The No. 12 Terrapins (5-1) travel down to Emerson, Ga. for a three-game set against the Appalachian State Mountaineers (3-3) starting Friday afternoon. This series was originally scheduled to be played at Shipley Field, but the recent snowstorm made that untenable. (The Terps' first game at Shipley is now scheduled for March 11th against Richmond.) Maryland returns to action after travelling to Mobile, Ala. last weekend where they took two of three games.
The games will be held at the Lakepoint Sports Complex, a phenomenal venue that features 16 baseball fields and hosts numerous tournaments. In essence it's almost a Disneyland for amateur sports. Here's a schematic figure of the baseball part of Lakepoint.
Friday 3:30 p.m. Appalachian State's LHP Jeffrey Springs (0-0) vs. Maryland's Mike Shawaryn (2-0)
Saturday 4:00 p.m. Appalachian State's Dallas RHP Travis Holden (0) vs. Maryland's Tayler Stiles (0-1)
Sunday 11:00 a.m. Appalachian State's TBD vs. Maryland's Brian Shaffer (0-0)
Appalachian State is the Sun Belt Conference's newest member. The Mountaineers previously played in the Southern Conference, where they finished 12-14 last year, 21-34 overall. Prior to 2014 Appalachian State had put together a number of winning seasons, even going to the NCAA tournament in 2012. But poor pitching and defense plagued the Mountaineers last season. This season they were projected to be in the middle part of the Sun Belt Conference.
The Mountaineers currently stand at 3-3. They've played a three-game set against Canisius, taking one of the games. The Terps defeated Canisius 8-4 earlier this year. On Wednesday night Appalachian State came into Winston-Salem and thrashed Wake Forest 10-1. The Mountaineers have a few potential draft prospects in ss Dillon Dobson, 2b Michael Pierson, and OF Jaylin Davis.
The Mountaineers are quite offensive
Appalachian State returns the bulk of last year's top hitters: Dillon Dobson hit .299 with 11 hr and 39 rbi; Michael Pierson led the team with a .343 avg, and also connected on 7 hr; Matt Brill hit .306 with 4 hr. Davis "only" hit .280, but that includes 2 2b, 7 3b, and 4 hr. He also swiped four of seven bases last year. In 2014 the Mountaineers attempted only 41 steals. They're already 12 out of 14 in sba this year with Davis a perfect 5-5. Appalachian State's top half of the batting order continues to produce in 2015. Pierson, Davis, and Dillon are all hitting at .375 or better.
The team's weak spots in 2014 were pitching and defense, which is a sure recipe for disaster. The Mountaineer's collective era was 5.10, and the relievers notched just five saves all year. So far this season the staff's era is a more reasonable 3.40, although there remains a penchant for issuing base on balls. Compounding the pitching woes in 2014 was a porous defense: 80 errors in 55 games, compared with Maryland's 58 in 63 games. So far this season the Mountaineers appear to have improved in that regard, committing four errors in six games.
This is a series that the Terps should take. They are better than Appalachian State in every aspect of the game, save the long ball. It will be interesting to see what intensity the players bring to Georgia after last week's highly competitive set of games. This is one of those series where the Terps will take a hit to their RPI, but could provide two or three wins.