What: (6) Maryland Terrapins vs. (3) Indiana Hoosiers
Where: TD Ameritrade Ballpark, Omaha, Nebraska
When: Wednesday, May 25, 10:00 a.m. ET (BTN)
Wednesday, both needing a Big Ten Tournament title to earn an NCAA berth, Indiana and Maryland will presumably throw Kyle Hart and Mike Shawaryn, two of the best pitchers in the country, in hopes of jump-starting their run in Omaha.
Alex: So, I’m looking at Maryland’s schedule and it looks strikingly similar to Indiana’s — some really bad losses (series loss to Rutger and High Point, for example). But it differs in the fact that the Terps seem to have some real quality wins, like two out of three from Fullerton. Which team is the real Maryland team?
Andrew: Maryland has had a real Jekyll and Hyde year. In my article I speak about Maryland's lack of consistency. There are periods when the team can score runs, and then times when runs are as scarce as hens' teeth. Earlier in the season Mike Shawaryn struggled a bit (more on that below) and the highly touted freshman arms for the most part disappointed. Now Maryland has four starting pitchers who can be effective. The Achilles heel is the bullpen, which has been almost totally unreliable. I think that is the key: if Maryland starters can go deep then they're a solid club. Otherwise they're vulnerable.
Alex: Before the season, I think everyone except me (who went homer and picked Kyle Hart) would have picked Mike Shawaryn to be the Big Ten Pitcher of the Year (and maybe the National Pitcher of the Year). But the stats suggest that he might not have even been the best starter in the rotation this season — and not because the other two guys were all-world. What happened to him this season?
Andrew: A combination of things. Shawaryn slightly altered his delivery, which caused some problems, particularly when runners got on base. He would have times when his location was off. Shawaryn was switched to the Sunday starter for a few weeks while he worked on some things. Right now he's coming back into the form he showed his first two years. One thing about Shawaryn is that he is a warrior, and is best when the pressure is the greatest. Expect to see the real Mike Shawaryn on Wednesday.
Alex: Assuming that Shawaryn will go on Wednesday and that facing the Indiana offense will make him look like Cy Young, who are the guys that the Hoosiers’ staff needs to shut down in order to stay in the ballgame?
Andrew: Maryland's offense has been like a rotating door. It's rare when you get production throughout the whole line-up. It's usually just two guys who are hot during a particular series, with the hot hitters changing weekly That said, Kevin Biondic has made incredible strides over his freshman stats, Nick Dunn has a sweet swing, and Marty Costes has a lot of pop in his bat. Don't overlook Kevin Smith, who seems to come through with clutch hits.
Alex: What’s the general feeling about the Maryland program heading into the Big Ten Tournament? This season had to be a little disappointing, no?
Andrew: It's been very disappointing. They have got a lot of talented players, but a number of them have been underachieving this year. It's not where anyone following the program would have predicted at the beginning of the season. Right now I think the Terps have to win the B1G to make the NCAA tournament.
Alex: Any prediction for Wednesday’s opener?
Andrew: I think both pitchers will have strong games. It will probably be a low scoring affair, and I like the Terps because I've seen Shawaryn excel many times in exactly this kind of situation.
Give Andrew a follow on Twitter (@mercator88) for the Maryland perspective this week.