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September 20, 2017

UMass baseball falls to Boston College in a ‘wasted day’

Collegian file photo

There would be no late-game heroics for the Massachusetts baseball team Wednesday afternoon. Boston College put the Minutemen in a 10-run hole early and would eventually cruise to a 13-1 victory at Northborough’s New England Baseball Complex Wednesday.

According to Minutemen coach Mike Stone, “it was a wasted day, really.”

The bottom of the first inning for the Eagles (8-14) quickly set the tone for the rest of afternoon. A triple followed by a hit batsman and a walk put UMass (6-10, 2-1 Atlantic 10) starter Connor Donahue in a jam with no one out. After striking out the next two batters and getting Jake Alu in a 3-2 count, Alu lifted a single to right field and thrown out attempting to stretch it into a double. However, two runners were still able to score.

Donahue, who was one strike away from getting out of the jam, ended up giving up five more runs in his three innings of work. It was the sophomore’s worst start of the 2017 season.

“He didn’t throw many strikes and didn’t get ahead of his hitters,” Stone said of Donahue’s outing. “He didn’t have an out pitch to get people out with.”

Donahue’s strike-to-ball ratio was almost even at 48-39. Like Stone had mentioned, Donahue’s inability to get people out came back to bite him on more than one occasion.

Despite allowing seven runs, Donahue struck out six batters, but he also surrendered four walks. Putting the extra runners on base would come around to hurt him as three of the four batters who were walked would later come around to score.

The UMass offense that propelled it to a late-game 10-4 comeback against George Washington Sunday afternoon, could not be found against BC Wednesday. The lone source of production came from a Mike Geannelis solo homerun in the sixth inning.

“We just didn’t hit,” Stone said. “They did just the reverse. I believe they were ahead in the count and executed their pitches and we just didn’t hit.”

The Eagles pitching showed nothing different from what the Minutemen have seen this season.

“They threw strikes and they got ahead,” Stone said. “They competed well on the mound and came right at us. They got ahead early and we were behind in the count a lot.

With the exception of Marcus Fry, the Minutemen who helped relieve Donahue also struggled against the righty-dominant Eagles lineup. Scott Hovey, Casey Aubin, and Fry pieced together the final five innings of the game. Hovey and Aubin combined to give up six runs on six hits and six walks.

A total of 10 walks allowed by UMass pitching helped fuel an already energized BC offense.

“Well [all the walks] certainly doesn’t help,” Stone said. “If you spaced the walks out a little bit you could get away with it but we didn’t get away with it today. We just didn’t have command, we threw just an average of 50 percent strikes or less today and you can’t do that and expect to win.

“Not just one pitcher, numerous pitchers did that and all got behind in the count,” Stone added. “When you get behind in the count like that you’re going to give up good pitches to hit and eventually you give up runs.”

This is not the first time this season the Minutemen have been blown-out of a game. What determines a “blow out” is subjective, but the Minutemen’s last three losses have all been by more than eight runs.

However, they have been able to bounce back well. Following the back-to-back losses to Holy Cross and George Washington, UMass won consecutive games against the Colonials to ultimately win the series 2-1.

“Oh absolutely, we’ve shown the ability to bounce back so far, yes. Hopefully it will happen again, it needs to, needs to,” Stone said. “You get opportunities to compete and we have to do a better job of competing in all facets. Not just on the mound, defensively and offensively as well. We just have to stay with it and believe and keep fighting.”

Philip Sanzo can be reached at psanzo@umass.edu and followed on Twitter @Philip_Sanzo.

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