After going 1-2 in a three-game series with Nebraska last weekend, the Maryland Terrapins (20-27, 6-11) face Towson (13-35, 6-12) on Wednesday in their last midweek matchup of the season.
Having struggled over the weekend, giving up a 16 unanswered runs on Saturday, the Terps are desperate for a confidence-booster heading into their last home series against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights this weekend.
I think the beauty of it is we really control our own destiny,” said head coach Rob Vaughn. “For us it’s, you know what, we go out and play good baseball these next six conference games, and really starting [Tuesday], we really control what happens to us.
“Like Coach [Vaughn} says, everything that we want to do is still in front of us, it’s still in our hands,” said shortstop A.J. Lee. “We’re not trying to think too much and play every game like it’s a live-or-die situation. We’re just trying to enjoy every minute we have with each other, because we really don’t know.”
With a mixed-up pitching rotation, due to Taylor Bloom being sidelined a couple weeks ago with a concussion, Maryland’s usual midweek starter Mark DiLuia has been starting on Friday’s instead. This means that, much like the past two weeks, the Terps will have to rely heavily on an inconsistent bullpen.
Redshirt freshmen Billy Phillips (1-1, 8.47 ERA) or Mike Vasturia (1-3, 6.41 ERA) will likely get the start on Wednesday. Phillips started the Terps’ last two midweeks, with a win in 4 innings against James Madison, and a shorter start (1 ⅓ innings) in Maryland’s loss last week to West Virginia. Vasturia has started two games, one midweek and one Friday game.
The Terps need at least four solid innings out of whoever starts Wednesday, as they’ll want a rested bullpen heading into this weekend. But, with a pitching staff averaging a 5.30 ERA, Maryland can’t count on beating Towson just on the defensive end.
Offensively, the Terps have been a roller coaster this year. In Saturday’s game, they got out to a comfortable 8-1 lead after the top of the second, but couldn’t produce another run in the remaining 7 innings. Heading into Wednesday’s game, Maryland will continue to look to junior Nick Dunn (.337) and senior Kevin Biondic (.291) to carry the offense.
“We kind of got into the lull of the game,” said Lee of what went wrong Saturday. “[We] weren’t taking the greatest at-bats, and we kind of got away from what we were doing in the first two innings. I mean, we tried to string some stuff together there late, but it just wasn’t enough to get it done.”
For Towson, (clasS) Kody Reeser (0-0, 3.00 ERA) will likely get the start. However, the Tigers haven’t had a consistent midweek pitcher, or a consistent weekend rotation. As a whole, the pitching staff is averaging a 7.05 ERA.
The Tigers’ offense is as mediocre as the Terps’, with only junior Richie Palacios batting over .300. Palacios not only leads the team in home runs (8) and RBIs (36), but also in errors (15). Senior Billy Lennox is nearing the .300 mark, but remains at a .291 batting average, and has not homered yet this season.
“Any time you’re playing guys in-state there’s a lot of motivation,” said Vaughn. “There’s a lot of motivation on their end to beat, you know, the University of Maryland, and on our end you don’t want to lose to people in-state. We know they’re going to come out with a lot of energy and a really, really good mindset, and we’ve got to match them and play well tomorrow.”
First pitch is 4 p.m. Wednesday. The last midweek is also the last $1 hot dog night for the season.
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