Minutemen club baseball team off to strong start

The Massachusetts club baseball team came into Williamsport this past weekend knowing that the Williamsport Warm-Up Tournament was not going to be easy. The Minutemen left Williamsport satisfied, as they reached the championship game, but fell short to SUNY-Cortland, 7-2.  The showing at the tournament proved the Minutemen will be a force to be reckoned with for the rest of the season.

UMass (5-1) won its first three games of the tournament, but could not generate enough offense against the Red Dragons.

“Being able to win three out of four games made a strong statement for UMass Baseball, and gave the team a taste of success that we can look forward to experiencing more of when we begin our conference schedule,” player-coach Mark Lore said.

UMass began the weekend with a win over No. 15 Pittsburgh, winning 6-1. The Minutemen scored all of their runs in the second inning,  as third basemen Matt Rosenzweig hit a base-clearing three-run double which gave UMass the lead with two outs. A couple batters later, first baseman Rich Casella hit a three-run homer to put the Minutemen up, 6-0.

The Panthers were unable to mount a comeback because of the Minutemen’s sharp pitching. Lore was consistent on the mound, allowing just three hits, striking out seven, and allowing no runs in six innings.

After upsetting the Panthers, the Minutemen took on Lafayette in its second contest of the day. Pitching was a key component in UMass’s 9-0 win, as Eric Putney threw a shut out, going seven innings while striking out eight.

In the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader, Cornell dominated the Minutemen for most of the game, as the score was 10-2 heading into the sixth inning. UMass began to show signs of life, scoring three runs to cut the lead down to 10-5. The bats came alive in the seventh inning, as the Minutemen drove in six runs, capped off by a walk-off double from shortstop Jimmy Souza, which gave UMass the victory, 11-10.

Heading into the championship game against the Red Dragons, the Minutemen had a lot of momentum, but it was not enough to win the tournament. Rosenzweig was unable to stop the Red Dragons, as he allowed seven hits and seven runs in five innings.

Lore was still proud of the Minutemen’s showing at the Williamsport tournament, giving credit to the whole team for their performance this past weekend.        

“The credit goes to the players for coming to practice and working hard.  We went to Williamsport with everyone prepared and ready to compete,” Lore said. “The defense was sharp, our offense was solid, and our pitchers threw very effectively.”

UMass kicks off their conference schedule on Saturday with a three- game series against Albany.

“If we can get out to an early lead against Albany, and get quality starts out of our starting pitchers, we will be in good shape,” Lore said. “Winning the first game of the three game series is the key to setting the tone for the entire series.”

Juan Pacheco can be reached at jcpachec@student.umass.edu

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