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UM to cross paths with Crusaders

The Massachusetts baseball team looks to continue its recent success at home against Holy Cross.

The Minutemen have won 10 of their last 16 en route to its fourth-straight series victory after defeating George Washington on Sunday afternoon.

With the win, UMass (12-22, 9-9 Atlantic 10) is .500 versus conference opponents for the first time this season. The Minutemen are now tied for eighth in the A-10.

Sophomore Robert Machado (0-0) will get the start on Tuesday. The right-handed pitcher from Everett, Mass., will make his first career start and second appearance on the season. In two and two-thirds innings pitched against Central Connecticut, Machado allowed six runs (three earned) on six hits.

“He was one of our top recruits a few years ago,” UMass coach Mike Stone said, “and its time to give him a start and see what he can do.”

Strong pitching performances by Minutemen starters paced the weekend series.

Jared Freini (2-4) turned in the best performance of the week in a 4-1 win on Saturday. He pitched eight innings of two-hit baseball, striking out five and allowing one unearned run.

“We’ve gotten good pitching and that is the key,” said UMass coach Mike Stone. “Our starting pitchers, in the last four weeks, have battled and pitched their hearts out and all given us a chance to win.”

The Minutemen starting pitching staff threw a total of 27 strikeouts over 20 and two-thirds innings (1.3 strikeouts per inning).

Bryan Leigh (4-4) earned his fourth win in as many starts on Sunday, throwing six innings while allowing five earned runs before giving the ball to a shaky bullpen. Nick Serino (1-5) took the loss on Friday, allowing six runs, five earned, on six hits over six and two-thirds innings.

Reliever Leif Sorenson garnered two saves appearing in all three games with 3.2 innings pitched. Sorenson allowed three hits, one walk and one strikeout.

Centerfielder Brian Baudinet enjoyed a record-breaking performance in Sunday’s 14-13 over the Colonials. The senior hit four home runs and knocked in seven runs on his way to earning A-10 Player of the Week, UMass Athlete of the Week and Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week, according to the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper.

“He was in a zone. It’s just a feeling of confidence, fluidity, balance, when everything comes together,” Stone said. “He wasn’t thinking, he just saw the ball and reacted. Sometimes when a hitter clears his head, it doesn’t matter what is thrown, he gets the barrel on [the ball].”

He will look to stay in the zone and lead his team to victory over a Holy Cross team that is ranked one of the top five in New England.

The Crusaders (23-22, 10-10 Patriot League Conference) travel to Amherst having lost three-of-four games to Lehigh. After dropping Game 1 of a doubleheader on Sunday, Holy Cross salvaged a 14-6 win in Game 2.

The Crusaders play in their 10th straight road game on Tuesday at Earl Lorden Field. The Minutemen host their seventh-straight game and their 11th in the past 17.

Holy Cross played streaky all season long. Eight different times they have strung together streaks of at least three wins and losses.

The Crusaders won five-of-six, beginning with a four-game series win over Lafayette and ending with a two-game sweep of Brown on April 21. Following that, they lost to Connecticut and dropped a doubleheader to Navy on April 24. Then, they bounced back on April 25 to split the series with Navy after sweeping another doubleheader and gaining a win two days later against Yale.

During Game 2 of a doubleheader against the Bears, the Crusaders hit around to an 18-11 win. The following day, they lost a game to the Huskies 27-10 at home.

Holy Cross scores over seven runs per game and allows just as many. Its team batting average of .325 is good for best in the Patriot League. The Crusaders represent three of the top four hitters in the league.

Senior Matt Perry, the No. 3 hitter, leads the way in the batter’s box with a .415 batting average. His 71 hits, 33 bases on balls and .507 on-base percentage also top the conference. He reached base five times in Game 2 of its doubleheader on Sunday, going three-for-four with two runs and two walks.

Left-fielder Nick Cardiello knocked in four runs in the same game, crossing the plate three times himself. He ranks third in the conference in batting average (.388) and is at least tied for third in three other categories (RBIs, doubles 2, home runs T-3).

Its pitching staff is giving up an earned run average of over six runs per game.

Holy Cross has played in 13 doubleheaders this season, including seven of their past nine days out.

The game begins at 3 p.m.

Dan Gigliotti can be reached at dgigliot@student.umass.edu.

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