After sweeping a pair of midweek games, Nebraska returns home to continue their Big Ten conference schedule by hosting the Maryland Terrapins. Nebraska at 2-0-1 in Big Ten play is a game behind in the standings to Maryland who sits at 5-1 after sweeping the Rutgers Scarlet Knights last weekend.
Friday’s series opener will be carried statewide on NET and also streamed live on BTN Plus. Saturday’s game will be carried nationwide on the Big Ten Network and streamed live on BTN2Go. Sunday’s game will be streamed live on BTN Plus (subscription required).
This weekend’s contests are expected to be close, low scoring affairs as both starting pitching staffs are at the top of the conference. Nebraska will again start Jake Hohensee, Derek Burkamper, and Jake Meyers for the fifth straight weekend. Maryland will counter with Brian Shaffer, Tyler Blohm, and Taylor Bloom.
Shaffer, Blohm, and Bloom are a combined 12-5 this season with a combined ERA of 2.64. Shaffer, the Friday night ace leads the Terrapin pitching staff with 52 strikeouts. Bloom has been hard hit in his last several outings, and is the weakest link in a strong staff. Expect Shaffer and Hohensee to get into a low scoring affair Friday evening in Lincoln.
Maryland bats to watch are Marty Costes, Brandon Gum, and Kevin Smith. Costes is the best pure hitter on the team, and is tied for the team lead with six home runs. Gum is an on base machine, as he gets on base at a .494 clip to lead the Terrapins. Smith is tied with Costes for the team lead in home runs, and while he does not have a gaudy batting average, he is a projected first round draft pick due to his slick defense and advanced feel for the game.
A big question will be on the health of Smith who injured his shoulder last weekend against Rutgers. He did not play in the Terrapins only midweek game on Tuesday against Richmond. If Smith is out, expect Patrick Hisle to move to shortstop for the Terps.
As a team, Maryland likes to create on the base paths, as they have stolen 58 bases on the year, and have 28 combined sacrifices. While they enjoy the small ball, Maryland has hit 26 home runs this year, while only allowing 11.
Behind their starters, Maryland has a trio of effective bullpen weapons in Andrew Miller, Ryan Selmer, and Jared Price. Miller and Selmer are tied for the team lead with three saves each. Miller and Price each allow opponents to bat under the .200 mark. If Maryland has a lead, expect to see Selmer pitch first and then for them to turn the ball over to Miller as the closer.
Overall, this Maryland team is dangerous, but not unbeatable. Shaffer will feature a plus slider against Nebraska who will need to layoff bat pitches to have a chance Friday night. With the way Hohensee, Burkamper, and Meyers have pitched recently Nebraska does have better than a punchers chance at coming out with a series victory.
Weather this weekend is expected to be ideal, as the Huskers have standing room only already for Saturday’s nationally televised contest. Come on out to the ballpark and support the Huskers!