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No. 15 Maryland baseball vs. James Madison preview (part two)

Tuesday’s game will be the Terps’ last non-conference game of the regular season.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics.

It was a great weekend for No. 15 Maryland baseball, sweeping Michigan in the Terps last home series of the season to crack the 40-win mark and move into a tie for first place in the Big Ten. Now, in its last midweek game of the season, Maryland will host James Madison on Tuesday.

The first game in the Michigan series was an unexpected nail biter as Michigan tied the game with a six-run seventh inning. But junior outfielder Troy Schreffler Jr. stole home on a wild pitch in the eighth inning, clinching an 8-7 Maryland win on Friday.

On Saturday, starting junior left-handed pitcher Ryan Ramsey uncharacteristically let up six runs, but it didn’t matter much. Behind sophomore shortstop Matt Shaw’s whopping eight RBIs and three home runs, Maryland exploded offensively to win, 20-6.

On a sunny Senior Day in Sunday’s series finale, Maryland overpowered Michigan again by scoring 15 runs. The first four batters in the order totaled 10 RBIs to help lead Maryland to the series sweep in a 15-10 win.

James Madison, on the other hand, was swept by Hofstra in a three-game series last weekend.

Tuesday’s game will begin at 5 p.m. and will be streamed on BTN Plus.

What happened last time

The previous time these two teams faced off was in Harrisonburg, Virginia, on April 13. It was a nailbiter, but Maryland managed to pull out the 8-7 win.

The Dukes struck first in the second inning when redshirt sophomore shortstop Mason Dunaway hit an RBI single, and freshman catcher Jason Schiavone blasted a two-run homer to put James Madison up 3-0 through two innings.

Maryland immediately struck back in the top of the third inning with an RBI double from freshman second baseman Jacob Orr. Two batters later, a sacrifice fly from fifth-year center fielder Chris Alleyne brought the Terps within one run.

This back-to-back scoring affair continued in the bottom of the third when junior center fielder Travis Reifsnider hit an RBI double followed by Fenwick Trimble’s RBI fielder’s choice. After 2 ⅔ innings pitched, sophomore right-handed pitcher Logan Ott was taken off the mound, and the Dukes held a 5-2 lead.

But Maryland wouldn’t give in. Orr contributed again in the top of the fourth with a two-RBI single with the bases loaded. An ensuing RBI double from sophomore catcher Luke Shliger tied the game heading into the bottom half of the inning.

However, Dunaway scored after a wild throw by Shliger put James Madison up 6-5 after four innings.

James Madison wouldn’t score again until the bottom of the seventh. A wild pitch from senior right-handed pitcher Sean Heine brought redshirt junior third baseman Trevor Dabney home.

The Dukes held a 7-5 edge with two innings left, but Maryland wouldn’t give up as Orr came up clutch yet again in the top of the eighth with a two-run RBI single to tie the game at seven apiece.

Alleyne was the hero with a game-winning solo homer to right field in the top of the ninth.

What’s happened since

Maryland has been on a tear since last meeting up with the Dukes, and it’s been a nightmare for any team that has come in the Terps way.

The Terps have gone 15-3 since the James Madison game and have not lost a single weekend series in that span. They managed to tie Rutgers for first place in the Big Ten after beating the Scarlet Knights in a road series and then sweeping the Wolverines at home.

The Dukes have been just above .500 since their game against the Terps with a 9-8 record in that span. They currently sit in fourth place in the Colonial Athletic Association and could possibly claim third with a series win against UNC Wilmington this weekend.

Three things to watch

1. Who will claim the Big Ten home run crown? Before the Michigan series, this wouldn’t have been much of a question. In recent weeks, Alleyne held the lead for home runs in the conference. However, sophomore shortstop Matt Shaw hit six homers in three games against the Wolverines to catapult himself into the Big Ten-lead for homers. Currently, Shaw has 19 homers on the season while Alleyne is not far behind with 18. It’s a two-man race of Terps at the top, but who will claim the top spot with just four games left to play? This makes for a fun storyline to watch, both within the team and the conference.

2. Will James Madison come out like last time? Maryland has struggled with its midweek pitching rotation at times this year, which has allowed some teams to steal a game from the Terps. James Madison could thieve a win against Maryland if it replicates its performance from just over one month ago. However, the Dukes just got swept by a Hofstra team that has a 26-21 record. They also couldn’t score more than six runs in a game last weekend, which probably will not be enough to overcome Maryland’s explosive bats.

3. Can Maryland tie the all-time program single-season wins record? The Terps have a record of 41-10 after their sweep of Michigan. The 2015 Terps went 42-24, setting the record for the most wins in program history. That team managed to make it all the way to the Super Regionals of the NCAA Tournament, and this year’s squad has high aspirations as well. If they win on Tuesday, the Terps could tie the program-best mark with three games left to play, not including postseason games. Maryland is playing as well as anyone in the country right now, and it is on its way to shattering that record.