Now, we haven’t exactly done a preview for the baseball team yet (we’ll do it soon, hopefully an exhaustive one), and the season has snuck up on us – Maryland opens up their 2011 campaign against Texas tomorrow.
The Longhorns are ranked 6th in the nation, and are perennially one of the top programs in the NCAA. The two programs have never met, and the Terps come in to the four-game series as severe underdogs in Austin.
The first matchup, scheduled for 4:00 p.m. ET tomorrow (February 18), will most likely see Taylor Jungmann on the hill for the Longhorns against Maryland’s Sander Beck. Jungmann, drafted in the 24th round of the 2008 Draft by the Angels, was a freshman All-American in 2009 and went 8-3 with a 2.03 ERA as a sophomore last season. Beck, in his first season as a full-time starter, went 0-8 with a 7.38 ERA last season, but comes into the year as the staff’s ace after an injury suffered by Brett Harman.
The two teams are slated to play a doubleheader on Saturday – in the first one, the most likely pitching matchup will be Texas’ Cole Green (11-2, 2.74 ERA last year) against Maryland’s David Carroll, a JuCo transfer. In the second game, Sam Stafford (0-0, 2.62 ERA last year) will most likely be the starter for the Longhorns, while Eric Potter (2-10, 8.80 ERA in 2010) will start for the Terps.
In the fourth game, scheduled for Sunday, Hoby Milner (3-1, 1.97 ERA last year) will pitch for the Longhorns against a Terp to be named later.
The Longhorns return all four of their infielders from last year – first baseman Tant Shepherd, second baseman Jordan Etier, shortstop Brandon Loy, and third baseman Kevin Lusson. Shepherd had OPS’d .953 last year, hitting eight home runs and posting team highs in batting average, at-bats, runs, hits, doubles, and tying the team-high in stolen bases. Etier and Loy aren’t huge offensive threats, and are often used to just move runners over. Lusson hit 14 home runs last year and had an OPS of .911.
Also returning is outfielder Cohl Walla, who drove in 40 runs and OPS’d .848 last season.
Erik Bakich is leading a real change in the Maryland baseball program. The Terps haven’t been relevant in a very, very long time, and the former stud recruiter at Vandy has already changed the culture of Terrapin baseball. However, this is a very tough task to start out the year. If they win more than one game in this series, consider it a huge success.