Opposites attract

By Mike Marzelli

Collegian Staff

Winner of three in a row, the Massachusetts baseball team (7-9, 3-3 Atlantic 10) will return to Earl Lorden Field this weekend for its first Atlantic 10 home series of the season.

The Xavier Musketeers (10-14-2, 2-4 Atlantic 10) will enter play Saturday having lost three of their last four, and are on the road for the second consecutive week. XU lost two of three at Saint Joseph’s last weekend.

UMass coach Mike Stone hopes the success of sophomore righthander Mike Crane will carry over into the rest of his young staff this weekend. Crane shut out Sacred Heart in a complete game effort Wednesday afternoon, but Stone knows the competition is still there to be the staff’s ace.

“I expect that out of all the pitchers,” Stone said after witnessing Crane’s gem. “We have some guys that are throwing the ball well, and we just need to get them some work to see where we’re at. We just need to get some guys in some ballgames.”

The sophomore duo of southpaw Keith Doherty and righthander Anthony Gallo will likely see action this weekend, as will promising freshman Matt Torra. Stone also did not rule out bringing Crane in on short rest for some weekend work against Xavier.

“Crane may start to become a weekend pitcher for us too,” Stone said. “His arm is getting better.”

“I want to get my arm strength up,” said Crane, who mowed down 12 batters on Wednesday. “I want to be able to get stronger and throw harder.”

The offense has also been clicking on all cylinders of late for the Minutemen, as University of Maine transfer Matt Reynolds has provided the spark.

The infielder went 5-for-9 with three doubles, four runs scored and two runs batted in a doubleheader sweep of La Salle, and followed that up by going three for four against Sacred Heart.

The Minutemen are getting consistent offensive production from first basemen Jeff Altieri, who drove in two against SHU. Couple that with timely hitting from players such as senior Matt Boulanger, who doubled and drove in a run against the Pioneers and homered twice in the previous week, and freshman Frank Curreri who drove in a pair against Sacred Heart, and Stone is happy with what he sees at the plate.

“We’re swinging the bats pretty well,” Stone said. “We’re getting in a good rhythm out there, putting the bat on the ball and making things happen. I just hope it carries over [into the weekend].”

The Musketeers may find themselves a little shorthanded on the mound, as five XU hurlers toed the rubber in a 10-3 setback at Butler University. They are led offensively by the infield duo of senior second basemen Eric Greenwell and junior second basemen Alec Moss. The former gathered four hits in a win over St. Joseph’s, and the latter knocked in three runs on two hits in his last two games.

Saturday’s doubleheader begins at noon with the second game tentatively set for 2:30 p.m. Sunday’s contest is set for 11:30 a.m.