WEST HARTFORD, Conn. – UMBC starter Joe Vanderplas (Fairfax, Va./Fairfax/Tennessee) tossed six solid innings and struck out a career-high six batters, but received a no-decision, as Hartford scored on a double steal in the bottom of the seventh to break a 3-3 tie and claim the series finale, 4-3, over the UMBC baseball team, Sunday afternoon at Fiondella Field.
Vanderplas gave up just three runs over the six innings of work while scattering seven hits. Hartford starter Kyle Gauthier (4-0) was just a bit better, surrendering three runs on five hits over eight innings for the Hawks (27-17, 13-4 AE), who clinched a spot in the America East Tournament.
Sophomore Denis Mikush (Burke, Va./Robinson) took the loss for UMBC (13-24, 6-12 AE) after giving up the run in the seventh, while Jeremy Charles pitched a perfect ninth for Hartford to earn his second save of the year.
UMBC looked to get on the board early as sophomore Kevin Lachance (Clifton, Va./Centreville) reached on a fielding error to start the game and then freshman Andrew Casali (New Canaan, Conn./New Canaan) beat out an infield roller to put two runners on. Junior Vince Corbi (Medford, N.J./Shawee) moved both runners over with a sacrifice bunt, but a strike out, one of six for Gauthier, and a fly out ended the threat.
Vanderplas sent the Hawks down in order in the bottom half and the Retrievers made it count with a run in the top of the second. Junior Jake Barnes (Annandale, Va./Annandale) led off by lashing a double to right-center, and two batters later move to third on a ground out. The veteran outfielder then came into score as a ball off the bat of freshman Connor Hax (Bowie, Md./Bishop McNamara) was misplayed by the first baseman.
The lead was short-lived, however, as Ryan Lukach homered on the first pitch of the home half of the inning to knot the game at 1-1. Vanderplas responded by striking out James Alfonso, then gave up a single, but fanned the next two batters to bring his lineup back up to the plate.
In the top of the third, Corbi got things going for the visitors with a one-out single up the middle and then stole second base. The junior second basemen advanced to third on a ground out to the right side and then sophomore Mark Esposito (Bethany, Conn./Amity Regional) shot a single to center to plate Corbi and give UMBC the lead back, 2-1.
Vanderplas got a 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the third and Gauthier returned the favor in the top of the fourth. Hartford answered the call for its starter, scoring twice in the bottom of the inning as Brady Sheetz drove in Lukach with a one-out single and Billy Walker lifted a sac fly to center for 3-2 home lead.
UMBC would not go away and drew level in the very next frame. Lachance yanked a lead-off double down the left field line and took third on a wild pitch. Casali followed by sending a grounder to the right side, allowing Lachance to score and tie the game at 3-3.
The starters dominated the sixth inning and then Gauthier put down the Retrievers in order in the seventh. After the stretch, Hartford put the first two runners on against Mikush who entered to relieve Vanderplas. The sophomore right-hander nearly worked out of the no-out jam, but with runners on first and third, the Hawks successfully pulled a double steal with Adam Touhey scoring what proved to be the winning run.
UMBC continues its road swing with two mid-week games – at Towson on Tuesday and at Georgetown on Wednesday – before returning to Alumni Field to host Stony Brook for a Friday-Saturday America East series.
- Hartford now leads UMBC in the all-time America East series, 22-21, with the Retrievers clinging to a 23-22 all-time lead.
- The Hawks have now won four straight in the series and 10 of the last 12.
- Corbi's stolen base gives UMBC 56 for the season, the second-highest single season total in program history.
- The Retrievers played error-free baseball for the seventh time this season, but are now 2-5 when making no defensive miscues.