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March 22, 2017

Minutemen split weekend series against Albany and Fordham

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

The Massachusetts baseball team traveled to Fordham’s Houlihan Park this weekend, splitting a pair of highly-contested games to hosts Fordham and Albany.

Fordham (16-9) walked off with a victory in the first half of the doubleheader, defeating UMass (8-11), 6-5, while UMass came right back to defeat Albany (5-14), 4-2.

Glen Misho started on the hill in the first game, pitching 6.2 innings, allowing four runs on nine hits while walking one and striking out two. UMass coach Mike Stone said Misho probably wasn’t as sharp as last week, but that he still pitched a solid game.

After UMass went down in order to begin the game, Fordham came out and took an early lead. Ryan David singled and advanced to second base on a groundball out and eventually scored on a two-out double by Chris Walker.

UMass would answer in the top of the second after Matt Gedman and Peter Copa reached base with a walk and single, respectively. After a wild pitch advanced both runners into scoring position, junior Tom Conley knocked in Gedman with a sacrifice fly to make the score 1-1.

UMass tacked on three more runs in the top of the fourth to take a 4-1 lead. After a couple of Fordham miscues put Rob McLam and Eric Fredette into scoring position, Gedman tripled to right center field, plating both base runners. Gedman would round out the inning’s scoring after Conley knocked him in with his second sacrifice fly of the game.

Neither side would add to their run totals until the bottom of the seventh, when the Rams struck for three runs of their own. With one out in the inning, Tim Swatek doubled and Nick Martinez walked. After Fordham’s David fouled out for the second out of the inning, Ryan Lee would triple to score both Swatek and Martinez. After Misho was replaced by Leif Sorenson, Lee would score on a wild pitch to tie the score at four.

The Minutemen wasted no time and took the lead right back. With two outs in the next frame, Fredette reached on an error and advanced to third on a single by Gedman. Fredette then scored on a wild pitch by Jonathan Reich.

UMass could not hold on, though, as Fordham plated two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning while down to their final out. Martinez scored from second on a double by Lee, who then scored the winning run on a single by Chris Walker.

Stone said he was disappointed that the team was unable to hold on to the lead and that they should have been able to put the game away.

“Mentally we were down a little bit [after the loss],” said Stone.

The Minutemen could not hang their heads for long, though, because Albany got off to a quick start in the second game of the doubleheader. Brian Bullard put the Great Danes on top 2-0 with a home run to right field in the top of the first.

Stone said that while UMass got off to a slow start both mentally and offensively, the Minutemen regained their energy and were able to take advantage of several Albany miscues.

“[You] can’t feel sorry for yourself,” said Stone. “[Eventually we] put a little pressure on them,” Stone said.

The fifth inning saw the Minutemen score four runs on just one base hit. Copa, Conley and Nick Sanford all reached base after being hit by pitches. With the bases loaded, freshman Kyle Adie walked, plating Copa, before Conley then scored on a wild pitch. Sophomore Rich Graef knocked in both Sanford and Adie with a single to center field, with the inning ending after Graef was caught stealing second base. UMass then held a 4-2 lead, as the game would end with the same score.

Getting the win for the Minutemen was junior Joe Popielarczyk, who went six innings, allowing two runs on five hits while striking out five and walking two. Senior Charlie Benson and Sorenson would combine to pitch the last three innings of relief, allowing just four hits over that span.

The Minutemen will now set their sights on Connecticut. They will travel to Storrs to take on the Huskies on Tuesday and head back to Amherst for their home opener on Wednesday.

Eric Mansfield can be reached at eamansfi@student.umass.edu.

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