Sloppy play by HC leads to UMass win

By Eli Rosenswaike, Collegian Staff

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The Massachusetts baseball team took a 4-1 lead into the eighth inning courtesy of sloppy play by Holy Cross, but nearly let the game slip away with erratic play of its own. The Minutemen survived the scare and held on for the 4-3 win yesterday at Fitton Field.

UMass starting pitcher Jim Cassidy was terrific, recording his first victory of the season with seven strong innings. Cassidy entered the game with the worst ERA on the team – 11.57 – but the junior hurler allowed only one run on three hits in his seven frames.

“Jim Cassidy pitched a very good game, and that’s really what it was all about,” UMass coach Mike Stone said. “He’s got a lot of ability. He has a very sharp fastball, hitting 91 [mph] when he’s strong, and he has a good curveball. He just had good command today. We just needed a good outing, and we got it.”

The Minutemen (5-11, 2-4 A-10) failed on numerous occasions to break the game open, stranding 13 base runners on the day. With the score tied at one-apiece, UMass finally broke through and took the lead for good in the seventh inning. After two consecutive infield singles and a double steal, Adam Tempesta rapped a two-run base hit.

In one of the rarest plays you’ll ever see on the diamond, the Minutemen tacked on another run when both the third baseman and the left fielder committed errors on a grounder by Bryan Adamski.

The Crusaders (2-14) got two of those runs right back in the eighth inning, thanks to a miscue by the new UMass pitcher, Mitchell Eilenberg. With a runner on second and two out, Eilenberg bobbled a come-backer and that kept the inning alive for Matt Perron – who promptly delivered a two-run double. The sophomore reliever struck out the side, all looking, but the two unearned runs allowed put Holy Cross right back in it.

Stone brought in closer Aaron Smith for the bottom of the ninth, and he hit Brendan Akashian on the very first pitch. Smith battled back from a 3-0 count to Tyler Stampone, and UMass caught a break when he lined into a double play on a hit-and-run. Smith retired Kyle Lister to close out the game and register his third save of the season.

“It was a win, but it wasn’t a pleasant win,” Stone said. “We had so many chances to blow them out, and we didn’t. We struggled to finish, but we held on. It was an uphill battle, but it shouldn’t have been.”

Senior Kevin Beglane made his first career start for Holy Cross, allowing just one run (unearned) in his three innings. Chris Blanchard took the loss for the Crusaders, surrendering two runs in his 2/3 innings of work in the seventh.

The Minutemen scored the game’s first run in the third inning, thanks to two errors by the Crusaders. Andy Tuetken led off with a bloop single, and Travis Munsey reached when his bunt was misplayed. Lou Proietti hit a an easy double-play ball, but the second baseman threw it away when he tried to rush the throw to second, and Tuetken scored.

Holy Cross threatened in the fifth inning after a leadoff single by Stampone and another single by Lister on a perfect hit-and-run. With runners on the corners and no out, Cassidy thwarted the threat when he induced Tim Hughes to hit into a double play. The run scored, but further damage was averted.

“Cassidy threw good pitches when he had to,” Stone said. “We just needed to get the win, one way or another. That was a very important win.”

Eli Rosenswaike can be reached at [email protected] Log onto the Daily Collegian’s sports blog at dailycollegiansports.blogspot.com for more coverage of all UMass sports.