Untimely, fielding miscues and a lack of control on the mound were the Massachusetts baseball teams’ demise in an outing in which 12 runs scored were not enough to win Tuesday afternoon against Central Connecticut.
“We stayed fighting and that part was good, but the other part was that we couldn’t get them out,” said UMass coach Mike Stone. “When you score 12 runs, you should win the game.”
Two Minutemen errors in the top of the third inning were indicative of UMass’ mental errors on the day. During the Blue Devils breakout frame in which four runs pushed the lead out to 6-0, UMass struggled to make timely plays and get outs.
A throwing error by Corey Volpicelli led directly to a run following a Mitch Wells single with no outs and one run already plated in the inning. The throw evaded third baseman Peter Copa, as Sean Allaire (5-for-5, three runs, three runs batted in) advanced to third on the hit, but scampered down the line to home plate following the erratic throw.
Following a two-run home run by Pat Epps in that inning, the Minutemen defense made sure no more runs crossed the plate, but they didn’t make it easy on themselves. A fielding error by Matt Gedman turned an Anthony Scialdone single into two bases.
Another single and wild pitch put runners on second and third. The next at-bat, Ryan Cusick handled a Normand Gosselin hit to and threw Scialdone out at home. UMass finally got out of trouble when Charlie Benson struck out Danny Hickey swinging after Gosselin stole second.
UMass rallied in the fourth inning with two runs to cut the Blue Devils lead to two runs at 7-5, but a hasty move home by Alex Fischer led to the third out, cutting the home half of the inning short.
The Minutemen continued to make it tough for themselves, putting themselves in positions where they were forced to make big outs with opposing men on-base.
In the top of the sixth inning, the Minutemen miscues continued, starting on the mound. Aaron Zaleznik (one and two thirds innings pitched, one hit, one earned run) walked Epps to lead-off the inning and allowed him to move to third on a wild pitch.
Then, a Scialdone fly-out to Mike Donato appeared to be a routine play that would hold the Blue Devil runner at third, until the right fielder stumbled, allowing Epps to advance to third.
UMass got out of that inning unscathed, but the Minutemen players were faced with unfavorable situations due to unforced errors. Stone believes that his pitchers and fielders need to work harder to make outs in key situations.
“When you’re out there for 15 or 20 minutes at a time, that will happen. You have a mental letdown because the ball is getting hit all over the place, that’s tough [for the players]. That’s what leads to errors. We didn’t get people out and in some ways we need to compete better on the mound.”
During three of the final four innings, UMass pitching allowed the leadoff man to reach base, as the Blue Devils scored 11 runs during those innings.
Despite the three errors made during Tuesday’s game, the Minutemen still rank first in the Atlantic 10 in fielding percentage (.967). The errors made by UMass pitching are also uncharacteristic, as they have allowed the least amount of walks and wild pitches in the A-10 this season.
Dan Gigliotti can be reached at email@example.com.