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Clark Makes Major League Debut for Orioles, Becomes Third Retriever to Pitch in Big Leagues
UMBC Alum Zach Clark
SEATTLE – UMBC baseball alum Zach Clark (Newark, Del.) made his major league debut for the Baltimore Orioles Wednesday night, pitching 1.2 innings against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field.
Clark becomes the third Retriever in school history to pitch in the big leagues, following Jay Witasick and Wayne Franklin. Witasick and Franklin combined to pitch 19 seasons in the majors with Witasick pitching in the World Series twice, with the New York Yankees in 2001 and the very next season with the San Francisco Giants.
“I’m so happy for Zach and the work he has put in,” said former UMBC head coach John Jancuska, who during his 31 years as the head man coached all three pitchers. “Because Zach was here for five years, he was always in my office to talk baseball and life, and we really developed a tremendous relationship and friendship.”
The 2006 UMBC graduate started the fifth inning for the Orioles in relief of starter Wei-Yin Chen and faced only four batters, giving up a one-out walk, but striking out Jesus Montero. Clark ran into trouble in the sixth, surrendering three runs on three hits before he was taken out in favor of TJ McFarland with two away. Seattle went on to win the game 8-3.
Clark competed for the Retrievers from 2002-2006, when he signed as an undrafted free agent with the Orioles. During his UMBC career, the right-hander made 41 starts, the third-highest total in school history, while striking out 171 hitters, the sixth-highest total for the program. Following his senior season, Clark earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
“Congratulations to Zach [Clark] on making it to the majors,” current UMBC head coach and former assistant coach Bob Mumma said. “He has worked incredibly hard and has persevered against a lot of odds to make a dream come true.”
The 29-year old Clark was shuffled through the Baltimore organization since his signing in ’06 until 2012 when he made his mark with the Bowie Baysox and Norfolk Tides, the Orioles’ Double-A and Triple-A affiliates. After splitting time between the two clubs during the first half of the season, Clark was named to the Eastern League All Star Game in July for Bowie before receiving a full promotion to the Tides in August. In his final start of the year, Clark threw a three-hit, complete-game shutout against Gwinnett for Norfolk. After the season, the Orioles signed him to their 40-man roster with an invitation to Spring Training.
The Orioles, who are 16-12 and 3.5 games behind the Boston Red Sox, now head down the West Coast for a four-game series against the Los Angeles Angels before returning to Camden Yards to play the Kansas City Royals on May 7-9.