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May 13, 2017

Late-inning grand slam gives Dayton 5-2 win over UMass baseball

(Jong Man Kim/ Daily Collegian)

Looking to win back-to-back series against Atlantic 10 opponents, the Massachusetts baseball team was set up to break a 1-1 tie with Dayton in the seventh inning when Brett Evangelista stepped to the plate.

After scoring a run in the first inning, the Minutemen (11-23, 5-8 A-10) bats had gone silent against Dayton (13-28, 3-10 A-10) starting pitcher Kevin Piersol. A Cooper Mrowka walk followed by a Nolan Kessinger bunt single chased Piersol out of the game and gave the bottom of the UMass lineup a chance to put the Minutemen ahead.

Just when the Minutemen thought their bats were on the cusp of getting hot, they once again fell cold and Evangelista, pinch hitter Logan Greene and Alec Norton all went down in order stranding Mrowka and Kessinger on base. The Minutemen would eventually lose 5-2.

“Well we need to execute in those situations and we didn’t,” Coach Mike Stone said. “We score a couple of runs, you never know. It’s a different ball game.”

With the exception of a Brandon Smith solo home run in the fourth inning, the Flyers had an equally hard time offensively. Things changed though in the top of eighth when with one out and the bases loaded, Robbie Doring sent a 2-2 slider on the outer half of the plate soaring over the right field wall.

Kevin Hassett replaced Lasko earlier in the inning and was credited with two runs that scored from Doring’s grand slam.

Before being replaced, Lasko managed to work out of any trouble he got into.

“He’s a bull dog. He’s tough pitcher and I thought he pitched well,” Stone said. “And when you get beat by two opposite field home runs off of sliders on the outside part of the plate, that’s rare. That doesn’t happen very often.”

Despite yet another strong pitching performance from their starter, the Minutemen failed to get men on base, let alone score runs. The Minutemen’s impatience at the plate kept them from building any sort of offensive moment.

“I thought that we, and I told them that we swung at too many pitches early in the count, didn’t see enough pitches and didn’t really let the game come to us today,” Stone said. “We forced it. We were swinging with arms, a lot of arm swings versus our hands and as a result we didn’t take quality swings. We pop the ball up a lot, we didn’t see pitches as well as we should have from release point to barrel.”

Like UMass, Dayton entered the series with a record well below .500. The Flyers 3-8 conference record is the second worst in the conference and is two less wins than UMass. The Minutemen were given a blessing scheduling wise by having LaSalle and Dayton in back-to-back series. Both the Explorers and the Flyers sit at the very bottom of the conference and can serve as easy wins for a UMass team also is in the bottom-third of the conference.

However, the Minutemen have not performed particularly well at home. At Earl Lorden Field this season, UMass is now 1-7. With two more games left against Dayton in Amherst, Dylan Morris said the Minutemen are taking things one game at a time.

“We’re just trying to see it one game at a time,” Morris said. “All we’re worried about is tomorrow’s game. Tomorrow’s game is a must-win game. After that game is over we’ll worry about Sunday’s game and that will become a must-win game even if we win or we lose. We’re trying to just take it one game at a time, one inning at a time.”

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

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