After a 16-10 blowout of William & Mary on Tuesday, it looked as if Maryland baseball was headed in a new direction after taking two of three at Illinois.
The team was back above the .500 mark for the first time in a few weeks and things were going well for the Terps ... until Wednesday, when West Virgnia came into Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium and stifled Maryland bats, winning 8-1. The offense was nonexistent and the pitching was inconsistent, walking 12 Mountaineers on the day.
“We definitely took a lot of pitches that we should’ve probably moved on and we just missed a couple of opportunities,” shortstop AJ Lee said.
The two midweek games this week are good indicators of where this Maryland team has been this year. One game, the Terps are on; the next, they are off. It’s been a roller coaster of a season so far. The 16-16 record doesn’t necessarily show the ups and downs of the season, but it shows that this season has been very average for Maryland, much like how 2018 went.
This weekend, the Terps are looking to shake off those cobwebs in Evanston, Illinois, taking on a solid Northwestern team who is currently 4-2 in Big Ten play.
“I think the biggest thing for us is just flush it,” Lee said. “We’ve been playing good baseball here the last couple of weeks, so I think just flush this and get back to what we do.”
Up next: Northwestern (15-14, 4-2 Big Ten)
The Wildcats are currently riding a four-game winning streak, including a weekend series sweep at Ohio State, outscoring the Buckeyes 30-11 in those games.
“Northwestern’s tough every year, much less at their place,” head coach Rob Vaughn said. “It’s gonna be three really big games for us.”
As of now, there are four Northwestern hitters with .300 averages or better, led by Jack Dunn, who’s hitting .374/.489/.421 with a team-leading 40 hits and 29 runs scored. The Wildcats aren't known as a power-hitting team, with 13 total home runs hit this season. However, the team average is currently sitting at .270 and the Wildcats’ on-base percentage is currently .361, meaning they spray the field and get on base. They also lead the conference in stolen bases with 49 total, Dunn and Ben Dickey leading the team with nine each.
The starting pitching hasn’t been stellar, with a 5.32 team ERA this season. Northwestern’s best pitchers are their relievers, Nick Paciorek and Anthony Alepra, who both have sub-2.80 ERAs and have given up a combined eight earned runs in 29 innings of work.
“We know what they’re capable of doing and know how hard they’re gonna play and what we’re gonna see down there,” Vaughn said. “We gotta flush this, go have a clean travel day, have a good practice down there and get ready for kind of a dog fight this weekend.”
The series begins Friday at 4:30 p.m. ET, followed by a Saturday doubleheader starting at noon ET.