UIC Baseball Set to Begin 66th Season on Friday|
Feb. 13, 2014
CHICAGO – The 66th season for UIC baseball will commence on Friday afternoon as the Flames travel to Beaumont, Texas to compete against Marist and host Lamar. UIC will play Marist on Friday at 2 p.m. CT. and then again on Saturday morning, finishing off with a pair of contests versus Lamar on Saturday and Sunday afternoon.
The 2014 edition of UIC baseball showcases a balanced mixture of 19 returnees and 15 newcomers. The Flames will once again be spearheaded by head coach Mike Dee who enters his 16th season at UIC, the longest-tenured head coach in the Horizon League. Dee sits just 30 wins shy of the coveted 500-win mark, holding a career coaching record of 470-364-1. The all-time record for most wins by a Flames’ head coach is 509 by Les Miller who managed the dugout for 31 years.
Last season, the Flames tied-for-second in the Horizon League standings with a record of 13-11, which marked the 12th occurrence in the past 14 years UIC has finished within the top two spots. Expectations remain high for 2014 as notable prognosticators such as Perfect Game USA and College Baseball Daily picked UIC as the Horizon League’s preseason favorite. Baseball America and the League’s Preseason Coaches’ Poll tabbed the Flames second.
“We have a great group of guys this year and we’re excited to get started,” said Dee. “We return some great leadership and we’ll combine that with tremendous incoming talent. Our competitive non-conference schedule is something we look to do every year and should prepare us for the rigors of Horizon League play.”
Aside from the start of the 2014 season, the Flames’ players and staff along with the Chicago community anxiously await the grand opening of Curtis Granderson Stadium which has been set for April 17. Granderson, a former UIC All-American and current New York Met, graciously announced his pledge for the multi-million dollar facility at his Flames’ jersey retirement ceremony last February. The stadium will serve as the backbone for a city-wide youth initiative that is set to benefit thousands of children in the Windy City. Chief partners in the project include Major League Baseball, Chicago Public Schools, University administration and numerous youth league organizations in Chicago. Construction for the stadium has been underway since the ground-breaking ceremony on Sept. 17.
Leading a bullpen of highly-touted pitchers is junior right-hander Tomas Michelson, a 2013 All-Horizon League First Team honoree. Baseball America and College Sports Madness have selected him as the Preseason Pitcher of the Year in the conference. Last season, Michelson ranked first in the HL in innings pitched and ranked second in ERA and strikeouts. Sophomore Ian Lewandowski looks to take his game to the next level after earning a spot on the conference’s All-Newcomer Team in 2013. During his first collegiate season, Lewandowski limited opposing batters to an average of .260 and compiled a record of 5-3. Another sophomore looking to make an impact will be Jack Andersen. The righty tossed 53 innings last year with a 4-5 record and three saves. Junior closer Alex Posey returns after racking up 19 strikeouts in 24 innings last season, while earning three saves. Seniors Mike Schoolcraft, Collin Weyer and Charlie Weinberg will certainly provide valuable depth and experience to the Flames’ bullpen.