BALTIMORE – After opening the 2014 season at William and Mary last weekend, the UMBC baseball team continues its campaign by heading south once again, this time to Myrtle Beach, S.C. for the Chanticleer Classic. The Retrievers will take on Elon and UNC Greensboro back-to-back on Saturday evening, and then face weekend host Coastal Carolina on Sunday.
All three games on Saturday and Sunday will be played at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark, home of the Class-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans. On Monday, UMBC (0-3) will stop in North Carolina on its way back to Baltimore to face Elon in a single game, scheduled for a 4:00 p.m. start.
The trip marks the second consecutive year in which UMBC is traveling to the Palmetto State after taking on College World Series participants N.C. State and Indiana at last year's Caravelle Resort's Baseball at the Beach tournament in Myrtle Beach. The Retrievers also played West Virginia at last year's event.
UMBC is scheduled to send its same three starters to the mound this weekend in South Carolina. Senior Mac Gill (Bethesda, Md./Walter Johnson) will get the ball to open up the weekend once again after starting the season-opener against the Tribe. Sophomore righty Michael Elefante (3-0, 1.29 ERA) will work for Elon. Gill (0-0, 0.00 ERA) pitched six scoreless innings against W&M, scattering six hits, but was no-decisioned in the 2-1 loss. The outing continued Gill's success from 2013 when he worked a staff-best 73.2 innings and threw five complete games.
Game two will see sophomore Riley Stephenson (Frederick, Md./Boonsboro) start his first game of the season after throwing out of the bullpen last weekend. Stephenson (0-1, 20.25 ERA) started 11 games last year as a freshman, posting a 2-7 record with a 6.20 ERA. UNC Greensboro sophomore right-hander Ryan Clark (0-1, 0.60 ERA) is set to make his third start of the season in search of his first win.
Sophomore lefty Joe Vanderplas (Fairfax, Va./Fairfax/Tennessee) will make his second career start to conclude the weekend for the Retrievers while taking on the host Chanticleers. Coastal will counter with freshman lefty Dalton Moats (0-2, 7.15 ERA). The Retriever southpaw (0-1, 4.50 ERA) gave up four runs in the first inning last weekend, but only two were earned, before working six innings, striking out two, and not giving out a free pass.
In Monday's game at Elon, UMBC will send sophomore Michael Gomez (Nutley, N.J./Don Bosco Prep) to the mound while the Phoenix have not announced a starter. Gomez (0-0, 7.36 ERA) was no-decisioned last weekend as UMBC rallied to take the lead, 4-3, before eventually falling on the road. Last year, Gomez earned four saves as UMBC's closer and then transitioned to the rotation where he finished the year 2-4 with a 3.00 ERA.
Sophomore shortstop Kevin Lachance (Clifton, Va./Centreville) continued his strong form from his rookie campaign to open the 2014 season, collecting five hits in the three-game set at W&M. After picking up a single in his first at-bat of the season, Lachance went 3-for-5 in the middle game and then recorded his first double of the season in the finale.
Classmate Manny Colon (Williamstown, N.J./Buena Regional) also had a productive weekend at the plate for the Black and Gold, hitting .429 (3-for-7) and connecting for his second career home run during Sunday's contest. It was Colon's bases-clearing double on Saturday which gave the Retrievers the lead.
Elon (8-4) lost in 12 innings to in-state rival High Point on Wednesday night and has now dropped three of its last five contests. The Phoenix started the season 6-1 after sweeping Cincinnati and Wagner, in addition to earning a win over UNC Wilmington.
Junior Casey Jones has powered the Elon attack, hitting .348 (16-for-46) in the early going, connecting for one home run, and knocking in 14 RBI. Juniors Sebatian Gomez (.341) and Quinn Bower (.333) have also been a threat at the plate, getting on base and scoring a combined 19 runs.
UNC Greensboro (5-6) swept Georgetown in a three-game series last weekend in North Carolina to climb back to .500 on the year, but fell in 10 innings to East Carolina Wednesday afternoon. The Spartans have won four of their last six now and have defeated two ACC teams this season (Duke and Wake Forest).
Junior Zac MacAneney went 2-for-3 for the Spartans against ECU and has now reached base safely in nine straight games. He is leading the team with a .432 average (16-for-37) while connecting for two doubles and one triple, and scoring 11 runs. Classmate Hunter King has provided pop for the Spartans, homering twice in 2014 while driving in 13 runs.
Coastal Carolina (4-7) was scheduled to play The Citadel on Tuesday in Charleston, but the game was postponed due to rain. The Chanticleers split their four games last weekend, defeating Rhode Island and Marshall, but dropping games to West Virginia and Duke.
In limited action, red-shirt sophomore Richard Carter has excelled at the plate for Coastal, hitting .480 (12-for-25) and driving in three runs. Sophomore Connor Owings has been the Chants most consistent hitter, collecting 15 hits in the first 11 games, five of which have gone for extra bases.
- The Retrievers and Chanticleers played 19 times between 1993 and 1998 as Big South rivals. The teams have played four times since then with Coastal holding an 18-5 lead in the all-time series.
- UMBC is 1-10 all-time against its former Big South rival UNC Greensboro. All 11 of the matchups came during conference play from 1994-1997. The two teams have never met on a neutral field.
- This weekend's games will be the first-ever meetings between UMBC and Elon.
- The Retrievers are 9-24 all-time in games played in the state of South Carolina (at Charleston Southern 5-6; at Coastal Carolina 3-15; at College of Charleston 1-0; vs. Indiana 0-1; vs. N.C. State 0-1; vs. West Virginia 0-1).