Of all the categories to dissect about the Cavaliers and Terrapins, this was the toughest decision with both teams possessing high quality weekend rotations.
Maryland has an outstanding one-two punch in senior righthanded pitcher Jake Stinnett and freshman righty Mike Shawaryn. Stinnett is a mid-90s righty who will use a wipeout slider against you, while Shawaryn is an 89-92, and up to 93, pitchability type of guy. The Terps also have enjoyed a good season from Jake Drossner.
For the Cavaliers, it doesn't get much better than sophomore lefthanded pitcher Nathan Kirby. Kirby is one of the top prospects for the 2015 Major League Baseball draft and has big-time overall stuff. In addition to good secondary stuff, Kirby possesses a fastball that often sits anywhere from 92-95. Meanwhile, fellow lefty Brandon Waddell sits 89-92 with his fastball and has a good changeup, while Artie Lewicki is a power arm with plenty of experience.
Bullpen-wise, the Cavaliers get the edge because of righthanded pitcher Nick Howard. Howard is one of the nation's elite arms and a likely Perfect Game All-American with a fastball anywhere from 94-95 and an electric slider, while freshman righthander Connor Jones and veteran righty Josh Sborz are other quality, power, arms to watch, with Sborz being inconsistent at times.
For the Terrapins, Ben Brewster enters the weekend with a 2.74 ERA and has a fastball around 90-92, while Bobby Ruse has appeared in 29 games and has a 2.70 ERA in 60 innings. Alex Robinson (2.45), Taylor Stiles (2.95) and Kevin Mooney (4.05) are other talented, consistent, arms to watch this weekend.
In the end, Virginia should get the edge with Howard at its disposal.
Maryland has one of those sneaky offensive lineups entering this weekend's series against the Cavaliers.
Second baseman Brandon Lowe has been playing a good brand of baseball and is hitting .339 with a home run and 39 RBIs, while shortstop Blake Schmit and outfielder Charlie White both are table setters for the Terrapins. Schmit is hitting .313 with a home run and 29 RBIs, along with good athleticism, as evidenced by 16 stolen bases, while White is a good prospect with good speed and a .284 batting average. The Terps aren't an overly powerful club, but Kevin Martir and Jose Cuas do provide some pop in the lineup, while LaMonte Wade is capable of having a big weekend.
For the Cavaliers, athletic outfielder Joe McCarthy leads the offense with a .303 batting average, while first baseman Mike Papi is a scary piece in the lineup with 11 homers and 51 RBIs. Meanwhile, John LaPrise (.383) and Derek Fisher (.288) are quality bats, with Brandon Downes a potential power producer despite having some consistency issues at times.
The Terrapins have some athletic and talented guys to watch this weekend, such as outfielder Charlie White, but again, Virginia gets the edge in this category.
What makes Virginia's defense special, particularly, is the left side of the infield. Third baseman John LaPrise is terrific defensively, while young shortstop Daniel Pinero has smooth actions and a consistent glove. The Cavaliers also have a very solid outfield with athletic Derek Fisher, Joe McCarthy and Brandon Downes leading the charge.
There's a lot of versatility with these Cavaliers.
"The middle of the order is what makes them go. Mike Papi, Derek Fisher, those two guys do their thing, and that is a very hard team to beat. That ballpark up there will kind of balance things out a little bit. Pitching-wise, Virginia isn't near as deep as people would assume they are entering this weekend. Brandon Waddell has been throwing the ball well, but I'm not real confident in a guy like Josh Sborz. Nathan Kirby is great and Nick Howard is a big-timer who will be in the big leagues before you know it. But other than that? They are good in a sprint, but make them go through a marathon and see what happens."
"They can flat out play. They play a scrappy brand of baseball and they've got nice guys at the top of the lineup. They will wear it, hit it and defend it, and those arms of theirs are better than people realize. Jake Stinnett and Mike Shawaryn are very good, and I think playing a team they're familiar with is going to help this team in their first NCAA Super Regional. Stinnett is very durable, has good command, and can throw three pitches for strikes, while Shawaryn only throws 90-91, but the ball really jumps on you pretty good with a Troy Percival-type of whip/arm action. He can also threw his changeup when he wants to. This entire team is just really well coached."