Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Clegg headlines new staff

By Eli Rosenswaike, Collegian Staff

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Michael Phillis, Collegian Staff

With Chris Lloyd’s graduation and the season-ending injury to Jim Cassidy, the Massachusetts baseball team is without two of its best pitchers from last season.

But that doesn’t mean the Minutemen are worse off on the mound in 2008.

Despite having an extremely young group of pitchers and many new faces on the team, UMass coach Mike Stone appears to have a deeper staff this season with more options in various roles than he did a year ago.

Stone’s new ace, left-hander Mitchell Clegg, was on display Saturday at Earl Lorden Field against Xavier.

Overall, this weekend’s three-game set was disappointing for UMass (5-10, 1-5 Atlantic 10) having been swept in the doubleheader yesterday, but the Minutemen got another impressive outing from Clegg in the series-opening win.

Clegg, a junior transfer from Maine, picked up his first win of the season after pitching eight strong innings against the Musketeers. Clegg allowed one run on seven hits, striking out four and walking one in the 7-1 victory.

Clegg has started four games for the Minutemen this season, sporting a 1-1 record to go along with his team-leading 2.13 earned-run average. Clegg has been durable and an innings eater for UMass, averaging almost seven innings per start. He has shown good command, with nine walks and 18 strikeouts in over 25 innings of work. He’s only allowed four extra base hits thus far.

“He’s a pretty good pitcher. We recruited him out of high school, but he decided to go to Maine,” Stone said. “We feel good about him on the mound and the chances of him helping us out throughout the season.”

At Maine last year, Clegg struggled in his 24 innings of work. He allowed 37 hits and 46 baserunners for a WHIP just under 2.00, and had an ERA of 6.00.

Clegg isn’t the only transfer who has made an impact for UMass.

Bryan Leigh, a sophomore transfer from Barry University, has been a weekend starter for the Minutemen and ranks second on the team in innings pitched. Leigh struggled against Xavier in the first game of the doubleheader, allowing eight runs (four earned) in 1-2/3 innings of work. The right-hander struggled with his command, allowing five walks and five hits.

Leigh has been a bit erratic this season (13 walks and 23 hits allowed in 21.1 innings) but has shown his talent in spots. He throws hard, has good movement and has 19 strikeouts to prove it.

The rest of the main pitchers are also very young, with freshmen Nick Serino and Charlie Benson and sophomore Jared Freni expected to make strong contributions this season.

Life at .300

Last year the Minutemen hit .259 collectively and had only one player (Adam Tempesta, .306) hit over .300. This season, UMass has increased its batting average to .271 through 15 games, and five regulars are hitting above the .300 mark.

Freshman outfielder Kyle Multner leads the way for the Minutemen with his .346 batting average. He also leads the team with three home runs and an impressive .615 slugging percentage. As always, Tempesta is hitting well (.340), but there is a surprising name with him tied for second on the team.

That surprise is sophomore outfielder Brian Baudinet, who hit .132 (7-for-53) last season. In those 53 at-bats, Baudinet struck out 15 times. But of those seven hits, all but two of them went for extra bases.

Of his 17 hits this season, all but two have been singles. But Baudinet has two home runs and 11 RBIs to go along with his .340 batting average. He ranks second on the team in all three categories.

Baudinet has also completely turned around his plate discipline, with a team-leading 14 walks, .470 on-base percentage and eight strikeouts in 50 at-bats.

Andy Tuetken (.333) and Jim Macdonald (.321) are the other UMass players above .300.

It’s a lefty-righty thing

In baseball, many hitters struggle against left-handed pitching. This is not the case for UMass – at least not this season.

Against left-handed pitching, the Minutemen are hitting a robust .331 as a team in 136 at-bats. In 362 at-bats against right-handed pitching, UMass is hitting over .80 points lower at .249.

The stark contrast from the left to the right isn’t just limited to hitters against pitchers. Just take a look at UMass pitchers against left-handed batters.

In 144 at-bats against Minuteman pitching, opposing left-handed batters are hitting .340. But opposing right-handed batters are currently hitting .261.

Ryan Franczek is hitting a team-low .189, but leads the team with 14 runs scored

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