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Baseball To Clash With Central Connecticut Tuesday

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Baseball To Clash With Central Connecticut Tuesday

Photo: Junior Brian Bullard is batting .310 with two home runs this season.


ALBANY, N.Y.  – Riding a five-game win-streak, the University at Albany baseball team will play host to non-conference opponent Central Connecticut Tuesday at 3:00 p.m. on Varsity Field. The Great Danes have won 13 of their last 17 games, including a key America East Conference sweep over the weekend.

UAlbany head coach Jon Mueller has 299 career wins. He will go for the milestone victory Tuesday against the Blue Devils. Mueller is in his 14th season at the helm and ranks first in UAlbany baseball coaching victories with a 299-399-5 record.

SCOUTING THE GREAT DANES (20-16-1, 13-8 America East)
Currently in second place in the America East standings, UAlbany comes off a 4-0 week in which the Great Danes swept UMBC and also topped Manhattan – the reigning MAAC champion. On the season, UAlbany is batting a collective .280 average as five Danes are hitting above .300. Josh Nethaway (.343), freshman Matt Hinchy (.313), senior Greg Muller (.311), junior Brian Bullard (.310) and senior Nolan Gaige (.303) are all seeing the ball well as of late. Defensively, the Danes are fielding .968, while the pitching staff owns a 4.76 earned run average.

THE UALBANY COACH: Jon Mueller (14th season, Eckerd College ‘92)
Jon Mueller is in his 14th season as the head coach of the University at Albany baseball program. The Stillwater, N.Y. native has had proven success as both a player and coach throughout his career. Mueller ranks first among UAlbany’s career leaders with 299 coaching victories, and was named the America East Coach of the Year in 2004. He also led the Danes to the program’s first America East Conference tournament championship title and NCAA appearance in 2007. Mueller has produced dozens of all-conference standouts and has had six players selected in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft under his direction, including one in each of the past two seasons.

SCOUTING THE BLUE DEVILS (20-19, 10-10 Northeast Conference)
Central Connecticut comes off a pair of wins over Iona (3-0, 14-4) and have won six of their last 10 contests. The Blue Devils own a team .267 batting average led by Tyler McIntyre (.368) and Dylan Delacruz (.340). A pretty solid defensive group, CCSU boasts a .973 fielding percentage while the pitching staff has a 3.95 ERA.

THE COACH: Charlie Hickey (14th season, Connecticut, ‘87)
Head coach Charlie Hickey is in his 14th season at the helm of the Central Connecticut State University baseball program.  In his previous 13 seasons, the Blue Devils have won four Northeast Conference titles, and advanced to the NCAA Tournament is each of those seasons. Their most recent title came in 2010, when the Blue Devils put together the most productive offense season in school history, on their way to a 33-23 record. In his 14 seasons Hickey has posted a 212-141 record in NEC action. During that time Central Connecticut has posted a 389-318-4 overall record.  His record stands at 495-380-5 in 16 seasons at Providence and Central Connecticut.

With two hits last Wednesday night at Manhattan, senior Nolan Gaige became the University at Albany baseball program’s all-time hits leader, now totaling 234 in his four-year career. Gaige passed Michael Oliva (229: 1997-01) in the archives with his first hit of the night — a leadoff double in the top of the first. In addition, Gaige is UAlbany’s all-time triples leader with 15 in his career.

In the entire three-game series with UMBC, the Great Dane pitching staff and defense were outstanding, as no errors were committed. The pitchers held the opposition to a .129 batting average and boasted a miniscule 0.36 ERA, allowing just one run and 11 hits total. At the plate, UAlbany outscored the Retrievers 16-1 in the series, amassing 28 hits.

Junior Brian Bullard led UAlbany to a 4-0 week, including a conference series sweep over UMBC, as well as an 11-5 victory at Manhattan. Bullard batted .500 (7-for-14) with three runs batted in, five runs scored, and stole a base. The second baseman led the squad with an .857 slugging percentage, ripping two doubles and a home run. Bullard went 3-for-5 with three runs scored at Manhattan, and also logged a multi-hit game in the series opener vs. UMBC with a pair of two-baggers. Bullard sparked a four-run rally in the fifth inning with a leadoff double and broke the scoreless stalemate with what would be the winning run. In the nightcap, Bullard belted a two-run home run, giving the Danes a 4-0 advantage. The West Nyack, N.Y. native also tallied a hit in UAlbany’s 1-0 series finale win. On the season, Bullard owns a .310 batting average, while also hitting .313 in conference play.

Tossing a gem in UAlbany’s 5-0 win over UMBC, senior Kasceim Graham hurled a complete game two-hit shutout with four strikeouts in the seven-inning series opener. The Brooklyn, N.Y. native faced just four over the minimum and did not allow a single runner past first base. Graham held the Retrievers to a .087 batting average and recorded three perfect innings. Going the distance in the victory, Graham is now tied for third all-time at UAlbany with 247.2 innings pitched in his four-year career. The right-hander leads the Danes with six wins this spring, including four over America East opponents, while boasting a 2.82 ERA in conference play.

Freshman Ryan Stinar was composed under pressure, entering Sunday’s series finale with just a 1-0 lead, a runner on second, and only one out in the top of the ninth. However, the rookie forced a groundout to first and a fly out to left, preserving the win for UAlbany, while also recording his fifth save of the year. Stinar combined with starter Stephen Carey and reliever Andrew Jaurique for the shutout. Stinar also made an appearance in UAlbany’s 11-5 win at Manahttan, tossing the final two scoreless frames. In conference play this season, Stinar owns a 1-0 record with two saves and a 2.81 ERA.

In his last four outings on the mound, senior Austin Chase (5-3, 4.27 ERA) has earned the win. Most recently against UMBC, Chase went the distance and held the Retrievers to just one run and four hits, while striking out a career-high nine batters in UAlbany’s 10-1 victory. The gem marked the fourth complete game of his career. Previously, Chase earned straight wins over Hartford, St. John’s, and Marist.

The Great Danes are amidst an eight-game home stand that began with the three-game series against UMBC. UAlbany will host Central Connecticut for one on Tuesday, Maine for three next weekend, and Hofstra for one on May 8th.

Senior Nolan Gaige is UAlbany’s all-time leader for at-bats. Playing and starting in 194 games in his career (3rd all-time), Gaige — a mainstay in the leadoff spot — has recorded 758 career at-bats.

When UAlbany scores first, the Great Danes own a 16-5-1 record this spring. On the contrary, when UAlbany’s opponent gains the initial lead, UAlbany is 4-11.

UAlbany’s active career doubles leader redshirt junior Josh Nethaway has belted 39 in his three-year tenure. With 13 already this season, Nethaway is tied for fourth all-time at UAlbany. Teammate Nolan Gaige is not far behind with 34 career two-baggers.

UAlbany will welcome Maine for a three-game America East Conference series at Varsity Field Saturday and Sunday. The top two teams in the league standings will face off in a doubleheader beginning at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday and a single game Sunday, also at 1:00 p.m.

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