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Minutemen win second-straight game in victory over Eagles

The Massachusetts baseball team continued its recent hot streak by going on the road and beating Boston College, 8-4, Tuesday afternoon with another stellar outing by the pitching staff.

Senior Bryan Leigh pitched a complete game, giving up two runs and eight hits to earn his first victory of the season. He scattered his five strikeouts appropriately, getting hitters to swing and miss with a runner on third base and less than two outs on multiple occasions.

“He did a great job,” UMass coach Mike Stone said. “He threw a lot of pitches but finished the game. He kept them off balance and got out of some jams. [Boston College has] seven lefties in their order, and that’s tough for a right-hander to face that many lefties.”

The Minutemen (4-17, 3-6 Atlantic 10) were coming off their first series win of the season against Richmond over the weekend. They have now won three of their last four games.

Prior to this game, Leigh was 0-4 with an 11.74 earned run average. His nine innings of work yesterday nearly matched his previous 15.1 total innings for the season.

The Minutemen put together eight runs, with all of the runs being scored by the bottom half of the lineup. Seven of the nine starters had hits to highlight an offense that has, in the past few games, become more balanced.

“We had some timely hitting today,” Stone said. “We had some extra-base hits that were key early in the ball game and some real clutch hits at the end. It was more timely today than it had been any other day.”

Catcher Tom Conley went 4-for-4 at the plate while stationed in the No. 7 spot in the lineup. He also picked off a runner at first base and threw out another runner trying to steal.

“[Conley’s] got some friends who play on the [Boston College] team, and he wanted to show them what kind of ballplayer he is. He played a good game defensively, threw out a [runner] trying to take an extra base on a ball in the dirt, and I thought he swung the bat well.”

UMass will face Northeastern Wednesday night in Brockton, Mass., in the first round of the annual Beanpot Tournament. The Beanpot involves four major colleges in the state, including Boston College, Harvard University, Northeastern University and UMass.

When asked if his team looks forward to the tournament, Stone expressed his team’s excitement.

“Absolutely. It’s a tradition, and we’re excited about going down to Brockton tomorrow and playing against Northeastern,” Stone said.

The two winners of the UMass-Northeastern and Boston College-Harvard matchups will square off on Thursday night for the tournament championship.

Sophomore Isaac Oakley will get the start for the Minutemen against a Northeastern team that has been stumbling of late.

The Huskies (6-14, 0-6 Colonial Athletic Association) have lost 11 games in a row, including their latest defeat against the Crimson yesterday afternoon. Five of those losses have come with a score difference of three or less runs.

The Beanpot Tournament is the only time these two teams will meet during the season. On April 13th of last year, the two teams met in the Beanpot Championship at Fenway Park, with Northeastern getting the victory, 5-3.

“It’s great to see in the last four games us playing like we can,” Stone said. “I think that if we play like we can, that we’ll have a good chance to win most of the games that we’re involved with.”

Pete Vasquez can be reached at pvasquez@student.umass.edu.

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