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October 22, 2017

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Short-handed UMass baseball pitching staff provides quality work Wednesday in win over Northeastern

(Caroline O’Connor/ Daily Collegian)

BOSTON – There’s an old adage in baseball that pitching wins ballgames and although the Massachusetts baseball team’s bats will get the attention after a breaking out in the fourth inning for six runs to top Northeastern 6-5 in the Beanpot Tournament consolation game, it was the steady work on the mound that aided the Minutemen to victory at Fenway Park Wednesday.

Sophomore pitcher Casey Aubin got the start on the hill for UMass (9-21, 3-6 Atlantic 10). The Durham, New Hampshire native spent most of last season as a starting pitcher, starting in six of his eight appearances. This season, Aubin has taken on a different role, with most of his work coming out of the bullpen. His start Wednesday was just his second of the season.

According to Minutemen coach Mike Stone, the team had four pitchers available to pitch in Wednesday’s contest with the Huskies.

“We didn’t have that many pitchers available because we used a lot yesterday,” Stone said. “We had to get some innings and Casey gave us those innings, which was great.”

Nobody is going to take a look at Aubin’s stat line and be overly impressed with the results. He went 4.2 innings allowing eight hits and five earned runs. Stat lines don’t always tell the full story however and Stone was quite impressed with his young pitcher’s effort.

“He came out with confidence and threw strikes early,” Stone said. “He got us into the fifth. I thought he was going to get past the fifth, but it was important that he got us to the fifth at least.”

Despite his coach’s praises, Aubin admitted there is definitely still room for improvement, but in the end, he’s just happy his team came out on top.

“I feel I could have done a little bit better,” Aubin said. “We did a great job of bouncing back. We were down 3-0 and we put up a six-spot that really gave us some momentum. More than anything, it’s just important that we won. It doesn’t matter who was the hero or who helped us out.”

Something UMass has struggled with mightily throughout the season has been giving up a big inning where the opponent scores a large amount of runs and puts the Minutemen out the game. UMass experienced that Tuesday against Connecticut when it gave up seven runs in the seventh inning to the Huskies.

The Minutemen were able to avoid that Wednesday and a large chunk of the credit was due to Aubin and relievers Connor Donahue and Ryan Moloney.

Donahue came into the game in a tough spot when Aubin had just given up a two-run double to Northeastern’s Zach Perry. Donahue was able to induce a groundout to shortstop Ryan Lever to get out of the jam and preserve the lead.

Moloney was even more impressive on the mound. Coming into Wednesday’s game, the senior had only made one appearance, a 1.1-inning effort against Bucknell. Moloney was strong on the mound against the Huskies, going two innings with two strikeouts and allowing no hits, while picking up the first save of his collegiate career.

“[Casey] Donahue and Moloney out of the pen; all three did a great job and it just made our jobs easier in the field,” second baseman Jon Avallone said.

In the other dugout, the Huskies opted to go with a pitcher-by-committee approach, using seven different pitchers in the game.

UMass will only have one day off before it heads to Philadelphia to take on A-10 opponent La Salle for a three-game weekend series.

Adam Aucoin can be reached at aaucoin@umass.edu and followed on Twitter @aaucoin34.

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