UMass hosts GW in three-game series

By Eli Rosenswaike, Collegian Staff

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Michael Phillis/Collegian

After consecutive non-conference victories, the Massachusetts baseball team returns to the Atlantic 10 portion of its schedule against George Washington today for the start of a three-game home series.

The Colonials (11-22, 3-6 A-10) enter this weekend’s series tied with the Minutemen (8-13, 3-6 A-10) in the conference, but are streaking in the opposite direction – losing 10 of their last 13 games, including four straight. George Washington’s struggles culminated on Wednesday, losing 21-4 to a James Madison squad that also finds itself well south of the .500 mark.

UMass and GW – among other teams – are tied for ninth place in the A-10, and the winner of this weekend’s series will earn a leg-up in the standings. These teams last met in 2004, with the Colonials taking two out of three in Arlington, Va. Despite edging the Minutemen in that three-game set, GW still trails the all-time series 14-11.

But this time around, George Washington doesn’t have the luxury of facing the Minutemen at home. Although this season has been a bit of a struggle, GW has played rather well at home, amassing an 8-8 record.

But it’s been a different story on the road, with the Colonials coming out on top in just three of its 17 contests away from Arlington. With poor weather and numerous postponements, the Minutemen have only played five home games thus far, winning two.

The Minutemen come back to Amherst after beating Connecticut, 6-4, on Tuesday in Storrs. The triumph over the Huskies came just one day after beating Boston College for the first time since 2000. The Minutemen were stellar on the mound in each of the two victories, allowing just six earned runs in 18 innings of work.

The opposite has held true for the Colonials, which have allowed 33 runs in their last two games. The pitching staff has been the story all year long, as well, with a team earned run average of 7.79. The Colonials have had problems keeping opposing runners off the basepaths, allowing 584 men to reach base (406 hits and 178 walks) in just 290 innings on the mound.

Despite having to face a solid GW lineup that’s hitting .280 collectively, Colonials opponents have had a much easier time on the hill, allowing just 425 base runners to reach in 295 and two-thirds innings of work.

The Colonials feature a power-hitting lineup – 29 team home runs – led mostly by senior shortstop Michael Parker and junior outfielder Charlie Kruer. The pair of sluggers lead the team in virtually every category, tying for the team-lead in long balls at nine. Parker, a Newton, Mass. native, has been a force in the middle of the order, hitting at a .377 clip with 36 RBIs and a monstrous .659 slugging percentage.

The Minuteman lineup hasn’t been nearly as powerful – just five team home runs – but features more .300 hitters (four to three) than the Colonials. Captains Bryan Garrity and Travis Munsey aren’t far behind that mark either, both holding down .286 averages.

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.