BALTIMORE – After getting five commitments earlier this year, UMBC head baseball coach Bob Mumma announced the signing of seven more student athletes for the 2012-2013 school year. The group includes six pitchers – Johnny Dierks, Michael Gomez, Cam Maxey, Dennis Mikush, Riley Stephenson and Joe Vanderplas – and one infielder, Mark Esposito.
The group is a mix of in-coming freshman and transfers as Vanderplas and Esposito come to Baltimore after transferring from the University of Tennessee and Marshall, respectively, while Dierks joins the Retrievers after two years of junior college ball. Each of the other four pitchers enter UMBC from high school as freshman.
"This is a large class, but I think the quality will show through," said coach Mumma. "Overall I think this is one of the best classes we've brought into UMBC in a while."
Dierks, a 6-4 pitcher from Independence, Kan. comes to UMBC from Fort Scott Community College where, as a freshman, he helped the Bulldogs to a 42-18 record as he went 2-0 with a 3.97 ERA over 24.2 innings of work. While in high school at Independence High, Dierks lettered in football and basketball in addition to baseball. This summer while pitching for the Rockville Storm of the Maryland Collegiate Baseball League, Dierks has picked up the win in four of the Storm's 11 victories while posting a 2.08 ERA in 39 innings.
Gomez, a 6-0 hurler from Don Bosco Prep in New Jersey, joins the Retrievers staff after a successful career with the Ironmen. Competing for the Varsity squad since his freshman year, Gomez was 10-0 through his first three years at Don Bosco and threw a perfect game against Bergen Tech as a junior, earning him a spot on the Bergen Record First Team. The right-hander then finished his career recording six wins against only one loss to finish his prep career at 16-1.
"These guys come in here with some great experience on the mound," coach Mumma said. "Both have been very successful and we expect them to come in here and contribute for us pretty quickly."
Joining Dierks and Gomez on the UMBC staff will be Cam Maxey, a 6-2 submariner from Mechanicsville, Va. The side-armer led the Raiders with a 0.87 ERA as a junior in 2011 and then as a senior went 7-2 with a 1.13 ERA. He walked only five batters while striking out 51 over the course of 42 innings in 2012. In one two-inning appearance Maxey struck out all six batters he faced.
A tall pitcher out of Boonsboro High School, 6-3 Riley Stephenson comes to Baltimore after earning an All-County first-team selection following his senior year in which he went 5-2 with a 2.24 ERA. In addition, he struck out 41 hitters and posted a 1.24 WHIP over 42 innings. The son of former major leaguer Garrett Stephenson, Riley also lettered in basketball and golf during his high school career.
Rounding out the group of incoming freshman joining the pitching staff, 5-11 Denis Mikush may also help the Retrievers in the lineup. The versatile player lettered three years at Robinson Secondary School in Fairfax, Va. leading the squad to the Virginia Northern Region Concord District Tournament Championship in his senior season. During his final year, Mikush was named team MVP after hitting .409 while also posting a 2.23 ERA in 59 innings on the hill. For his efforts he earned a spot on the Virginia Northern Region First Team and Virginia All-State Second Team.
"One of our biggest goals was to address our pitching depth and I think we've done a tremendous job with that by bringing in guys who have quality arms and can matchup with America East hitters," coach Mumma said.
In addition, the Retrievers will welcome pitcher Joe Vanderplas and infielder Mark Esposito to Baltimore following transfers. Vanderplas will need to sit out one year due to NCAA rules after moving from Tennessee where he made three appearances as a freshman for the Volunteers in 2012. This summer the lefty from Fairfax, Va. is 5-0 with a 2.70 ERA while pitching for the Vienna River Dogs in the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League.
"Joe is a great athlete and has three quality pitches," said coach Mumma. "He has a bulldog mentality on the mound and we're very excited to have him join our staff."
Esposito, who has already sat out a year after completing his move from Marshall in the winter, will be available in 2013 to help out the Retrievers' infield which loses two players, Max Himmelstein and Curtis Schickner, to graduation.
"He's got a great glove and an excellent arm to go along with very soft hands," said coach Mumma. "I look forward to having him available this year and see where he can progress."