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UMBC walks off to win America East crown

It’s a dream scenario kids imagine they are in when they are playing baseball in their backyards: bases loaded in extra innings with the game tied and a chance to win the championship.

That is what junior catcher Zack Bright faced in Lowell, Massachusetts when he was up to bat in the 10th inning against the Maine Black Bears. The UMBC Retrievers were tied 1-1 with bases loaded. But there were two outs, leaving him with zero room for error. So instead of swinging for the fences, Bright took a brilliant approach. He took the first pitch for ball one, then the second pitch for ball two. With a tremendous hitter’s count, he did not have to force anything and ended up taking ball three.

The fourth pitch was also a ball and brought home the winning run to give the Retrievers the 2017 America East Championship, the baseball team’s first championship since winning the Northeast Conference crown in 2001.

“What an amazing baseball game. I couldn’t be happier for the team and our seniors who worked hard for four years for a moment like this,” head coach Bob Mumma said. “Like we have been telling the kids all year, it’s about the process and we kept fighting the whole way. We saved our best baseball for the tournament and the camaraderie of this group showed this week.”

Bright also had one hit in the game, but it was a collective effort by the pitching staff that led the way to the championship. Mitchell Wilson allowed just one run in 4.2 innings pitched and Connor Staskey allowed only four hits in 3.1 shutout innings. Ultimately, Jacob Christian got the victory as he allowed only one hit and did not give up a run in two innings of work.

Maine scored in the first inning of the game on a sacrifice fly by Christopher Bec that brought Jeremy Pena in. Pena was 4-for-5 in the game with his run while hitting leadoff. Maine’s number two hitter, left fielder Lou Della Fera, was also hot hitting and went 3-for-4, but the meat of the Black Bear’s order was shut down and did not allow those two to do much damage. Maine’s three, four, and five hitters collectively went just 2-for-13 in the game.

UMBC tied the game in the fourth inning when Christian Torres hit a sac fly of his own to bring Jamie Switalski in for the score.

The game would not feature another run until extra innings when UMBC walked off.

Maine nearly scored a go-ahead run in the seventh inning when Pena bolted from third base to home, but the infield hit to third base did not give him enough time to reach home plate as Torres’ throw made it to catcher Hunter Dolshun for the tag at the plate.

UMBC went three-up, three-down in both the seventh and ninth innings and stranded one man on first base in the eighth inning, but they still refused to change their patient approach at the plate and it paid off in the 10th inning.

Mitchell Carroll took the lead-off walk and if baseball as proven anything it is that lead-off walks hurt. Andre Casali moved Carroll over to second base with a sacrifice bunt. AJ Wright then grounded out, but it moved Carroll over to third base.

After Switalski walked, Dolshun was intentionally walked to try to force the play at any plate, but Bright walked with bases loaded for the walk-off UMBC win.

Dolshun was named the America East Tournament Most Oustanding Player after finishing the weekend 6-for-11 with three runs, one double and one RBI.

UMBC have clinched a berth in the NCAA Tournament and will learn where they will play when the tournament is announced tomorrow, Monday, May 29 at noon on ESPN 2.

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Corey Johns

Editor in Chief
You could say Corey was born to become a sports journalist. His father won a national championship coaching college soccer. His mother is a baseball fanatic who hasn't missed seeing an Orioles game since 1983 (literally, sometimes it's annoying). His great uncle was a big-time boxing promoter and his maternal grandfather was once a department head at the Baltimore Sun. Basically, sports and journalism run through his blood. He played just about every little league sports there was when he was a kid and was a multi-sport athlete in high school; even playing in the first-ever high school sanction Rugby game in the country. Eventually he retired from sports as an undefeated Maryland state Rugby champion as a high school senior. Perhaps lack of athletic talent has more to do with the retirement, but he will tell you that it more had to do with a great desire to jump right into media. Upon his graduation from University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a triple communications major, Corey started the So Much Sports network and has continued to grow his websites and continues to work to make them premier sports media outlets.

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