Maryland baseball captured its first Big Ten series win last weekend against Penn State. The Terps took Friday and Sunday’s games, 8-4 and 7-2, to clinch the three-game series, but dropped Saturday’s matchup in extra innings.
Pitching has been Maryland’s calling card as of late as its starting pitchers have allowed just 19 hits and seven runs over the last four games. The Terps currently rank third in the Big Ten in opponent batting average (.231), fourth in ERA (3.83) and fifth in strikeouts (235).
Before playing Minnesota in a three-game series, Maryland will square off against George Mason, a team it has already faced this season, on Tuesday and then Navy on Wednesday.
The first pitch of each game is set for 6:30 p.m. in College Park, and both games will be streamed on BTN Plus. Let’s take a look at Maryland’s two midweek matchups.
George Mason Patriots (9-17, 1-2 Atlantic 10)
2021 record: (14-29, 7-17)
What happened last time
Maryland traveled to George Mason just last week when the Terps came out on top in a tight 3-1 ball game, which ended up being both teams’ second-lowest run total of the season.
The first two innings were relatively quiet as Maryland was the only team to produce a hit.
The Terps eventually broke through on the scoreboard in the third. After reaching first base on a walk, sophomore catcher Luke Shliger then advanced to second and stole third. With a runner in scoring position, junior third baseman Nick Lorusso put the ball in play, grounding out to the shortstop, but sending Shliger home in the process.
Maryland looked like it was going to blow the doors open in the fourth, loading the bases with just one out. George Mason was able to recover, however, throwing a runner out at home and then forcing a flyout to end the inning.
After three more scoreless innings, it became do-or-die for both squads as the eighth inning approached.
The Terps struck first, scoring two runs thanks to a double from junior right fielder Troy Schreffler and a single from junior left fielder Bobby Zmarzlak. George Mason then got one of the runs back, finally getting on the scoreboard with an RBI single through the right side.
The Patriots loaded up the bases in the ninth, but Maryland held on for the two-run win. Sophomore Logan Ott was awarded the win after pitching five scoreless innings, and senior Sean Heine took home his second save of the year, pitching the last 1.1 innings.
What’s happened since
Since the first matchup between these two teams, each side has had a three-game weekend series. As previously mentioned, Maryland won two out of three in its first Big Ten series of the season against Penn State.
The Terps allowed 12 runs and 26 hits over the weekend while putting up 19 runs and 27 hits themselves. With a record standing at 22-6, they are now fourth in the Big Ten standings.
Unlike Maryland, George Mason was unable to win its series against VCU, even after taking game one, 7-6.
The Patriots lost Saturday and Sunday’s games by a combined margin of 17 runs as neither their offense nor defense was effective.
George Mason has had a revolving door of midweek pitchers, but freshman Britt Yount got the start last week. Despite only pitching three innings, Yount performed well against the Terps, striking out two batters and allowing just three hits and one run. With his recent success, it wouldn’t be surprising if Maryland saw him on the mound again.
Navy Midshipmen (11-16, 3-7 Patriot League)
2021 record: (17-15, 11-12)
Head coach Paul Kostacopoulos is already the program's second-winningest coach with 481 victories. In his 16 years, Kostacopoulos has completely turned this program around. When he inherited the head coaching position, the Midshipmen were coming off of a 12-33-1 season. The very next year, Navy won 32 games, the most in over a decade. In the last five years, Kostacopoulos led the Midshipmen to a 43-win and 39-win season, the two-most in program history. Navy has struggled this year, but if anyone can get the Midshipmen above .500, it’s Kostacopoulos.
Hitters to know
Senior catcher Christian Policelli is one of the most dominant hitters in the Patriot League. After earning All-Patriot League First Team honors in 2021, Policelli has been even better this season, leading the team in batting average (.356), on-base percentage (.427), runs (16), home runs (2) and RBIs (16).
Senior first baseman Zach Stevens is one of the four Navy batters hitting above the .260 mark. Similar to Policelli, Stevens had a great 2021 campaign, earning All-Patriot Second Team honors. Now batting in the fifth spot, right behind Policelli, Stevens is third on the team in hits (23), first in walks (13) and fifth in RBIs (11).
Pitchers to know
Junior right-handed pitcher Thomas Russell has been Navy’s midweek starter as of late. In his last two outings, Russell pitched 6.2 innings, surrendering eight runs, six hits and seven walks.
Sophomore right-handed pitcher Nolan Jorgenson is one of Navy’s best relief pitchers this season. Navy used a total of eight relief pitchers in its last two midweek games and Jorgenson was by far its best, allowing no hits or runs in 2.2 innings pitched.
Fielding. The Midshipmen are very solid on the defensive end as they refuse to beat themselves. Navy is second in the Patriot League in fielding percentage (.977) and second-to-last in errors (21). While the Terps should have no problems putting the bat on the ball, Navy is not prone to making mistakes.
Batting. Navy isn’t good at hitting the ball by any means, resulting in its sub .500 record. The Midshipmen are dead-last in the Patriot League in batting average (.243), RBIs (102) and on-base percentage (.338). Whoever starts for Maryland on the mound shouldn’t have much trouble cycling through Navy’s lineup.
Three things to know
1. Who will start on the mound for the Terps? Outside of Ott, the Terps have yet to find another pitcher who can get them off to a strong start during midweek games. Ott will without a doubt be on the mound for one of these games, but will head coach Rob Vaughn turn to freshman Ryan Van Buren again, who surrendered seven hits and four runs last week, or will he look in a different direction?
2. Can Maryland’s bats beat out George Mason’s pitching this time? The last time these two teams met, the Terps' bats seemed muzzled as they could only produce three runs and seven hits. That was against Yount in just his third appearance of the season. Prior to his outing against Maryland, Yount forfeited four runs and four hits in 3.2 innings. George Mason is not known for its pitching so it would be a little surprising if the Terps were stumped again come Wednesday.
3. The Terps have been dangerous on the base path. When a Maryland batter gets on base, the opposing pitcher should be concerned. The Terps are currently third in the Big Ten in stolen bases with 35 on 44 attempts, and sophomore shortstop Matt Shaw stole a base in every game last weekend. With George Mason and Navy having an opponent stolen base percentage above 80%, Maryland can capitalize based on this season’s track record.