Maryland baseball’s eight-game winning streak is no more, as the Terps lost at North Carolina on Tuesday. But the Terps are still in good position, with a 9-6 record this season. They return home this weekend for a three-game series against Princeton, and they’ll be looking to add to their 5-0 home record.
Alex Murphy is in Orlando with the Maryland Pep Band this week in advance of the Maryland-Xavier game, so he wasn’t able to add his thoughts to our roundtable. But we still had Greg Goldstein and Andrew Kramer around, so the show rolls on.
Maryland’s eight-game winning streak came after they started the season 1-5. What do you think was the most significant change?
Greg: Obviously the team simply played much better, most notably the relief pitching. Ryan Hill, Taylor Stiles, Andrew Miller, Jared Price, Mike Rescigno and Ryan Selmer all played a part in calming down a unit that was scuffling in the early part of the schedule. However, the main factor has to be that the Terps just faced weaker competition. Now, Maryland did take care of business going 5-0 at home last week, but it always helps when you face clubs that are struggling. Maryland started the season with five games away from Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium, including four combined against top five programs in Louisville and LSU. So naturally a turnaround was expected when the team reached a softer part of its schedule.
Andrew: The competition came down quite a bit from #4 Louisville and #7 LSU. It gave the Terps the opportunity to straighten some things out. The team also ran aggressively on the basepaths and in general played much cleaner ball. Kevin Smith came out of his hitting funk and provided some critical hits.
The Terps’ bullpen helped Maryland pull out wins against William & Mary and Saint Joseph’s, and the weekend starters held Bryant to one earned run over three games. Which pitcher’s performance caught your eye the most?
Greg: Whenever a freshman performs at a high level it always catches my eye. Tyler Blohm was given the opportunity to continue pitching in the weekend rotation after a rough outing in Baton Rouge, and he has rewarded John Szefc for his confidence. The left hander shutout the Bryant Bulldogs over six innings of work, striking out six in the process. Perhaps even more impressively, Blohm only allowed three hits and walked just one batter. This is a type of outing that can really boost the confidence of a young and talented starting pitcher, so I’m really interested to see how he can build of this start this weekend against Princeton.
Andrew: I can’t say that one particular performance dominated over the rest. The pitching was outstanding from the law firm of Shaffer, Bloom, & Blohm. Ryan Selmer pitched quite well on back-to-back days in Cary, which caught the eye of a nationally known college baseball writer. Hill, Price, and Miller were sharp during the winning streak.
Is there anything Maryland fans should take from Tuesday’s loss at UNC?
Greg: Not really. We know that midweek games are going to be tough on the Terps because their midweek starters have struggled for the most part this year. Going on the road for one game always puts a team at a disadvantage, especially when the club you’re playing is as talented as North Carolina. The Terps have three winnable games this weekend, and I don’t expect one poor performance to disrupt an offense that has been highly productive all season long.
Andrew: If you’re going to beat a top-tier team, you’ve got to play at your highest level. That’s particularly true on the road. During the winning streak the Terps played like a top 25 team. I really thought that a win at Chapel Hill would earn a number next to Maryland. But some early miscues helped the Tar Heel take control of the game. Plus, the Terps inability to muster hits when UNC issued seven walks and a HBP was problematic.
What are you looking for in this weekend’s series against Princeton?
Greg: Princeton has a senior pitcher in Chad Powers that will present a challenge on Friday night. He’s coming off a six inning, two-run outing so it should be interesting to see how the Terps offense does when facing a veteran pitcher. Outside of that, Princeton is just 2-6 on the season, which gives Maryland a good opportunity to shake of this midweek loss and get started on forming another winning streak. I’m looking for the Terps not to beat themselves against an opponent that they should take at least take two of three from.
Andrew: A return to the form the team had during the eight games prior to Tuesday night’s loss. They should dominate Princeton, on the mound and at the plate. The Terps need to sweep and begin another long winning streak.