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Joe Popielarczyk's 2012 Atlantic 10 Pitcher of the Year!
UMass senior right-hander Joe Popielarczyk's 2012 Atlantic 10 Pitcher of the Year honor highlighted the Minutemen's A-10 postseason accolades. Popielarczyk was also tabbed First Team All-Atlantic 10 and Academic All-Conference and joins Matt Torra (2005) and Jay Murphy (1995) as the third Minuteman in program history to be recognized as A-10 Pitcher of the Year.
Head Coach: UMASS
Since his hiring as head coach in 1988, Stone has led the Minutemen to eight Atlantic 10 regular season titles, two Atlantic 10 Tournament crowns and two NCAA Tournament appearances. He has also guided the Minutemen to the championship of the Beanpot Baseball Classic four times in the last nine seasons. Respected as one of the nation's elite coaches, Stone became the all-time winningest coach in UMass history when the Minutemen swept a doubleheader from Saint Joseph's on May 8, 2001. In 2004, he won his 500th career game on March 7, when the Minutemen defeated Rider in the first game of a doubleheader, 6-5. Last season, Stone won his 500th game as UMass skipper on April 7 in a 5-4 victory over Rhode Island.
The 1996 season marked the most successful year in school history, as Stone guided UMass to its third straight Atlantic 10 Conference regular season championship and a second straight Atlantic 10 Tournament crown. The Minutemen advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive year, reaching the East Regional finals and winning the school's first NCAA Tournament game since 1969. UMass finished the season on a 25-4 run, including a school record 18-game winning streak, (which was best in the nation) and posted 40 wins for the first time in school history.
In 1995, Stone led the Minutemen to their first NCAA Championship berth since 1978, while the team won 38 games, second-most in school history. In addition to claiming the Atlantic 10 regular season title, UMass won its first Atlantic 10 Tournament crown since 1980.
Assistant Coach: UMASS
Before coming to UMass, Sweeney had been the pitching coach for Amherst College for four years, where he worked closely under world-renowned pitching "guru" Bill Thurston. At Amherst, his duties included instructing pitchers on mechanics and fundamentals, recruiting, scouting and ordering equipment. He also organized and implemented instructional clinics as well as designing in-season/off-season strength and conditioning programs for pitchers, while organizing game and practice facility maintenance and management.
For the past five summers, Sweeney has been the manager of the Keene (N.H.) Swampbats of the NECBL. His team won the NECBL Championship and Sweeney was named Manager/Coach of the Year in 2003. His four-year record with the Swampbats is a combined 127-83, with a playoff record of 12-8. He also has coaching experience as the pitching coach for the North Adams (Mass.) Steeplecats of the NECBL.
Sweeney played three years of professional baseball, with two of them coming in the New York Mets organization. He also played one year for the New Jersey Jackals of the Northern League, helping the Jackals to their first-ever Northern League title in 2001.