In 2016, the UMBC baseball team stumbled out of the gate. They lost nine of their first 11 games, surrendering four or more runs in 10 of them. The Retrievers’ bats found life after that, going 26-14 the rest of the way and finished with a winning record. Their 2017 mirrored last years slow start, beginning the year 2-9, but much like 2016, the Retrievers have turned a corner.
The team has gone 7-4 over their last 11 games. During that stretch, they have outscored opponents 77-59. Just like last season, the offense played a substantial role in the team’s resurgence. In these 11 games, the Retrievers scored four or more runs seven times, including 19 and 14 run explosions against Mount Saint Mary’s University and a 12 run output at Binghamton University on Sunday. UMBC batted .299 through their 11 game onslaught with 23 doubles and five home runs. UMBC’s impressive offensive display lifted their team slash line to .283/.356/.371.
UMBC’s pitchers stepped their game up as well. The team allowed three runs or less in five of the last 11 games. In their first 11 games, the Retrievers accomplished that feat once. Retrievers pitchers still have a 6.38 ERA, so there is still plenty of room to improve.
In their recent surge, several key players have emerged. Among them, junior infielder/pitcher Jamie Switalski and junior outfielder Collin Stack. Switalski currently leads the team with a .427 on base percentage and 16 walks. Over the past 11 games, he has a .366 average with three doubles and six driven in. Stack has reached safely in eight of the last 11 games, batting .297 in the process with two doubles and 11 batted in. The Jamestown, New York native now leads the Retrievers with 16 RBI’s and is tied for the team lead with 26 hits.
Another stand-out, senior catcher Hunter Dolshun, has batted .378 over the past nine games with two home runs and 10 RBI’s. The elder statesman of the club recorded a hit in eight of the 10 games he played during this stretch. He currently leads the team with a .356 average and a .542 slugging percentage in 17 games.
While the team has righted the ship at the plate, consistency at the mound is still under construction. Even with their improved performances over the last week and a half, teams are still raking against the Retrievers. As of Sunday, opponents slash .342/.399/.420 against Retrievers while walking 4.05 times per nine innings.
However, they have the chance to turn things around over the next couple of weeks, as they don’t play a team with a winning record until Apr. 22-23 at home against the University of Massachusetts Lowell. If Retrievers pitch as well as they have hit over the past week, there is plenty of hope of finishing another season strong.