Maryland baseball was named the No. 2 seed in the Winston-Salem Regional regional on Monday. It’ll compete against No. 1 overall seed Wake Forest, No. 3-seed Northeastern and No. 4-seed George Mason.
The Terps are coming off a 41-win season in which they captured both the Big Ten regular-season and tournament title.
It’s been a historic year for Maryland’s offense, with three hitters breaking program records. Since the Big Ten Tournament, its pitching has also started to come around. The Terps posted the lowest overall ERA in the tournament.
But in the upcoming regional, Maryland will be going against three dominant pitching staffs. Wake Forest and Northeastern are the first and second-ranked teams in the nation in ERA, respectively.
The Terps will take on Northeastern in their opening game at 1 p.m. Friday. The game will be available on ESPN+.
No. 1-seed Wake Forest (47-10, 22-7 ACC)
Wake Forest is the bonafide No. 1 team in the nation, posting an incredible team ERA of 2.59 to go along with one of the best offenses in Division I.
The Demon Deacons’ offense has a 132 wRC+, just four points shy of Maryland.
Last year, the Terps defeated Wake Forest in the College Park regional.
Head Coach Tom Walter is in his 13th year with the program. He took home the ACC Coach of the Year award for the first time in his career this season. Now, he’ll look to take the Demon Deacons to their first super regional since 2017.
Wake Forest is the odds-on favorite to win the College World Series at +450, per DraftKings Sportsbook.
Players to know
Nick Kurtz, sophomore outfielder/infielder, No. 8 — Kurtz is one of the best hitters in college baseball. His 202 wRC+ ranks fourth in the country, meaning his offensive production is double that of the average player. Kurtz hit 23 home runs en route to a first team All-ACC selection.
Brock Wilken, junior infielder/catcher, No. 25 — Wilken is the No. 24 ranked MLB prospect, according to MLB.com. Wilken leads the team in home runs with 27 and has a slugging percentage of over .800. As well, he gets on base more than half the time. He was named to the All-ACC second team this year and holds the program record for career and single-season home runs.
Rhett Lowder, junior right-handed pitcher, No. 4 — Along with his laundry list of awards this year, Lowder is second in the country with a 1.69 ERA. He also has the third-most innings pitched with over 102. The junior is a projected first-round pick in the upcoming MLB draft.
Josh Hartle, sophomore left-handed pitcher, No. 23 — Hartle is another highly touted pitcher on this deep roster. He was recently named a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award. Hartle has the second most wins (9) and strikeouts (111) on the team.
Pitching. Wake Forest has the best rotation in the country. It has the lowest ERA in the nation by almost an entire run and its top three starters each made the All-ACC first team. The Deamon Deacons also have the best strikeout rate (32%), OPS allowed (.606) and WHIP (1.03) in the nation.
A hitter-friendly ballpark for the opposition. While Wake Forest’s pitching is stellar — and its offense is nearly as good — the hosts play in a ballpark with similar dimensions to Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium. The Terps have the second-best lineup in the regional and have the most home runs of all NCAA Tournament teams.
No. 3-seed Northeastern Huskies (44-14, 20-10 CAA)
The Huskies are no ordinary No. 3 seed. They come into the tournament with the second-best ERA in the nation, behind only Wake Forest. Northeastern actually has a higher RPI than the Terps, and a head-to-head win. It swept No. 14 overall seed Indiana State back and February and has wins over UConn, Duke and Boston College.
Head coach Mike Glavine was named the CAA Coach of the Year for the fourth time in his nine-year career with the Huskies after a 44-win season. Glavine is looking to take the Huskies to their first super regional in program history.
Players to know
Mike Sirota, sophomore shortstop, No. 8 — Sirota was a 16th-round pick in the 2021 MLB Draft before arriving at Northeaster. He’s been phenomenal this season, posting a 1.188 OPS and 17% walk rate to go along with 18 homers. One of those home runs came against Maryland in early May.
Cam Maldonado, freshman outfielder, No. 7 — Maldonado has been explosive in his first year with the Huskies, with a slugging percentage over .657. He’s been on eof the best freshmen in the conference with 13 doubles.
Aiven Cabral, freshman right-handed pitcher, No. 6. — Cabral’s 2.62 ERA is the best on the team and his walk rate of under 4% ranks top 10 in the country among qualified pitchers. He was named to the All-CAA first-team after his impressive rookie campaign.
Pitching. Northeastern’s pitching got the best of the Terps in a 9-2 win on May 9. The Huskies’ biggest strength is their ability to limit walks, as they have the seventh-best walk rate against in the nation.
Lack of power five games. The Huskies are a very talented and well-rounded, but they did so playing in a conference that only has two teams in this year's tournament. While they have won every midweek game against power five opponents, they have not faced any of these teams in a three-game set. It’ll be interesting to see how they fare in a double-elimination bracket.
No. 4-seed George Mason Patriots (34-25, 13-10 A10)
George Mason has tons of momentum going its way after winning the A10 tournament for the second time in program history. Despite being the No. 6 seed, the Patriots upset Dayton and Saint Louis behind stellar pitching performances.
Head coach Shawn Camp took the Patriots back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in nine years in his first full season at at the helm.
Players to know
South Trimble, senior third baseman, No. 3 — Trimble is one of the most consistent hitters in the conference. He leads the team in batting average (.332) and OPS (.917).
Reece Woody, sophomore first baseman, No. 5 — Woody was the man for the Patriots when it came to hitting with runners in scoring position. His 46 RBIs led all Patriots.
Chad Gartland, sophomore right-handed pitcher, No. 21 — Gartland was named the A10 pitcher of the year after a strong sophomore campaign. He posted a 3.43 ERA over 89 innings pitched.
Pitching. Yes, there is a common theme here. Every team in the Winston-Salem regional has a top-tier pitching staff. George Mason ranked first in the A10 with an ERA of 4.74. Like Northeastern, though, the bullpen will have its hands full against the likes of Maryland and Wake Forest.
Strength of schedule. The Patriots have not played an opponent in the RPI top-25 and are 0-3 against teams ranked between No. 26-50.
George Mason has yet to define itself against elite competition, so this bracket is sure to be a test.
Three things to watch
1. Can the Terps pull off history again? The last No. 1 overall seed to go down in the first round of the NCAA tournament was in 2015, when Maryland took down top-seeded UCLA. The Terps haven’t made the super regional since, but have a very capable roster this year. Unfortunately for them, Wake Forest is in the midst of a historically great season.
2. There will be tons of scouts in attendance. Nine players in the Winston-Salem regional are on MLB.com’s top 200 prospects list. Wake Forest has six guys and Maryland has three. Northeastern’s Sirota and Maldonado are other promising players with high upside.
3. Can Maryland’s pitching stay hot? Maryland’s crutch this season has been its pitching. Before the Big Ten Tournament, it had an ERA of over six. Fortunately for head coach Rob Vaughn,Maryland’s pitching was a revelation in the Terps’ title run, allowing just five runs in four games.
The question remains if the Terps have enough depth to sustain a postseason run.