Scrolling Headlines:

UMass professor wins big on ‘Jeopardy!’ -

January 23, 2017

SGA president selects new vice president -

January 23, 2017

UMass women’s basketball blows 15 point fourth quarter lead, loses in double overtime to George Washington -

January 23, 2017

UMass club hockey falls to NYU 3-2 in first game back from vacation -

January 23, 2017

Cyr: Expectations for UMass men’s basketball remain consistent throughout 2016-17 season -

January 23, 2017

The death penalty is not the answer -

January 23, 2017

Donald Trump is gutting journalism with his Twitter -

January 23, 2017

Winter break’s most overlooked releases -

January 23, 2017

Hardly anything in ‘Rogue One’ scores a direct hit -

January 23, 2017

Nineteen turnovers sink UMass men’s basketball in loss to Fordham Saturday -

January 21, 2017

UMass men’s basketball falls to Fordham behind strong defensive effort by the Rams -

January 21, 2017

UMass hockey can’t take advantage of strong start in 6-1 loss to Boston College -

January 21, 2017

High-powered Eagles soar past UMass -

January 21, 2017

UMass women’s basketball suffers disappointing loss to St. Bonaventure at Mullins Center Thursday -

January 19, 2017

REPORT: Tom Masella out as defensive coordinator for UMass football -

January 19, 2017

Zach Lewis, bench carry UMass men’s basketball in win over St. Joe’s -

January 19, 2017

UMass women’s basketball handles Duquesne at home -

January 16, 2017

UMass men’s basketball’s late comeback falls short after blowing 15-point first-half lead -

January 15, 2017

UMass hockey outlasted at home against No. 6 UMass Lowell -

January 14, 2017

Hailey Leidel hits second buzzer beater of the season to give UMass women’s basketball win over Davidson -

January 13, 2017

Pitching stepping up against A-10 foes

The pitching staff of the Massachusetts baseball team has saved its finest performances for Atlantic 10 opponents. Now, in order to launch their team into the top half of the conference standings, the UMass pitchers must silence the high-powered offense of George Washington.

As the three-game series between the Minutemen (10-21, 7-8 A-10) and the Colonials (22-19, 10-5) gets underway this afternoon at Earl Lorden Field in Amherst, the predominant matchup will feature the UMass pitchers against the deep lineup of GWU.

The Colonials are leading the A-10 with a .337 team batting average against conference opponents, which comes as no surprise as seven batters are hitting .300 or better. Senior shortstop Tom Zebroski leads his team with a .413 average and 11 home runs, while starting in all 40 games for GWU.

The Minutemen have a 7.04 team earned run average, but improve to a respectable 4.40 mark against A-10 teams. They are second in the conference with a .258 opponents batting average versus conference teams. In their last six conference games, the Minutemen staff has allowed a total of 19 runs, an average of just over three runs per game.

“The conference is where you gear all your energy and focus,” UMass coach Mike Stone said. “How you’re judged at the end of the season is by how well you do in the conference, whether or not you have a chance to go to postseason play, so it’s just more important games.”

UMass also keeps their A-10 foes in the park as they are tied for first in with only seven home runs allowed in conference games. George Washington is second in the conference having hit 46 home runs. Junior outfielder Brendon Kelliher joins Zebroski in double-digit home runs with 10. The Colonials’ top two home run hitters are also their top two hitters for average.

While GWU hits many home runs, it also strikes out often, tied for third-most strikeouts in the conference. UMass pitchers will look to add to its conference-leading 131 strikeouts and 8.86 strikeouts-per-nine innings ratio.

Appropriately, junior Nick Serino leads the Minutemen with 53 strikeouts in only 43 innings and will get the ball first in today’s opener. He’s had double-digit strikeouts in two of his last three starts and is coming off a complete game effort against Saint Louis.

Seniors Jared Freni and Bryan Leigh will pitch in Games 2 and 3. They are second and third on the ballclub in strikeouts, respectively.

“Certain situations call for a strikeout while other situations call for economizing pitches,” Stone said.

These three hurlers have shown the ability to excel in both situations.

In each of their last two starts, only Serino failed to go at least eight innings in both, as he lasted six and one-third innings against Rhode Island. The trio has pitched the last two weekend series against Rhode Island and Saint Louis and led their team to consecutive series wins. Stone attributes the team’s recent success to the emergence of his top three starting pitchers.

“The [pitchers] who pitch on the weekends are our best [pitchers] and they’ve proven that,” Stone said. “That’s why we’ve had results. Momentum and everything else really start on the mound so you have to have good pitching to have a chance to win ballgames. Fortunately, they’ve stepped things up.”

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

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