Stephenson Pitches Baseball Past UMES, 3-1, for First Career Win

Freshman Riley Stephenson
Freshman Riley Stephenson

PRINCESS ANNE, Md. – UMBC freshman pitcher Riley Stephenson (Frederick, Md./Boonsboro) threw a career-high six innings, giving up just one run, and the offense scored twice in the first and once in the sixth as the Retrievers defeated UMES, 3-1, Wednesday afternoon at Hawks Stadium.

The Retrievers (8-11) received a 2-for-4 day at the plate from sophomore Anthony Gatto (Hauppauge, N.Y./Smithtown West) and freshman Kevin Lachance (Clifton, Va./Centreville) while junior Brandon Coluccio (Freehold, N.J./Freehold Township/Brookdale CC), freshman Manny Colon (Williamstown, N.J./Buena Regional), and junior D.J. Smith (Millersville, Md./Old Mill) each drove in a run. 

Freshman Mike Gomez (Nutley, N.J./Don Bosco Prep) gave up a lead-off single in the ninth but then sent three straight Hawk batters down to pick up his fourth save of the year.

Making his first mid-week start after four weekend starts, Stephenson (1-4) controlled UMES (5-25), yielding just a third inning run while scattering five hits.  The rookie right-hander also struck out a career-high five batters while walking just one.

Hawks rookie J.P. Black (0-2) tried to match Stepehenson, but just fell off the pace and took the loss after surrendering all three runs. 

UMBC got off the mark immediately on Wednesday, scoring two runs in the top of the first before the Hawks could even come to bat.  Sophomore Ian Glassman (Basking Ridge, N.J./Rutgers Prep) led off the game with a double and classmate Vince Corbi (Medford, N.J./Shawnee) drew a walk. Lachance then singled to load the bases with no outs.  Coluccio gave the visitors the lead on a ground out to short, which also advanced the other two runners.  Black made it out of the inning relatively unscathed, though, as Colon hit a sac fly to right, pushing the lead to 2-0 before a line out ended the inning.

Stephenson took over from there, allowing just one base-runner in each of the first two frames. UMES was able to cut into the lead in the bottom of the third, however, on a two-out single by Jeffrey Fleetwood.

UMBC threatened in the top of the fourth as Colon and Gatto hit back-to-back one-out singles and Smith walked to load the bases once more.  The rally was cut short as Black induced an inning-ending double play.

Both teams were held scoreless in the fourth and fifth, and the Retrievers took advantage in the sixth with a solo run to extend the lead to 3-1.  With two away, Gatto lined his second single of the day to center, and then took second on a wild pitch.  Smith made the most of the opportunity by driving a 1-1 pitch to right-centerfield to bring around Gatto to score.

In the bottom half of the sixth, UMES put pressure on Stephenson as Byron Campbell was hit by a pitch and advanced on a ball in the dirt.  The rookie righty got the next three hitters to get out of the inning and complete his day.  His bullpen then made the lead standup, combining to throw three scoreless innings. 

The lead did not look safe, however, in the bottom of the seventh as the hosts put the first two batters on against sophomore Kevin Ladner (Succasunna, N.J./Roxbury).  The right-hander got a pop out, but another single followed to load the bases.  The defense then came to Ladner's aid, turning a 4-6-3 double play to end the threat.

UMBC returns to conference play this weekend with a three-game set at Hartford.  The Retrievers and Hawks will play two on Saturday at Fiondella Field before concluding the series with a single game on Sunday.

DAWG BITES

-          UMBC remains unbeaten against UMES with a 9-0 all-time record in the series.

-          This was the first meeting between the in-state rivals since 1987.

-          The Retrievers are now 3-1 against in-state opponents this season (1-0 vs. UMES; 2-0 vs. Mount St. Mary's; 0-1 vs. Towson).

-          UMBC and UMES will meet again on May 8 at Alumni Field.

-          Gomez's fourth save is the most for a Retriever pitcher since Ryan Morse notched four during the 2008 season.

-          Lachance's two hits extend his hit streak to six games.  He is hitting .458 (11-for-24) during this stretch.

-          The Retrievers played error-free baseball for the fifth time this season and are now 3-2 in such games.

-          UMBC's two runs in the first inning mark just the second time this season that the Retrievers score in their first at-bats.