Maryland baseball splits four-game series with Rutgers

Randy Bednar went 2-4 with a home run and 2 RBI in Sunday's 9-5 victory over Rutgers (Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics)

After eight games, Maryland is 3-5, which marks the 10th best record in the conference. On Sunday, the Terps defeated Rutgers 9-5 splitting the four-game series with the Scarlet Knights.

The Terps offense was strong in the series against the Scarlet Knights scoring a combined 30 runs, but the pitching staff struggled surrendering a combined 32 runs. After an offensive explosion Friday night, the Terps lost both games during Saturday’s doubleheader 9-3 and 8-7 respectively.

“You leave this weekend 2-2 is not at all what we were looking to do coming in at home, but I thought our boys did a good job fighting,” head coach Rob Vaughn said.

Entering the series, Rutgers was lead by Chris Brito who continued to find success against the Terps. Over the four games, the Collegiate Baseball’s National Player of the Week slugged 1.278 and batted .500 with four home runs, nine RBI’s and five runs scored. However, for Maryland, infielder Ben Cowles was the leader of the offense with a .429 average, five home runs, seven RBI’s and six runs scored.

“Ben Cowles, some of those at-bats he’s had the last two days were incredible,” Vaughn said after Saturday’s doubleheader.

So far this season, Maryland’s offense has been strong. Through eight games, the Terps has a .357 OBP which is the fifth in the Big Ten. The team is also third in the conference with a .454 slugging percentage and 12 home runs tied for second in the conference. As the season progresses, the Terps will search for more consistency in the box, with a team batting average of .246 one of the lower totals in the conference.

Pitching has been a struggle for the Terps so far this season. In game 1 against Rutgers, starter Sean Burke allowed five runs over six innings. Sean Fisher wasn’t able to gain momentum in game 2 surrendering four runs in 3.1 innings.

Despite a team ERA of 5.63, fourth worst in the conference the pitching staff’s control has been excellent walking just 23 batters this season the lowest total in the conference. The pitching staff has also shown their explosive stuff registering 83 strikeouts in eight games.

However, Maryland’s defense has also been problematic at times this season as the team has allowed 10 unearned runs. Currently, the Terps are last in the Big Ten with a .951 fielding percentage, with a combined 14 errors on the season including six against the Scarlet Knights. Moving forward the Terps have an opportunity to correct some of their early season mistakes as they head out to State College for a four-game series with Penn State beginning March 19.

“I have a laundry list of things we need to do better,” Vaughn said.