Maryland baseball: With series win over GA Tech, Terps will almost certainly have post-season games

Mike Shawaryn is tied for second in the ACC with seven wins - @mercator88

Maryland took the first two games and almost swept Georgia Tech. Jake Stinnett and Mike Shawaryn were sharp, Jose Cuas continues to slug the ball, and Brandon Lowe is an on-base machine. As a result Maryland has significantly improved their chances of dancing come May.

Week in review

Maryland hosted Navy and a red-hot Georgia Tech team this past week. The Yellow Jackets had won nine of their last ten games including taking a series from Florida State.

The Terps easily beat Navy in the mid-week game, and then took two of three from Georgia Tech. In those four games the Terps scored 28 runs and banged out 46 hits. Jose Cuas went yard in back-to-back games and drove in 8 runs. He leads the team with 29 RBIs. Blake Schmit had a hit in all four games, going a combined 7 for 16. Brandon Lowe went 8 for 15 and is now hitting .344, good for being among the top five in the ACC. He's gotten on base now in eight straight plate appearances. Both Lowe and Kyle Convissar have an OB% above .450. Charlie White leads the ACC with 20 stolen bases. When the Terrapins hit the ball well they can go toe to toe with any team in the country.

Jake Stinnett threw a complete-game victory and Mike Shawaryn is tied for second in the ACC with seven victories. Stinnett leads the ACC in strike outs and innings pitched. The radar guns were out in full force on Friday night, even in the later innings. I'll be anxious to hear where he's now projected to go in the MLB draft.

With the exception of Sunday's game, the Terps' defense was impeccable. In Saturday's game Schmit made an incredible play on a bouncer through the middle, turning it into an inning-ending double play that might have saved the game for the Terps.

ACC tournament outlook

I said before the series against Georgia Tech that the Terps could assure themselves an ACC tournament bid by taking the series. At the time the Terps were in the tenth and final slot: barely. Below are the latest standings.

1

Florida State

16 - 5

1

Virginia

16 - 5

1

Miami

15 - 4

4

Clemson

12 - 8

5

Wake Forest

12 - 9

6

Duke

12 - 9

7

Georgia Tech

11 - 10

8

North Carolina

10 - 11

9

Maryland

9 - 11

10

Pittsburgh

9 - 12

11

North Carolina State

7 - 14

12

Virginia Tech

7 - 14

13

Boston College

5 - 16

14

Notre Dame

3 - 16

(Miami plays Notre Dame tonight on ESPNU. Who wouldn't rather see Maryland vs. Georgia Tech?)

Maryland jumped a spot up to #9. They have nine ACC games remaining. If the Terps go 5 - 4 in those games, Virginia Tech and NC State would each have to win eight of their last nine games to leapfrog the Terps. Virginia Tech and NC State face off against each other for a series in May. Considering the Terps' remaining ACC games are against Boston College, Notre Dame, and Pittsburgh (combined ACC record for those teams is 17 - 44), I'd say the Terps are in great shape to play in Greensboro.

The way the ACC tournament works this year is that the top six teams have a bye. Team #7 plays team #10 in a game to make the next round, as team #8 does vs team #9. The winners of those games join the top six seeds in the traditional ACC tournament format: two groups of four teams in round robin play, the champs of each group playing for the ACC championship. So it helps significantly to have a top 6 seed, thus ensuring that you play at least three more games. The Terps have to jump over three more teams to achieve that, which pretty much means Maryland will have to take each of their remaining series and probably sweep one. Very doable, but not a "gimme".

NCAA tournament outlook

Before the Georgia Tech series Perfect Game had the ACC sending eight teams to the Big Dance, and Maryland held the last spot. Winning the series against Georgia Tech could only have helped us. In the latest ESPN/Coaches poll Maryland received votes to be ranked 43rd. Maryland's RPI is 19 with a SOS that is ranked 12. The Terps can enhance their body of work as they have some competitive OOC games left: VCU, West Virginia (twice), and St. Joseph's. All have top 100 RPIs, and all are NCAA candidates themselves. Taking two out of four would helpful. If the Terps do better than that then they're a shoo-in for the Big Dance. Good thing we have a deep pitching staff. Zach Morris and Bobby Ruse will play important roles in those games.

Onwards and upwards. If the Terps continue to play quality baseball then there's an excellent chance they make the Big Dance for the first time since Richard Nixon was President.

(I'll be unavailable for the next six games, but I'm sure that Todd will do a comparable if not better job than I could.)

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