Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics

Big Ten play begins with Northwestern

This weekend, the Maryland Terrapins (12-13) begin conference play with a three-game series  against the Northwestern Wildcats (7-12). Here’s what to watch for:

The Offenses

Maryland

What can be said about the Terps’ inconsistent offense that has not all ready been said? After scoring 11 runs against Elon last Wednesday, Maryland has scored just 14 runs total in the last four contests. The lineup has put up back-to-back games with seven or more runs only once –at the beginning of March in the Coastal Carolina Tournament.

However, the Terps are still finding ways to win without having to light up the scoreboard thanks to a few things they did not have earlier in the season: the bat of Marty Costes and timely hitting.

Before going hitless in a 10-3 loss to Richmond on Tuesday, the junior was clicking on all cylinders, recording two multi-hit games against Stetson last weekend and launching his second home run of the season. For the first time since the end of February, Costes is back to hitting over .200.

The timely hitting for the Terps peaked in their 6-1 win over Stetson on Sunday. The lineup recorded only six hits, but manufactured six runs. This differed from games earlier in the season where 10 hits resulted in only a few runs.

With Nick Dunn and Kevin Biondic still swinging well, and the rest of the lineup gradually improving, consistency is the only thing stopping the Terps from having a lethal offense.

Northwestern

The Wildcats may not have the wins to show for it, but the offense can still put up some runs. Averaging around 6.7 per contest, Northwestern has five players batting over .250 in 2018. Sophomore Alex Erro and junior Jack Dunn lead the way with 21 and 20 hits, respectively. Dunn’s younger brother, freshman David, is also playing well as he’s hitting .324 in ten games.

Much like the Terps, Northwestern deals with some inconsistency as well. They’ve scored as many as 18 runs in one game against Kansas, but immediately followed that up with only three runs less than 24 hours later.

The pitching

Maryland

The Terps will once again deploy the usual weekend rotation. Senior Taylor Bloom (2-4, 4.04 ERA) will get the start on Friday, looking to rebound from his outing against Stetson a week ago when he allowed five runs in 6 ⅔ innings, picking up the loss.

Saturday starter Tyler Blohm (3-2, 3.82 ERA) and Sunday starter Hunter Parsons (3-2, 3.23 ERA) will look to build off stellar appearances last weekend. Blohm pitched eight innings, giving up zero earned runs on only four hits. Parsons threw his second complete game in three starts, pitching a shutout while allowing only two hits and striking out a career-high nine batters. Parsons’ efforts were good enough to earn him both Big Ten Pitcher of the Week and Perfect Game/Rawling Sports Pitcher of the Week.

Though the team surrendered 10 runs to Richmond on Tuesday, Blohm and Parsons’ work last weekend has kept the bullpen fairly rested. With some fresh arms in relief to go along with two starters at the top of their game, things bode well for the Terps entering Friday.

Northwestern

Lavelle Quinn (2-2, 2.84 ERA), Hank Christie (2-2, 5.72 ERA) and Jack Pagliarini (1-1, 2.49 ERA) will most likely be the three starters for Northwestern this weekend. None have been dominant yet this season, but Quinn and Pagliarini are both coming off decent starts against Illinois, each going at least six innings.

If the starters do not fare well for the Wildcats, things could fall apart quickly. Out of the 11 relievers the team has used this season nine have an ERA over 6.00.

Other things to know

B1G Terps

Maryland went 15-9 in conference play last year, putting them in a tie for fourth in the conference.

One tough kitty

The Wildcats took three out of five from the Terps last year, including a win in the Big Ten Tournament that eliminated Maryland.

Not 1, not 2, but 3

There are three players in this series that sport the last name Dunn. In addition to Maryland’s Nick, Northwestern’s David and Jack share the last name as well. All are batting over .285 on the season.