FROM CBD NEWS SOURCE
AKRON, Ohio – Four teams that competed in the NCAA tournament last season and the annual Diamond Classic for the Kids at Canal Park in downtown Akron highlight the 2014 University of Akron baseball schedule, third-year head coach Rick Rembielak announced.
“As we prepare for our third year, we feel we’ve put together another challenging and exciting pre-conference schedule,” Rembielak said. “It consists of strong opponents, including Austin Peay and St. Louis, who were conference champions and NCAA Regional participants this past season. Cincinnati has a new coach, and that will be a very exciting intrastate series for us.”
The Zips open the season with a three-game series against Winthrop in Rock Hill, S.C., on Feb. 14-16.
Following the opener, Akron heads to Durham, N.C., as part of the Duke Round Robin Tournament, which includes matchups against St. Louis (Feb. 21), LaSalle (Feb. 22) and Duke (Feb. 23).
“Duke is a program on the rise in the highly-competitive Atlantic Coast Conference,” Rembielak said.
The Zips will continue their season-opening road swing with three-game series at Delaware State (Feb. 28-March 2), Austin Peay (March 7-9), and Cincinnati (March 14-16). Austin Peay finished 26th in the RPI last season, and owned a 47-15 overall record.
The Zips will begin playing midweek games with a matchup at Ohio State on March 18, before coming back to Akron for their home opener against Pittsburgh on March 19 at Lee R. Jackson Field. UA defeated Pitt, a team that was 42-17 last season, in their previous meeting between the two by a score of 6-1.
Also on the Zips midweek schedule at home is Malone (March 26), Canisius (April 2), Marshall (April 15), Youngstown State (April 22), and Wright State (April 23). The games against Canisius, YSU, and WSU will be played at Canal Park in downtown Akron, the home of the Cleveland Indians’ Double-A affiliate the Akron Rubber Ducks.
Akron will take to the road for midweek games at Wright State (March 25), Marshall (April 1), Pittsburgh (April 8), Canisius (April 9), Western Michigan (April 16) and Youngstown State (April 29). The matchup against WMU will be played in Avon, Ohio at All Pro Freight Stadium, the home of the Lake Erie Crushers of the Frontier League and Mid-American Conference Tournament.
“Our midweek games also will have great challenges for us with Pittsburgh and Canisius, who advanced to postseason play last year, and Big Ten member, Ohio State,” Rembielak said. “Our goal for non-conference games is to prepare our club for the rigors of MAC play.”
UA will open the league schedule at home this season against Eastern Michigan on March 21-23. The Zips are on the road for back-to-back weekends with three-game series slated at Toledo (March 28-30) and Miami (Ohio) (April 4-6).
“I have the utmost respect for all the coaches in the MAC and each program presents their own challenges. There is not a series we’ll play where we won’t be able to play anything except our very best baseball,” Rembielak said. “In order to be the best in this conference, we need to perform at a high level each game and need to maintain consistency throughout the entire year.”
Following the series at Miami, Akron comes home for consecutive weekends, as three-game sets are scheduled against Ohio (April 11-13) and Bowling Green (April 18-20). BGSU won the MAC Tournament last season, and advanced to the NCAA Regionals.
UA wraps up the month of April with a weekend series at Buffalo (April 25-27), which went 19-7 versus the conference last season. After that trip, the Zips will play their final home series of the season against Ball State on May 2-4.
Akron will compete at Northern Illinois on May 9-11, before facing neighborhood rival Kent State on May 15-17 as part of the PNC Wagon Wheel Challenge to close out the regular season. The first game of the set will be the annual Diamond Classic for the Kids at Canal Park benefitting the Akron Children’s Hospital at 6:30 p.m. The other two games will be held on the KSU campus.
All weekend home games will be held at Lee R. Jackson Field.
The 2014 MAC Tournament will be played May 21-24 at All Pro Freight Stadium in Avon, Ohio.