#retriever50for50 - Gerhardt Tosses Gem as UMBC Baseball Earns First NCAA Tournament Victory

#retriever50for50 -  Gerhardt Tosses Gem as UMBC Baseball Earns First NCAA Tournament Victory

There was a new, fresh-faced sheriff in town, but he wore a baseball cap to work.

The year was 1978 and John Jancuska was the first-year head coach of the Retriever squad. He was only three years removed from competing at the collegiate level himself. The 1977 team had produced a 17-12 mark and did make the program's first NCAA Division II appearance, but was ousted in a pair of games.

Under Jancuska, the Retrievers won 19 of their first 23 games, but lost steam down the stretch, dropping its final four games, including a 9-4 loss to Frostburg in the Mason-Dixon Conference Tournament.

So UMBC limped back up to Shippensburg, Pa., where they had given up 18 runs in two games a year earlier. But on May 18, 1978, sophomore hurler Bill Gerhardt scattered eight hits in a complete-game, 4-3 victory over the host Raiders. Trailing 2-1 in the fifth inning, UMBC struck for three runs as Chuck Lykes' two-run double keyed the rally.

The victory was UMBC's first NCAA Tournament victory and the elusive 20th of the campaign, a mark they reached for the first time in program history.

The next day, UMBC trailed, 4-1, to Le Moyne after six innings, but rallied to knot the score at 4-all with a two-run effort in the top of the ninth inning. But Le Moyne executed a suicide squeeze in the bottom of the inning to prevail, 5-4, and Shippensburg ended the Retrievers' run with a revenge victory later that day.

Gerhardt and teammates Bob Jacobsen, Steve Rice and Bill Ahern would go on to produce brilliant careers, which landed them in the UMBC Athletics Hall of Fame.

And Jancuska coached UMBC Baseball for 33 more seasons, racking up 682 victories and leading the program to a total of five NCAA Championships, including NCAA Division I berths in 1992 and 2001. He was inducted into the UMBC Athletics Hall of Fame in 2010 and continues to enrich the experience for students at UMBC.