The Massachusetts baseball team looks to climb further up the standings, this weekend, as it plays Xavier in a three-game series and tries to make it into the Atlantic 10 tournament for the second straight season.
The Minutemen (17-23, 11-10 A-10) won five straight conference series and seven of their last eight games. They come off of a 5-2 win against Quinnipiac on Tuesday and are currently tied for seventh place in the A-10, two games behind Rhode Island and Saint Joseph’s for second place.
Last season was the team’s first trip to the postseason since 2003.
The Musketeers (19-30, 12-9 A-10) are tied for fourth place in the conference and lead UMass by one game in the standings.
With one more series to play next weekend beginning next Thursday against LaSalle, UMass hopes to make a final push for a playoff seed.
The Minutemen have been on a hitting tear, as of late, scoring 11 runs per game in the month of May. Last weekend during a three-game set against Dayton, they scored 45 runs combined.
Junior Peter Copa and freshman Ryan Cusick led UMass in the batter’s box, garnering A-10 accolades for their outstanding play.
Copa, the A-10 Player of the Week, went 11-for-22 during the five-game stretch, scoring eight runs and knocking in 10. He scored in each game and nearly hit for the cycle in an 18-12 win over Dayton last Friday, missing by a home run.
Cusick earned his second A-10 Rookie of the Week award in three weeks. The freshman hit .476 on the week (10-for-21) from the leadoff spot, crossing home plate eight times and was perfect on four stolen base attempts. His solid hitting bumped his season batting average up to .301.
Cusick split the honors with Xavier reliever Seth Wiloughby. The freshman hurler threw for two saves in Xavier’s series win over Charlotte last weekend at Hayden Field. Wiloughby (2-1) appeared in 14 games this season with a 4.28 earned run average, second on the team.
The Musketeers have back-to-back series wins, rank ninth in the A-10 for team batting average and first overall in fielding percentage.
Xavier rallied in the seventh inning of Saturday’s game against the Knights. Down 7-6, the Musketeers tied the game with a solo home run by Patrick Paligraf, his first of his collegiate career. Then, in the eighth, senior Zac Richard knocked in the winning runs to lead his team to a 9-7 victory.
Senior captain Drew Schmidt provided the lift for Xavier in its 5-2 win on Sunday. He went 5-for-11 on the weekend with three runs and two runs batted in.
The game is scheduled to be played at 3 p.m. at Hayden Field in Cincinnati, OH.
Dan Gigliotti can be reached at email@example.com.