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Nebraska Baseball: Weekend Preview vs Maryland

The Huskers claimed the top spot in the Big Ten this weekend, will they continue their dominance and continue their push towards the top 25?

Jon Johnston

**Update** The game time for April 9 has been changed to 4:05 pm (central) to try and get the game played before bad weather rolls in.

Series Preview:

Date: April 9th - 11th

Time: April 9th (Fri.) @ 4:05 p.m, April 10th (Sat.) @ 2:00 p.m, April 11th (Sun.) @ noon.

Location: Hawks Field at Haymarket Park, Lincoln, Nebraska

Record(s): Maryland (9-10) 9th in Big Ten

Nebraska: (13-5) 1st in Big Ten

Head Coach(s): Rob Vaughn

Stream: BTN+

Radio: Husker Sports Network

The Huskers played another good weekend of baseball against Illinois last week. Not only coming away with the series win, but the top spot in the Big Ten as well. The Huskers put up 28 runs this weekend outscoring their opponents once again to continue their impressive offensive surge. The hits continue to come from all over the roster and the Huskers flexed their depth again this week

Jaxon Hallmark continues to just get on base for the Huskers going 6 for 13 with one home run and two RBI’s bringing his season average to .382. Max Anderson continues to outplay all expectations as the true freshman went 8 for 15 on the weekend with a double and two RBI. Captain Spencer Schwellenbach landed himself on the Two Way Player of The Year Award watch list with his performance going 6 for 14 with a double, two home runs, and eight RBI, while also throwing three innings for the Huskers and striking out six. True freshman Brice Matthews had 3 RBI and a double on the weekend capped by a momentum changing steal of home in game three.

Illinois is a good baseball team, and one of the most potent offenses in the Big Ten. Coming off of a series win against them the Huskers are going to have all the momentum in the world going up against a Maryland team that has won four of their last five, including a dominant 17-7 win against #25 Michigan. Expect these teams to go at each other hard all series long in Lincoln.

Maryland:

March 9th: vs Illinois @ 6:30 p.m

March 10th: vs Illinois @ 2:00 p.m

March 11th: vs Illinois @ 12:00 p.m

For Maryland, it is no question that they started off the year slow. As a team that has been relatively consistent year after year they were bound to pick it up eventually and recently, that’s exactly what they’ve done. They come in at the bottom half of the rankings for the Big Ten but if you’ve watched them play recently, you’d never guess that was the case.

The offense has been good and it should be expected to be good as their hitters get more at bats. Junior infielder Benjamin Cowles has lead the team in pretty much every offensive category all season long, with a team leading .379 average and a Big Ten leading .833% slugging percentage which is 2nd in the nation, not to mention nine home runs and 25 RBI. Senior outfielder and captain Randy Bednar has also been a force at the plate for opposing pitching, going 25 for 75 with three home runs, five doubles, and 15 RBI. Behind Cowles and Bednar there are no other players on the team hitting above .300 but they do have reliable bats in Matthew Shaw, Tommy Gardiner, Luke Shliger, Chris Alleyne, and Maxwell Costas who are all hitting between .250 to .300 (minus Costas who is hitting .310 but in only 42 at bats.)

As a team Maryland does not get on base as much as they would like to, hitting .261 as opposed to a red hot Husker lineup that is hitting .293. They do however hit for the long ball with five players hitting three or more home runs so far and 26 as a team which is three less than the Huskers have hit. Their bats have been relatively inconsistent all season but have been relatively hot as of late, outscoring their opponents in their last five games 43 to 23.

As for pitching the story for the Terrapins has been true freshman starter Jason Savacool who is 4-0 in five starts. A heavily scouted MLB draft prospect out of high school, Savacool recently just locked down already his second Freshman of The Week Award. He is the teams only starter with below a 4.5 ERA with a 3.82 and 18 strikeouts in 30.2 innings pitched and two complete games already. He throws hard and has several pitches and should be an interesting pairing against the Huskers. 6’6 230 lb. redshirt sophomore Sean Burke owns a 4.78 ERA in five starts so far and leads the team in strikeouts with 45, leading both teams. Connor Staine and Sean Fisher also have earned starts for the Terps but own 6.33 and 7.20 ERA’s respectively and combine for five losses.

The bullpen however has been relatively reliable at the front end. Sophomore righty has served as the teams primary closer and in seven appearances has three saves and a 2.92 ERA while only walking three batters. Sophomore Ryan Ramsey has also seen seven appearances so far and owns a team best 2.25 ERA with a whopping 25 strikeouts in 16 innings. Sean Heine also owns a 4.09 ERA in six appearances. These three have been their best relievers by far and the rest of the bullpen has ERA’s above 7.50 which is needs to be improved for the Terrapins to win games. The team owns a 5.37 ERA.

The verdict here is that the Terrapins hit very well but don’t have much starting pitching after Savacool and Burke, the bullpen is also not very deep which has been a surprising strength for the Huskers. Much like the last series, they hit the baseball well but not quite on the same level as the top teams in the conference. So with that in the mind if the Huskers continue their offensive surge they should have no problem handling Maryland, but don’t expect this series to be handed to the Huskers, especially if Maryland comes to play. This should be a very interesting series.

Prediction: Huskers win series 2-1