Feb. 23, 2012
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Maryland at the Keith LeClair Classic
Probable Pitching Matchups
Friday vs. Western Carolina (1 p.m): RHP Brady Kirkpatrick (0-0, 0.00) vs. RHP Jordan Smith (0-0, 3.00)
Saturday vs. Purdue (11 a.m.): RHP David Carroll (0-0, 12.00) vs. RHP Lance Breedlove (1-0, 0.00)
Sunday vs. East Carolina (2 p.m.): RHP Brett Harman (1-0, 0.00) vs. RHP Austin Chrismon (0-0, 2.70) or LHP Tyler Joyner (1-0, 0.00)
Maryland hits the road for the second straight weekend as it heads to East Carolina University to participate in the ninth annual Keith LeClair Classic. The Terps open with Western Carolina Friday at 1 p.m., play Purdue at 11 a.m. Saturday, then face host East Carolina Sunday at 2 p.m.
Pitching, defense, and timely hitting led Maryland to a series victory over No. 14 UCLA last weekend, its first road series win since March 14-15, 2009 (NC State). RHP Brady Kirkpatrick turned in a gritty Friday-night performance, going 5 1/3 innings and allowing just one unearned run. RHP Brett Harman made his return to the mound after missing all of 2011 and was dominant in five innings of work on Sunday. The fifth-year senior shut out UCLA, allowing just two hits while striking out eight and walking one.
The bullpen was also excellent, highlighted by LHP Jimmy Reed, LHP Korey Wacker and RHP Michael Boyden. Combined, those three went 8 1/3 innings with 12 strikeouts while surrendering three hits, three walks and no runs.
Sophomore 1B Tim Kiene led Maryland offensively last weekend, going 4 for 13 with two home runs, two doubles, four RBIs and three runs. Kiene, who hit safely in each of the three games, had a three-run homer on Saturday and a solo shot Sunday. Freshman K.J. Hockaday, meanwhile, had two hits on Saturday and Sunday to finish his debut series 4 for 11.
This is the first time Maryland has spent the first two weekends of the season on the road since 2007. That year Maryland opened by winning two of three at both the Winthrop Challenge in Rock Hill, S.C., and at Central Florida.
Follow the Terps
A live blog of all three games will be available at umterps.com. An audio broadcast of Saturday's game will be streamed online at PurdueSports.com, and a video broadcast of Sunday's game will be streamed at ECUPirates.com.
About the Keith LeClair Classic...
The Keith LeClair Classic, now in its ninth season, is named in honor of former East Carolina head coach Keith LeClair. During his collegiate baseball career as a player, assistant coach and head coach at Western Carolina and ECU, LeClair was a part of 13 NCAA Tournament teams and earned five conference coach-of-the-year awards. LeClair passed in 2006 after battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly referred to as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease.
Maryland head coach Erik Bakich, a 2000 graduate of ECU, played under LeClair for two seasons and was a strength coach on the team that went 47-13 and reached a Super Regional in 2001. Bakich wears No. 23 in honor of LeClair.
Scouting Western Carolina...
Western Carolina enters the Keith LeClair Classic 4-0 after a sweep of Fordham last weekend and a midweek win over Winthrop.
Senior second baseman Ross Heffley leads Western Carolina after a tremendous junior season in which he lead the Catamounts in batting average (.419), RBIs (65) and home runs (11). Freshman first baseman Jacob Hoyle is off to a hot start with a team-high .563 average and nine RBIs through four games. As a team, WCU is hitting .370.
On the mound Friday afternoon, the Catamounts will feature sophomore right-hander Jordan Smith, who is the only returning full-time weekend starter for Western Carolina. Smith made 14 starts last season, earning a 6-7 record with a 5.29 ERA.
Purdue returns six All-Big Ten honorees after tying the school record with 37 in 2011. The Boilermakers opened the season with a three-game sweep at the Big Ten/Big East Challenge, beating Connecticut, Cincinnati and Notre Dame. They're ranked No. 26 in Perfect Game USA's top 50.
Infielders Eric Charles and Cameron Perkins lead the offensive attack. Last season Charles led Purdue in batting average (.351), while Perkins recorded a team-high 53 RBIs and eight home runs. Both are threats on the base paths with a combined 24 steals in 2011.
Senior right-hander Lance Breedlove will take the mound Saturday for Purdue after an 11-strikeout performance against Cincinnati in his 2012 season debut. Breedlove earned Big Ten Pitcher of the Week honors for his efforts. Breedlove pitched largely in relief last season, compiling a 3.51 ERA in 48.2 IP.
Scouting East Carolina...
After compiling a 41-21 record and reaching its second NCAA Tournament Regional Final in three years, East Carolina returns all eight positional starters and has opened the season 4-0. The Pirates have to overcome the loss of five of their top pitchers from 2011 but have done well so far, with a 1.50 staff ERA, and are ranked No. 20 in the Perfect Game USA top 50 poll.
The Pirates are led behind the plate by senior Zach Wright, a two-time Johnny Bench Award List candidate, who led the team last season in home runs (13) and RBIs (63). Meanwhile, senior infielder Tim Younger has started off the season strong, having gone 8-for-13 (.615) thus far.
Either junior Tyler Joyner or sophomore Austin Chrimson will take the mound for the Pirates. The lefty Joyner earned a win in his first relief appearance of the season after pitching 4.2 innings without allowing a run. Chrimson, meanwhile, allowed three runs (one earned) in 3.1 innings of work in his first start on Feb. 18.
Experience On The Mound...
The Terps return eight of their top-11 pitchers in terms of ERA from 2011 and had a strong start to the season at No. 14 UCLA, accumulating a 2.52 staff ERA in three games.
The starting rotation received a substantial boost with fifth-year senior Brett Harman back in the fold after redshirting a year ago. In his 2012 debut, Harman didn't allow a run in five innings of work at No. 14 UCLA last Sunday, picking up the win. He struck out eight while allowing just two hits and one walk.
Sophomore Brady Kirkpatrick, who spent the first two months of his freshman campaign in relief before joining the weekend rotation in the final five weeks, is the Friday-night starter. He took a no-decision last weekend but pitched well, scattering six hits in 5 1/3 innings without allowing an earned run.
Saturday starter David Carroll led the team in wins last year and had the best ERA (4.70) among starters. He was also the winning pitcher in two of the Terrapins' most memorable victories, beating No. 6 Texas in his Maryland debut and tossing 7 1/3 shutout innings in a win over No. 7 Florida State. Though Carroll lasted only three innings last weekend, he was especially good on Saturdays a year ago, when he accumulated a 5-1 record with a 2.42 ERA in eight Saturday starts.
Talent In The Infield...
Three of Maryland's four starters in the infield have been selected in the MLB First-Year Player Draft: 3B K.J. Hockaday, SS Alfredo Rodriguez and 1B Tim Kiene. Additionally, freshman Andrew Amaro, who will see time off the bench, was drafted coming out of high school.
Rodriguez has started 124 games in a row at shortstop and brings the type of veteran leadership that is paramount to a team's success. He is seventh on Maryland's career stolen bases list with 46, within reach of the school record 62 set by Larry Long (1997-00).
Kiene had an impressive debut season in 2011, when he finished third on the team with a .279 batting average. His numbers against conference opponents were even better - he hit .352 in league games, which ranked sixth in the ACC overall and third among freshmen.
Hockaday, a freshman, was selected by the Baltimore Orioles in the 14th round last year.
Looking At The Outfield...
The Terps return all three of their outfield starters from last year in senior Korey Wacker and sophomores Charlie White and Michael Montville, as well as junior Jordan Hagel, who played in 32 games last season.
White led the team with a .304 batting average and stole 17 bases on 18 attempts last year. After primarily playing right field last year, he moves to center and will bat leadoff. Montville, who hit four home runs in an injury-shortened freshman campaign, will play left field and bat cleanup. In right, Hagel has won the starting job. Hagel hit .371 in limited action last season.
Following this weekend's three-game series, Maryland returns home for a five-game homestand. The Terps play their home opener against Manhattan on Friday, March 2 at 2 p.m., then play a doubleheader Saturday starting at noon before finishing the four-game series Sunday at 1 p.m. Delaware visits College Park on Tuesday at 3 p.m.
Behind The Plate...
The Terrapins were dealt a setback when Aaron Etchison dislocated a finger in the season opener, an injury which could sideline the senior for several weeks.
Jack Cleary, who was set to split time with Etchsion, takes over as the primary catcher. Cleary was Maryland's primary catcher in 2010, when he started 54 of 56 games and finished fourth on the team with a .275 batting average. Last year, he saw action in 33 games and hit .247.
Maryland will be without the services of sophomore Alex Ramsay for much of the year after he suffered an injury in the fall. Ramsay hit .273 in 31 games last year, and had a .326 clip in conference games.
Terps Elect Leadership Council...
For the first time since head coach Erik Bakich took the helm at Maryland, the Terps have elected a leadership council. The seven-member council is made up of seniors Alfredo Rodriguez, Sander Beck, Aaron Etchison, Korey Wacker and Brett Harman; junior Jack Cleary; and sophomore Tim Kiene.
Agressive On The Base Paths...
Since 2010, Maryland has been one of the most agressive teams on the base paths in the country. The Terps shattered the school record of 95 stolen bases when they had 123 in 2010, with their 2.2 stolen bases per game ranking 10th nationally. Last season, Maryland had 92, and the team's 215 stolen bases over the past two seasons are the most in the ACC.
Four Terps reached double digits in steals a year ago: Alfredo Rodriguez had 20, Charlie White had 17, Korey Wacker had 14 and Ryan Holland had 10.
Reed Named CB360 Primetime Performer...
Relief pitcher Jimmy Reed was named to the College Baseball 360 Primetime Performers Weekly Honor Roll on Feb. 21 for his performance in Maryland's series victory over then-No. 14 UCLA.
A left-handed junior, Reed picked up a save in Friday night's 2-1 win by striking out the side in the ninth as Maryland won its first season opener since 2001. On Sunday, he inherited a runner with no outs in the seventh inning, but used a strikeout and 6-4-3 double play to get out of the inning. He then recorded another two strikeouts in the eighth, and after allowing a pair of infield singles, induced a groundout to end the time-shortened game.
Overall, Reed struck out 6 of the 11 batters he faced and didn't issue a walk in three innings of work.
Recruiting Going Strong...
Erik Bakich and his staff have recruited on a high level since taking over in 2009, with their first full recruiting staff in 2010 garnering a top-25 ranking by Baseball America, the first time in school history Maryland had been recognized. They followed it up with another strong class in 2011 that included a pair of draft picks in K.J. Hockaday and Andrew Amaro and received accolades from a number of publications.
The class of 2012 is looking to be on par with the two previous classes, as it's currently ranked 25th by Perfect Game. The signing class, which includes 12 players, consists of nine players that received preseason All-America honors from Perfect Game USA prior to their junior seasons, as well as four players ranked in the top 200 and seven in the top 500 nationally.