The final weekend series of the year was always one of my favorite weekends of the baseball season. It is always a Thursday through Saturday series and we usually got back in time to
go out on the corner Saturday night with nothing to do on Sunday hang out with the guys! Practices with no school to worry about made for great days of tropical smoothie, Xbox, or maybe a little fungo golf. This year should be as enjoyable for the Cavaliers as they travel to Maryland in their final weekend to take on the GREAT Terps.
These past two years were supposed to be different for Maryland. Bakich was entering his third year of his journey to get Maryland to the top of the ACC and had what many considered a strong contingent of JUCO transfers. Then the ACC schedule started and real baseball started getting played. After starting off 11-1 which included a series win over UCLA in Los Angeles, the shit hit the fan and they got swept by Wake Forest. Yes, they were swept by WAKE FOREST. You know how many other series Wake has won? Two (VT and GT).
Anyways, the Terps currently sit at 31-22 overall with a 9-18 record in the ACC. Right now they are two games behind VPISU and GT for the final spot in the ACC Tournament. Last time the Terps even made the ACC tournament? 2005, when every team made the tournament. Last time the Terps made the NCAA tournament? 1971. I am beginning to wonder why that school even has baseball anymore. (I jest. I hate it when any University gets rid of baseball, but that is for another discussion)
Historically, the Cavaliers have owned the UMD series with a 105-76-1record. Thing have been even uglier since Coach O'Connor took over in Charlottesville. Since Oak has been at the helm, Maryland has only been able to win a single game. That lone loss came in 2009 when UVa's own Robert Poutier's little brother David Poutier carried the Terps to an 8-7 victory.
Just a few weeks ago the Terps had the best ERA in the ACC. They have three starters that are more than capable of pitching in the conference. Their Friday night starter, Senior RHP Brett Harman 2.72 ERA to go along with his 6-3 record. He's got a strong strikeout to walk ration (68-17) and matches up with Branden Kline tonight. The other two starters haven't been released by Maryland, but I imagine it will be Michael Boydon and David Carroll who took the mound against FSU two weeks ago. Both have respectable ERAs and a combined 6-6 record, but the talent of the Cavalier lineup should be able to handle all three pitchers.
Currently ninth in the ACC in batting, the hitters of the Terp's lineup have not held up their share of the bargain. More surprising to me is that Maryland does not lead the conference in home runs. Shipley Field, where UMD plays their home games, is one of the smallest in the conference, if not the country. A team .267 average is lead by .311 hitter Jordan Hagel who is the lone Terp that has played in most of their games and is batting over .300. They also rank eleventh in the conference in slugging percentage and on base percentage, but they don't strike out a lot. I would attribute this to their field which is all turf. They put the ball in play a lot but with the lack of bad hops and dirt, they are probably seeing less base runners than their counterparts. That also leads to their .973 fielding percentage which is tied with Clemson for the conference lead.
Maryland is taking steps in the right direction. They don't seem to get a lot of support from their athletic department but Bakich is seemingly putting this program on the right track. They have a lot of young talent, but their high influx of JUCO transfers mean they're not on campus that long. Luckily for the Cavaliers, this year is not the year Maryland starts competing on UVa's level. I see the Cavaliers sweeping the Terps this weekend and securing the four seed for Greensboro with an outside shot at the three seed.
First pitch tonight is in the
ghetto College Park tonight at 6. I will be doing my best to get to tomorrow's game so if you can make it, come out and support the Hoos!