Maryland Baseball Closes out Regular Season at Home Against Penn State

The Dirty Terps will conclude regular season play this weekend at The Bob with three games against Penn State to determine whether or not Maryland will be in the Big Ten Tournament. With still a lot to decide and a lot on the line, the Terps will have to have a big weekend to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive. Here is a preview for the weekend:

Where We Are:

Penn State

The Nittany Lions are currently in 11th place in the conference at 9-12 in Big Ten play and are 23-22 overall. Penn State has not officially been eliminated from Big Ten Tournament contention just yet, but will need to sweep the Terps to even have a chance to get to Omaha. Penn State is coming off a blowout loss to Pitt on Tuesday but won their last series against Rutgers taking two of three, both wins coming on walk-offs.

Maryland

The Terps did not play any midweek games this week with the Penn State series beginning on Thursday. They are coming off taking 2 out of 3 from Boston College in Chestnut Hill last weekend. Maryland currently sits in 8th place in the Big Ten standings with identical conference records as both Michigan State and Ohio State (10-11), but the three way tiebreaker puts Michigan State ahead of Maryland with Ohio State right now just missing out. There are many complicating factors that could come into play this weekend but as long as the Terps win 2 out of 3, they *should* be in good shape for the Big Ten Tournament in Omaha next week.

Series Schedule *NOTE*: These times are as of Wednesday evening and subject to change with bad weather expected in College Park on Saturday

Thursday: 4:00 – Travis Luensmann (5-2, 4.78 ERA) vs Omar Melendez (5-1, 4.84 ERA)

The senior from Altoona, Luensmann has been Penn State’s Friday night starter for a vast majority of the season. He has been exceptional for Penn State in Big Ten play allowing more than three runs just once, which came in his last start against Rutgers where he allowed four. He can, however, have occasional problems with walks as he has issued at least three free passes in his last five starts.

Melendez turned in a seven inning complete game shutout against BC last weekend in game of Saturday’s doubleheader. Both of his last two starts have been excellent as Melendez has slid into the Friday night role towards the end of the season. This weekend will be just the second start at home during conference play for Melendez, and he’ll look for better fortunes than his first one against Illinois where he could not make it out of the third inning.

Friday: 6:00 – Jaden Heline (3-3, 6.50 ERA) vs Logan Koester (6-6, 6.06 ERA)

Henline is coming off of a brilliant start against Rutgers which was easily his best of the season throwing seven shutout innings against Rutgers scattering just three hits. Henline has made some good starts with some clunkers mixed in as well. He threw five innings against Maryland last year and surrendered five earned runs and 11 hits to the Terps in the season finale last year.

Koester has put together two consecutive quality starts after being bumped from the Friday night spot. Last week he went five innings against BC and allowed two, while before that he allowed three to Rutgers over six. Conference play has certainly been an issue for Koester and with Maryland in the position they are in, expect a short leash for Koester if he struggles early.

Saturday: 2:00 – Frankie Sanchez (2-3, 7.41 ERA) vs TBD

The Southern New Hampshire transfer Sanchez has had a rocky season and likely will not pitch a lot for Penn State on Saturday. His highest total innings in a game this season has been six, which he has done twice. The next closest to that was a four-inning stint against Indiana back in April. He was really roughed up in his most recent outing by the Scarlet Knights getting tagged for six runs while recording just one out.

With Joey McMannis dealing with an illness, the Terps have yet to announce a Saturday starter. If McMannis is feeling up to it, he will likely get the ball. If he is still down, it’s possible that freshman Evan Smith draws the start in the season finale.

Hitters to Watch:

Penn State

Nittany Lion DH JT Marr is having a terrific season with an average over .400, and a team-best 79 hits. His 79 hits are the fourth most in a season in Penn State history. Marr’s .418 average ranks second in the conference and eighth in the country. Rightfielder Adam Cecere is also having a nice season with 13 home runs, and an OPS of 1.094, good for sixth in the conference. Bobby Marsh is another hitter to watch for Penn State. A career .325 hitter, Marsh’s 33 hits during Big Ten play are good for sixth in the conference.

Maryland

Chris Hacopian has been incredible as a freshman for the Terps this season. He currently has 14 home runs which lead all Big Ten freshmen, and is three bombs away from tying the Maryland freshman single-season home run record. Chris’s brother Eddie continues to climb towards an All Big Ten first-team nod with his average now at .376. Eddie has seven home runs with an OPS over 1.000 as well. Kevin Keister is now tied for 12th on the all-time Maryland home run after blasting his 28th as a Terp last weekend against Boston College.

All three games this weekend can be seen on Big Ten Plus. All Maryland Baseball games are free to listen to on the Maryland Baseball Network.

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