Maroon and White swept by Dukes in conference series

By Eli Rosenswaike, Collegian Staff

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If its first few games against Atlantic 10 competition is any indication, it’s going to be a long and difficult season for the Massachusetts baseball team.

The Minutemen (2-7, 0-3 A-10) dropped all three games against Duquesne over this past weekend, putting themselves in an early hole in the conference standings. UMass is tied with La Salle at the bottom of the 14-team conference.

After poor field conditions postponed Friday’s game and moved the series from Pittsburgh, Pa., to Seton Hall’s artificial turf field in Greensburg, Pa., the two teams played a doubleheader on Saturday. Strong pitching from the Dukes (6-10, 3-0 A-10) in both games led to the doubleheader sweep.

The final game of the series was more of the same, with Duquesne’s freshman hurler Grant Gillespie limiting the Minutemen to three hits in the 5-2 victory. UMass finished with more errors (five) than its three hits in that game and finished with four runs in the series after 2-0 and 6-2 losses during the doubleheader.

The Minutemen get right back into action this week with six games in the next seven days. They will travel to Storrs, Conn., to face UConn on Monday and play their first home game of the season a day later against Sacred Heart. UMass heads back to Connecticut on Wednesday for a road tilt with Hartford. After a day off on Thursday, the Minutemen welcome conference foe Xavier for a three-game set at Earl Lorden Field.

In Game 1 against Duquesne, both teams had just five hits in a classic pitchers’ duel. But the Dukes’ junior right-hander Ryan Juran got the better of UMass’s Mitchell Clegg, going the distance with a complete game shutout. Clegg had 10 strikeouts to Juran’s four but couldn’t escape the early jams that Juran did.

After a brief rest, the two teams got right back into it for the second game. UMass starter Bryan Leigh (six runs and 14 baserunners allowed in six innings) was out-classed by Duquesne’s Paul Bugajski, who allowed just one run in seven innings. Brian Baudinet led UMass at the plate, driving in both runs and reaching base three times, but it was not enough to overcome another strong pitching performance from the Dukes.

The final game of the series was the messiest for UMass, with its pitchers allowing nine hits and eight walks, while the defense committed five errors. UMass held the lead, 2-1, after four innings but only mustered two hits in the final seven innings.

The Minutemen began spring break on a positive note, taking two out of three from Army at the New York Yankees Spring Training Complex in Tampa, Fla. They took both games of a doubleheader (1-0 and 7-1) on March 16 but dropped the final game of the series in dramatic fashion, 12-11, a day later to narrowly miss the series sweep. UMass had an 8-1 lead after three innings but allowed Army to score nine runs in the sixth. The Minutemen trailed by four runs heading into the final inning and cut the lead to one before Mike Donato struck out with the potential winning run on base.

Eli Rosenswaike can be reached at [email protected]