No. 19 Maryland baseball looked like an unstoppable force over the past two weeks, but it got served a reality check on Tuesday night when it was handily defeated by Northeastern, 9-2.
The Terps now turn to to an extremely important weekend series against Minnesota, which will have a large impact on Maryland’s chances of winning the Big Ten regular-season title.
Friday and Saturday’s games will be streamed on Big Ten Plus at 6:30 p.m. and 2 p.m., respectively, with Sunday’s game on Big Ten Network at noon.
Minnesota Golden Gophers (14-31, 7-11 Big Ten)
Minnesota has struggled immensely this season. The Gophers took some tough losses to start the season, and have not recovered in Big Ten play. Despite that, Maryland head coach Rob Vaughn isn’t taking this series lightly.
“I know people might look at their record and say, you know, they’re in the bottom of the the league, but this team can go beat anybody,” Vaughn said.
The Gophers won their second Big Ten series of the season last weekend against a solid Michigan team. Head coach John Anderson is in his 42nd year with Minnesota and has had great success over the years, but has struggled to get his team back to the top since 2018.
Hitters to watch
Brett Bateman, junior center fielder, No. 7 — Bateman is one of the more consistent hitters on the team, batting .325 with a .797 OPS. He serves more of a threat on the base paths, though, with 16 stolen bases.
Boston Merila, junior designated hitter, No. 33 — Merila doesn’t have much power, but he gets on base. He only has 15 RBIs but has scored 20 runs.
Pitchers to watch
Tucker Novotny, sophomore left-handed pitcher, No. 29 — Novotny doesn’t have the best record at 2-5, but he’s a good strikeout pitcher. He’s posted 69 strikeouts this season. Expect him to open up the series on Friday.
George Klassen, sophomore right-handed pitcher, No. 19. — Klassen has gotten roughed up this season, but helped lead the Golden Gophers to a series-clinching win last week. If his hot hand continues, he could slow down the Maryland offense.
Pitching. While Minnesota’s starters have had a rocky season, its bullpen is solid and has depth. As a staff, the Gophers have posted a respectable 5.67 ERA.
Hitting. The Gophers have struggled to score runs all season. They average under five runs per game. If Maryland’s starters are healthy and show consistency, they should shut down the Minnesota lineup.
Three things to watch
1. Will Nick Lorusso break Maryland’s all-time RBI record? Lorusso is three RBIs away from breaking Scott Patterson’s record of 156 career RBIs. Also, junior shortstop Matt Shaw is just four RBIs behind the record.
2. Can Maryland win its seventh straight Big Ten series this season? The Terps are sitting in first place in the Big Ten, but their lead is only one game on Indiana. They haven’t lost a Big Ten series this season after winning all their conference series in 2022, and having that streak snapped this weekend would be massively detrimental to their title hopes.
3. Gearing up for the postseason. Vaughn mentioned last week that starters Nick Dean and Jason Savacool have been dealing with minor injuries over their past two starts. Vaughn could keep the tandem on a pitch count for the remainder of the regular season to make sure that they are 100% for the postseason. It will be worth monitoring how far Vaughn lets them go this weekend against the Golden Gophers.