Minutemen take first A-10 series

By Eli Rosenswaike, Collegian Staff

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Trailing 2-1 in the ninth inning yesterday on the road to conference foe Temple (6-13, 1-2 A-10), the Massachusetts baseball team (4-7, 2-1 A-10) was down to its last strike in the first game of the doubleheader.

The middle infielders for the Minutemen made sure their team would enter Game 2 with a chance to sweep the double dip, rather than just trying to salvage the pair of games.

Back-to-back doubles by shortstop Lou Proietti and second baseman Adam Tempesta gave the Minutemen a one-run lead, and junior closer Aaron Smith notched his second save of the season to preserve the 3-2 victory.

The Maroon and White took full advantage of a Temple throwing error with one out and nobody on in the final inning. The error enabled left fielder Mike Donato to reach second base following a Jim Cassidy strikeout – the men up the middle for UMass delivered consecutive doubles to capture the lead for the first time.

The late heroics bailed out freshman hurler Jared Freni – who was terrific – from taking a hard-luck loss. In just his third career start, Freni captured his first win with eight strong innings of work.

The Minutemen were unable to pull off the same heroics in the second game, falling behind 7-0 after the third inning. UMass made things interesting once again in the ninth, down 9-7, sending the tying run to the plate with one out after a Proietti single. But Tempesta and first baseman Bryan Adamski couldn’t keep the game alive.

UMass starter Jim Cassidy didn’t make it out of the third inning, surrendering seven runs in just 2 2/3 innings. The Owls scored six runs in the third inning, including three unearned runs with two outs.

Despite the loss, the Minutemen captured the three-game set between the conference opponents due to their 13-10 triumph on Saturday. UMass led that game 4-3 after the eighth inning, before each team exploded in the final frame.

The Maroon and White posted eight runs in the top half of the inning, and it seemed as though the game was all but locked up at 12-3. Temple strung together some hits, but it still trailed by seven, with just one out left to register for UMass. Sophomore pitcher Mitchell Eilenberg appeared to end the game when he struck out Mike Kelch, but Kelch reached first on the wild pitch to load the bases.

Temple proceeded to club consecutive doubles, and the game was suddenly 13-10. Smith came in for Eilenberg and shut the door for the save to end the miraculous comeback attempt by the Owls. Chris Lloyd was solid for the Minutemen in his eight-plus innings, picking up his first win of the season.

Before the series against Temple, UMass played in five games during Spring Break – winning two. All five games were played in Bradenton, Fla., against four different opponents.

On Wednesday, the Minutemen were shut out, 4-0, against Illinois (7-8). UMass failed to muster up any runs, despite knocking 10 base hits. Sophomore Tim Comiskey was solid in his seven innings of work, but he took the loss.

The Maroon and White split the two meetings with Northwestern (6-11) last week, winning 10-7 on Sunday and losing 4-2 on Tuesday. In between those two games, UMass took a thrilling 15-14 game against Jacksonville State (12-12). Good pitching was hard to come by in that contest, with the two teams combining for 36 hits and 10 walks.

The Gamecocks scored three in the ninth to tie the game off UMass pitching and the game was sent to extra innings. The Minutemen ended things in the 11th with a walk-off single by Bryan Adamski – who also notched the win in his three solid innings of relief.

UMass lost its first game during break, 14-10, to Dartmouth (3-9-1).

Eli Rosenswaike can be reached at [email protected]