BALTIMORE – After starting the season with eight games on the road or at a neutral site, the UMBC baseball team opens the home portion of its 2014 schedule by hosting America East rival Albany for a three-game set this weekend. The Retrievers and Great Danes will meet for a doubleheader on Saturday, scheduled to begin at 12:00 p.m. at Alumni Field, and follow it with a single game on Sunday, also set for a noon first pitch.
All three games of the series will be broadcast free of charge on UMBCRetrievers.tv, courtesy of the America East Digital Network.
UMBC (2-6) has split its last four games after picking up the 8-3 road win in Annapolis over Navy on Wednesday. Freshman Hunter Dolshun (Warwick, N.Y./Warwick Valley) hit his first career home run, a two-run shot to left, to cap a five-run sixth inning to propel the Retriever past the Mids. Junior Ryan Sliwak (Wantagh, N.Y./Wantagh/Nassau CC) went 1-for-3 with a triple and drove in two runs for the visitors.
Albany (1-6) has not played since March 2 after its weekend series (March 8-9) with NYIT was postponed due to inclement weather. The Great Danes were swept in Honolulu in their season-opening series at Hawai'i before posting their first win of the year against Campbell in North Carolina. Albany then lost to Towson, 8-2, and Army, 16-1, to complete the weekend.
Senior right-hander Mac Gill (Bethesda, Md./Walter Johnson) will get the ball for the Retrievers in the opener for the third straight weekend. Gill (1-1) took the loss last weekend against Elon at the Chanticleer Classic in Myrtle Beach despite throwing his second quality start of the year (6.1 IP, 7 H, 2 ER). Albany will counter with left-hander Kevin Archibold (1-0, 0.00 ERA) in game one. The senior took a no-decision at Hawai'i in the season-opener before earning the win against Campbell.
In the second game, sophomore Joe Vanderplas (Fairfax, Va./Fairfax/Tennessee) heads to the mound looking for his first career win in a UMBC uniform. Vanderplas (0-1) threw seven innings, yielding just one run on four hits, against Coastal Carolina last weekend but was no-decisioned as the hosts rallied in the eighth inning against the Retriever bullpen. Senior Daniel Castro (0-0, 1.42 ERA) will oppose the Vanderplas for the Great Danes in a matchup of southpaws. Castro will be making his first start of the season.
Sophomore Riley Stephenson (Frederick, Md./Boonsboro) will start for the UMBC in the series finale after throwing a gem last weekend against UNC Greensboro. Stephenson (1-1) tossed 7.1 innings of shutout ball against the Spartans, striking out six and scattering five hits. Junior Jonny Dierks (Easton, Md./Independence/Fort Scott CC) finished off the shutout with 1.2 innings of scoreless relief. The Great Danes have not determined a starter for Sunday.
After dropping their first four games of the season, the Retrievers have split their last four. Sophomores Mark Esposito (Bethany, Conn./Amity Regional) and Kevin Lachance (Clifton, Va./Centreville) have paced UMBC at the plate, with both infielders hitting over .300. Both hitters, which make up the left-side of the Retrievers' defense, have connected for two doubles while driving in two runs, and scoring three as well.
Out of the bullpen, sophomore Cam Maxey (Mechanicsville, Va./Atlee) has been solid so far for the Retrievers, posting a 1.69 ERA over the course of 12.1 innings (three appearances).
Senior Josh Nethaway leads the Albany offense and ranks second in the conference with a .391 batting average (9-for-23) in seven games played. Nethaway has driven in four of the Great Danes' 18 runs this season while senior D.J. Hoagboon and junior Cory Kingston have each scored five runs.
Albany won five of the six matchups between the two squads last year and now leads the all-time series, 28-10. The Retrievers won the series opener at home last year, 4-3, in seven innings as Lachance hit a sac fly to bring in classmate Jesse Smith (Mechanicsville, Va./Lee-Davis) with the walk-off run. The Great Danes took the next two in Baltimore to capture the series, however, and then swept the three-game set in the New York state capital (Apr. 27-28).
- UMBC last won the season series again Albany in 2008, taking three of four games.
- The Retrievers have stolen nine bases in 13 attempts so far this season.
- Freshman Andrew Casali (New Canaan, Conn./New Canaan) is hitting .444 (4-for-9) against left-handed pitching this season.
- The Retrievers have hit three home runs in six games in 2014, compared to six in 48 games in all of 2013.
- UMBC is hitting .417 (5-for-12) with a runner on third and less than two outs.