BALTIMORE – After a brief two-game mid-week home stand, the UMBC baseball team heads back to New York for the second straight weekend for a three-game series with America East rival Albany at Varsity Field. The Retrievers and Great Danes will play a doubleheader on Saturday beginning at 12:00 p.m. and follow it with a single game on Sunday, also scheduled for noon.
The series opener will feature a matchup of veteran right-handers as junior Mac Gill (Bethesda, Md./Walter Johnson) opposes Albany's Kasciem Graham. Both pitchers won their start in the previous series between the two clubs. Gill (2-3, 4.44 ERA) was a tough-luck loser last time out, throwing a complete-game, but allowing the game's only run in a 1-0 loss at Binghamton. Graham (5-4, 3.88 ERA) won his last time out in addition to holding the Retrievers to one run on three hits in a seven-inning effort on Mar. 23.
In game two, freshman Denis Mikush (Burke, Va./Robinson) gets the ball for the Black and Gold while senior Austin Chase heads to the bump for the hosts. Mikush (1-2, 4.22 ERA) tossed a gem in his last start, blanking Binghamton on just four hits in seven innings. Chase (4-3, 5.06 ERA) did not pitch in the series earlier this season but earned the win last weekend after throwing six shutout innings in relief.
Freshman Mike Gomez (Nutley, N.J./Don Bosco Prep) will start Sunday's finale for UMBC while Albany has not announced its starter. After earning four saves in his first 13 college appearances, all of which came out of the bullpen, Gomez (1-3, 3.82 ERA) has started each of the last two weekends. Although he is 0-1 as a starter, the rookie has gone at least five innings each time out and given up just six earned runs combined.
The two squads met earlier this season with Albany (17-16-1, 10-8 AE) taking two of three from UMBC (11-21, 5-13 AE) at Alumni Field. The Retrievers took the opener as freshman Kevin Lachance(Clifton, Va./Centreville) lifted a sacrifice fly to deep center to bring classmate Jesse Smith(Mechanicsville, Va./Lee-Davis) in from third with the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh. The Great Danes leveled the series later that evening with a 13-1 win and then claimed the series by winning the finale 5-2 on Sunday.
The Retrievers split their two home games this week, claiming a 2-1 walk-off win over Coppin State in 12 innings on Tuesday before dropping a 12-5 decision to George Washington Wednesday evening. UMBC is 5-10 away from the friendly confines of Alumni Filed this season and just 2-7 in league road games.
Lachance, who earlier this season had a ten-game hit streak, is currently riding a four-game streak in which he is batting .357 (5-for-14) with two doubles. Senior Rob McCabe (Philadelphia, Pa./St. Joseph's Prep) had the walk-off single on Tuesday and leads the Retrievers with a .342 on-base percentage.
UMBC ranks fourth in the America East with a staff ERA of 5.05. Behind the starters, junior Jon Cohn(Scottsdale, Ariz./Notre Dame Prep) and sophomore Kevin Ladner (Succasunna, N.J./Roxbury) have combined to throw 66 innings this spring for ERAs of 3.37 and 2.30, respectively. Freshman Cam Maxey (Mechanicsville, Va./Atlee) made his first career start on Tuesday after coming out of the pen 11 times, and held Coppin to one unearned run on six hits over 8.2 innings.
Josh Nethaway paces the Albany offense and ranks second in the America East with his .352 batting average (44-for-125). The junior has clubbed three homeruns this spring, a team-high, while also leading the Danes with 12 doubles. First baseman Greg Muller has driven in 29 runs this season which leads the Great Danes' lineup and ranks third in the league.
The Albany staff sits just behind UMBC in fifth in the conference with a 5.15 team ERA. Andrew Jaurique has been called upon 11 times this year and has worked 13.2 innings to a 1.98 ERA. Ryan Stinar (Forest Hill, Md.), who started game three in Baltimore, has notched four saves this year in six relief outings.
- Albany leads the all-time series 25-10 and has won four of the last six contests.
- This weekend's series marks the first time that UMBC and Albany will meet in the New York state capital since 2011.
- UMBC's 11 wins overall and five wins in conference mark the most for the team since going 21-29 and 13-11 AE in 2008.
- Jason Allinder (Snow Hill, Md./Snow Hill/Chesapeake CC) is batting .304 (7-for-23) in seven career games against Albany. He went 4-for-7 in the series earlier this year, hitting his first homerun of the season.
- The Retrievers are 5-7 against teams from the Empire State this season (1-2 vs. Albany, 3-3 vs. Binghamton, 1-2 vs. Stony Brook).
- Retriever lead-off hitters are batting .330 in 2013.