2013 UMES BASEBALL OUTLOOK
UMES's all-time hits leader Tre-von Johnson returns to the outfield in 2013.
UMES's all-time hits leader Tre-von Johnson returns to the outfield in 2013.

Feb. 13, 2013

PRINCESS ANNE, Md. - The University of Maryland Eastern Shore baseball team will begin a new era in 2013 under the direction of Pedro Swann. The Hawks will have a strong core of returners and a six-member freshman class to compete in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.

UMES finished at 14-39 in 2012, up from nine victories the previous year, finishing third in the newly formed MEAC North Division with an 11-13 conference tally. As a three-seed, UMES defeated two-seed North Carolina Central then one-seed Delaware State to earn a place in the MEAC semifinals. After falling to one-seeds Bethune-Cookman and Delaware State, UMES took third in the MEAC Tournament, the highest finish since 2006.

The Hawks earned a number of honors during the season. Tre-von Johnson became the all-time hits leader in UMES history and earned Second Team All-MEAC for the second straight season. Tyler Witte earned a MEAC Pitcher of the Week honor after throwing a one-hitter against Coppin State, while Jacob Foreman pitched a shutout against Norfolk State, the first shutout by a UMES pitcher since 2009. In addition, three Hawks, Stephen Bull, Byron Campbell and Karim Gonzalez, earned a place on the MEAC All-Tournament Team.

INFIELD
UMES will need to replace half of last year's starting infield with the departure of James Newsome and Shaquille Bagwell. The Hawks plan to man the right side of the infield with returners and the left side with newcomers. Junior Jeffrey Fleetwood (Delmar, Del.), a batter on the left side, was the team's primary first baseman, earning a team-best 27 RBI with a .275 batting average and two home runs. Sophomore Joshua James (Milford, Del.) was the team's shortstop and will move to second base this season, hitting .193 with 12 RBI last year.

 

 

Two freshmen are the frontrunners to take up the left side of the infield. Connor Breslin (Saylorsburg, Pa.) is the favorite to play at the hot corner after hitting .416 at Pius X High School last year. At shortstop, Mike Escanilla (Waldorf, Md.) is a switch hitter and earned all-county honors each of his last three years at North Point High School.

A couple of reserves return for their sophomore season to bolster the ranks. Thomas Gray (Delmar, Del.) played in 18 games with seven starts as the backup shortstop, hitting .208. The reserve second baseman and pinch runner Brady Bassford (Olney, Md.) played in 12 games last season, while Nick Cooper (Delmar, Del.) played as a pinch hitter in three games and will backup first base.

OUTFIELD
A powerful outfield corps returns for this season, bringing back all three players who earned postseason accolades, tallying a total of 157 starts and 50 multi-hit games last season. Back to lead the team is senior center fielder Tre-von Johnson (East New Market, Md.), who earned Second Team All-MEAC honors once again. Johnson hit .318 with 14 extra base hits and 23 RBI, stealing a team-best 12 bases and finishing with a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage.

At the corners are a couple of juniors who earned MEAC All-Tournament Team honors last season. In right field stands Byron Campbell (Waldorf, Md.), the UMES Co-Most Improved Player last year after leading the Hawks with 21 extra base hits, including seven triples, adding a .302 batting average and 20 RBI. On the other side is lefty Stephen Bull (Millsboro, Del.), who served as the team's leadoff hitter in 2012, hitting .267 with 21 walks and five stolen bases.

Malik Wylie (Bronx, N.Y.) was the team's designated hitter last year and can also play in the outfield. Wylie had the highest on-base percentage at .402, hitting .292 with 18 walks. Also backing up in the outfield is sophomore Tim Gray (Dover, Del.), who went 2-of-8 in nine games off the bench last season.

CATCHERS
All three catchers from the 2012 campaign are back for the Hawks to take their place behind the dish. Senior Brandon Schott (Warren, Pa.) was the team's main catcher last season, hitting .266 in 48 games, including 12 multi-hit contests, with 23 RBI in his first season with the Hawks.

The two reserves come back for their sophomore year. Zach Townsend (Salisbury, Md.) played as a backup catcher and designated hitter in 15 games, hitting .161 with three RBI. Also backing up behind the plate is Dustin Aigner (Melfa, Va.), who went 2-for-16 in eight games in 2012.

PITCHING STAFF
The Hawks will have 15 pitchers to start this season to have a full complement of starters and relievers for the year. The team will need to replace its top starter and closer from last season, but 11 are back from last season.

The starting rotation is still to be determined, but a couple of players are in the mix. Two members of the weekend rotation are back to play: Junior Tyler Witte (Westminster, Md.) was the game one starter last year, finishing 1-7 with an 8.67 ERA, striking out 31 in 54 innings, while righty sidearm senior Jesus Hernandez (Haverstraw, N.Y.) was 0-7 with a 7.88 ERA in 48 innings with 24 strikeouts.

UMES's two top relievers from last year may go to a starting role in their junior season. Zachary Saca (Elk Grove, Calif.) was the UMES Co-Most Improved Player of the Year after throwing in 30 games in 2012, going 4-2 with a 3.68 ERA in 71 innings, striking out 40. Bernard Parker (Waldorf, Md.) served as a setup man, mid-week starter and eventually the closer, concluding with a 2-1 record, two saves and a 5.01 ERA in 23 appearances.

Also in the competition for starting roles includes some sophomore returners. The lone southpaw pitcher on the team, sophomore Jordan Bone (Pittston, Pa.) is back after suffering a season-ending injury in 2012. Sophomore Alex Welch (Baltimore, Md.) served as a mid-week starter last year, finishing 0-3 with a 12.08 ERA and 12 strikeouts in his first season. Another sophomore, James Smith (Florence, S.C.), played primarily in the bullpen but also started a couple of games, striking out 29 in 34 innings and getting an 0-6 record with a 10.85 ERA.

The Hawks bring a lot of experience to the bullpen with roles to be determined. After missing half the season due to injury last year, the 6-foot-9 sophomore Devin Repine (Salisbury, Md.) is in the lead to be the closer, finishing 2012 with an 8.64 ERA in six appearances. A trio of returning righties also stacks the arms in relief: sophomore Dylan Bell (Salisbury, Md.) did not allow an earned run in four appearances last year, junior Sean Woods (Clinton, Md.) had a 12.27 ERA with a .256 opposing batting average in 10 appearances, and sophomore Michael Epps (Pottstown, Pa.) was 0-2 with a 13.17 ERA in 14 games, striking out nine.

Four freshmen will bolster the pitching staff this season, and they will compete for starting and/or bullpen positions. Three of the freshmen hail from the Eastern Shore of Maryland: J.P. Black (Elkton, Md.), a relief pitcher from North East High School, James DiBuo (Bishopville, Md.), who played at Stephen Decatur High School, and Will Turley (Greensboro, Md.), who can pitch or play the left side of the infield, hailing from North Caroline High School. Rounding out the newcomers is Chris Lopez (Vineland, N.J.), a standout pitcher and hitter at Vineland High School.

SCHEDULE
UMES will play 53 games this season, including 27 at Hawks Stadium. Along with the MEAC Northern Division opponents, the Hawks will play several nearby teams this season, including games against Navy, Georgetown, UMBC and Towson among others.

The first game for UMES will be on Friday, February 15th when the Hawks play the first game of a three-game set against Winthrop in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

The next two weekends, the Hawks will play in an invitational. They will play in Lexington, Virginia to take on VMI and Buffalo twice each from February 22nd through the 24th. Then after the home opening doubleheader against Lehigh on the 27th, UMES hosts its own tournament with Cornell and Saint Peter's coming to Hawks Stadium in the opening weekend in March.

After the team plays George Washington in Arlington on March 6th, UMES will play its next 13 games at home. After a pair of weekend doubleheaders against Lafayette, UMES opens conference play against Coppin State on March 16th-17th. The team plays a pair of mid-week games against Monmouth and Georgetown, followed by a weekend against Norfolk State, then a Tuesday game against George Washington to finish the homestand.

The Hawks will play mainly on the road in the coming weeks. UMES takes on Navy in the mid-week then gets its first MEAC road series against Route 13 rival Delaware State. The team goes back home to face UMBC then goes back on the road for its next eight games, facing Wilmington, Coppin State three times, Towson then Norfolk State three times.

Back home comes the Maroon and Gray for seven games. Following a mid-week against Navy, UMES played a pair of MEAC series back-to-back, taking on Delaware State and Coppin State, taking on the latter on the final home game on April 28th at noon.

UMES finishes out the regular season on the road against Georgetown, Delaware State three times, George Mason and UMBC. The Hawks conclude with the MEAC Tournament in Norfolk from May 14th through the 18th.