Baseball Travels To No. 5 South Carolina For Three

Game Notes: UAlbany I South Carolina

ALBANY, N.Y. - The University at Albany baseball team meets No. 5 South Carolina for the first time in program history, playing a three-game series at Carolina Stadium Feb. 22-24. The SEC powerhouse won the NCAA Division I Baseball Championship in 2010 and 2011, and finished 2012 as the nation's runner-up. The Great Danes look to rebound from an 0-2 start at the Ron Fraser Classic, played in Cary, N.C. last weekend. Due to snow, UAlbany's games vs. Toledo, Wright State, and Delaware were cancelled.

Live Stats:
Radio: Gamecock Radio Network Flagship WNKT FM 107.5 Columbia
Twitter@UAlbanySports and @DanesBaseball

Friday - 3:30 p.m.
South Carolina - Jordan Mo
ntgomery (So. LHP) 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 6.0 IP, 2 BB, 5 SO
UAlbany - Kasceim Graham (Sr. RHP)

Saturday - 1:30 p.m.
South Carolina - Colby Holmes (Sr. RHP) 0-0, 2.84 ERA, 6.1 IP, 2 BB, 4 SO
UAlbany - Derek Zielinski (Sr. RHP) 0-1, 6.75 ERA, 4.0 IP, 3 BB, 6 SO

Sunday - 1:30 p.m.
South Carolina - Nolan Belcher (Sr. LHP) 0-1, 4.76 ERA, 5.2 IP, 1 BB, 9 SO
UAlbany - Austin Chase (Sr. RHP) 0-1, 15.75 ERA, 4.0 IP, 2 BB, 3 SO

Ranked in every college baseball publication in the preseason, South Carolina is No. 5 in the USA Today coaches' poll, and No. 7 in Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball. The Gamecocks come off a 2-1 series versus Liberty with all three games being decided by a single run. The hosts won the first two contests by scores of 4-3 and 8-7, while dropping the third to Liberty, 3-2.

With a strong lineup, four South Carolina players earned Louisville Slugger Preseason All-America honors by Collegiate Baseball, including sophomore catcher Grayson Greiner, senior left-handed pitcher Tyler Webb, senior right-handed pitcher Col­by Holmes and sophomore left-handed pitcher Jordan Montgomery. The Great Danes are scheduled to face Montgomery on the mound Friday and Holmes Saturday.

THE COACH: Chad Holbrook (1st season, North Carolina, '94)
After serving four seasons as associate head coach, Chad Holbrook was promoted to the top spot this past July and enters his first season at the helm. Holbrook came to the Gamecock program in 2008 after serving 15 seasons as a member of the University of North Carolina coaching staff. Holbrook was honored as the 2011 ABCA/Baseball America Assistant Coach of the Year and was named the No. 10 best recruiter in all of college sports by ESPNU & ESPN The Magazine in the publication's 2011 January edition.

Expecting a warm southern trip to Cary, N.C. last weekend, the Great Danes ran into snow flurries and inclement weather, forcing the Saturday and Sunday games to be cancelled. UAlbany, originally scheduled to play single games versus Canisius, Toledo, Wright State, and Delaware, ended up playing a doubleheader against the Golden Griffins Friday, knowing the weekend looked bleak. In both games, the Griffs took the lead first and never lost it, as the Great Danes fell 8-2 and 12-4 in the season-opening contests.

Facing No. 5/7 South Carolina, the last time the Great Danes took on a ranked opponent was in 2012's season-opening series against No. 12 Miami. Almost exactly a year ago, UAlbany fell to the Hurricanes, 15-4 (2/24), 11-1 (2/25), and 12-5 (2/26).

Gordon Madej, an America East All-Rookie Team selection in 2012, led UAlbany with a .444 average (4-for-9) with two runs scored against Canisius. Madej also lined an RBI double, while starting both games at shortstop.

Carried over from last season, senior centerfielder Nolan Gaige enters the weekend on a six-game hitting streak. Gaige finished 2012 hitting in four straight contests and then tallied one each in the games against Canisius. In addition, Gaige has reached base in 12 consecutive games.

Nolan Gaige is currently tied for first in UAlbany's record book with 11 career triples. One more and Gaige will become the all-time leader.

While UAlbany saw limited innings in the first weekend, the Great Danes pitching staff was given the opportunity to shake the nerves, as seven arms saw action. LeMoyne College transfer Derek Zielinski tossed four innings, allowed six hits, three earned runs, three walks, and struck out six, while taking the loss in his Great Dane debut. Out of the bullpen, junior transfer from Merced College Andrew Jaurique (1.2 IP, 0 ER, 3 H) and freshmen Brendan Ryan (1 IP, 1 ER, 1 H, 1 BB, 3 SO) and Ryan Stinar (2.1 IP, 3 ER, 1 H, 1 BB, 1 SO) also made first appearances in a UAlbany uniform.  Returners junior Kevin Archbold, senior Austin Chase, and sophomore Joey Moore also saw time on the hill.

2012 UALBANY SEASON SUMMARY (22-32-1, 16-8 America East)
In 2012, UAlbany earned the No. 2 seed in the America East Championship, recording the highest total league wins in the program's Division I history with a 16-8 record. Seven earned all-conference honors, highlighted by first-teamers Mike Tirri and Nolan Gaige, as Gaige finished the season ranked third in the nation for triples (9). In addition, left-handed pitcher Sean Lucas was chosen in the 25th round of the Major League Baseball Draft by the Cincinnati Reds, marking the highest draft choice from the UAlbany program since 2002, and the eighth player in UAlbany history to be selected.

The Great Danes return 20 from a season ago, including eight starting position players. UAlbany added 10 newcomers to the mix, including Derek Zielinski, a redshirt senior transfer from LeMoyne College who is expected to make an immediate impact in the pitching rotation. UAlbany was picked to finish fourth in the America East preseason coaches' poll.

THE COACH: Jon Mueller (14th season, Eckerd College, '92)
Jon Mueller enters his 14th season as the head coach of the University at Albany baseball program in 2013. 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 279 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.

D.J. Hoagboon, Josh Nethaway, Greg Muller, and Jeff Welsh were named team captains for the 2013 baseball season.

UAlbany heads to UNCG to play a three-game series March 1-3 in Greensboro, N.C.



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