Beanpot Blues

By Eli Rosenswaike, Collegian Staff

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Courtesy UMass Media Relations

Fenway Park will host the Massachusetts baseball team on Wednesday for the 18th annual Beanpot Tournament, but the Minutemen will have to play for the consolation prize after their 17-6 loss to Northeastern yesterday in the first round.

After waiting out the rain on both Tuesday and Wednesday, the Huskies (17-9) jumped on UMass (9-16, 4-8 Atlantic 10) pitcher Ryan Walczak in the top of the first – scoring four runs with one swing of the bat – when Dan Milano connected on a grand slam to left-center field.

Northeastern added one run in each of the next two innings, and blew the game wide open with another four-run outburst in the fifth. The Huskies continued their barrage at the plate, scoring five runs in the seventh and two more in the ninth.

“It just wasn’t a good performance at all by our team,” UMass coach Mike Stone said. “The effort we got today was very disappointing.”

Every starter had at least one hit for NU, including four multiple-hit performances. The trio of Anthony DiCesare, Mike Tamsin and Frank Compagnone led the way for the Huskies, as each player scored three runs and knocked out three hits. In all, Northeastern reached base 26 times, including 16 hits, eight walks and two hit batsmen.

Walczak – making just his second start of the season – failed to get out of the second inning, giving up five runs on three hits and four walks in one-plus innings of work. The loss dropped his record to 0-2.

Five relievers combined to pitch the last eight innings for the Minutemen, with mixed results. Mike DiCato and Rory McDonald were solid, combining to pitch three scoreless innings. But both Tim Comiskey (three and two-thirds innings) and Beau Hodges (two-thirds) were roughed up, allowing five runs each. Aaron Smith pitched the final inning for UMass and allowed two runs.

The Minutemen had trouble getting to NU starter Dan Zehr, who picked up his third win of the season in six solid frames of work. He allowed just two runs (one earned) on five hits and one walk, while striking out a pair.

UMass did most of its damage at the plate off of Aaron Greenblatt in the eighth, scoring four times on the strength of a two-run single by Mike Donato and the first collegiate home run by freshman Cody Kauffman. Other highlights at the dish for the Minutemen included Bryan Garrity’s first homer of the season and Adam Tempesta, who increased his streak of reaching base to 24 games with his single in the first inning.

“Bryan Garrity and Cody Kauffman [each] hit a home run,” Stone said, “but other than that, we didn’t do much.”

Tempesta and senior Bill Rankin continued their hot hitting, as each pounded out two hits in the loss. With his pair of singles, Tempesta increased his team-leading batting average to .367. He also leads in hits (36), doubles (6), total bases (42) and is tied with Jim Macdonald – who is out with a broken finger – with a .429 slugging percentage.

With its win, Northeastern will play for the tournament championship against Boston College (13-21-1) at 3 p.m. on Wednesday at Fenway Park. The Minutemen will square off against Harvard (12-13) in the consolation game beforehand, at noon.

But before the Maroon and White set its sight on the Crimson, it must play a crucial three-game set against LaSalle (13-18, 5-7 A-10) this weekend at Earl Lorden Field.

“It’s a very important weekend for us,” Stone said. “We just need to play well. If we get good pitching on the mound and play well defensively, we’ll give ourselves a good chance to win some ballgames – and I feel good about our chances. But we need to make a move in the league – a positive move – and the time is now.”

UMass has enjoyed success against the Explorers, coming out on top in 13 of the 19 career meetings. But it was La Salle that took two of three from the Minutemen last year in an exciting series that was played in Philadelphia, Pa.

Senior and staff ace Chris Lloyd gets the call on Friday, while Jim Cassidy is slated to start on Saturday. Sunday’s probable starter is yet to be finalized, but Stone said either Jared Freni or Mike DiCato will likely be on the hill.

Notes: Yesterday’s game was supposed to be played in Lynn at Fraser Field, but was moved to Friedman Diamond in Brookline (Northeastern’s home field) to accommodate the BC/Harvard first round game