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No. 22 Maryland baseball vs. UMBC preview

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The Terps will look to make it four straight wins this Tuesday.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics

After losing to Delaware in a shocking upset in its midweek game last Tuesday, No. 22 Maryland baseball was in need of a confidence boost. The Terps got one this past weekend, sweeping Siena in a three-game series, combining for a whopping 40 runs in total.

Now, the Terps look to carry their momentum into another midweek matchup, as they face off against UMBC on Tuesday in College Park. The first time these two teams played each other this season, Maryland came out on top, 3-2 in College Park back on Feb. 23.

Maryland’s series against Siena featured some top-notch pitching performances by the Saturday and Sunday starters. Ryan Ramsey had 11 strikeouts and allowed no runs during a 7-0 shutout in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader, while Jason Savacool was the highlight of the weekend, throwing a career-high 14 strikeouts on Sunday.

Savacool guided Maryland to a dominant 19-2 win to sweep the series against the Saints. It was the most strikeouts thrown by a Maryland pitcher since 2016.

It’s expected that sophomore pitcher Logan Ott to be starting on the mound Tuesday. The midweek starter was pulled early against Delaware by head coach Rob Vaughn in order to rest him after pitching the previous Friday. He allowed no runs in three innings against Delaware.

The game is streaming on Big Ten Plus and can be listened to through the Maryland Baseball Network live from Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium on Tuesday.

UMBC Retrievers (8-11, 1-2 America East Conference)

2021 Record: (17-26, 12-26 America East)

Head coach Liam Bowen has experienced a rocky introduction to the head coaching position for the Retrievers. He was thrown into the acting head coach position following a firing during the 2019 season and has only fully coached during both seasons, which were tampered with COVID-19 complications. Those seasons weren’t pretty as he had a record of 20-36, and he has started off below .500 yet again this season. He spent eight years on the staff before getting promoted.

Hitters to know

Graduate student outfielder Myles Nicholson — Often, the players with the most experience have the most to offer a team. Nicholson is showing his younger teammates how it’s done with a team-high 31 hits this season. With a slash line of .419/.500/.608, which is the best on the team in each of those categories, watch out for the outfielder to be a legit threat in the batter’s box on Tuesday.

Junior outfielder Justin Taylor — Having started every game for the Retrievers, it’s not hard to understand why the outfielder seems to be such a steady hand in the rotation. With a batting average of .297 and 19 hits on the year (second-best to Nicholson) Taylor is definitely one of the most productive hitters for UMBC.

Pitchers to know

Sophomore right-handed pitcher Luke Johnson — Also listed as an infielder, Johnson has had an unbelievably hot start to the season as a starting pitcher. With a 2.42 ERA, and a team-low 1.15 WHIP while pitching a team-high 26 innings this season, the sophomore seems to be carrying a fairly mediocre bullpen to begin the 2022 campaign.

Senior right-handed pitcher Colton Bare — Even though he’s had a bit of a partial role with the team this season, the Sharpsburg, Maryland product has not disappointed in his performance. With a team-low 1.13 ERA in eight innings pitched, maybe head coach Liam Bowen, who used to be on the pitching staff, could give this senior a chance to start to see if he can replicate his performances on the mound with a bigger sample size.

Strength

UMBC flaunts a few strong bats. The Retrievers have some dangerous players inside the batter’s box within their current hitting rotation. Four batters on the team are hitting with a batting average above .290, and those same four batters all have a slugging percentage above .400. Ott will have to do his best to make sure the Retrievers don't get any momentum at the plate.

Weakness

Starting pitching. It’s normally not a good thing when the pitchers who have pitched the most innings have some of the highest ERAs on the team. It might explain why the team has more losses than wins. Besides Johnson, there is not a pitcher on the team with over 16 innings pitched that has an ERA lower than 4.50. There’s a good chance that it might be a rough outing for UMBC’s starter.

Three things to watch

  1. Can Maryland’s bats stay hot? This weekend has been an interesting stat booster for the hitters in the Maryland dugout. Junior outfielder Troy Schreffler now leads the team in batting average with a .375 clip and four other batters are now also hitting above .300 to start the season. First baseman Maxwell Costes leads the team with a whopping eight home runs and 21 RBIs, and Schreffler remains at the top of the hit list with 27. With the pitching woes for UMBC, it seems like a game primed for some good hitting performances from the Terps.
  2. How will Logan Ott perform on the mound? It’s been an up-and-down season so far for the sophomore who was thrown into the midweek starter role due to injuries in the bullpen. He has a 6.59 ERA, which doesn’t seem very impressive, but he’s flashed some promise. Ott didn’t let up a single run in his last time out against Delaware, and it remains to be seen if he can find that kind of performance again when he goes up against the Retrievers.
  3. Can UMBC pull it off this time? Having already played each other this season, these two teams battled it out to the end last time. It was tied going into the bottom of the ninth inning at 2-2 and UMBC almost had the upset. But a walk-off RBI by junior Nick Lorusso brought outfielder Chris Alleyne home and won the game for the Terps. Now, set to face the same pitcher they went up against last time, the Retrievers are hungry to try and successfully pull off the upset and get their first win over a ranked opponent this season.