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No. 21 Maryland baseball vs. Delaware preview

The Terps will look to extend their best start in program history.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics

It’s been an eventful start to the season for No. 21 Maryland baseball, and it’s been all smiles for head coach Rob Vaughn and company through the first seven games of the season. The Terps look to continue their strong form this Tuesday when they take on Delaware at home.

Undefeated so far, this marks the best start to a season ever in Maryland baseball history.

“They’ll get a little bit more people patting them on the back this week again, and we can either listen to that and be humbled or we can keep working and keep fighting to be the best version of who we can be,” Vaughn said after Sunday’s game.

The last three games, all of which were wins, were part of a weekend series against Campbell away from College Park. Maryland’s starting pitchers performed beautifully to help keep it from recording a loss.

Pitchers Nick Dean, Ryan Ramsey, and Jason Savacool allowed two earned runs, 11 hits and threw 23 strikeouts combined to help stunt the Camels in their tracks. Each pitcher pitched seven innings a game. Savacool also had his career-high for strikeouts in a game with 10.

Logan Ott got the start in the last midweek matchup against UMBC, but a total of five pitchers touched the mound on Wednesday in a 3-2 win. It’ll be interesting to see if Ott gets the nod again or if the staff looks to another face to start on the mound Tuesday.

The game will be streamed on Big Ten Plus and fans can listen through the Maryland Baseball Network live from Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium on Tuesday.

University of Delaware (2-4, 0-0 Colonial Athletic Association)

2021 record: (12-22, 8-16 CAA)

Head coach Jim Sherman is starting off his 22nd year as the skipper of the Blue Hens in almost the exact same fashion the last two seasons have begun. The last time the team finished above .500 was in 2018, however, Sherman has done a lot over the last few decades. Sherman is located on the top-25 all-time wins list in Division I baseball and he has an all-time record of 583-510 in his 22 seasons. It seems like Delaware believes that its coach has the experience to right the ship in Newark.

The Blue Hens started this season losing two games straight but bounced back picking up back-to-back wins against then-No. 4 Notre Dame and Florida Atlantic. Delaware dropped the other two games in the weekend series against Florida Atlantic and will look to pull off another upset against a ranked opponent when it faces Maryland.

Hitters to know

Sophomore outfielder Aidan Kane — Kane has started off this season hitting with a batting average above .400. The Madison, New Jersey, native also has seven hits, three RBIs and one home run in 17 at-bats this season. Kane’s home run came against the ranked Fighting Irish in the third game of the season. There is a lot of baseball left to play, but if Kane can make the jump from a .271 to a .412 batting average this year permanent, he looks to be the man in the batter’s box for this squad.

Sophomore third baseman Joey Loynd — Another one of the young bats for the Blue Hens, Loynd already has as many home runs as he did all of last season with two. He finished last season with a .294 average, .392 on-base percentage and .444 slugging percentage, with the second-best batting average to former player Kyle Baker. He’s going to have to step up this season if Delaware is going to finish above the .500 mark this season.

Pitchers to know

Graduate student right-handed pitcher Chris Ludman — One of the starting weekend pitchers for the Blue Hens, Ludman has been somewhat mediocre with a 4.61 ERA so far and he still likely would hope to improve on his form from a season ago. He had a 4.62 ERA a year ago, pitching the most innings out of any pitcher on the team last season. Ludman went 11-11 in all appearances and he also had the second-most strikeouts on the team with 64.

Sophomore right-handed pitcher Dom Velazquez — Velazquez has been a reliever for Sherman’s squad, but in his two years, he has shown real promise. He’s played twice this season, but put together a monster performance Friday against Florida Atlantic University, striking out six batters in a little over two innings pitched. Last season, he had the most strikeouts on the team, sending batters back to the dugout 68 times.

Strength

Delaware’s upset potential. Delaware may not be the most fearful team in Division I baseball, but Sherman has been around the ballpark more than a few times, and he knows what it takes. In their third game in the season, the Blue Hens beat the Notre Dame, a team that was ranked No. 4 in the country to start the season, by a run. Maryland will be Delaware’s second ranked opponent of the season and it’ll be interesting to see if the Blue Hens can stop the Terps’ hot run.

Weakness

The bullpen. When teams play against the Blue Hens this season, they haven’t had a problem swinging and scoring at home plate. Delaware have let up at least four runs in every game played this year. The pitchers who have pitched the most innings this year, Ludman and Joey Silan, have a combined ERA of 4.93. In order to put up a fight, they’ll need to stall the Terps’ brilliant bats.

Three things to watch

  1. How will the Terps perform at the plate? So far this season, the great pitching from the Terps has been complimented by some solid hitting. They scored 16 runs this weekend in their series against Campbell, tallying 14 RBIs coming from a plethora of players including Maxwell Costes, Troy Schreffler Jr., Nick Lorusso, and Luke Shliger to name a few. The pitching from Delaware has been spotty as of late, and with the way the Terrapins are grooving, it might be a rough day for the away team.
  2. Is Maxwell Costes the best first baseman in the Big Ten? One of the big returners for the Terps this offseason, Costes is looking like he will be one of the main leaders for this squad this season. Starting the season hitting .333/.467/.750, he is looking like he may even improve upon his good performance last season. With Benjamin Cowles gone, Costes, along with sophomore standout Matt Shaw, looks to step into the best hitter role under Vaughn to help carry his team to the NCAA Tournament.
  3. How many innings will Tuesday’s starter pitch? In the last midweek game, without amazing hitting performances, the bullpen struggled to eventually get Maryland the victory. Ott started but only pitched four innings after giving up two runs, Will Glock and Ryan Van Buren got in for a combined 3.2 innings and kept the score level before Noah Mrotek got his first save of his career striking out two in the last inning. If the starter feels shaky, look for the pitching staff to shuffle some things around come Tuesday.