Playoffs in sight for UM with sweep

By Eli Rosenswaike, Collegian Staff

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If ever there was a time for a series sweep, it would’ve been this past weekend for the Massachusetts baseball team.

Three wins and a series sweep later over Dayton this weekend in Ohio, the Minutemen are now serious players in the hunt for one of the final spots in next month’s A-10 Conference Tournament.

UMass (15-18, 9-9 A-10) won easily on Friday, 12-4, but escaped with victories in close games on both Saturday (4-3) and Sunday (4-2). Nine errors in the series hurt the Flyers (17-15, 6-12 A-10), as they fell into a tie for 11th with La Salle in the conference. The Minutemen moved up into a tie for seventh with George Washington, with nine conference games still remaining. The top six teams will advance to the tournament.

Sunday’s game featured a pitchers’ duel between UMass freshman Jared Freni and Dayton starter Sean Finn, but it was the Minutemen who finally struck first in the sixth inning of a scoreless game – scoring three runs (all unearned) on doubles by Ryan Franczek and Bryan Garrity.

The third inning rally started when Lou Proietti reached on a throwing error by UD second baseman Cole Tyrell. Jim Cassidy’s sacrifice moved him to second and Adam Tempesta singled to put runners on first and third with one out. Bryan Adamski then reached on a fielder’s choice to load the bases. That’s when Franczek and Garrity hit consecutive doubles to give UMass the 3-0 lead.

Coming off a rough start, Freni was terrific – shutting out the Flyers for 6 1/3 innings of work. He allowed three hits and five walks, while striking out four for his second win of the season. Dayton did all of its damage with two outs in the bottom of the ninth on a two-run home run by Frank Tedesco off Adamski.

Saturday’s game marked the Flyers’ best opportunity this weekend to break through against the Minutemen, but they fell just short. Trailing 4-2 entering the bottom of the ninth, Dayton sparked a rally against Adamski – scoring the third run of the game, while having the tying run reach third base with one out.

Needing a sacrifice fly to tie the game, UD leadoff man Michael Massa fouled out to first for the second out and Adamski closed out the game for his third save, after Scott Dunwoody grounded out to first baseman Andy Tuetken.

Jim Cassidy picked up the win for UMass – his fifth straight victory – allowing two runs in 7 1/3 innings. He surrendered seven hits and two walks, while striking out four. He took over the team-lead in wins over Chris Lloyd with five and also leads in strikeouts (27) and earned run average (3.35).

The bottom of the order paced the Minutemen offense, with outfielders Travis Munsey and Bill Rankin combining to go 6-for-6 with one run and two RBIs. Adamski and Tempesta each added two hits.

It was a UMass hit parade (14 team hits) on Friday for the Minutemen in their 12-4 victory. Five players enjoyed multi-hit efforts, led by Rankin (4-for-5, four runs scored), Ryan Franczek (3-for-4, two home runs and three RBIs), Proietti (2-for-5, three RBI) and Travis Munsey (2-for-4, three RBIs). Dunwoody was the lone offensive threat for Dayton, going 4-for-5 with two runs scored and two RBIs.

Flyers starter Chris Rubio struggled in his five innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on six hits. The Dayton defense did not help either, committing five errors in the game.

For UMass, Lloyd notched his fourth win of the season – lasting six innings and surrendering four runs. He allowed eight hits, while walking four and striking out three.

Mitchell Eilenberg closed out the final three innings for the Minutemen, picking up his first save of the season.

Eli Rosenswaike can be reached at [email protected]