Baseball hits conference play

After trips to Louisiana, Florida and New Mexico to start the non-conference schedule, the baseball team begins conference play with a significantly shorter trip to UMBC.The Catamounts sit at 7-10 through their first 17 games, with wins over Central Michigan – picked to finish first in the Mid-American Conference West Division – IPFW, Bucknell and a double-header sweep against Bradley.UVM was swept by New Orleans, the defending Sun Belt Conference champion, in their season-opening series and also in their most recent series at New Mexico.During this opening stretch, UVM head coach Bill Currier was pleasantly surprised by how strong many of his younger players have been out of the gate.”I think the biggest surprise has certainly been our new players, either freshman or sophomores, who have comein and been really impressive with their offensive and defensive abilities,” Currier said.”Guys like Mark Micowski, Justin Milo, Matt Duffy and Ethan Paquette – these guys have provided key leadership in our offense.”Both Milo and Micowski earned honors in America East following the Cats’ trip to Florida over Spring Break.Milo was named America East Player of the week and Micowski was America East Rookie of the Week for the week of March 10.Catamount pitcher Joe Serafin was lauded a week earlier as the conference’s pitcher of the week.Through the first 17 games, Paquette is leading the team in batting, hitting at a .392 clip. Milo leads the team in total hits (22), runs scored (18) and is tied for the team lead in home runs (2) with senior Miguel Magrass. Magrass also leads the team in RBIs (15).Serafin, a junior, enters conference play with a 2-1 record and a 1.50 ERA, and will be a key factor in the Catamount pitching that Currier is hoping will disrupt UMBC’s hitters, who collectively sport the league’s highest batting average (.316).”We’re certainly looking to always take three out of four against our conference opponents. “[UMBC] have been scoring a lot of runs and we’re anxious to see how they’ll do against our pitchers, and hopefully we can keep hitting the ball,” Currier said.After a 10-9 loss on April 4, the Cats routed UMBC in a double-header last Saturday, winning by a combined score of 21-6.The Cats used four home runs, including a grand slam by senior Kyle Massie, to take the first game going away,17-4. The second game of the twinbill was closer, but led by a strong performance from senior Eric Thompson, who allowed just five hits in a complete game, UVM won 4-2.The Cats ended the series win with a 13-5 win on Sunday behind a 5-for-6 day at the plate from Milo and a four-RBI game from senior first baseman Kyle Henry.