2022 NCAA Tournament College Park Regional Preview
No. 1 Maryland vs. No. 4 Long Island (7 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
No. 2 Wake Forest vs. No. 3 Connecticut (1 p.m. ET, ESPNU)
No. 1 Maryland (45-12)
All-Conference honorees: OF Chris Alleyne (first), DH Maxwell Costes (third), SP Nick Dean (third), 2B Kevin Keister (first), 3B Nick Lorusso (first), SP Ryan Ramsey (first), SP Jason Savacool (first), OF Troy Scheffler Jr. (third), SS Matt Shaw (first), C Luke Shliger (second)
Season in a sentence: Maryland is enjoying the best season in program history, having already set a program record for wins. It won its first conference title in 51 years and earned a home regional for the first time ever.
Best pitcher: Jason Savacool, RHP. The Maryland pitching staff stands out for its impressive rotation and Savacool is at the heart of it all. He’s 8-2, 2.89 with 117 strikeouts and 25 walks in 99.2 innings and has a 1.01 WHIP. He isn’t overpowering, as his fastball works around 90 mph, but he throws a lot of strikes and has good feel on the mound.
Best hitter: Chris Alleyne, OF. Alleyne is a four-year starter in center field for the Terrapins and this year was named Big Ten player of the year. He hit .346/.439/.692 with 22 home runs and 23 stolen bases. He is the first Terrapin to ever have a 20-20 season and the first player in the nation to do so since 2018.
Outlook: Early in the season, Maryland stood out for its rotation of Dean, Ramsey and Savacool. That trio is still a big part of the Terrapins success, but their offense has become one of the nation’s best. Maryland has hit 123 home runs, which ranks third in the nation, and it averages 9.1 runs per game, seventh nationally. Its ability to bash if it gets into a slugfest or control a pitcher’s duel makes it very difficult to beat. The Terrapins are 24-2 at home this season and knocking them off on such a special weekend for the program won’t be easy.
No. 2 Wake Forest (40-17-1)
Season in a sentence: Wake bounced back from a disappointing 2021 season to this spring win 40 games and return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2017.
Best pitcher: Rhett Lowder, RHP. The Demon Deacons have had some impressive pitchers come through the program in recent years, including first-round picks Ryan Cusick and Jared Shuster, but Lowder this year became Wake Forest’s first ever ACC pitcher of the year. The sophomore went 11-3, 2.61 with 98 strikeouts and 24 walks in 93 innings. His fastball gets up to 95 mph and he has good feel for his slider and changeup.
Best hitter: Nick Kurtz, 1B. Kurtz hit the ground running as a freshman for the Demon Deacons. He hit .356/.492/.675 with 15 home runs and walked (48) more times than he struck out (36). He was a part of Wake’s 13th-ranked recruiting class last fall, the program’s highest ranked class. His powerful lefthanded swing helped him fit right into the lineup.
Outlook: Wake has one of the most powerful offenses in the country. It averages 9.3 runs per game (fifth nationally) and it has hit 114 home runs (fourth nationally). The Demon Deacons have a deep lineup that is difficult for opposing pitchers to navigate. Lowder stands out on the mound, but fellow starters Teddy McGraw (5-2, 4.31) and Josh Hartle (6-6, 5.74) and closer Camden Minacci (2-3, 1.85, 6 SV) make for a formidable group. Wake is definitely better at home than it is away from David F. Couch Ballpark (14-10) but it comes in with a head of steam, having won six of its last seven games. Getting the weekend off to a good start with Lowder will be critical, as Wake will want to avoid the loser’s bracket and stay on schedule with its pitching.
No. 3 Connecticut (46-13)
All-Conference honorees: OF Casey Dana (second), C Matt Donlan (first), SP Pat Gallagher (first), DH Korey Morton (first), SP Austin Peterson (first), 2B David Smith (second), SP Enzo Stefanoni (second), OF Erik Stock (first)
Season in a sentence: UConn rolled to its second straight Big East title since returning to the conference and is making its fourth straight NCAA Tournament appearance.
Best pitcher: Austin Peterson, RHP. Peterson is the latest in an impressive line of UConn aces. He is 10-2, 3.22 this season and his 129 strikeouts rank eighth nationally. He’s a workhorse, having thrown 100.2 innings and everything on the mound for the Huskies starts with Peterson.
Best hitter: Erik Stock, OF. Stock has been one of the most consistent hitters in the UConn lineup for the last three years. This season, he’s batting .375/.443/.600 with 21 doubles and nine home runs. He’s walked as often as he’s struck out (31 times) and his 90 hits rank 12th nationally.
Outlook: UConn dominated its schedule, and its 46 wins are the second most in the nation, trailing only Tennessee. But the Huskies played just one game against a team that made the NCAA Tournament. How will they fare against a higher level of competition in College Park? While Maryland and Wake Forest have bashed their way to the top of the home run leaderboard, that’s not UConn’s style. The Huskies will look to their pitching staff, which ranks third nationally in team ERA (3.35), to slow down the Terrapins and Demon Deacons. Perhaps that contrast in styles will work in their favor.
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No. 4 Long Island (37-19)
Season in a sentence: The Sharks this year set the program’s Division I record for wins, won their first outright Northeast Conference title since 1990 and reached the NCAA Tournament for the second time in four seasons.
Best pitcher: Joshua Loeschorn, RHP. Loeschorn was named NEC pitcher of the year after going 11-2, 3.02 with 102 strikeouts in 95.1 innings. He is just the third player in program history to be named NEC pitcher of the year and the first since 2000. His 11 wins are tied for the most in the nation and he is just one win shy of the program’s Division I record of 12.
Best hitter: Michael Edelman, OF. Edelman came to LIU after spending four years at Division III Emory (Ga.) and made an instant impact for the Sharks. He’s their leading hitter and is batting .326/.419/.496 with seven home runs and 27 stolen bases. He is just one stolen base shy of matching the program’s Division I single-season record.
Outlook: LIU went 0-2 in the Conway Regional in 2018 and was outscored, 26-4. This weekend is a big challenge for the Sharks, but they should be more competitive this season. Behind Loeschorn, they have a deep, talented bullpen that can create good matchups for the Sharks. Their offense doesn’t have the kind of sluggers that Maryland and Wake Forest do, but they’re aggressive on the bases and rank 26th nationally with 95 stolen bases. Their ability to put pressure on defenses will provide a different look for their opponents.