Baseball Hosts America East Leader Stony Brook for Three-Game Weekend Series

Shane Vlasic will start Sunday's series finalle
Shane Vlasic will start Sunday's series finalle

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BALTIMORE – Coming of a midweek win over in-state rival Mount St. Mary's on Wednesday, the UMBC baseball team (9-29, 1-10 America East) hosts conference leader Stony Brook (31-10, 9-2 America East) for a three-game weekend series at the Baseball Factory Field. The Retrievers and Seawolves will play a doubleheader on Saturday beginning at noon with the second game of the twin bill set to start 30 minutes after the conclusion of game one.  The series finale on Sunday will start at noon as well.

Saturday's opener will feature two senior right-handers as UMBC will send Steve Miller (Newark, Del./Dickinson) (0-7, 6.92) up against Stony Brook's Tyler Johnson (5-1, 1.99).  Miller will be making his first start against the Seawolves but has faced them in three relief appearances in his career, twice throwing scoreless innings.

In the second game of the twin bill, sophomore Mac Gill (Bethesda, Md./Walter Johnson) (1-6, 6.75) heads to the mound for the Retrievers to face Brandon McNitt (5-1, 1.38) who leads the America East in ERA this season.  Gill will also be making his first start against Stony Brook after transferring to UMBC this year.  This season, the sophomore righty is second on the team with 23 strikeouts and third in innings pitched having thrown 38.2 innings in 10 total appearances.

On Sunday, the Retrievers will give the ball to sophomore Shane Vlasic (Ashburn, Va./Broad Run) (2-6, 6.70) to oppose the Seawolves' Evan Stecko-Haley (4-3, 2.61).  Vlasic was scheduled to start Wednesday's game against Mount St. Mary's but was scratched hours before the game and replaced by senior Josh Dick.  Vlasic leads the UMBC rotation with 25 K's this season in a team-high 55.2 innings of work.

Since 2004 when UMBC entered the America East, Stony Brook leads the series between the two schools 28-7 and has won the past 15 meetings after the Retrievers took the first game of a four-contest set in 2009.  Last season the Seawolves swept both three-game sets on back-to-back weekends in April, first in New York and then back in Baltimore.

Sophomore Rob McCabe (Philadelphia, Pa./St. Joseph's Prep) led the Retrievers at the plate over the course of the six-game season series batting .333 (6-for-18) with two RBIs and a run scored.

The Retrievers are 1-10 in America East play this season after taking one of four against Albany last weekend at the Baseball Factory Field.  After falling in the series opener, UMBC rallied in game two for two runs in the bottom of the tenth to defeat the Great Danes, 5-4.  The win was the Retrievers' first extra-inning win since downing Hartford, 14-7, in ten innings back in April 2010.

The senior trio of first baseman Max Himmelstein (Moorestown, N.J./Moorestown), outfielder Brian Klukowicz (Clifton, N.J./St. Peter's Prep) and third baseman Curtis Schickner (East Windsor, N.J./Lawrenceville Prep) has led the Retrievers this season.

Klukowicz leads the squad with a .382 average (39-for-102), 32 RBIs and 17 extra-base hits. Schickner is not far behind with a .333 average (38-for-114) at the plate and trails only Klukowicz with 15 walks this season.  Himmelstein meanwhile leads the team and is tied for the conference lead with seven homeruns while also leading UMBC with 27 runs scored in 2012.

In the midweek win over the Mount, Klukowicz went 4-for-4 and became the first Retriever to hit two homeruns in a single game since Himmelstein did so back in 2010 against Albany.  Playing as the designated hitter, Klukowicz also doubled twice to knock in a total of six RBIs while also scoring four times.  He was just one of five Retrievers to record a multi-hit game as McCabe joined him with four hits, freshman Anthony Gatto (Hauppauge, N.Y./Smithtown West) notched three while Schickner and junior Jason Allinder (Snow Hill, Md./Snow Hill/Chesapeake CC) each recorded two hits.

Trailing 7-5 heading to the bottom of the sixth, UMBC scored five runs in both the sixth and seventh innings to build a commanding 15-8 lead and held on for the win to pick up the season sweep over the Mount.  The Retrievers defeated Mount St. Mary's, 7-3, in Emmitsburg, Md. back on Mar. 27.

DAWG BITES

-          The Retrievers are 2-9 against teams from New York this season after dropping three of four to Albany last weekend.  (1-3 vs. Albany; 1-2 vs. Army; 0-3 vs. Binghamton; 0-1 vs. Buffalo)

-          UMBC has stolen 43 bases this season, the eighth most in a season in school history, and the most since the Retrievers stole 75 during the 1991 season which is the school record. 

-          The Retrievers are 5-15 at the Baseball Factory Field this season after going 5-18 at home in 2011.

-          Ten different pitchers have started at least one game for UMBC this season.

-          Five different players have homered at least once this season for a total of 17 jacks in 2012.  This is more than double last year's total (7) and trails 2010's total by six (23).

-          Jason Allinder leads the club with a four-game hit streak.