool-Sean Burke, the runs have come at a minimum for opponents.

That change has held opponents 3.91 runs per game against Maryland’s pitching providing a comfortable cushion for the offense, which had been scoring seven runs per game in that stretch.

It’ll take a Michigan sweep of the Nebraska for the Terps to match the first-place Cornhuskers 29-11 record, but even if that comes to fruition Nebraska owns the tie-breaker over Maryland. Either way the weekend goes, Maryland will be controlling its own fate in the second-place spot since it owns the tie-breaker against Michigan.

The season finale will begin Friday at 6:30 P.M at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium, where the university is opening attendance up to full capacity for the first time this season. The following two games are Saturday at 2:00 P.M. and Sunday at noon.

Indiana Hoosiers (25-16)

Last Season

Indiana’s 2020 season was cut short at 15 games due to the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving the Hoosiers with a 9-6 record in the early going. Their lone conference game was a 17-2 clobbering of Purdue in just seven innings, very representative of the strong offense they brought to the table (6.33 runs per game).

This Season

Indiana’s shortened 2020 season may have displayed a strong offense, but its 2021 has been dominated by incredible pitching. The Hoosiers’ pitching staff has compiled a strong 3.13 ERA this season, led by a dynamic one-two punch of McCade Brown and Gabe Bierman.

Hitters to Watch

The Hoosier bats don’t pack much of a powerful punch, sitting in the middle of the Big Ten when it comes to power numbers. However, it’s been two batters who have been leading the way for Indiana: Cole Barr and Grant Richardson. Barr and Richardson both own a .900+ OPS and are the first two within Indiana’s home run standings with eight and seven, respectively.

Pitchers to Watch

The aforementioned Brown and Bierman are the two biggest names to watch on this Indiana pitching staff by quite the large margin. Brown has been included in many draft prospect lists for the 2021 MLB Draft, including being ranked No. 94 on MLB Pipeline’s top 200 draft prospect list. He boasts a 3.26 ERA this season, but more impressively a 92-35 strikeout to walk ratio. Bierman owns the Hoosier rotation’s best ERA at 2.78 with slightly less eye-popping strikeout numbers.

Pitching Matchups

Friday, 6:30 P.M.

RHP Jason Savacool (7-2, 5.32 ERA) vs. RHP John Modugno (3-1, 2.08 ERA)

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Savacool ran into the biggest road bump of his freshman season last weekend against Michigan, where he couldn’t get through the third inning before letting up six runs on six hits. The start bumped his season ERA to 5.32, but numbers won’t matter when he heads to the mound Friday night in the biggest start of his young collegiate career.

John Modugno has only started three games for the Hoosiers prior to his Friday night slot in College Park, but he’s been stellar regardless of coming out of the bullpen or starting on the hill. His season ERA stands at 2.08 and he’s coming into the weekend with an eight-inning scoreless streak.

Saturday, 2:00 P.M.

RHP Sean Burke (4-3, 3.94 ERA) vs. RHP McCade Brown (5-3, 3.26 ERA)

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Burke has been on quite the roll in his last handful of starts, stringing together four straight wins and recording a 2.50 ERA in those four starts. He’s certainly back in form as the pitcher who’s ranked No. 73 in MLB Pipeline’s top 200 draft prospects list.

In the battle of likely 2021 MLB draft picks, Brown will toe the rubber coming off a somewhat short but impactful start against first-place Nebraska. While he wasn’t able to lead his team to victory, he pitched five innings and had two runs scored against him while striking out eight Cornhuskers.

Sunday, 12:00 P.M.

TBA vs. RHP Gabe Bierman (5-4, 2.78 ERA)

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While Bierman owns the best ERA on the Indiana staff, he has been going through struggles in his last pair of starts. Just last week, he fell short of recording a quality start in a loss to Ohio State, going five innings with three earned runs and a couple walks. Having gone at least six innings in eight of his ten starts to that point, a five-inning outing was certainly uncommon for Bierman.

Maryland takes rubber match, wins sixth-straight series against Michigan

For the first time since April 16, Maryland finally had its top five hitters in the same lineup and through a full-strength offense and one of Sean Burke’s best outings of the season, Maryland beat Michigan 7-3 to win their sixth-straight series Sunday.  

Maryland was swinging out of the gates with a more aggressive approach against starting pitcher Jacob Denner compared to Saturday with a leadoff double by Chris Alleyne. Up came Ben Cowles who had been hitless in the first two games of the series as Michigan has done a good job containing him. 

But on a 3-1 pitch, Cowles hit his Big Ten leading 17th home run to deep left field to give Maryland the early 2-0 lead and also extend his streak of hitting at least one home run in a series. Randy Bednar Jr. would then follow Cowles’ lead and hit his own home run to left field to give Maryland a commanding 3-0 lead in the first inning.

“We got after [Denner] early, with a really good plan and a really good approach by the guys,” coach Rob Vaughn said.

Michigan would respond in the second inning, hitting Sean Burke hard with a single and a double that brought Tito Flores to the plate, and on one swing he tied the game 3-3 with a home run to left field. 

But Maryland slugger Matt Shaw responded in the third inning with a double and advanced to third on Cowles’ sacrifice fly that was almost home run No. 18 on the season. Bednar would get the job done and bring him home on the RBI groundout to give Maryland the lead right back 4-3. 

Against an offense like Michigan, Maryland needed to add insurance runs. That’s exactly what happened in the fourth inning when Troy Scheffler Jr. got it going with a single and a stolen base. Justin Vought continued his hot streak with a single that put runners on the corners with no outs. 

Schreffler Jr. then had a heads up play to score when a wild pitch got away from catcher Griffin Mazur with nobody covering home to make it 5-3 and bring up the big guns of the Maryland lineup with the chance to do more damage.

Shaw’s RBI double would do just that making it 6-3 and the bases would be loaded for the returning Maxwell Costes after missing five games with an ankle injury. Normally, facing a high leverage situation would cause you to be aggressive looking for the big hit. Costes stayed patient and drew the bases-loaded RBI walk to cap off the big inning and give Maryland a 7-3 lead.

“[Costes] really sees the baseball well.” Vaughn said. “It’s good to have him back in there today.”

Sunday featured only the 18th time out of 41 games this season Bednar Jr. and Costes were in the lineup at the same time, and the result was seven runs, which was all the offense Maryland needed on the afternoon.

After his slip up in the second inning, Burke would settle in. In the third inning, Burke picked off Elliot at second base which would ultimately keep a run off the board as Jimmy Obertop would single right after. Burke then retired nine-straight Wolverines from the fourth through the sixth innings. 

Around 100 pitches, coming back out for the seventh inning, Burke entered empty-the-tank mode and gave up a walk to Big Ten player of the week Ted Burton, his first baserunner since the Obertop single in the third inning. 

But Burke struck out Mazur looking to record the first out and was taken out of the game. Burke went a season-high 6 1/3 innings, gave up three runs on four hits with two walks and eight strikeouts.

“[Burke] slammed the door,” Vaughn said. “When he’s throwing his fastball like that he’s really good.”

Elliot Zoellner would come out of the bullpen and only needed two pitches to get out of the inning as he forced a huge double play.

Michigan tried to rally in the eighth with two runners on base, but Zoellner struck out Obertop to end the inning. 

Ryan Ramsey was tasked to get the save in the ninth inning and did it stress-free to clinch Maryland’s six-straight series win.

“Unbelievable job by our pitching staff having a big time bounce back day after a tough one yesterday,” Vaughn said.

Maryland is now tied with Michigan for second in the Big Ten standings and has the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Wolverines going into their last series of the regular season against Indiana chasing after that at-large-bid to the NCAA Tournament.

“We’ve got one weekend left,” Vaughn said. “It’s our job to go leave a really good lasting impression in the committee’s mind so they don’t have the option to leave us out.”

Aggressive Wolverine bats stomp out Terps

Usually when Jason Savacool pitches, Maryland is in a great position to win games. Saturday, that wasn’t the case as Savacool struggled early as Michigan snapped Maryland’s six-game win streak with a 14-3 blowout win.

Just like Maryland did Friday, Michigan got out to a big lead early against Savacool starting in the second inning with a back-to-back double and single before a wild pitch got Michigan on the board. As Savacool struggled to get ahead in counts, Michigan’s Friday night hero Jordan Velazquez made him pay hitting a two-run double to left-center field that made the score 3-0.

Savacool found himself in trouble once again in the third inning, as he continued to struggle throwing strikes. Savacool let up a leadoff single, an error on a pick-off attempt advanced the runner to second, a walk and a hit-by-pitch then loaded the bases with one out for Michigan. With the chance of staying in the game at stake, Savacool struck out Griffin Mazur to get closer to escaping the inning unharmed. 

But it wasn’t meant to be as Tito Flores’s RBI single on Savacool’s 64th pitch of the game brought home another run and coach Rob Vaughn came out of the dugout to end Savacool’s night in favor of Sean Heine.

The next batter, Jordon Rodgers, hit the first pitch he saw from Heine for a two-run RBI single to left field to make it 6-0 and close Savacool’s line for the day.

After only going two innings and giving up four runs against Michigan back on April 5, Savacool went 2 2/3 innings, gave up six hits in total for six runs and couldn’t get ahead in counts this time. It was his shortest outing since April 11 against Nebraska where he only went 1 ⅔ innings and gave up five runs for his only loss of the season until Saturday.  

[Savacool] didn’t have a very good feel for his secondary stuff which got him in some bad counts,” Vaughn said. “A good team took advantage of it.”

In the next inning, Big Ten Player of the Week Ted Burton put his mark on the game with a three-run homer off of Heine. After being up 8-0 Friday, Maryland found itself in the opposite situation Saturday being down 9-0. But unlike Michigan, Maryland would not rally late as the red-hot offense struggled to get hits off starting pitcher Cameron Weston. Back on April 4, Maryland was able to get four runs off of Weston.

But Weston was much more effective today in shutting down the Maryland lineup going 5 ⅓ innings, only allowing three hits and was never in a stressful situation with the lead his offense gave him early.  

“I thought we were passive in some of those counts early,” Vaughn said.

After Michigan tacked on two more runs to hit double digits, one of the lone bright spots on the day was Chris Alleyne who hit a three-run homer to left field in the seventh inning to avoid the shutout. But Michigan’s Benjamin Simms would answer with a final blow on the day with his own three-run-homer off of Logan Ott.

“[Michigan] just came out and beat us in every aspect of the game,” Alleyne said. 

Thanks to its well-balanced offense that ranks second in the Big Ten, Michigan now jumps a game ahead of Maryland for second place in the Big Ten standings with only four games left on the season for both teams. That adds more importance to Sunday’s rubber game as Maryland tries again for their sixth-straight series win as both teams are still in the quest for a Big Ten regular-season championship and the NCAA Tournament.

“Sometimes you get punched in the mouth by good teams,” Vaughn said. “The reality is were [tied] 1-1 with a chance to win the series tomorrow.”

Maryland topples Michigan in extra inning drama

Coming into Ann Arbor this weekend Maryland knew how important this series was going to be towards their final placing in the Big Ten standings and how tough it would be. 

They thought they got the series off to a stress-free start Friday against No. 24 Michigan when the offense put up eight runs to give them a commanding 8-0 lead over the Wolverines going into the seventh inning.

“The first six innings was about as dominant as a performance that we’ve had all year,” coach Rob Vaughn said.

But that was far from the case after a five-run collapse in the ninth inning forced the game into extra innings. But a three-run inning in the 11th inning helped Maryland escape with an 11-8 win over the Wolverines.

With the go-ahead runner on third base, Matt Orlando hit a double off the left-field wall that made the game 9-8. A safety squeeze by Tommy Gardiner and a wild pitch brought home two more runs and Maryland was up 11-8 looking to finally close it out.

Ryan Ramsey struck out three batters in the bottom of the inning, to close out a wild important win for Maryland.   

Coming into the ninth with an 8-3 lead, closer Sam Bello came on for a non-save situation looking to end things stress-free. It was far from that with a couple of two-out RBI singles after a miscommunication on a foul ball pop-up by Justin Vought and Matt Orlando kept Michigan’s hopes alive.

“Orlando came in there at the last second,” Vought said. “But that’s my ball I got to go get it”

The next thing you know the score is 8-6, the bases are loaded and David Falco is facing Joey Velazquez with the game on the line. After a long at-bat, his two-out RBI single tied the game at 8-8 and sent the game to extra innings as the Wolverines scored eight unanswered runs and had all the momentum.

“I thought we played the eighth and the ninth inning kind of scared,” Vaughn said.

Looking to respond, Maryland loaded up the bases in the top of the 10th when Ben Cowles hit a sac-fly to center field but Matt Shaw tagged up to the second base and was thrown out before Troy Schreffler Jr. crossed home plate ending the inning keeping the score tied.

“The first move in that situation if you’re at first base is you can start running to second,” Vaughn said. “But if that throw starts coming into second base, you have to shut it down and go back.”

Before the craziness of the ninth inning, everything seemed like it was perfect on the day for Maryland starting in the third inning. 

Chris Alleyne drew a walk and stole two bases to get to third base with one out. Playing some small ball, Cowles put down a perfect safety squeeze up the first baseline to score Alleyne and the game’s first run.

Randy Bednar in his return to the lineup after missing 15 games with an ankle injury didn’t look rusty at the plate whatsoever dropping an RBI single into center field to make it 2-0.

“I’ve been waiting for that moment,” Bednar said. “[Was] really excited beforehand, just to be out there and contribute on the field…help the team win.”

Vought kept the offensive attack going in the fourth with a leadoff solo home run, his seventh of the season to extend the lead to 3-0 continuing his recent hot play. 

Up came Bednar again this time with runners on the corners and once again he delivered with a RBI double that hit off the brick wall in left field to score another run and make it 4-0 and two more runs scored in the inning to make the score 6-0. Vought hit a no-doubt two-run home run to left field for his second of the game in the sixth inning to make it 8-0. It was Vought’s eighth of the season and he has now homered in four straight series.

But despite the craziness of the late innings and nearly blowing it, Maryland has now won their sixth straight game and has tied the Wolverines for third place in the Big Ten. They also added another big win to their NCAA Tournament resume and will have the chance to win their sixth straight series with the Big Ten wins leader Jason Savacool taking the mound Saturday.

“There’s definitely some things we have to learn from and grow from with some young players,” Vaughn said. “But we’ve found a way to get it done at the end of the day and at this time of year, the [win] is all that really matters.”

Series Preview: Michigan Wolverines

The Maryland Terrapins (24-14) head into an important series in the Big Ten standings going on the road this weekend to Ann Arbor to face the No. 24 Michigan Wolverines (25-13, 23-13 Big Ten). The two teams are currently just separated by one game in the Big Ten standings for third place overall with both teams still having an outside chance at catching Nebraska for the top spot. 

These two teams are also familiar with each other with them splitting a previous two game series with Michigan winning 6-5 on April 4 and Maryland winning big 17-7 on April 5. This time around the series will have more meaning in determining the finish of the Big Ten.

The Terps are coming into Ann Arbor red-hot off a series sweep of Purdue winning game one 11-0, game two 6-1 and game three 7-2. The Terps have won five straight games, 11 of their last 12 and five straight series.

The Terps pitching staff overpowered the Purdue lineup holding them to three total runs the entire series. Nick Dean, Jason Savacool and Sean Burke all combined for three quality outings with Savacool picking up his Big Ten-leading seventh win of the season.

The offense exploded for 25 runs the entire series including a grand slam from catcher Justin Vought and star shortstop Ben Cowles hitting his 15th and 16th home runs of the season which continues to lead the Big Ten. Cowles’ batting average sits at .307 and he also ranks second in the Big Ten in slugging percentage at .693.

Maryland’s deep lineup is continuing to get production from the top two spots of the order. Chris Alleyne, who has a .299 batting average, 23 extra-base hits on the season, 28 RBI and 21-23 on stolen base attempts and Matthew Shaw who has a .343 batting average have been excellent in getting the rest of the lineup chances to hit with runners on base. 

And a deep lineup could be getting some reinforcements this weekend with the potential returns of Randy Bednar and Maxwell Costes back from their injuries. 

The offense, defense and pitching all clicked during that important series with Purdue to help get Maryland off the bubble of the NCAA Tournament. D1 baseball currently has Maryland as the No. 3 seed in Tennessee’s region with the chance to improve its seeding and pad its resume these next two weekends against potential NCAA Tournament teams . 

Michigan is coming off taking a crucial series win over then-No. 21 Indiana winning game one 10-3 and winning the series finale 6-1 an important result that jammed up top of the Big Ten standings even more.

Second baseman Ted Burton was named Big Ten player of the week after batting .583 (7-for-12) with three doubles and a home run as well as a 1.083 SLG and a .615 OBP. 

Left fielder Tito Flores matched Burton with a .615 OBP during the series and also batted over .500 in the series including four-extra-base hits. 

The important series for both teams will also get some television coverage with the first two games of the series being broadcast on the Big Ten Network. 

The first pitch of game one of the series is scheduled for Friday night at 5:00 p.m., followed by game two of the series at the same time Saturday and game three on Sunday to close out the series at 1:00 p.m. 

Michigan Wolverines (25-13, 23-13 Big Ten)

Last Season: (8-7)

Michigan finished the shortened 2020 season at 8-7 but picked up wins over No. 2 Vanderbilt, No. 9 Arizona State and picked up a win in a series against No. 24 Pepperdine. 

Michigan was led last year by star outfielder Jordan Nwogu with a batting average of .353 and a OPS of .845. Jack Blomgren also help pace the offense with a batting average of .286 and an OPS of .837. Both players have moved onto the MLB being drafted and are currently in the minor leagues. Infielder Riley Bertman led the team with 10 RBI.

Pitching-wise for Michigan, Cameron Weston led the team with a ERA of 0.90 in seven appearances with one game started. Steven Hajjar led the teams in wins with a 3-0 record as well as a 2.70 ERA.

This season: 

Hitters to Watch:

Michigan is one of the most balanced offenses in the nation where eight different players have connected for at least five home runs.

Michigan ranks second in the Big Ten in batting average of .279 and first in RBI with 252 and is also first in walks drawn with 190. 

Hitting-wise Burton is the player to watch. He leads the Big Ten in slugging percentage (.694), and a .365 batting average, a .446 on-base percentage and has hit safely in seven straight games and 13 of his last 14.

Shortstop Benjamin Sems also chips in with a .348 batting average and Flores chips in with a .319 batting average and is second on the teams with RBI with 30.

Pitchers to Watch:

Pitching-wise Michigan ranks second in the Big Ten with a 3.98 ERA on the season. The  Wolverines pitching staff is led by both Hajjar with a 4-0 and a 3.02 ERA and Weston who is 5-3, and has a 2.85 ERA. Out of the bullpen Isaiah Paige paces the team with a 1.88 ERA in eleven games pitched.

Starting pitching matchups:

Friday: RHP Nick Dean (3-1, 2.68 ERA) vs LHP Steven Hajjar (4-0, 3.02 ERA)

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Dean is coming off his fifth-straight quality outing last weekend where he kept Purdue scoreless going six innings and giving up only six hits. Dean also still leads the Big Ten with only nine walks given up and is second in ERA. 

Hajjar is coming off a good outing against Indiana last weekend going 6 ⅓ innings striking out eight hoosiers and giving up three runs on a day he got plenty of run support. Hajjar is second in the Big Ten in strikeouts with 88 and has a good chance this week to take over the top spot

Saturday: RHP Jason Savacool (7-1, 4.69 ERA) vs RHP Cameron Weston (5-3, 2.85 ERA)

vs.

The freshman Savacool labored through his start against Purdue last weekend but was still able to put together a quality outing going six innings, giving up one run, and picking up his seventh win of the season to continue to lead the Big Ten in that category. Savacool was roughed up back on April 5, in his previous start lasting only two innings and giving up four runs on only four hits.

Weston is coming off a loss against Indiana last weekend where he only gave up one run on four hits in five innings pitched. Weston is fourth in the Big Ten with 66 ⅓ innings pitched on the season. Maryland was able to get to Weston back on April 4, tagging him for four runs on only five hits and drawing four walks.

Sunday: RHP Sean Burke (3-3, 3.90 ERA) vs RHP Jacob Denner (4-3, 3.86 ERA)

vs.

Burke had a bounce back quality outing last week against Purdue going six innings giving up only one earned run on only four hits despite not having high strikeout numbers. Burke also comes in at sixth in the Big Ten in strikeouts at 79. Batters are also struggling to hit Burke’s electric stuff, hitting a .187 batting average off of him this season. MLB scouts have certainly noticed this trend.

Denner is coming off a win against Indiana in the series finale. He went 6 ⅓ innings giving up only one run on only four hits and only walking one batter. Denner has 50 strikeouts on the season compared to 17 walks.

Offense gets off to hot start, leads Terps to sweep over Purdue

A four-run first inning and Sean Burke’s pitching helped guide Maryland to a 7-2 win over Purdue to win their 10th-straight home win and sweep the series Sunday from Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium.

Matthew Shaw, who had three hits on the day, started off the first inning with a solo home run to tie the game 1-1. The Terps then put together a two-out rally: singles by Bobby Zmarzlak and Matt Orlando, who is filling in for the injured Maxwell Costes at first base brought Tommy Gardiner to the plate with the chance to do some damage. Gardiner on a full count tripled to center field that brought Zmarzlak home for two RBI and a 3-1 lead for Maryland.

“I worked the count to 3-2, got a fastball over the middle and just hammered it.” Gardiner said.

Luke Shliger would join in on the fun with an RBI single to bring home Gardiner to make it 4-1 Maryland to complete the big inning and give them a lead they would never relinquish for the rest of the afternoon.

“That’s one thing our offense been good at is responding,” coach Rob Vaughn said. “We’ve done it all year.”

After an error in the first inning allowed Purdue to push across an unearned run to briefly take the early 1-0 lead, Burke began to settle in and deal with a Purdue lineup the Terps have kept contained all series. Burke only allowed one hit through four innings and four hits total on the day. 

In the fourth and fifth innings, Burke pitched 1-2-3 frames keeping the Purdue lineup frustrated. 

“I thought it was a good outing,” Burke said. “The focus going into the week was just about moving smooth, simplifying anything and attacking the zone.”

In the fifth inning, Troy Schreffler would add on some insurance runs for Burke with an RBI double that scored two more runs to make the score 6-1 Maryland. 

Purdue would finally get to Burke in the sixth inning. A Ben Nisle RBI double cut the score to 6-2, but Burke would get Zac Fascia to fly out to end the inning and the chance of Purdue cutting into the lead further. 

Burke would end up delivering the third-straight quality outing by a Terps starting pitcher this series. Burke went six innings giving up two runs one earned and only allowed eight base runners to pick up his third win of the season.

“Burke had a super efficient start for us and was as efficient with his pitch count as he’s been all year,” Vaughn said.

Maryland would add another run and Elliot Zoellner would come out of the bullpen and record the final nine outs stress-free to put the finishing touches on an important series for a Maryland team with NCAA Tournament hopes. Maryland is now 19-5 their last 24 games, won five-straight series and won ten straight games at home. The Terps now turn their focus to next weekend as they travel for an important series in the Big Ten standings against the Michigan Wolverines.

“Great weekend for us and now our attention turns to Michigan,” Vaughn said.