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February 18, 2017

UMass baseball’s win streak snapped by Saint Louis in extra innings

Shannon Broderick/Daily Collegian

Shannon Broderick/Daily Collegian

It was about as good a week as the Massachusetts baseball team could’ve hoped for.

With wins over Dayton, Northeastern and two over Saint Louis, the Minutemen opened the new calendar week on Sunday looking to not only sweep the Billikens, but extend its season-high four-game winning streak.

This week didn’t get off to quite as strong a start as the UMass fell to Saint Louis 2-1 in an 11-inning affair at Earl Lordon Field on Sunday.

Josh Bunselmeyer singled home Jake Henson to give the Billikens (20-13, 8-3 Atlantic 10) to drive in the winning run in the top of the 11th. Matt Eckelmen, who went 31/3 innings, picked up the win with a 1-2-3 11th.

Scoring was hard to come by for both sides, as UMass starter Brandon Walsh was dominant for nine innings, giving up one run while surrendering 10 hits.

“Walsh was very good today, he did what he had to do to give us a win,” Minutemen coach Mike Stone said. “He battled and worked through tough situations.”

Saint Louis countered with Josh Moore, who was just as dominant. He pitched 72/3 innings, giving up one run on five hits. He struck out eight Minutemen while walking just one.

“Moore was very tough today,” Stone said. “We couldn’t put hits together against him.”

The Minutemen (7-20, 5-7A-10) finally got to Moore in the eighth inning after Saint Louis put up a run in the top half. After two quick outs in the inning, Kyle Adie lined a single up the middle, forcing Saint Louis coach Dari Hendrickson to call Eckelman out of the bullpen.

Nick Sanford singled, and Nik Campero followed with a one-run single that tied the game at 1-1. The Minutemen loaded the bases for one of their best hitters on the season Mike Geannelis.

Geannelis grounded to shortstop for a fielder’s choice to end the inning.

“(Mike) has been the hitter we want in that situation this whole season,” Stone said. “It was one of the few times it did not go his way this year.”

Both teams remained scoreless until the eleventh inning when Saint Louis was able to get to Ryan Moloney.

Late run lifts UMass

The Minutemen battled Saint Louis all game to win its fourth straight game on Saturday.

The UMass broke a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the seventh inning. Walsh led off the inning with a single followed by a knock by Adam Picard. The Minutemen then scored run with a successful sacrifice bunt by John Jennings and a sacrifice fly by junior Paul Yanakopulos.

Adam Plunkett started for UMass, going six innings and giving up two runs on six hits while striking out four and walking two. Geannelis pitched three scoreless innings of relief and picked up his first collegiate win. He retired nine of the 12 batters he faced giving up no hits through three.

“I could not have asked for anything more from Geannelis,” Stone said. “He came in relief and did what we needed him to do to get the win.”

The Minutemen started its offense when Picard sent a single up the middle to score Jennings for the first run of the game.

A Saint Louis home run by Mike Vigliarolo tied the score at one. It was his fifth home run of year.

Minutemen bash Billikens

The Minutemen used big hits and strong pitching to win the series opener against Saint Louis, 7-1. Conor LeBlanc went 61/3 innings and picked up his second win of the season.

Timely hitting by Dylan Begin and Picard proved to be the difference as the Minutemen scored five in the seventh to blow the game open.

“I was real happy with the way they responded,” Stone said. “We got some timely hitting and good pitching from everyone.”

The Minutemen’s next game is Tuesday at Central Connecticut. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m.

Tyler Fiedler can be reached at tfielder@umass.edu.

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