After playing 20 away games, the Massachusetts baseball team will finally return home for a three-game series at Earl Lorden Field against conference foe Dayton this weekend.
UMass (8-12, 2-1 in Atlantic 10) looks to edge ahead of the Flyers (14-15, 2-1 A-10) as both teams are tied in the A-10 (along with Fordham) with 2-1 conference records. The Minutemen won their first conference series against George Washington in late March.
The original home opener at Earl Lorden Field was supposed to be on Wednesday, but poor weather on Tuesday forced the Minutemen to travel to Connecticut to play the Huskies on Wednesday instead. Tuesday’s game is postponed until April 18.
UMass did not fare well against the Huskies on Wednesday, falling 7-1, giving the Minutemen their fourth loss in their last six games. UConn (15-10-1) came into the game ranked #29 in Collegiate Baseball Newspaper’s top-30 poll this week. The game started off well for UMass, as starting pitcher Robert Machado cruised through the first four innings, allowing one run in the second.
The fifth inning, however, was not as kind as the Huskies tacked on four runs to take a 5-0 advantage. Offensively, the Minutemen got going a little too late, as they managed to break up the shut out in the ninth with back-to-back doubles by senior Peter Copa and junior Tom Conley.
Machado took the loss with his record now at 2-3. UMass managed to scatter eight hits, including two each from Conley and sophomore Rich Graef. UConn’s Bob Van Woert tossed 5.1 shutout innings for the Huskies to improve to 3-0.
Dayton has lost its last two games, the most recent coming on Tuesday against Toledo when it lost, 7-4. The Flyers struggled early, allowing all seven runs in the first four innings. Dayton did have 10 hits, but struggled to plate them, leaving 11 runners on base.
The Minutemen had success against Dayton last season, taking two-of-three against the Flyers in Ohio. The bats were rolling in that series, with UMass outscoring their opponent, 44-31, over the three-game stretch. Copa and Kyle Multner combined to drive in nine runs in the first game, an 18-12 win. Nick Serino, now signed with the Washington Nationals, got the win for his performance on the mound, pitching 6.1 innings.
In the second game of the series last year, the Minutemen took a two-run lead into the ninth inning but were unable to preserve the win. Matt Gedman took the loss for the Minutemen, working 1.2 innings and allowing five runs. Gedman and Multner were 3-for-5 at the plate in the losing effort.
UMass took the series in the rubber game with a 10-2 victory. Senior Bryan Leigh went the distance for the Minutemen, while Copa had a round-tripper in the game. Gedman finished with two RBI while Eric Fredette drove in three.
The Minutemen hope to replicate last year’s series this weekend. The first game will take place on Friday at 3:00 p.m., followed by Saturday’s game at 1:00 p.m. and Sunday’s contest at 11:00 a.m. All three games will be at Earl Lorden Field.
Michael Counos can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.