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Previewing Maryland baseball’s opponents for the Brittain Resorts Invitational

The 2019 Maryland baseball season begins Friday. Here’s who the Terps will face on opening weekend.

Maryland baseball Mike Vasturia vs Illinois

Maryland baseball season is upon us.

Like last season, the Terps will travel to Conway, South Carolina, the home of Coastal Carolina, for the Brittain Resorts Invitational, a weekend tournament in which Maryland will play Campbell, Coastal and VCU.

Maryland did well in Conway last year, going 3-0, including defeating the host Chanticleers 7-6. This year, though, the Terps are opening the season here, which will make it tougher to scout their weekend opponents.

None of Maryland’s weekend games will be televised, but all will be broadcast on the Maryland Baseball Network.

Let’s take a closer look at this weekend’s opponents.

Campbell — Friday @ 11 a.m.

2018 record: 35-26, NCAA Regionals

Coming into 2019, the Fighting Camels took a massive roster hit, losing eight graduating seniors in 2018. While they are projected to finish at the top of the Big South, which would give them their third NCAA Tournament appearance in the last six years and consecutive postseason appearances for the first time in program history, they will have to fill a lot of voids.

The toughest hole to fill is that of Christian Jones, who hit .274/.365/.588 with 20 home runs, 67 RBI, 11 doubles, 50 runs scored and 133 total bases. His 20 home runs were tied for seventh-most in Division 1. This year, the Fighting Camels will need more production from seniors Tyler Anshaw, Luis Gimenez and Zach Minnick. The three combined for 10 home runs and all batted .245 or lower. However, Gimenez was reliable on the base path, going 23-for-27 in stolen base attempts in 2018.

Campbell’s biggest asset for 2019 is Matthew Barefoot, who hit .364/.484/.585 with eight home runs, 79 hits, 58 runs scored, 18 doubles and 33 steals. He has to fill the outfield void left by Jeff Hahs, who hit .306/.402/.503 in 157 at-bats with six home runs, 48 hits, 13 doubles and 32 runs scored. Barefoot is projected to be the Big South Player of the Year by Baseball America based on last year, but he will need to do much more than what he did last year to get Campbell back to the postseason.

On the mound, the Fighting Camels will have some fresh faces. This weekend, Campbell will have two new left-handers throwing. Junior Kevin Westlake is a transfer from Louisburg College along with other potential starter, junior right-hander Seth Johnson. Freshman Ryan Chasse is listed as a pitcher and first baseman, but his pitching numbers in high school outweigh his batting statistics.

But the Terps will face senior right-hander Michael Horrell, who went 6-4 last season with a 3.75 ERA in 72 innings. Despite having new faces in the rotation, it seems like Campbell could rotate through four or five starters on the weekend and then experiment with different long relievers or starters during midweek games. However, Horrell is the Friday starter this weekend, and his strikeout-to-walk ratio wasn’t great in 2018 (48 strikeouts, 32 walks). Maryland needs to capitalize on him early and often.

No. 21 Coastal Carolina — Saturday @ 3 p.m.

2018 record: 43-19, NCAA Regionals

The Chanticleers are back again with arguably a better team than when they played Maryland last season. Fresh off their third NCAA Tournament appearance in four years, Coastal comes into 2019 having lost six seniors, including half their starting infield (shortstop Seth Lancaster and first bsaeman Kevin Woodall Jr.) and starting catcher Matt Beaird. Coastal also lost Friday starter Jason Bilous, a junior in 2018, so there were a lot of holes to patch.

With six senior leaders and 11 new freshman, the program has made great efforts in order to do that, bringing in its first-ever top-25 recruiting class in 2019.

The team is led by sophomore standout and 2018 Freshman All-American Parker Chavers, the consensus Sun Belt Preseason Player of the Year. Chavers hit .325/.345/.498 with seven home runs in 2018 and is only going to get better as one of the catalysts in the lineup.

The right side of the infield looks solid with second baseman Cory Wood (.296/.435/.490 2018 splits) and first baseman Zach Biermann (.302/.419/.561, 13 HR in 2018), who will be a key player replacing Woodall Jr. at first.

Coastal’s bullpen improved in the offseason as Bobby Holmes and Austin Kitchen will both return healthy for 2019, both missing the entirety of last season due to injury. Rising sophomores Zach McCambley and Dylan Gentry will both be relied on more on the mound, giving up a combined 25 runs in 65 innings pitched in 2018.

But what might be the best part of this year’s team is the three-headed monster that will take the mound for weekend series: Matt Eardensohn, Anthony Veneziano and Garrett McDaniels. Eardensohn was lights-out in 2018, going 7-0 with a 2.18 ERA in 57.2 innings while Veneziano was 7-1 with a 3.81 ERA in 59 innings. Veneziano and McDaniels are lefties, and McDaniels is also the top recruit from this year’s class, the 203rd-best prospect on Baseball America’s Top 500 Prospects list.

It will be interesting to see who they Chanticleers throw out on Saturday, but Maryland will have to be on its toes on both sides of the ball if the Terps want an early-season road upset.

VCU — Sunday @ 11 a.m.

2018 record: 34-23

Maryland’s tournament finale is against a team that the Terps will play three times this season, including a midweek home-and-home. Despite not making the NCAA Tournament in 2018, the Rams finished with a respectable 14-10 conference record and hit .269 as a team with a .368 on-base percentage. They also lost six graduating seniors, but have replenished their team with 10 new freshman. Overall, the team returned 19 players and added 15 new players via recruiting and transfers.

Baseball America is high on the Rams this season, projecting them to finish second behind last year’s A-10 champion, Saint Louis.

Where the team suffered last season was its lack of power, hitting 14 home runs as a team and slugging just .340 overall. The Rams lost Daane Berezo and Haiden Lamb, who both hit over .300 last season as seniors, and Mitchel Lacey, who led the team with five home runs in 2018. Among returners, Hogan Brown should be VCU’s reliable bat, as he hit .344 last season.

One of their weekend starters, Sam Thompson, also graduated, going 8-2 with a 3.03 ERA in 92 innings. The Rams will rely on their other two starters, juniors Connor Gillispie and Sam Ryan, to pick up the workload. Expect Gillispie to be the Friday starter after he went 7-3 in 2018 with a 2.57 ERA and 97 strikeouts in 73.2 innings.