Baseball: Minutemen cling to hope of a postseason

By Eli Rosenswaike, Collegian Staff

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Jenna Oelschlegel, Collegian Staff

The Massachusetts baseball team entered this past weekend’s series against Saint Joseph’s with fading hopes of making the Atlantic 10 Tournament.

Friday’s 11-4 series-opening loss to the Hawks appeared to make that all but official.

But the Minutemen answered back with victories in the final two games, winning the series against the Hawks in Philadelphia and maintaining their slim chance of playing in the postseason.

UMass (14-19, 7-11 A-10) was powered by Adam Tempesta’s five RBIs in its 12-5 victory on Saturday and by starting pitcher Mitchell Clegg in yesterday’s 6-4 win. The Minutemen currently rank 12th in the 14-team conference, the top six teams qualify for the conference tournament.

The top four spots are relatively set, with the remaining teams fighting for the final two spots. The Minutemen rank near the bottom, but their final three series are against teams directly above them, giving them an opportunity to make a move up in the standings.

Clegg battled back from a few recent rough outings, pitching eight strong innings before giving way to the bullpen to close it out in the ninth.

Aaron Smith entered, walking the first batter of the inning and allowing a single to set up a first-and-third situation with no outs. Mitchell Eilenberg came in and got the final three outs (the runner on third scored on a fielder’s choice) for his fourth save of the season.

The Minutemen scored one run in both the first and second innings, and never trailed in the game. Three errors by the Hawks led to three unearned runs, and UMass held a 4-0 lead after the top of the third inning. St. Joe’s tallied two in the bottom half of the inning and one in the fifth, but that would prove to be its final run.

On Saturday UMass jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first, started by Baudinet who led off the inning with a single and a stolen base. Franczek drove him in with a double and Tempesta followed with a single for his first RBI of the game. Andrew Black finished off the scoring in the inning with a run-scoring single.

UMass added an unearned run in the second and three more in the third (St. Joe’s committed two errors) but it could have been more as the Minutemen left the bases loaded. The Hawks (15-26, 7-11 A-10) scored two in the bottom of the inning and two more in the fifth off of starter Mike Dicato. But UMass scored three of its own in the fifth inning (Tempesta two-run single) to cruise to the 12-5 victory.

Dicato lasted all nine innings for the Minutemen, allowing 10 hits and five runs (four earned) for the first complete game of his career and fourth win of the season. He walked two and struck out three.

Friday’s game was close until the bottom of the fifth inning, when the Hawks scored four times to take a 6-3 lead. UMass scored its final run of the game in the top of the sixth inning, but St. Joe’s scored twice more in the bottom of the inning and three times in the eighth. Bryan Leigh (six earned runs in five innings) took the loss for UMass, while Randy Mower won his sixth game of the season with seven strong innings.

Eli Rosenswaike can be reached at [email protected]