UMass wins second straight over Connecticut team

By Eli Rosenswaike, Collegian Staff

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Michael Phillis/Collegian

The Hartford baseball team was trampled on in two of its recent games, getting outscored 58-17 in the embarrassing losses.

Massachusetts didn’t run all over the Hawks yesterday, but came away with the close victory because of all the running it did.

Behind eight stolen bases and strong pitching in key spots, UMass defeated Hartford, 7-5, yesterday at Earl Lorden Field to improve to 4-8 this season.

Mitchell Eilenberg pitched five stellar innings in a rare start and reliever Nathan Monroy closed out the final 2 1/3 innings for the Minutemen to avert Hartford’s late comeback attempt.

“He pitched very well, that’s why we use him a lot,” UMass coach Mike Stone said of Eilenberg. “He throws strikes, he’s got command of his curveball, slider and change and he battles and knows how to pitch. He’s got a lot of poise.”

UMass backed up the strong pitching effort on the base paths and at the plate, as six different players stole at least one base and five Minutemen scored at least once.

“We made things happen; it was very big,” Stone said about the baserunning. “We need to put the pressure on the defense, and we haven’t had the opportunity that much, except for the last couple of days.”

Wednesday’s victory marks the second in as many days for the Minutemen, who finally played their first two home games of the season. UMass defeated Sacred Heart, 15-3, on Tuesday afternoon in its home opener; yesterday’s game was supposed to be played in Hartford, but was moved to Amherst due to field conditions.

After both teams scored one run in the first inning, UMass took the lead, 3-1, after a hectic inning that saw Hartford allow the Minutemen to reach base in almost every way possible. UMass added a run in the fourth inning to take a three-run lead, but the Hawks quickly answered back as soon as Eilenberg was taken out of the game due to his pitch count.

In the sixth inning, Hartford scored three runs off reliever Ryan Walczak to tie the game at 4-4. Walczak failed to record an out, and was quickly replaced with Charlie Benson – who shut down the Hawks in 1 2/3 innings of work.

UMass took the lead for good in the bottom half of the inning, with Mike Gedman scoring the go-ahead run after Mike Donato hit into a double-play. The Minutemen subsequently scored one run in each of the next two innings.

Hartford made a brief threat in the eighth inning on a solo home run by Mike Amendola, but Monroy immediately settled down and recorded his first save of the season.

The Minutemen get just one day off before they continue their busy stretch on Friday, where they will open a three-game series with Atlantic 10 opponent Xavier.

Eli Rosenswaike can be reached at [email protected]