BASEBALL HOSTS FAIRLEIGH DICKINSON IN THREE GAME-SET SUNDAY, MONDAY
Feb. 26, 2011
PRINCESS ANNE, Md. - The University of Maryland Eastern Shore baseball team hosts Fairleigh Dickinson in a three-game series Sunday and Monday at Hawks Stadium. The set opens with the Hawks' first doubleheader of 2011 at noon and wraps up with a single game Monday, also slated for a noon start. The teams played four games on the diamond in 2007 with the Knights coming away with a 3-1 series victory in Princess Anne, Md., on March 3-4, 2007. UMES won the final game, 6-5, after dropping the first three (16-6, 7-5, and 9-8).
SCOUTING FAIRLEIGH DICKINSON Fairleigh Dickinson, which opens its season at UMES, finished 2010 at 16-38 overall and 11-21 in the Northeast Conference. The Knights, under the direction of first-year head coach Gary Puccio were picked to finish last in the nine-team NEC. FDU has won 16 games in each of the past two seasons. The Knights return every starter from last season and half of the starting pitching rotation. Despite only have 20 players on the roster, Puccio has a nucleous of talent to build on. Senior outfielder D.J. Robinson and junior second baseman Matt Holsman will be Fairleigh Dickinson's top offensive threats this season. Robinson, a 2010 All-NEC second team selection, batted .339 in 50 games and led the team in home runs (eight) and RBI (49). Meanwhile, Holsman, started all 54 of FDU's games and hit .298 one season after being named NEC Rookie of the Year.
LAST TIME OUT: Karim Gonzalez and Zach Saca combined to pitch seven innings, giving up two runs and five hits to George Washington on Wednesday, but the Colonials used a six-run eighth inning to to spoil the Hawks' home opener, winning, 8-0. Gonzalez threw five innings, surrendering a run on two hits with five strikeouts and two walks. Saca followed with two innings of three-hit ball. Tre-Von Johnson picked up two of the UMES's three hits and two steals.
ON THE MOUND: Right-handed junior Jacob Foreman will get the start for UMES in Game 1 Sunday against senior righty Chris Theoder. Foreman had a strong outing on opening day at Appalachian State, scattering nine hits and three runs in five innings before struggling versus George Washington Wednesday. He gave six runs in 0.2. Theordor went 0-1 in 19 games with a 7.92 ERA over 30.2 innings. Game 2 pits Matt Witte against Nick Melchiorre, who saw action in just two innings a season ago. Witte took the loss in Game 2 of the ASU series, going six innings and giving up three runs in his only start of the year. Tyler Witte goes against Mike Eliasen on Monday. Eliasen was 1-4 with a 6.62 ERA in 2010. Witte went six innings on last Sunday, surrendering seven hits and five runs.
FIVE STARTING POSITION PLAYERS BACK: UMES welcomes back five position players from last season in senior Nick Wiggins at catcher, senior Elliott Alston at first base, Luis Mena at third, Tre-Von Johnson in center field and Bryan Chaikowsky. A solid defensive catcher, Wiggins had a .941 fielding percentage and threw out 18 baserrunners while hitting .154 at the plate. Alston batted .261 in 48 games. He was tied for the team lead in doubles with 10 and fourth in hits (41) and RBI (19). Mena, the Hawks' primary third baseman last season, hit .197 and was tied for third on the team with four sacrifice bunts. Johnson was one of three players on last years' squad to hit over .300 at .302. He also led the team in total bases (75) and stole 15. Johnson also threw out six runners from his spot in right field. Chaikowsky, the team's top power threat, tied for the team lead with six multiple-RBI games.
UMES PICKED SIXTH IN MEAC: The Hawks were picked to finish sixth in the MEAC Preseason Poll, garnering 46 points to top Coppin State (36). Bethune-Cookman was chosen as the unanimous selection to repeat as MEAC champions and to win its sixth straight conference title. North Carolina A&T earned 134 points to take the second spot in the poll while Norfolk State (128), Delaware State (100) and Florida A&M (60) are projected to round out the field in that order.
TRIPLE YOUR PLEASURE: Sophomore outfielder Tre-Von Johnson finished in a tie for first in the MEAC in triples (six). The 5-foot-10, native of East New Market, Md., was 31st in the NCAA in triples and 25th in triples per game.
CHAIKOWSKY PRESEASON ALL-MEAC: Senior designated hitter Bryan Chaikowsky was named to the preseason All-MEAC team. Chaikowsky, a second team All-MEAC selection in 2010, batted .293 with 10 doubles, two triples, three home runs and 25 RBI last season. He had a slugging percentage of .431 and on-base percentage of .388 while drawing 20 walks and stealing 13-of-14 bases. The honor for Chaikowsky is his second consecutive preseason nod from the conference as he was given honorable mention All-MEAC recognition last year.
UMES 94TH IN NCAA IN STEALS: The Hawks were 94th in the country in stolen bases (77) last season. The Hawks were also 67th in steals per game, averaging 1.51. Additionally, graduated senior Phil Vaughn was 47th in the steals with 28 and 34th in steals per game at 0.56.
THE DUDE ABIDES: Former UMES outfielder Ira "Dude" Smith was recently placed on the ballot for the College Baseball Hall of Fame. Smith won two consecutive NCAA batting titles in 1989 and 1990, hitting .488 and .519, respectively. His 1990 season ranks sixth all-time NCAA history while his .431 career average ranks 14th all-time. Smith's achievements during his collegiate career include getting 10 straight hits in three games and hitting three home runs in a span of four contests. After his UMES career, Smith was drafted in the 37th round in 1990 by the Los Angeles Dodgers. He spent nine years in minor league baseball followed by another five seasons in independent ball from 1990-2003. He reached the Triple-A level in 1995, hitting .325 in 59 games with the Las Vegas Stars. Smith was inducted into the MEAC Hall of Fame in 2010. He is also a member of the Eastern Shore Baseball Hall of Fame and the UMES Hall of Fame. Voting for the Sixth College Baseball Hall of Fame class will conclude in February.
HOME COOKIN': The 2011 schedule features 24 games at Hawks Stadium. After playing a three-game series at Appalachian State the Hawks will enjoy 11 of their next 12 games in Princess Anne, Md. The Hawks will play three teams from the Northeast Conference in the stretch, including Fairleaigh Dickinson for three games on Feb. 27-28, Long Island for three on March 4-6 and Mount Saint Mary's a doubleheader on March 15. Longwood also will come to town for a doubleheader on March 1.
SEVEN CONFERENCES: UMES will play teams from seven conferences, including Campbell of the Atlantic Sun, George Washington, Richmond and Temple of the Atlantic 10, Towson of the Colonial Athletic Association, Saint Peter's of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Association, Fairleigh Dickinson, Long Island and Mount Saint Mary's and Long Island of the Northeast Conference Lehigh and Navy of the Patriot League and Appalachain State of the Southern Conference.
ON DECK: UMES hosts Longwood for a doubleheader Wednesday starting at noon. The Lancers lead the series with the Hawks, 15-2, and last topped UMES in four games May2-3, 2009.