BALTIMORE – For the third straight season, the UMBC baseball team opens the season on the road, this time kicking off the 2014 schedule with a three-game set at William and Mary. The Retrievers and Tribe will open the weekend with a 4:00 p.m. game on Friday, Feb. 28 at Plumeri Park and follow it with single games on Saturday and Sunday, with first pitch set for a 2:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m., respectively.
The teams last met in the Retrievers' season-opening series of 2007 with W&M sweeping the three-game series in Williamsburg. The Tribe lead the all-time series, 10-2, with UMBC picking up both of its wins while taking two of three in Virginia in 2006.
UMBC will send senior right-hander Mac Gill (Bethesda, Md./Walter Johnson) to the hill to start the opener for the second straight year while William and Mary will counter with junior left-hander Jason Inghram (1-0, 1.29 ERA). Gill limited eventual College World Series participant and No. 10-ranked N.C. State to just two earned runs over 5.1 innings on opening day last year, kicking off a year in which he went 3-5 with a 4.03 ERA and twirled five complete games, good for 20th in the nation. Inghram was no-decisioned in the Tribe's extra-inning affair last Friday after tossing eight innings and yielding just two earned runs on seven hits. The southpaw struck out eight batters.
In the middle game, sophomore Michael Gomez (Nutley, N.J./Don Bosco Prep) will head to the bump to oppose the Tribe's John Sheehan (0-1, 0.00 ERA). After starting the 2013 out of the bullpen and recording four saves for the Retrievers, Gomez transitioned to the starting rotation. He finished the year with a 2-4 record in five starts and 18 total appearances. He led the club with 41 strike outs, 14 of which came in a 7.1-inning relief appearance at Hartford on April 6. Sheehan, a red-shirt senior, did not surrender an earned run, but took the loss against Army on Feb. 16 while working 6.2 innings.
On Sunday, sophomore lefty Joe Vanderplas (Fairfax, Va./Fairfax/Tennessee) gets the ball for his first career UMBC start after sitting out the 2013 season due to the NCAA transfer policy. The hosts will put sophomore righty Mitchell Aker (0-1, 8.00 ERA) on the mound. In his freshman year at Tennessee in 2012, Vanderplas made four appearances for the Vols, including one start. This past summer while pitching for the Vienna Riverdogs, the southpaw was named to the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League All-Star Game for the second consecutive year. Aker took the loss against High Point last Saturday, pitching five innings but giving up four runs, two earned, on eight hits.
Last season, UMBC made an eight-win improvement from 2012, winning seven of its final 11 games to post an 18-30 overall record. The Retrievers finished the year in style with a 6-5 comeback win at America East regular season champion Maine.
Shortstop Kevin Lachance (Clifton, Va./Centreville) led the Retrievers as a freshman, hitting a team-best .303 and knocking in 19 RBI. Following the season, Lachance was honored as a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American, in addition to earning a spot on the All-Conference Second Team and All-Rookie Team. Catcher Brandon Coluccio (Freehold, N.J./Freehold Township/Brookdale CC) also keyed the Black and Gold, driving in 17 runs and receiving a spot on the All-Conference Second Team.
William and Mary enters the weekend at 3-4 after dropping two of three at High Point last weekend. The Tribe took the series opener, 4-2, in ten innings on Friday evening, but dropped the next two. Senior infielder Ryan Lindemuth has already collected ten hits in just 29 at-bats (.345 avg.), driving in nine runs while scoring seven. Junior Michael Katz has shown early pop, banging four home runs in the early going to pace the Tribe attack.
- William and Mary leads the all-time series 10-2, but the teams have not met since 2007.
- UMBC is opening the season away from Alumni Field for the third consecutive season. The Retrievers last started a season at home in 2011 against Delaware (loss, 10-5).
- The Retrievers are looking for their first Opening Day win under head coach Bob Mumma. UMBC lost to Georgetown, 13-6, in Mumma's first game as the head man in 2012 and then was edged, 5-3, by nationally ranked N.C. State last season.
- UMBC went 0-4 against CAA opponents last season (0-2 vs. Delaware; 0-2 vs. Towson). The Retrievers play a total of five games against teams from the CAA in 2014 (Feb. 28-March 2 at William and Mary; April 29 and May 6 vs. Towson).