It’s been a rough few weeks for Maryland baseball, having lost three consecutive weekend series and a midweek game on Wednesday at William & Mary. The Terps are 13-14 going into this weekend and 3-9 in their last 12 games, including getting swept twice.
Things looked like they were trending in the right direction after last Friday, when Hunter Parsons threw eight scoreless innings of two-hit baseball as Maryland defeated Indiana 2-0. But everything changed the next two games, when Indiana won by a combined 39-9 score, putting up 20 and 19 runs in the last two games of the series.
Friday felt like light years ago compared to the beatdowns that Maryland got on Saturday and Sunday. That play carried into their midweek 8-1 loss at William & Mary, where Terps pitchers struggled to find the strike zone and the offense couldn’t string hits together.
Now, the Terps are visiting one of the best teams in the Big Ten this weekend. Illinois is coming off getting swept by Iowa, but the Fighting Illini have had an impressive season thus far and will be eager to bounce back as they return home.
Up next: Illinois (19-8, 0-3 Big Ten)
The Fighting Illini are coming off a 33-20 season where they finished fourth in the Big Ten. So far, they have shown that they will be competing for one of the top conference records and a possible NCAA Tournament berth, their first since 2015.
Despite not having 2018 Collegiate Baseball Player of the Year Bren Spillane back on the roster, the Fighting Illini are having a lot of success offensively this year. Five players on the roster are currently hitting above .300.
Zac Taylor has become a team leader on offense, hitting .400/.474/.760 in 13 games with three home runs and eight RBIs. There are six players with 13 RBIs or more and six players with multiple home runs, including three with three or more. As a group, the Illini are hitting .293/.372/.414 and have a balanced attack.
On the pitching side, they are having as much success, with a 3.24 team ERA. Each of their weekend starters has an ERA of 3.60 or lower, with Ty Weber overwhelmingly leading the pack. In 33.2 innings pitched, Weber has a 1.87 ERA, giving up seven earned runs on the season.
Closer Garrett Acton hasn’t allowed an earned run on the mound and leads the team with 10 saves. Illinois’ team batting average against is .214, one of the best in the conference and in the country. It will be tough for Maryland’s offense, which has stifled lately, to keep up the same success to take a series in Champaign this weekend.
Game one begins on Friday at 7 p.m. ET.