For the first time this season, Northwestern baseball will play a ranked opponent when the Wildcats and University of Maryland Terrapins start a three-game conference series on Friday. Maryland (33-8, 9-3 B1G) moved up one spot to 23 in the most recent D1Baseball.com Top 25 rankings after beating Illinois in a Big Ten series last weekend. The Wildcats are seeking their first series win in College Park since 2017.
The Terps are currently second in the Big Ten standings, sitting 1.5 games behind Rutgers and edging Illinois by percentage points heading into the weekend. Maryland has dominated at home this year, compiling a 17-1 record at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium. Following last weekend’s series win at Illinois, the Terrapins defeated Navy 18-10 on Tuesday and enter the series with the Wildcats riding a three-game win streak.
In 41 games, Maryland has hit 72 home runs, which leads the Big Ten Conference and ranks 11th nationally. Four Terrapin batters have hit double-digit home runs this season, led by Chris Alleyne with 13. As a team, Maryland has hit .295, trailing only Rutgers in team batting average among the Big Ten. Luke Shliger leads the Terps in batting average (.350), walks (35) and OPS (1.078).
Maryland’s pitching staff has posted a 4.35 ERA this season. Sophomore right-hander Jason Savacool leads the team in several statistical categories, including innings pitched (72), strikeouts (85), ERA (2.63) and WHIP (1.00). Saturday starter Ryan Ramsey is a perfect 7-0 in 2022. The Terrapins have been susceptible to giving up the long ball, surrendering 42 home runs this season, which ranks fourth-worst in the conference.
Maryland coach Rob Vaughn is in his fifth season leading the Terrapins and tenth on the coaching staff. Vaughn led the team to the NCAA Tournament last year for the first time in his tenure. The Terps went 30-18 and lost in the Greenville regional final to East Carolina. In D1Baseball.com’s recent 2022 tournament projections, Maryland is projected to be a two seed in the field of 64.
The Wildcats (19-17, 6-6 B1G) won their third Big Ten series of the season last weekend, taking down Michigan State in two out of three games. Northwestern continued its winning ways at Rocky and Berenice Miller Park on Tuesday with an 8-0 non-conference win over Milwaukee. Ruben Fontes hit a three-run home run for the ‘Cats, and six pitchers combined for Northwestern’s third shutout of 2022. Stephen Hrustich also homered, blasting his sixth HR in his last 10 games. David Utagawa backed up a strong performance against St. Louis on April 19 with four scoreless innings against the Panthers, and Mike Doherty, Kellen Pate, Jack Sauser, Reed Smith and Coby Moe each fired a scoreless inning in the win.
Northwestern went 0-4 against Maryland last season, losing two games in College Park and two neutral-site games in Iowa City, Iowa. With an even 6-6 conference record, the Wildcats are in sixth place in the Big Ten with four series remaining. The top eight teams qualify for the Big Ten Baseball Tournament in Omaha, Neb. starting on May 25.
The Wildcats and Terrapins will play three games this weekend, with a single game on Friday, Saturday and Sunday:
Game 1: Friday, April 29, 6:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. CT
Game 2: Saturday, April 30, 2:00 p.m. ET/1:00 p.m. CT
Game 3: Sunday May 1 1:00 p.m. ET/12:00 p.m. CT
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Projected Starting Pitchers
Northwestern: LHP Sean Sullivan, 5-0, 2.68 ERA, 53.2 IP, 65 K
Maryland: RHP Nick Dean, 3-2, 4.53 ERA, 49.2, 46 K
Northwestern: RHP Michael Farinelli, 4-4, 3.59 ERA, 62.2 IP, 43 K
Maryland: LHP Ryan Ramsey, 7-0, 2.77 ERA, 61.2 IP, 59 K
Northwestern: RHP Grant Comstock, 0-3, 6.20 ERA, 24.2 IP, 21 K
Maryland: RHP Jason Savacool, 7-2, 2.63 ERA, 72 IP, 85 K
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