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Fourth inning propels UMass baseball over Northeastern

(Caroline O’Connor/ Daily Collegian)

BOSTON – Next to “UMass” on the Fenway scoreboard were five zeroes and one big six. A six-run fourth inning was enough for the Massachusetts baseball team to secure a 6-5 win over Northeastern in seven innings at Fenway Park Wednesday afternoon in the Beanpot consolation game.

Runs can be manufactured in all sorts of ways. The Minutemen (9-21, 3-6 Atlantic 10) used walks to aid their offensive production. UMass managed to work five walks in the fourth inning and four of the five came across to score.

“Things got started with Matt Bare’s sac fly,” Minutemen coach Mike Stone said. “He really barreled it up and I thought he did a great job of that. That really got things going. It starts loosening guys up at the plate a little bit and you start throwing the barrel out there.”

With two runs already in, UMass had the chance to tack on more with the bases loaded and Mike Geannelis at the plate. Geannelis ripped the first pitch he saw over Pat Madigan’s head in left field and off the base of the wall. All three runs came around to score and Geannelis reached second with a double.

The inning ended with six runs in for UMass and a 6-2 lead over the Huskies (16-17, 9-3 Northeast Conference). Second baseman Jon Avallone drew a walk in the inning and came around to score.

“Any way to get on, walks usually come in as runs so that was big for us to see pitches and the kid was a little bit wild,” Avallone said. “We did our best to get on base and it worked out well for us.”

UMass was fairly quiet at the plate in the two innings that followed. A second-and-third situation in the bottom of the fifth ended up resulting in nothing and the Minutemen went down 1-2-3 in the sixth.

“We should have had more runs too,” Stone said. “We had an opportunity to squeeze and missed that and there should have been a couple of more too but it was great to come out on the positive side of it.”

The Huskies used their bullpen early and often. Seven different pitchers saw action on the mound for Northeastern and no one guy pitched more than 1.1 innings. This forced the Minutemen lineup to stay on their toes.

“Yeah, they were mixing it up I guess especially against me after the first hit,” Avallone said. “You just have to see it and drive it, that’s what coach preaches.”

Averaging just over four runs a game, the Minutemen have often struggled to score runs even when they managed to get runners on base. According to Avallone, working the count helped UMass take advantage of its scoring opportunities.

“Today we saw more pitches I think and we got our pitches to hit which is big, we don’t take their pitches and swing at bad pitches,” Avallone said. “It was all about getting ours today and we did that pretty well I think.”

The Minutemen were able to piece together the game with only three pitchers. Starting pitcher Casey Aubin went 4.2 innings and was tagged with all five Northeastern runs.

According to Stone, UMass only had four pitchers available to pitch making length from this starter that much more important.

“It’s nice to do that from a defensive standpoint, if you can to get everybody some work,” Stone said. “But then you get into a jam possibly and then you have to make another change possibly. Our approach has kind of been, we didn’t have that many pitchers available to begin with because we used a lot yesterday so we just needed to get some innings early.”

UMass has not won back-to-back games since two consecutive wins against George Washington on March 25-26. A win at Fenway can help change that.

“This is a great team morale booster for us, winning here at Fenway, America’s Most Beloved Ballpark,” Avallone said. “To get a win here is great for us and getting some momentum for us heading into the conference series.”

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

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