Minutemen win two of three

By Eli Rosenswaike, Collegian Staff

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In three games this weekend against La Salle, the Massachusetts baseball team allowed 44 Explorers to reach base – counting hits, walks and hit batsmen – while only having 21 base runners of its own. In the series, La Salle charged Minutemen pitching with 10 earned runs, compared to just the one they were charged with.

But in the end, the only statistic that truly mattered over the course of the weekend was wins and losses, and the Minutemen got the last laugh in that department – winning two of three from the Explorers, despite losing, 6-1, Sunday afternoon at Earl Lorden Field.

“We need to look at the fact that we did win two out of three,” captain Bryan Garrity said. “Our primary goal every weekend is that we want to win the series. But being up two games to nothing going into the last day, we should have taken [game three]. But apparently we just didn’t come ready to play.”

On Friday, La Salle (14-20, 6-9 Atlantic 10) appeared to be the team not ready to play, committing four errors en route to a 6-5 loss. The Minutemen (11-17, 6-9 A-10) took advantage once again of Explorers miscues a day later, winning 4-1 on Saturday behind a stellar pitching performance from Jim Cassidy.

With the score tied, 1-1, on Saturday, UMass broke the game open in the fourth inning, scoring three unearned runs off of starter Kenny Elkind. The big blow in the inning came when Brian Baudinet stroked a two-out triple down the right-field line, plating two runs – and increasing the lead to 4-1.

Cassidy took care of the rest, pitching into the eighth inning and allowing just one unearned run. He allowed five hits and five walks in his seven and two-thirds innings of work, pitching in and out of trouble throughout the game – but registering key outs at crucial times as the Explorers stranded 11 base runners. Cassidy had to work for his fourth win, throwing 120 pitches on the afternoon.

Smith made things a bit interesting in the ninth – allowing two singles and bringing the tying run to the plate – but he induced team-leading hitter John Rickards to look at strike three to end the game and pick up his fifth save of the season. Elkind was the hard-luck loser, allowing just three hits and one earned run in seven innings.

Much like in game two, UMass scored more runs (6) than it had hits (4) on Friday, but still came out with the victory. La Salle starter Dan Waters pitched fairly well in his six innings, but took the loss after he was charged with six unearned runs. Senior Chris Lloyd recorded his third win of the year, allowing five runs in six innings.

The star of the game – both at the plate and one the mound – was Bryan Adamski. His sacrifice fly in the first inning gave UMass the 1-0 lead, and his two-run blast in the fourth increased the lead to 4-0. Adamski also registered his second save, pitching three innings while only allowing one hit. Minutemen pitchers were helped out by some terrific glove work, especially by second baseman Adam Tempesta and third baseman Ryan Franczek.

After wasting strong pitching performances in both previous games, La Salle finally took advantage of a stellar outing from its starter – this time from junior Craig Muschko – when it touched up UMass starter Jared Freni for four runs in the third inning.

After cruising through the first two and one-third innings, Freni suddenly lost command of the strike zone, as the Explorers quickly loaded the bases with a walk, single and hit batsmen. Freni then walked in two runs, and balked in another – ultimately getting knocked out after Mike Dertouzos drove in the game’s fourth run with a single to left.

“It was a struggle all day long on the mound,” UMass coach Mike Stone said. “And eventually it’s going to catch up to you. The struggles on the mound made it very difficult for us.

“Plus we didn’t hit,” he added. “We played pretty good defense, but we didn’t have the same life and energy we had the past few days – which we can’t afford not to have. That was pretty much the story [yesterday].”

Muschko worked six shutout innings for the Explorers, allowing just three hits and two walks, while striking four. He navigated through some trouble, but remained unscathed as the Minutemen left 11 runners on base.

“We had base runners almost every inning, but we kept making the last out on hard-hit balls somewhere,” Garrity said. “We just couldn’t get anything to fall for us. If a couple of those fell for us, that’s two or three runs right there, and it’s a different ballgame all the sudden. It just didn’t fall our way today.”

Gerard Breslin picked up his seventh save, pitching three innings and allowing just one run (unearned) when Lou Proietti stole home on a double steal in the seventh. Freni was charged with loss, his third on the season.

Eli Rosenswaike can be reached at [email protected]