Baseball Heads To Lowell For America East Tournament

AMERICA EAST TOURNAMENT CENTRAL  I  UALBANY GAME NOTES  I  BRACKET  I  TWITTER

ALBANY, N.Y. -- The University at Albany baseball team hopes history will repeat itself this week when the squad heads to Lowell, Mass. for the four-team, double-elimination style America East Conference Tournament, which runs May 22-24 at LeLacheur Park. The No. 3 seeded Great Danes will face the No. 2 seeded Binghamton Bearcats in the first round Wednesday at 8:00 p.m., following the clash between No. 1 Maine and No. 4 Stony Brook. UAlbany will be making its eighth appearance in the tournament having won the title once before – 2007 – which was also the last time the Great Danes were seeded third.

CATCH THE ACTION
All first and second round games will be streamed live through AmericaEast.com and the championship contest will be aired on ESPN3. Fans can also follow through live stats and interact on Twitter using the hashtag #AEChamps. Prior to the start of play, the America East will host a Google+ hangout with each of the four teams in participating in the 2013 baseball championship on Tuesday afternoon at 5:10 p.m. ET. The hangout can be viewed live on the conference’s Google+ or YouTube pages.

BEARCAT BATTLE
Quite familiar with one another, Binghamton and UAlbany come off last weekend’s three-game series in which Binghamton won 2-of-3 at UAlbany’s Varsity Field. UAlbany has played the Bearcats eight times in conference tournament history, leading the series with a 5-3 record. In first round games, they have met twice with an even 1-1 record, including Binghamton’s 2-1 win in last year’s tournament at Stony Brook.

SCOUTING THE GREAT DANES (23-23-1, 16-14 America East)
The Great Danes come off a 1-2 weekend against Binghamton, in which the Bearcats edged UAlbany, 3-2 in extras (9 inn.) in game one. The Danes rallied to win game two, 5-4, before falling 10-3 in Sunday’s Senior Day rubber match. With an arsenal of bats in the lineup, UAlbany ranks second in the league with a collective .278 batting average, as well as hitting .288 against conference opponents. Junior Josh Nethaway (.324), senior Nolan Gaige (.315), and senior Greg Muller (.311) lead the way. Defensively, the Great Danes own a .970 fielding percentage and a collective 5.03 ERA.

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 302 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 BEARCATS (27-22, 16-13 America East)
Taking 2-of-3 against UAlbany in the regular season finale, Binghamton clinched second place in the standings. The Bearcats boast the best fielding percentage in the league -- .974 – while the pitching staff owns a 3.85 ERA, good for second behind Maine. Offensively, Binghamton is batting a collective .263 average led by sophomore Jake Thomas, who owns the conference’s best average (.374) and junior Daniel Nevares (.325).

THE BEARCAT COACH: Tim Sinicki (21st season, Western Carolina ’88)
Tim Sinicki has been named the America East Coach of the Year four times in the last eight seasons (2005, 2007, 2009, 2010), leading Binghamton to four straight regular season conference titles from 2007-10. Sinicki began his collegiate playing career as a freshman all-conference pitcher at Binghamton in 1985. One year later, he was named to the All-Region III team while pitching at nearby Broome Community College, where he was tabbed by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the Major League Baseball amateur draft. He finished his playing career at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, N.C., where the Catamounts captured back-to-back Southern Conference titles and competed in the NCAA Division I Championship both seasons. In his 21st season at the helm, Sinicki owns a 458-465-6 all-time record.

2013 AMERICA EAST TOURNAMENT
Announced by the league office March 6th, the America East Conference will take its 2013 baseball championship to LeLacheur Park in Lowell, Mass., home of Boston Red Sox Single A affiliate Lowell Spinners. The state of the art facility was tabbed to host the entire championship, marking the first time it has been held at a predetermined minor-league facility since 2001.

UALBANY IN THE AMERICA EAST TOURNAMENT
The Great Danes will compete in the America East Tournament for the fifth straight season and eighth time since 2004. UAlbany has won the tournament once – as the No. 3 seed in 2007. The Great Danes advanced to the NCAA Regional in Fayetteville, Ark. where faced Arkansas (9-0, L) and Creighton (21-11, L). UAlbany has been seeded third twice before, owning a 4-2 record.

Year

Seed

Tournament Finish

2013

TBD

TBD

2012

#2

4th

2011

#4

2nd

2010

#4

2nd

2009

#2

2nd

2007

#3

1st

2006

#4

4th

2004

#3

3rd


SENIOR DAY
Prior to UAlbany’s final home game and series finale versus Binghamton last Saturday, the Great Danes honored the squad’s eight seniors -- Luke Burns, Austin Chase, Brian Gauthier, Kasceim Graham, Nolan Gaige, Greg Muller, Jeff Welsh, and Derek Zielinski. As a class, the seniors have led UAlbany to an appearance every year in the America East Conference Tournament, including three runner-up finishes, as well as a 67-55 overall conference record.

STREAKING TRACY
Sophomore third baseman Joey Tracy entered last weekend with a 15-game hitting streak, marking UAlbany’s longest streak since 2008 when Ryan Gugel and Brendan Rawland both hit in 15 consecutive games. Unfortunately, it was snapped in the first clash with Binghamton. The longest hitting streak in UAlbany’s Division I history is 18 games, set by Kirt Zimniewicz in 2004. During the streak, Tracy raised his batting average 174 points. He currently owns a .250 average on the season and .322 against conference foes. While Tracy’s hitting streak was snapped, his on-base streak continues at 17. In addition to Tracy, Nolan Gaige has reached successfully in 25 straight games and Greg Muller 19. 

TRIPLE THREAT
Senior Nolan Gaige currently ranks 11th among NCAA Division I players for triples per game this spring. Gaige, who is UAlbany’s all-time career leader in three-baggers (17) has ripped a league-high six triples this season (0.13/game).

DOUBLE TROUBLE
UAlbany’s active career doubles leader redshirt junior Josh Nethaway has belted 43 in his three-year tenure, ranking third all-time in program history. With 17 this season, Nethaway is tied for third all-time in a single season. Against America East opponents this spring, the Fonda, N.Y. native has ripped 13 two-baggers, leading the league.

GAIGE’S RECORD-BREAKING HITS
With two hits against Manhattan on April 24th, senior Nolan Gaige became the University at Albany baseball program’s all-time hits leader, now totaling 247 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 17 in his career, ranks second for runs scored (163), and is tied for sixth for doubles (35).

AT-BATS KING
Nolan Gaige is UAlbany’s all-time leader for at-bats. Playing and starting in 204 games in his career (2nd all-time), Gaige -- a mainstay in the leadoff spot -- has recorded 794 career at-bats.

BALL MAGNET
Senior Greg Muller has been hit by a pitch 16 times this season, which leads the conference and ranks 34th in the nation, getting beaned 0.34 times per game. When Muller is not taking one for the team, the senior is driving in runs, as he leads the squad and ranks second in the America East with 38 RBI.

STINAR’S FINE START
Freshman Ryan Stinar made his fourth career start on the mound last Friday after proving to be one of the top closers in the conference. Making 14 appearances, including 10 in relief, Stinar has logged a team-high five saves, which also ranks second in the America East. In his first career start on March 24th, Stinar led UAlbany to a 5-2 victory over UMBC, which also captured the series for the Great Danes. Stinar went six strong innings, yielding no earned runs, four hits (all singles), while striking out three. Since then, the rookie also started vs. Maine (3/31) and Stony Brook (4/7), and Binghamton (5/17) but went without a decision in all. Stinar is 1-0 on the season with a 3.71 ERA.

WINNING IS CONTAGIOUS
UAlbany athletic teams have won a school-record nine conference championships this academic year, and baseball will look to join the club this week. Championships were already won in football, field hockey, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, men’s indoor track & field, women’s indoor track & field, men’s outdoor track & field, women’s outdoor track & field, and men’s lacrosse. The Great Danes have now captured 66 conference championships and have made 27 NCAA Tournament appearances since going Division I.

EARLY START SUCCESS
When UAlbany scores first, the Great Danes own a 17-8-1 record this spring. On the contrary, when UAlbany’s opponent gains the initial lead, UAlbany is 6-15.

MR. 300
Head coach Jon Mueller earned his 300th career coaching victory May 4th at Varsity Field, as the Great Danes split the conference twinbill with the University of Maine. While the Black Bears won game one, 8-6, UAlbany rallied to triumph, 4-3, in the nightcap. Mueller is in his 14th season at the helm and ranks first in UAlbany baseball coaching victories with a 302-406-5 record.

PROJECTED STARTING PITCHER SUMMARIES
GAME 1: Kasceim Graham, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., is also in his fourth season with the Great Danes. Kasceim has been a key piece of the UAlbany pitching staff, as he ranks third all-time with 258 and a third innings pitched in his career. Making 50 appearances on the mound, Kasceim has totaled 14 wins, a 4.74 ERA, a save, and 152 strikeouts in four seasons and was named to the 2011 America East all-tournament team This season, he leads the Great Danes with a 7-4 record and 3.93 earned run average in 12 starts, including a two-hit complete-game shutout over UMBC.

GAME 2: Austin Chase, a native of East Greenbush, N.Y., is in his fifth season with the Great Danes, serving as a key member of the UAlbany pitching staff throughout his career. Austin has made 50 appearances on the mound, including 30 starts, accruing a 13-12 overall record and 5.40 earned run average, as well as recording 118 strikeouts and three saves. He has been named the America East Pitcher of the Week twice in his career, including once this season after a complete-game versus Maine, and was a second-team all-conference pick in 2012. This spring, Austin boasts a 6-4 record and 3.97 ERA with 54 strikeouts and three complete games.