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Baseball To Close Out March In Maine

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Baseball To Close Out March In Maine

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ALBANY, N.Y. – In the young season, the University at Albany (7-11, 3-3) baseball squad will look to make major strides in the America East standings this weekend, facing Maine in a three-game conference series. UAlbany is currently in a four-way tie for second-place behind league-leader Maine (13-13, 4-2). Due to poor field conditions in Albany, the series originally scheduled to be home for the Great Danes will be played in Orono, Maine.

Sat. March 30, 1 p.m.
Cameron Sorgie (Albany) 1-1, 3.90 ERA vs. Tommy Lawrence (Maine) 3-2, 2.28 ERA

Sat. March 30, 4 p.m.
Kasceim Graham (Albany) 3-2, 3.25 ERA vs. AJ Bazdanes (Maine) 2-3, 3.86 ERA

Sun., March 31, 1 p.m.
TBA (Albany) vs. TBA (Maine)

SCOUTING THE BLACK BEARS (13-13, 4-2 America East)
Maine comes off two conference series wins over Stony Brook (2-1) and Hartford (2-1). Most recently, the Black Bears sandwiched two victories against the Hawks, winning game one, 9-3, and the game three rubber match, 7-2. Hartford stole a 7-6 nine-inning victory in the schedule seven frame game two. Offensively, Maine ranks second in the conference with a collective .282 batting average led by Brian Dorian (.346), Troy Black (.333), Colin Gay (.327), Michael Fransoso (.327), and Sam Balzano (.308). The Black Bear pitching staff leads the America East with a 4.23 team earned run average, while the defense owns a .964 fielding percentage.

THE BLACK BEAR COACH: Steve Trimper (Eighth season, East Connecticut State, ’92)
During his time at Maine, Trimper has led the Black Bears to a pair of NCAA Regional appearance in 2006 and most-recently in 2011. He has coached 16 players that have been selected in the MLB draft, including seven during his time at Maine and nine while coaching at Manhattan. He has also held coaching positions at Vermont and Wentworth College. Trimper played baseball for three years at Eastern Connecticut State University and was a member of the Warriors’ 1990 NCAA Division III National Championship team.

SCOUTING THE GREAT DANES (7-11, 3-3 America East)
UAlbany comes off a midweek doubleheader split at Cornell, the reigning Ivy League champion. The Great Danes brought Cornell’s seven-game win streak to a screeching halt as UAlbany captured a 4-1 victory in game one of the day’s doubleheader. The Big Red (12-6), however, edged UAlbany, 5-4, with a walk-off home run in the nightcap to split the non-conference twin bill. In league play, the Danes come off a series win at UMBC. UAlbany was edged, 4-3, in game one but rallied to win 13-1 and 5-2 in the final two contests. On the season, UAlbany is batting .255 collectively led by Matt Hinchy (.385), Evan Harasta (.364), Nolan Gaige (.294), and Jeff Welsh (.292). Defensively, the squad owns a .963 fielding percentage, while the pitching staff has a combined 5.46 ERA and 139 strikeouts.

THE GREAT DANE 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 286 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.

UAlbany looks to make ground in the all-time series with Maine, as the Black Bears own a slight advantage, 28-24, dating back to 2002. In their last meeting, Maine eliminated the Danes from the America East Tournament with an 8-3 victory. In the regular season, UAlbany captured both series, winning four of six games. Great Dane seniors Jeff Welsh and Nolan Gaige have had lucrative at-bats against the Black Bears in their careers. In 16 games, Welsh owns a .289 (13-45) career batting average against the Maine pitching staff, including eight runs, two doubles, two triples, two home runs, eight RBI, and a .556 slugging percentage. In Gaige’s 20 games played versus Maine, he boasts a .288 (21-73) average, 12 runs, three doubles, a triple, two home runs, nine RBI, and a .438 slugging percentage.

Freshman catcher Evan Harasta had his best game yet in a Great Dane uniform, going 3-for-3 with three runs batted in and his first career home run in UAlbany’s 4-1 win over Cornell. The rookie accounted for half of his team’s hits in the victory. Fellow catcher, sophomore Craig Lepre, finished a triple shy of the cycle in the nightcap, as he went 3-for-3 with two runs batted in and three runs scored. With two outs in the sixth, Lepre belted a two-run home run, marking the first in his collegiate career, while also giving UAlbany a temporary lead.

Senior outfielder Nolan Gaige was selected as the America East Player of the Week, announced by the conference office Monday. Gaige (East Greenbush, N.Y.) led UAlbany to a series victory over conference foe UMBC, batting .500 with a conference-best five RBI, three triples, three runs scored, and stole one base in one attempt. With his first triple of the weekend, Gaige became the program’s all-time leader, belting 14 in his career. His seven hits in the series also moved Gaige into fourth place all-time at Albany with 210 career hits. Going 3-for-5 with two triples, three runs batted in and two runs scored in game two, Gaige led the Great Danes to a 13-1 victory and also played a key role in UAlbany’s 5-2 rubber match win, scoring a run. Gaige had hits in all three games, including a pair of three-hit performances. The Player of the Week honor marked the first for UAlbany’s squad this season, and the first for Gaige in his career.

Kasceim Graham, Sr., RHP, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Bishop Ford)
Kasceim Graham limited the Retrievers to just three hits total in UAlbany’s 13-1 victory Saturday. Graham (3-2) earned the win, allowing one run and three hits in seven innings, while striking out three. On the season, the senior leads the pitching staff with three wins and a 3.25 ERA.

Ryan Stinar, Fr., RHP, Forest Hill, Md. (North Harford)
In his first career start, freshman Ryan Stinar led the University at Albany baseball team to a 5-2 victory over UMBC Sunday afternoon at Alumni Field. The win captured the series for the Great Danes and evened their conference record to 3-3. Earning the win on the mound, Stinar (1-0) went six strong innings, yielding no earned runs, four hits (all singles), while striking out three. Stinar also leads the squad with two saves in his rookie season.

The combined 15 strikeouts by the UAlbany pitching staff at NYIT tied the program’s Division I era record for K’s in a game. The last time the Great Danes totaled 15 strikeouts was on May 7, 2005 in a 13-inning contest at Hartford. UAlbany used five hurlers in the 11-9 extra-inning victory. March 11th’s feat at NYIT marked a DI record for nine-inning games. Kasceim Graham (10), Cameron Sorgie (4) and closer Ryan Stinar (1) combined for 15 strikeouts in game one, while Derek Zielinski (7) and Austin Chase (6) recorded 13 strikeouts in the combined shutout against NYIT, totaling 28 K’s in the twin bill.

UAlbany has had seven games cancelled so far this spring due to inclement weather. Contests scheduled versus Toledo, Wright State and Delaware were all cancelled at the Ron Fraser Classic in Cary, N.C.  due to snow. Hofstra was nixed because of rain, two of the four-game series at NYIT were cancelled because of poor weather, and UAlbany’s home-opener vs. Marist was postponed due to snow.

UAlbany looks to finally host a home game Tuesday versus non-conference opponent Fordham. The Great Danes are also slated to host America East foe Stony Brook next weekend, April 6-7, for a three-game series.

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