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Baseball Opens 2010 Season with Three-game Series with Yale Sunday and Monday
BALTIMORE--The UMBC baseball team opens the 2010 season after a week of cancelled and postponed games with a three-game series with Yale on Sunday at the Baseball Factory Field at UMBC. Sunday's action is a doubleheader starting at 1 p.m. and series finale is Monday at noon.
The 2010 UMBC baseball team looks to bounce back after a tough 2009 campaign and to do so will have to replace the Top 3 hitters from last season.
Head coach John Jancuska has most of the pitching staff from 2009 back and has a multitude of position players that earned crucial experience last year.
“By conference play, our experienced players will be fine tuning their games and our newcomers to the lineup will have valuable experience that will help us compete in every game.”
The Retrievers return every pitcher who started a game for them a year ago and with other starters returning from injury, Jancuska thinks this could be one of the strong areas of the team.
“We have a lot of pitchers returning from injury,” the coach said, “but with how they performed in the Fall and in early indoor workouts, they should be fine and well enough to help us compete.”
“Ed looked strong in the fall and looks ready to go,” Jancuska said. “We’re looking for Kevin to improve even more after a good year last year and Austin has been with us for four years now and we’re looking for him to use his experience and continue to improve.”
Junior Marty Zawacki will look to regain the form he had at the beginning of the season before being shut down for bone chips in his pitching arm.
“He’s not 100 percent yet, but he’s getting stronger every week and by conference season, we look for him to be very strong.”
Another key addition to the rotation could be senior Andrew Germuth, who was one of the top pitchers for Mount St. Mary’s for three seasons and comes to UMBC a year removed from Tommy John surgery.
“He has very good command and he’s just building his arm strength week by week,” the coach said.
The Retrievers have a large contingent in the bullpen, led by junior Travis Pearson, who logged the most appearances by a returning player with 16, and sophomore Steve Miller, who leads the returning relief pitchers with 13 strikeouts. They will be joined by senior captain Scott Wildesen, junior David DiVita and sophomores Luke DiBlasi, Josh Dick and Michael Pesci and all will be looking to improve upon last year.
“They all have another year of experience under their belts and we look for them to start improving,” Jancuska said.
A new set of incoming pitchers that includes sophomore Sean Swetnam and freshmen Samuel Bashioum and J.R. Seader will look to break in and get some quality innings in their first years in a Retriever uniform.
“Rick Phillips through the fall workouts, established himself as our number one catcher,” Jancuska said. “Max will be in our lineup, but it will be as a designated hitter or first baseman, when he’s not backing up Rick.”
The Retrievers will look for Himmelstein to continue to lead the lineup, as the returning leader in batting average (.304), hits (41), runs scored (18), doubles (8) and RBI (26). Phillips came on for defensive purposes early in the season, but hit his first grand slam against Maine in conference play and will look to improve his hitting.
Junior Bryan Russo could also be used as an emergency catcher.
At first base, Himmelstein, sophomores Brian Klukowicz and Dick and freshman Tyler Drinkard will all compete for playing time to fill the void left by Shawn Retz, who hit .383 with 10 home runs a year ago.
“He’s got a cannon of an arm and we feel he’s going to be more comfortable over at third,” Jancuska said. “In the fall, he had some good workouts so we’re confident he can make the adjustment.”
Freshman D.J. Ream would also have seen action at first, but will miss the season due to injury.
The Retrievers lose three seniors who were starting in the outfield at the end of the season in Tom Meaney, Wink Nolan and Brad Brainer and also their number one, two and four hitters in the lineup, but Jancuska feels their replacements will pick up the slack.
Medairy had seven assists from the outfield position last year, while Russo is the leading returner in home runs with five. Russo had all five home runs before spring break ended last year, but a leg injury hampered his swing for the rest of the season.
“Russo had a real good fall and he’s going to be a key guy for us offensively,” Jancuska said.
Pesci, Klukowicz and Drinkard will also see time in the outfield as well.
With every starting pitcher back from a year ago, the Retrievers will look for their pitching to keep them competitive in America East play and for a few hitters to step up.
“In the past few years, we’ve had players improve their games greatly going into their third and fourth years, like a Shawn Retz or a Tom Meaney and we’re looking for our more experienced guys to do that and become the leaders we need them to be,” Jacuska said.
“We have enough talent to compete in this league, and if our pitching remains healthy and continues to get stronger, we’ll be in every game,” the coach said.