2014 NCAA Baseball Regionals Preview: Hot-hitting Maryland comes to Columbia as No. 2 seed

The Terrapins got hot at the right time and earned a place in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 43 years

The No. 2 seed in the Columbia Regional is the University of Maryland. Though it has been a long time since the Gamecocks and the Terrapins played each other (their last meeting was a 3-1 Gamecock win back in 1980), the two teams do have a history with one another.  The Gamecocks and the Terps played frequently during the 1950s and 1960s when they were both members of the ACC, and South Carolina is 16-25 all time against Maryland. Maryland is still in the Atlantic Coast Conference at the moment, but won't be for much longer. When they officially leave the ACC and join the Big Ten on July 1st, they will become the only school besides South Carolina (who was also a founding member of the ACC) to have ever left the conference. While South Carolina and Maryland are not guaranteed to meet this weekend, the chances are good that they will (though as we were reminded last year, it's pretty easy for a No. 2 seed to be eliminated without ever managing to play the No. 1 seed).

Maryland had a good start to their season, going 8-2 before conference play. Those two losses came against the Florida Gators in a season-opening three game series. The Terps had what initially appeared to be an absolutely brutal opening half of ACC play.  They lost two of three to the Seminoles to open conference play.  Then Maryland played UNC, NC State, and Clemson in consecutive weekends; they lost to UNC and Clemson but swept NC State. At the time all four of those teams were ranked and generally thought highly of. Now that the regular season is done, it's plain that neither the series win over NC State (who didn't even make the NCAA tourney) nor the losses to UNC and Clemson (who both barely made it into the tournament) have aged particularly well. Taking a regular season game against both the Gators and the Seminoles is still to be applauded though, as both of those teams are now national seeds. In addition to the sweep of NC State, the Terps have series wins over Georgia Tech, Notre Dame and Pitt. The Terps finished second in the Atlantic Division and 5th overall in the ACC.  Maryland has been hot during May, going 11-2 since the beginning of the month. The Terps had a couple of impressive ACC Tournament wins over Florida State and Virginia, but also had losses to UNC and Georgia Tech.

The Terrapins are 36-21 (15-14) and are ranked 25th in the official NCAA RPI. The Terps are hitting .270 and have an on-base percentage of .380. One of the reasons for that OBP is the talent that the Terps have for getting hit by pitches. Their 118 HPB this season is the second most in the country. Maryland's leading hitter by batting average is second baseman Brandon Lowe, who is hitting .346 and also boasts the best OBP (.469) and slugging percentage (.478) of any player on the team.  Their leader in extra base hits is shortstop Blake Schmit, who has only one home run but 16 doubles. Maryland has a strong pitching staff with an ERA of 3.42 and opponents hitting .232 against them. Their typical weekend starters all have an ERA under 3.00. Maryland's fielding percentage is .975, meaning that they, like South Carolina, are in the top 25 in the country defensively.

You can learn more about the Terrapins at their official athletic site or at their SB Nation blog, the excellent Testudo Times. You can also find them on Twitter, where #TerpDownForWhat is gaining traction.

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