FROM CBD NEWS SOURCE
COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Home series with 2011 College World Series participants North Carolina and Virginia, a season-opening trip to UCLA and matchups with 12 postseason participants highlight the 2012 University of Maryland baseball schedule announced Thursday by head coach Erik Bakich.
The 56-game schedule includes 29 contests against teams that reached the 2011 NCAA Baseball Championship. It also features 30 home games, including 14 at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium in April alone.
A challenging start to the season awaits the Terrapins as they open Feb. 17-19 at UCLA, which has made the NCAA Tournament six of the last eight seasons including a national runner-up finish in 2010.
“If you want to be one of the best teams you have to play some of the best teams,” said Bakich. “We get that in the ACC, but I like the idea of playing on the road the opening weekend against a very good team. We have that in UCLA.”
A second straight road challenge follows as the Terps head to the Keith LeClair Classic in Greenville, N.C., Feb. 24-26, where they will face Western Carolina, Purdue and East Carolina.
The tournament is named after late ECU head coach Keith LeClair, who battled against amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly referred to as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. LeClair coached Bakich during his playing days at ECU.
“This tournament is two-fold,” said Bakich. “It’s an opportunity to play great teams on the road but it’s also a great cause, helping promote awareness for Lou Gehrig’s disease.”
Maryland will play its first home games March 2-4 when 2011 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champion Manhattan visits College Park for a four-game set.
The Terps, who play 17 of their first 28 games on the road, open conference play March 9-11 at Wake Forest and also have early-season road trips to Miami (March 23-25) and Boston College (March 30-April1).
In addition to home series with North Carolina (March 16-18) and Virginia (May 17-19), Maryland plays host to NC State (April 6-8), Duke (April 13-15) and Clemson (April 20-22).
“The ACC is always going to be extremely competitive,” said Bakich. “It’s always the first- or second-ranked league in the nation. But that’s why we signed up for this league; we wouldn’t have it any other way. I’d much rather have our players be able to challenge themselves early as opposed to when ACC play starts.”
The non-conference slate will be difficult as well; after games with UCLA, East Carolina and Manhattan, the Terps face Navy, St. John’s and James Madison – all postseason teams in 2011.