No. 22 Maryland baseball is off to a strong start after its series sweep of Baylor and a dramatic walk-off win against UMBC. The Terps look to continue this start as they face off away against Campbell University this weekend.
The hero of the UMBC game from this past Wednesday was Nick Lorusso. The infielder put the game to rest with a walk-off RBI which sent outfielder Chris Alleyne home to win the game in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Terps a perfect 4-0 record heading into Friday. Sophomore catcher Luke Shliger also hit a homer in the third inning to give the Terps a boost, while sophomore pitcher Logan Ott got the start and threw for four innings, giving up two runs and collecting three strikeouts in the process.
To sweeten the deal for the Terps, freshman pitcher Noah Mrotek got the first win of his career putting in yet another good performance as a reliever.
Pitchers Nick Dean, Ryan Ramsey, and Jason Savacool will look to dominate against Campbell in the same way they dominated against the Bears last weekend. None of the starters gave up more than two runs a game during the series.
Friday and Sunday’s game will be on ESPN Plus, while Saturday’s game can be listened to through the Maryland Baseball Network.
Campbell University (1-3, 0-0 Big South Conference)
2021 record: (37-18, 28-9 Big South)
Head coach Justin Haire is entering his eighth season as head coach, as he spent seven other years as a member of the Camels’ coaching staff in North Carolina. Throughout those first eight seasons, Haire has amassed a 203-159 record. He has brought a recent culture of success to the program, winning the Big South the last three seasons and making the NCAA Tournament two out of the last three seasons with the only exception being the coronavirus-shortened 2020 season.
This season, the Camels have gotten off to a 1-3 start after picking up a win in its first matchup against Appalachian State. Campbell dropped the next two games in that series before falling to No. 25 East Carolina on Tuesday.
Hitters to Know
Redshirt sophomore shortstop Zach Neto — Neto has been the most dangerous bat in the whole Camels’ squad since last season. Last season, he batted a whopping team-high .405 batting average to go along with 70 hits, 58 RBIs, and 12 home runs. This season in 16 at-bats, Neto already has totaled six hits, four RBIs, and a .375 batting average.
Redshirt junior outfielder Connor Denning — Despite a poor start to this season, Denning was a reliable bat last season for Haire. He batted a .340 average with 42 RBIs and 11 home runs in the 2021 season. With Campbell’s second and third best bats from last year gone, Denning is expected to step up this season and improve on his current .133 batting average, although he does lead the team in RBIs so far with five.
Pitchers to know
Sophomore right-handed pitcher Thomas Harrington — Starting on opening day, Harrington put on quite a show in six innings. The sophomore threw 13 strikeouts against Appalachian State and only let up one hit. This brilliant performance aided Campbell to an opening day win. Last season, Harrington had a 6-3 record with an ERA of 3.45 which was the lowest among freshman starters in the Big South.
Sophomore right-handed pitcher Cade Kuehler — Kuehler had a great day at the office in his first game of the year despite the team losing 5-1 to Appalachian State. The sophomore pitched seven innings and allowed just one hit while recording 10 strikeouts. Last season, he had an ERA of 3.89 to go along with a record of 5-2 recording 41 strikeouts.
Starting pitching. Both Harrington and Kuehler have had solid starts to the season. Both pitchers have hit the double-digit strikeout mark this season already. However, they will be given a nice litmus test going up against the Terrapin’s hitting core, with Maxwell Costes and Matt Shaw both having strong starts to the season, both batting above .400.
Consistency at the plate. The Camels have some really good bats no doubt, but their lack of consistency has been a reason why they haven’t been able to get wins in their last three games. The team average batting average is currently sitting at .203, and they’ve only hit one home run so far this season.
Three things to watch
1. Can the Terps keep this momentum going? Maryland moved into the rankings after an undefeated start to the season and is the only Big Ten team ranked this week. Campbell made the NCAA Tournament last season and despite a rocky start, the Camels are a formidable opponent to test the Terps.
2. Will Maxwell Costes and Matt Shaw continue to shine for Maryland? With both players ranked in the top-10 at their respective positions coming into the season, the expectation was that Shaw and Costes would be the impact guys for Maryland. Now four games in, and both lead the team in batting average, hits, RBIs and home runs. If they can keep this form going into the weekend and season, the Terrapins are sure to make another run at the NCAA Tournament.
3. Can Campbell end its early-season slump? The baseball season is long and that could be an advantage for Campbell after this start. The Camels can pretty easily get out of this early-season slump with a few nice wins in the next couple of series. But after getting crushed by No. 25 Eastern Carolina this week, an even higher-ranked opponent in Maryland may be a struggle for the Camels. But the former Big South champs will hope to get it done and ride some of their talents to try and capture wins.