After a 12-6 win over UMBC on Tuesday, Maryland baseball hosts the Maine Black Bears in College Park, hoping to get a hot streak going.
Maryland has had a very rough start, going 1-3 in consecutive weeks and sliding from No. 13 nationally to unranked. The Terps have had a tough schedule so far, with two road series and two SEC games at a neutral site. With a 5-7 record, the Terps have a lot of ground to make up to get back to national relevance.
The good news for the Terps is that they are home this weekend, a place where they went 27-4 last year. All games will be streamed on Big Ten Plus and the Maryland Baseball Network. First pitch for Friday is set for 4 p.m; Saturday at 2 p.m and Sunday at 1 p.m.
Maine Black Bears (3-6, 0-0 America East)
2022 record: 27-22, 21-9 America East
Led by head coach Nick Derba, the Black Bears are coming off an America East regular-season title in 2022. Maine’s successful campaign was cut short after two quick losses in its conference tournament, though. This year, Maine was picked to finish fourth in the America East in the preseason coaches poll, but it returns most pieces from last year as it tries to reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 12 years.
Hitters to watch
Quinn McDaniel, junior infielder, No. 1 — In his first nine games, McDaniel has been a statistical marvel. He is the reigning America East Player of the Week and currently has an OPS over 1.600, which is mostly due his approach at the plate. In nine games McDaniel has a .723 on-base percentage, which is unheard of, and has a walk percentage over 42%. Last week against Winthrop, he had seven walks, two home runs, two doubles and three RBIs.
Jeremiah Jenkins, sophomore first baseman/designated hitter, No. 28 — Jenkins, an Upper Marlboro, Maryland, native, has been a key player in the Black Bears lineup, hitting a go-ahead home run against Winthrop last Sunday to prevent a series sweep. Jenkins currently has an OPS of 1.181 and leads the team with 14 RBIs. He also has four home runs on the season.
Pitchers to watch
Caleb Leys, sophomore left-handed pitcher, No. 25. — The projected Friday starter for Maine has had a rough start to the season, sporting 11.45 ERA and a 2.45 WHIP. Leys started 16 games last year, posting a 4.64 ERA and a strikeout percentage over 20%. While the numbers don’t look great now, Leys has only pitched 11 innings this season and has the potential to get back on track this series.
Colin Fitzgerald, sophomore right-handed pitcher, No. 23 — Fitzgerald has performed well as the Saturday starter, with a 1.80 ERA in three games pitched. Fitzgerald is in his first season as a regular starter. He shut out Monmouth in five innings pitched in the second game of a Feb. 24 doubleheader.
Good offensive pieces. Maine has four hitters with an OPS of at least 1.000. That is more than Maryland currently has. It is important to note that Maine has not faced competition like Maryland, but has scored plenty of runs in the games it has played, with double-digit totals in four games this season.
Questionable pitching. Maine’s Friday starter has had a rough season thus far, which could put the Black Bears down early in the series if Maryland’s bats get going. The rest of the staff has also struggled, with a 7.76 ERA and 2.06 WHIP as a team. Maine also gives up around 11 hits per game and has walked 65 hitters in nine games. With Maryland back at “The Bob” seeking a key series win, Maine’s pitching staff could be in a lot of trouble.
Three things to know
1. Can the Maryland pitching staff put together a good series? Maryland’s pitching has been bad this year — they have an ERA of 6.49. Jason Savacool and Nick Dean both have shown they can be aces, but the rest of the pitching staff needs to use this series to get back on track. It will be interesting to watch how head coach Rob Vaughn uses his bullpen after a tough outing in Minnesota last weekend.
2. How will Maryland fare against the rest of its nonconference opponents? The rest of Maryland’s nonconference schedule is not nearly as tough as its start. Other than Central Florida, every nonconference opponent Maryland will face here on out was outside of the top 130 in RPI last year. Maryland will be favored in most of its upcoming games, and it needs to win a large majority to make up for a slow start.
3. First series at “The Bob” this year. Maryland went 27-4 at home last year and has some of the most favorable dimensions in college baseball. That, combined with a Maryland offense that has had just one stagnant performance all year, could result of plenty of runs scored. It could be a fun weekend in College Park for Terps fans.