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March 22, 2017

Minutemen defeat Northeastern at Fenway Park

Courtesy UMass Athletics

Courtesy UMass Athletics

With the opportunity to play in the illustrious Fenway Park, the Massachusetts baseball team elevated its game to finish off Northeastern in the heart of Boston Tuesday, as the Minutemen (13-21, 5-7 A-10) defeated Northeastern (12-25) 4-2 in the Beanpot consolation game.

UMass coach Mike Stone said after that game that while playing at Fenway “is a treat” for everyone involved, it’s even more of a treat if the team plays well and gets victories.

UMass did just that, getting on the board early by plating Anthony Serino after Peter Copa reached base on a throwing error by the shortstop. The Minutemen further capitalized on the Terrier miscue with a two-out triple to right field by Kyle Multner. The triple plated Copa and Tom Conley, who reached on a single.

The Minutemen tacked on another run in the third with consecutive base hits by Matt Gedman and Copa.

UMass held the 4-0 lead for the next two innings until the Huskies bats woke up in the sixth. Jon Leroux got things started with a double to right field and John Puttress followed with a single to right. Leroux reached the plate after Oliver Hart hit a single to center field, with Aaron Barbosa then plating Puttress with a double down the right-field line.

After those two runs, UMass starting pitcher Ben Hart was replaced by Joe Popielarczyk, who retired the first batter he faced to end the inning.

UMass failed to answer in the next two innings, as the Huskies’ Kevin Ferguson retired the next six batters he faced, including the Minutemen’s three, four and five hitters.

It was the same story for NU, though, as Popielarczyk and Leif Sorenson combined to shut down the Huskies for the remainder of the game.

The loss gives NU its fifth in its last six contest.

Hart earned the win for the Minutemen as he went 5.2 innings, allowingtwo runs on six hits while striking out six and walking five, while Sorenson earned his fifth save of the season.

Stone explained after the game that Hart pitched well but was not as sharp as he was in his last start against Central Connecticut. He also admired the work of the closer Sorenson, who has been a reliable arm out of the bullpen all season long.

Taking the loss for NU was JT Ross, going 5.2 innings allowing four runs, one of which was  earned while striking out three and walking one.

The Beanpot Championship game pinned Harvard and Boston College (14-24) against one another. The Crimson (9-31) got there with a 1-0 victory in a pitcher’s duel against UMass. BC came away with a 6-1 win over NU in its first round game. The Eagles have beaten the Crimson in 14-straight games, however many of them have been close, including a 10-9 victory over the Crimson in last year’s Beanpot.

The Minutemen’s next game will be Friday when they take on No. 26 Charlotte (31-9, 11-4 Atlantic 10) in the first game of a three game series at home at 3 p.m.

The 49ers, winners of seven of their last 10 games, currently stand at the top of the conference and should be a good test for UMass.

“[Charlotte’s a] good ballclub but a very different ballclub on the road,” said Stone. He added that the Minutemen will have to be playing their best baseball in order to compete.

The 49ers are currently 25-5 on their home field, with four of their nine total losses coming on the road.

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

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