Climbing the Ladder

In 2008, former UMBC Retriever pitcher Zach Clark ’06, psychology, was with the Frederick Keys – a Class A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles – when he got the news that he was needed at Class AAA Norfolk Tides for a spot starting assignment.

The good news traveled fast, but Clark didn’t. It was only after a long bus trip with the Keys from Kinston, NC, to Myrtle Beach, SC, and an early morning flight to Syracuse, NY, that Clark finally joined his new club. He pitched for the Tides that same night.

“I slept at the hotel during the day, went to the field and pitched,” recalls Clark, who has played in the Orioles farm system since 2006. “That was pretty crazy. I didn’t know anybody. That was my first time at Triple A.”

Signed by Orioles’ scout Dean Albany as a non-drafted free agent after leaving UMBC in 2006, Clark started this season pitching for the Class AA Bowie Baysox. He began 2011 with a minor league record of 24-28 and an ERA of 3.61 in 119 games.

Clark knows life as a pitcher on-call is part of the path to the big leagues. He once battled heavy traffic from Bowie to Norfolk, VA to take the mound for Tides in a night game.

In games through Aug. 4 of this season Clark was 6-7 with an ERA of 5.14 in 18 games (with 17 starts) for Bowie in the Eastern League. Clark was named the Eastern League pitcher of the week on May 2 of this season.

— David Driver

This story originally ran in the Fall 2011 issue of UMBC Magazine.

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