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May 16, 2016

UMass loses Game 1 to UConn

The Massachusetts baseball team has yet to catch a break this season.

Last weekend, the Minutemen lost three straight games to Charlotte, which currently leads the Atlantic 10. UMass then traveled to Storrs, CT for a home-and-home set against Connecticut, which has won six straight.

But after suffering a 10-2 loss yesterday to the Huskies, the Minutemen’s best hope is to split the series with a win tomorrow in Amherst when the two teams square off at 3 p.m.

“It was a good game up until about half-way through,” UMass coach Mike Stone said. “But then they hit the four home runs and that really was how the game was decided.”

UMass (2-14, 1-5 Atlantic 10) plated the first run in the top of the third, when junior Matt Gedman tripled to score Eric Fredette. The Huskies (18-7) answered back in the bottom of the frame with a run before both teams rolled through a scoreless fourth.

UConn broke the 1-1 tie when it touched up UMass starter Leif Sorenson for three runs in the bottom of the fifth. It started when the Huskies’ leadoff hitter, Pierre LePage, singled in a run. The next batter was shortstop Nick Ahmed, who hit a two-run home run and drove Sorenson out of the game.

“Sorenson pitched really well,” Stone said. “He hasn’t thrown too many pitches yet [on the season] and he started getting the ball up a little bit. He wasn’t getting groundballs anymore so it was time to take him out.”

Sorenson finished his outing with 4.2 innings pitched, giving up four runs on six hits and three walks. He struck out one.

After recording the final out of the fifth, sophomore reliever Glen Misho pitched two more innings, giving up four runs on five hits and three strikeouts. Freshman reliever Aaron Zaleznik threw the final inning, giving up two runs on one hit and one walk.

In the end, it was the long ball that did in the Minutemen pitching.

“[The bullpen] battled out there,” Stone said. “But we got hurt by three more home runs when people were on base. That really decided the ballgame.”

Contrary to UConn, UMass couldn’t do much to support their pitchers. The Minutemen registered seven hits and no walks against four Huskies’ pitchers.

“They had pretty good pitchers on the mound who threw strikes and got ahead,” Stone said. “We weren’t in any deep counts [against them]. You could tell they were breaking the game up because they wanted some of their guys to get some work in – that happens a lot at this time of the season.”

Nonetheless, UConn’s pitchers collectively shut down the Minutemen, whose only other run came from a Brian Baudinet home run. UMass’ offense continues to sputter as of late, which has scored a total of 12 runs in its past four games.

The Maroon and White will try to reverse that trend tomorrow, when Isaac Oakley gets the start. Oakley hopes to replicate his last start, when he threw five innings and was up one run while striking out four en route to UMass’ home-opening victory against Hartford.

It should not come easily, however, as the Huskies will look to continue its six-game winning streak. Win or lose, UMass will be relieved to depart from Connecticut, when its schedule eases up and they near a nine-game homestand beginning on April 23.

“We just have to keep battling,” Stone said. “We have to stay positive, keep battling and get them tomorrow.”

Steve Levine can be reached at slevine@student.umass.edu.

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