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Baseball Picked to Finish Sixth in the America East in 2012; Opens 2012 Campaign on Friday
Head Coach Bob Mumma enters his first year in charge
CAMBRIDGE, MASS. – With a new head coach on the bench for first time since 1977, the UMBC baseball team was picked to finish sixth in the America East this season, the conference office announced. The poll, which is conducted by the head coaches in the America East, tabbed Stony Brook as the favorite to win the league in 2012.
The Seawolves received four of the six first place votes, with Maine receiving the remaining two votes, and taking second in the preseason poll. The Black Bears were followed by Albany, Binghamton, Hartford and UMBC to round out the conference in order.
Entering his first year as the head man for the Retrievers, longtime assistant and former UMBC catcher, Bob Mumma is excited for his first year in charge. “Sure there is a little more responsibility that comes with being the head guy, but I’ve been waiting for this opportunity and I’m excited for the challenge,” coach Mumma said. “I look forward to influencing these young men both on and off the field, and I demand the best from them both on the field and in the classroom.”
Though this is his first year as the head coach, Mumma brings plenty of experience to a young Retriever squad. A three-year starter at UMBC, Mumma is the school’s all-time leader in homeruns (42) and is among the top ten in seven other categories.
Following his time in Baltimore, Mumma was selected in the 13th round by the Chicago White Sox, where he spent two years in their organization. The Rising Sun, Md. native then returned back to campus to become an assistant coach, a title he held for 15 years under mentor and former coach John Jancuska.
In addition to his own experience, Mumma can rely on three experienced captains, seniors Josh Dick and Curtis Schickner, and sophomore Rob McCabe, to help lead his squad. In their first three years in Baltimore, Dick and Schickner have combined to make 135 appearances for the Retrievers.
A year ago, McCabe saw action in 45 games as a freshman, and was named to the America East All-Rookie squad.
“There’s no doubt that we lost a lot with Rick [Phillips] and [Austin] Drewyer graduating, but this presents a great opportunity for our seniors to step up,” said coach Mumma. “Offensively, I think we have a chance to be a very good ball club.”
With the loss of Drewyer to graduation and the departure of Sean Swetnam, the Retrievers are left with just Jon Cohn, Luke DiBlasi and Mike Mitchell as starters with experience. DiBlasi, a senior, is the most seasoned of the trio, having made four starts and a total of 18 appearances in 2011. He recorded two of the Retrievers’ ten wins a year ago.
The incoming freshman class brings with it six pitchers who will attempt to crack the weekend rotation and have an impact on a slimmed down Retriever pitching staff.
In addition to the group of freshman joining UMBC, coach Mumma welcomes pitching coach Liam Bowen to campus. With Bowen’s track record of turning pitching staffs around, Mumma is excited to see the effect on his pitchers this season.
”Coach Bowen is great at helping pitchers develop their mechanics and teaching them how to pitch,” said coach Mumma. “I expect our guys with some experience to step up and lead by example.”
Sophomore tri-captain Rob McCabe and junior Jason Allinder return for the Retrievers to complete the battery. Allinder will be the primary starter behind the plate, which according to Mumma, will give the Retrievers more flexibility overall, especially with McCabe’s versatility. The sophomore from Philadelphia could also see team in the outfield in a move to keep his bat in the everyday lineup.
“In order to keep Rob fresh for the entire season, they’ll [Alinder and McCabe] be rotating at catcher,” coach Mumma said. “They’re both tremendously athletic and we want to get them both in the lineup as much as possible.
Senior Curtis Schickner anchors both a veteran, yet unexperienced infield. Starting in 39 of the Retrievers’ 47 games in 2011, Schickner had a slight drop at the plate as a junior. He’ll look to recapture his form from sophomore year when he hit .259 and drove in 23 RBI.
Across the diamond, two-year starter Max Himmelstein mans first base for the Retrievers. The career .312 hitter, collected 53 hits a year ago, including 12 doubles, while scoring 24 runs and driving in 31 more.
“Look for those two guys [Schickner and Himmelstein] to provide the stability for our ballclub,” said coach Mumma. “They will solidify our infield, and in turn, our entire team.”
While UMBC has experience at the corners, the Retrievers will look to a raw combination of talent up the middle. Freshmen Jake Barnes, Vince Corbi and Ian Glassman will vie for the two primary double-play spots.
“The group of incoming freshman knows how to win,” coach Mumma said. “Building on their previous experiences, they now expect to win.”
UMBC’s outfield will be bolstered by the return of Tom Gilchrist who missed the entire 2011 season with a torn labrum. He will be joined by a combination of teammates, notably Brian Klukowicz and Rob McCabe, when McCabe is not behind the plate. Freshman Anthony Gatto will also see some time in the outfield to complete the rotation. Now in his junior year, Klukowicz will be a guy that Mumma counts on for leadership and production.
“We know Brian is a great hitter, but he has really turned into a solid defensive guy as well and we expect big things from him,” said coach Mumma.
In his first season as the head man, Mumma is looking forward to the added responsibilities that come with the title and the chance to turn around the Retrievers’ recent fortunes.
“I am extremely excited to have this opportunity,” Mumma said. “Other than trying to be a Major League player, it was my dream to be a head coach, and once I got into coaching, this was where I wanted to be a head coach.”
UMBC begins its 2012 campaign on Fri., Feb. 24 when the Retrievers travel to Winston Salem, N.C. for the Wake Forest Invitational where they will take on Georgetown and host Wake Forest on the tournament’s first day. Game one, against the Hoyas, is scheduled for a 2 p.m. start time, with the first pitch against the Demon Deacons set for 6 p.m. UMBC then takes on Georgetown again on Saturday, before concluding the weekend series against Cincinnati on Sunday.
The Retrievers’ first home game is slated for Fri., Mar. 1 when the Black and Gold opens a series with Army.