BALTIMORE – After concluding a season-long, nine-game home stand on Wednesday, the UMBC baseball team (9-33, 1-13 AE) travels for the first time in two weeks to take on America East rival Hartford (10-35, 2-12 AE) for a four-game weekend series in at Fiondella Field. The Retrievers dropped their last game, 13-8, at home to Georgetown while Hartford defeated local rival Central Connecticut State, 3-2, on Wednesday.
The Retrievers and Hawks will play a pair of doubleheaders this weekend with Saturday and Sunday's set to start at 12 p.m. The second game each day will begin approximately 30 minutes after the conclusion of game one.
Game one on Saturday will be a matchup of right-handers, as UMBC senior Steve Miller (Newark, Del./Dickinson) (0-8, 6.27) will face Hartford rookie Alex Fiste (0-0, 7.66) who will be making his first collegiate start. Though he has not won this year, Miller has thrown at least five innings in three of his four conference starts and was a tough luck loser last time out giving up just two earned runs in seven innings against conference leader Stony Brook. The veteran was made two appearances against the Hawks in his first three seasons, both of which came out of the bullpen.
The second game on Saturday is a matchup of sophomore righties as Retriever Mac Gill (Bethesda, Md./Walter Johnson) (1-7, 7.63) will oppose the Hawks' Hunter Englehart (0-8, 6.93). Though he had a brief outing against Stony Brook, Gill is third on the squad innings pitched (43.2) and strikeouts (23) this season. This is Gill's first start against Hartford while Englehart took the loss in last year's series opener in Baltimore, a 5-1 win for UMBC.
On Sunday, sophomore Shane Vlasic (Ashburn, Va./Broad Run) (2-7, 6.97) gets the ball for the Retrievers while Brian Hunter (1-4, 5.52) takes the hill for Hartford. Vlasic only made one appearance against the Hawks in last year's four-game series, coming out of the pen as a reliever, but this year leads UMBC with 60.2 innings of work this season. He is also second on the team with 26 strikeouts and has struck out at least one batter in each of his last six starts, including a season-high five against Longwood on Apr. 1. Hunter did not feature in last year's series which the two teams split the four games.
For the finale, UMBC has not determined a starter to face the Hawks' Alex Gouin (0-5, 4.93). The Hartford righty's last start came on Apr. 21 at Stony Brook when he gave up five runs on eight hits in five innings of work. In 2011 he threw two innings of relief against UMBC, yielding one run on two hits in over two innings as a part of Hartford's 11-9 win in the season-finale.
Despite a 45-151 record in the America East since joining in 2004, UMBC leads the conference series with Hartford, 18-12, the only conference opponent against which it has a winning record. The two teams split last year's four games in Baltimore with UMBC claiming the first game of both doubleheaders and Hartford taking both night caps.
In game one, the Retrievers fell behind, 1-0, in the first inning but rallied for two runs in the fourth and three in the sixth to pick up the seven-inning victory, 5-1. Mike Mitchell (Fairfax, Va./Paul VI Catholic/Frederick CC) picked up the win for UMBC pitching a complete game giving up only one run while scattering four hits. Classmate Brian Klukowicz (Clifton, N.J./St. Peter's Prep) started the Retrievers' rally, giving them the lead on a two-run homerun in the bottom of the fourth. Hartford bounced back in game two, evening the series with a 16-3 win.
On Saturday, UMBC once again recorded the win in the opener behind a complete game effort from Austin Drewyer. Max Himmelstein (Moorestown, N.J./Moorestown) went 3-for-3 with two doubles in the game while driving in three runs. Once again, the Hawks leveled the series with an 11-9 win in the series finale.
In their last trip to the Nutmeg State in 2010, the Retrievers took three of four from the Hawks. UMBC swept the doubleheader on Apr. 10, winning 6-4 in seven innings in the opener and then picking up a 14-9 win in 14 innings. The following day, the Hawks punched back with a 10-2 win in the first game, but UMBC clinched the series with a 5-4 victory in the series finale.
- UMBC's 18 wins against Hartford since 2004 is just four less than its total (22 against the four other active America East programs.
- UMBC is 10-14 against teams from the state of Connecticut since 2009, including an 8-4 mark against the Hawks.
- The Retrievers are 5-15 (.200) in true road games this season. Hartford is 9-10 (.474) at Fiondella Field in 2012.
- Himmelstein is a .405 career batter in 11 games against Hartford. A year ago, the first baseman went 6-for-11 (.545) in three games, hitting one homerun and two doubles while knocking in seven runs.
- Before UMBC's 5-4 win in 10 innings against Albany on Apr. 20 this season, the team's last extra inning win was over Hartford, 14-9, on Apr. 10, 2010.