Allegany Radio Corporation Sports
It was a big Memorial Day weekend for University of Maryland baseball, as the Terps blanked Iowa, 4-0, on Sunday to win the Big Ten Tournament championship to bookend with its regular-season title, and then on Monday were announced as a No. 2 seed in the Winston-Salem Regional of the NCAA Tournament.
This will be the third consecutive NCAA tournament appearance for Maryland and the sixth since 2014, as the Terps enter the field with 17 wins over top-100 RPI opponents and as one of the top slugging teams in the country.
Maryland (41-19), managed by Rob Vaughn, is second in the country in home runs with 123 and became the first team since LSU in 1997-98 to hit more than 120 home runs in consecutive seasons. Third baseman Nick Lorusso was named Big Ten Most Outstanding Player, while shortstop Matt Shaw is the Big Ten Player of the Year.
Friday at 1 p.m., the Terps will play No. 3 seed Northeastern (44-14), which beat Maryland, 9-2, three weeks ago, while No. 4 George Mason will play the host of the regional, Wake Forest, which is not only the top seed in the regional, but the top seed in entire NCAA tournament.
It is a very unfavorable selection for Maryland and seems to be rather odd given the Terps are the Big Ten regular-season and tournament champion, and the team it beat in the Big Ten final, Iowa, seems to have received a cushier NCAA draw.
But, as Freud believed, there is no such thing as an accident, and as long-time Maryland fans believe, they wouldn’t be paranoid if the NCAA weren’t out to get them.
Never mind a few years ago, when the NCAA men’s basketball selection committee switched Maryland to another region because Koach Kry complained about the possibility of having to play the Terps in the third round while he was still crying over Maryland leaving the ACC for the Big Ten and ruining a great rivalry game for Duke, even though Kry had insisted for years that Maryland was never Duke’s rival.
No, this is just what has gone down this school year:
The Maryland men’s basketball team played No. 1 overall seed Alabama in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in Birmingham, Alabama.
The Maryland women’s basketball team played No. 1 overall seed South Carolina in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in Greenville, South Carolina.
And now the Maryland baseball team is in line to play No. 1 overall seed Wake Forest in the second game of the NCAA Tournament regional in Winston Salem, North Carolina.
Frankly, the Terps seem to have been under-seeded, given the draw the team they beat in the conference championship game received. But truthfully, if not for what happened with both Maryland basketball teams in this same year, the Terps playing Wake Forest in Winston Salem would merely seem to be a luck of the draw kind of thing. You know, like an accident. Wait …
Truth be told, though, Maryland beat Wake Forest, 10-5, last year in the College Park regional, which sent the Terps to the final where they lost to Connecticut.
The winner of this bracket will advance to the super regional to take on the winner of the Tuscaloosa Regional in a best-of-three series. The winner of that series will get a bid to the College World Series.
Maryland actually started the season projected to be regional host for the second year in a row, having been ranked No. 13 in the country by D1 Baseball. But the Terps stumbled out of the gate with a 4-7 record and didn’t pitch well until the end of the season, as they won every conference series down the stretch, then pitched lights out in the Big Ten Tournament, allowing five runs in four games.
Maryland has won eight of its last nine games and has hit well all season long, as Lorusso leads the nation in RBIs with 99, the highest total by an NCAA player since 2003, and, as did Shaw, hit 23 home runs, with catcher Luke Shliger’s 88 runs scored a national best.
Wake Forest is the top overall seed for the first time and led the nation in wins (45) and winning percentage (.833) in becoming the first ACC team since 2017 to win all 10 of its conference series. Demon Deacons pitching has been dominant, leading the nation in ERA, WHIP and strikeouts.
Maryland and Wake Forest have met well over 100 times before when Maryland was in the ACC, but the Terps can’t be worried about Wake Forest just now. Yes, their paths should cross at some point this weekend as the regional is double-elimination. The Terps, though, just need to continue their business and ride out this hot streak. After all, the team they face first on Friday afternoon just beat them.
Still, Freud was right. There is no such thing as an accident.
Mike Burke writes about sports and other stuff for Allegany Communications. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984, serving as sports editor for over 30 years. Contact him at [email protected] and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT