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UMass baseball trounced by Morehead State in three-game sweep

Baseball practice on Garber Field Feb. 17.  (Jessica Picard/Daily Collegian)

The Massachusetts baseball team dropped three straight to Morehead State and was outscored by a combined 24 runs, to slide to 6-13 on the season this past weekend.

Highlighted by Sunday’s 28 hit explosion, dominant hitting keyed two comeback efforts in the first two games of the series and a 22-0 thumping to cap off the weekend series in Kentucky for the Eagles.

Morehead State punctuates three-game series with a 22-run win over UMass.

After walking off in each of the first two games of the series, the Eagles concluded the weekend with a dominant 22-0 win over the Minutemen.

“Everything we threw up there they hit. They’re a real solid hitting team and have been all year,” UMass coach Mike Stone said. “They have a lot of confidence at the plate and they executed very well.”

UMass struggled to execute in all facets of the game. The Minutemen were outhit 28 to five on the afternoon and were hitless for the final four innings while Morehead padded 15 runs to its lead against the UMass bullpen over the last four innings.

“Today was no contest unfortunately,” Stone said. “It was a major setback.”

Although the team suffered back-to-back deflating losses to start the weekend, Stone doesn’t estimate that it had a cumulative effect on the team’s readiness to play Sunday afternoon.

There aren’t a lot of constructive takeaways from a game like this. While the level of intensity UMass showed in the back-to-back one-run losses are encouraging, the last game wasn’t competitive from the outset, as the Eagles were up 7-0 after four innings.

“We just have to bounce back like we have before this season,” Stone said. “We’ve responded from tough losses before and we’re just going to have to do that again.”

UMass relief pitching cannot hold the Eagles once again in walk-off loss

For the second time this series, UMass took the field in the bottom half of the ninth inning with the lead and failed to close out the game.

After Morehead tied in the ninth, the game moved into the 10th. Eagle sophomore Jake Hammon advanced to third base on a wild pitch where he would be driven in by a single from Reid Leonard to give Morehead state the 6-5 win.

“We competed well on Saturday and we should have one,” Stone said. “Just have to close out those games, we need our relief pitchers to step forward and perform.”

Starting pitcher Brooks Knapek went seven innings strong, allowing one earned run on 118 pitches. Kevin Hassett entered in the ninth to close and allowed the final two earned runs that ultimately decided the game 6-5 in the Eagles’ favor.

“We got good starting pitching in the first two games but we could not let them continue due to pitch count limits,” Stone said. “We need other people to step forward and do the job, that’s really what it boils down to.”

UMass blows four-run lead in the ninth inning to fall to Morehead State

The initial contest of this three-game series, UMass got on the Eagles pitching early with five runs on four hits in the second inning then plated another runner in the fourth to extend the lead to 6-2 in favor of the Minutemen.

Starting Pitcher Justin Lasko contributed eight solid innings with two earned on 117 pitches and left the game with that margin intact. However, in an inning that seemed to ultimately set the tone for the weekend, Lasko surrendered five runs in relief on three hits in the ninth inning and Morehead’s Hunter Fain homered to right field to best the Minutemen.

“We should have won this game, it slipped away from us,” Stone said. “I thought we did a good job competing as a team. We just have to execute late in games, they’re a good hitting team and they did a good job coming back, sometimes the hardest out is that 27th out.”

The challenge now is to recuperate without any practice time. UMass will not even return to Amherst before it heads to Albany, New York to face Sienna Tuesday afternoon.

Chistopher Marino can be reached at cmarino@umass.edu.

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