Baltimore, Md. – UMBC baseball opens the season against Penn State in Cary, N.C. to begin their 31st season in Division I on Friday afternoon. The Retrievers look to defend their America East Conference title and continue the success that the team has had in recent years as they try to win back-to-back championships under seventh-year head coach Bob Mumma.
The Retrievers had an exciting year, though the overall record may not show it. UMBC finished 23-25, 11-9 in conference, but finished the year strong with an impressive walk off win against Stony Brook to earn the number two seed in the conference tournament. They would go on to win every game they played, en route to their first ever America East Conference championship and the program's third NCAA Tournament appearance.
"Last year was an up and down year. We played our best baseball at the end of the year when it counts, and it was exciting for our guys to get to experience that," Mumma said of 2017.
The Black and Gold will look to replace a duo of field players in Hunter Dolshun and Andrew Casali. Casali and Dolshun both were lost due to graduation. In Casali, UMBC loses their leadoff hitter and staple in the outfield. Casali lead the team in at bats (195), runs (33), hits (65), triples (three), stolen bases (12), and was second in doubles (16), average (.333) and tied for second with Dolshun in extra base hits with 22 last season. Dolshun brought the firepower for the UMBC squad last year. Dolshun was a multi-time all-conference selection behind the plate and the 2017 America East Tournament Most Outstanding Player during his time at UMBC. He achieved a triple crown among the team, finishing first in home runs (nine), RBI (34), and average (.336). He was also second on the team in hits with 51.
On the mound, the Retrievers will try and replace Michael Austin, who was signed to a minor league deal with the Kansas City Royals shortly after the team returned from regionals. Austin was second on the team in appearances (18), strikeouts (47), and ERA (4.75), tied for second in in wins (four), and lead the team in innings pitched (66.1) from a year ago.
"Replacing these guys will be tough. They were both four-year starters for us, but we have slew of young talent and some transfers that are ready to step in for us," Mumma said.
Sophomore Christian Torres (Miami, Fla./Miami Senior) and senior Zach Bright (Fairfax Station, Va./WT Woodson) are the key pieces UMBC will be getting back on offense from the championship season, with both earning all-conference honors last season, with Torres earning America East Rookie of the Year honors.
Collin Stack (Jamestown, N.Y./Monroe CC) will join Torres and Bright on offense, looking to build off of his impressive first season as a Retriever. Senior Matt Chanin (Olney, Md./Sherwood) returns to anchor down the pitching staff, having a bounce back year last season.
The outfield will be anchored by two outfielders, with Collin Stack returning to right and Raven Beeman (Somerset, Pa./Somerset) shifting to centerfield, respectively. Joe Milkowski (Lackawanna, N.Y./St. Francis/Niagara County CC) will start the season in left field after transferring in from Niagara County CC. Redshirt juniors Chris Convers (Poolesville, Md./Poolesville) and Zach DeThomasis (Rennsalaer, N.Y./Hudson Valley CC) will add depth for the Retrievers at the position.
"Having Stack and Beeman back is big for the outfield. We will have a lot of speed out there with them, as well with Milkowski, Convers and DeThomasis," Mumma said of the outfielders.
Replacing the type of player and leader Hunter Dolshun was will be no easy task, but coach Mumma feels like the experience the returning players gained from last season will be helpful.
Returning for the Retrievers is America East Rookie of the Year and All-Rookie Selection Christian Torres at third base. Joining him on the left side of the infield will be senior Mitchell Carroll (Oakton, Va./Oakton). Junior AJ Wright (Cherry Hill, N.J./Cherry Hill West) will return to play second, with sophomore Dalton Stewart (Sharpsburg, Md./Boonsboro) taking over at first base.
"Torres has the chance to be even better this year. We have a lot of depth in the infield and having veterans like AJ and Mitchell there will help us during the tough conference season," Mumma said of his infielders.
Looking to add depth to the infield will be senior Matt Campbell (Chesapeake, Va./Arkansas), as well as freshmen Joey Goodwin (Rockville, Md. Good Counsel) and Andres Machado (Coral Gables, Fla./Gulliver Prep).
Looking to step up in the catcher role is Zack Bright, who enters the season on a nine-game hitting streak as well as coming off an America East All-Conference Second Team selection. Freshman Dmitri Floyd (Dover, Del./Dover), sophomore Matt Shatto(Lancaster, Pa./Manheim Township), and Jack Finn (Ellicott City, Md./Rider) will also join Bright behind the plate.
"Zack will step into the starting role this year. It is hard to replace Hunter (Dolshun), but Zack has the skill and will be underrated in the conference. Adding Dmitri, Matt and Jack will provide us with a lot of depth at the position," Mumma stated of the catching corp.
Looking to lead the staff this year is Matt Chanin, who bounced back last season to finish tied for second on the team in wins (four) and third in ERA (4.87). Returning with him are the two starters who were tied for the lead in wins on the team with five apiece, junior Jacob Christian (Nokesville, Va./Patriot) and sophomore Mitchell Wilson (Hagerstown, Md./St. James).
Redshirt sophomore Stephen Schoch (Laurel, Md./Appalachian State) looks to make an immediate impact on the team out of the bullpen after sitting out last season due to transfer rules. Schoch spent part of the summer playing in the Cape Cod League with the Cotuit Kettleers.
Joining Schoch in the bullpen will be junior Andy Rozylowicz (Annapolis, Md./DeMatha), as well as nine new pitchers who are all looking to make their marks on the pitching staff this season.
"We are a lot younger than we have been, so we are excited to get the young guys some appearances early on," associate head coach and pitching coach Liam Bowen said. "This is a talented group with a lot of upside that are excited and ready to get out there and compete."
Coach Mumma has brought in 13 newcomers to the team this season, including 10 freshmen. Two of the 10 freshmen are in-state, as Joey Goodwin (Rockville, Md./Good Counsel) and Max Goron (Laurel, Md./Reservoir) are the lone players from Maryland.
Fellow rookies looking to make an immediate impact for the Retrievers in 2018 are Nick Trabacchi (Smithtown, N.Y./Smithtown West), Dmitri Floyd, Aaron Husson (Hawley, Pa./Wallenpaupack), Cameron Taylor (Leesburg, Va./Heritage), Greg Albert(Medford, N.J./Shawnee), Andres Machado, Cory Levy (Toronto, Ontraio/Stephen Lewis), and Nick Cataldi (Warminster, Pa./William Tennant).
UMBC will have three transfers joining the roster, with two coming from the same junior college. David Lyskawa (East Amherst, N.Y./Niagara County CC) and Joe Milkowski will join graduate student Chase Bailey (Fairfax, Va./Robinson/William & Mary) and juniors Ryan Brown (Hagerstown, Md./St. James/Charleston Southern) and Ethan Gallagher (Catonsville, Md./Mount St. Joseph/Wake Forest) in furthering their careers in the Black and Gold.
New America East Tournament Location:
The 2018 America East Tournament will have a new home, as the University of Maine will play host. The tournament has been at LeLacheur Park in Lowell, Mass. the past five years. It will be just the third time since 1990 that the tournament will be played at Mahaney Diamond in Orono, Maine.
"UMass Lowell has done a fantastic job hosting the tournament the past few seasons. Our kids just want the chance to be in the tournament and compete, regardless of where it is played," Mumma said of the site change.
Although the start of the season may look daunting with the likes of Penn State, St. John's, Missouri and Florida Gulf Coast on the schedule, the Retrievers are ready for the challenge, knowing every game builds toward the conference season.
"We are very excited to get started. We have been working hard all fall and winter for this season and we are ready to compete," Mumma said. "Our ultimate goal is to be playing our best ball at the end of the year and have a chance to get back and defend our conference title. Repeating in this league is tough, but we are willing and ready for the challenge."