Baseball: Minutemen drop 2-of-3 Charlotte

By Eli Rosenswaike, Collegian Staff

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In two embarrassing losses to Charlotte this weekend the Massachusetts baseball team allowed 51 hits, 17 walks and committed nine errors in an 18-3 defeat on Friday and 24-6 thumping on Saturday.

Charlotte should have saved some of those runs for Sunday.

The 49ers scored eight runs on 14 hits in the series finale but it wasn’t enough, as UMass helped salvage the series with a 12-8 victory at Earl Lorden Field powered by two home runs by Andy Tuetken and solid pitching by Mike Dicato.

Considering the damage that Rob Lyerly and Chris Taylor (they combined for 18 hits, seven home runs and 16 RBI) and the rest of the 49ers did over the weekend, the Minutemen were pleased with the way they bounced back to capture a game in the series.

“We had to erase those games from our memory, because we still had a chance to come away with a win and that’s very important in a three-game series,” senior captain Bryan Garrity said. “When you come away 1-2 [in the series] not everything’s lost.”

“I told them we needed to show a lot of character and we did that,” UMass coach Mike Stone said. “We bounced back and we won and hopefully we can start getting back on the winning track again.”

Dicato, who pitched the Minutemen (12-17, 5-10 Atlantic 10) to a Beanpot Championship with a stellar performance last week, picked up where he left off and shut down the 49ers for the first five innings, giving UMass a 9-0 lead.

But Charlotte (29-9, 11-4 A-10) got to him in the sixth, as Lyerly and Taylor hit back-to-back home runs en route to a four-run inning. Mitchell Eilenberg relieved him in the sixth inning and went the rest of the way as Tuetken, Ryan Franczek (home run and three RBI) and the Minutemen had too much offense for the 49ers.

It was Charlotte that supplied virtually all the offense in the first two games of the series. The 49ers scored 24 runs on 29 hits, 10 walks and six UMass errors in a 24-6 victory on Saturday. But all Charlotte really needed was Lyerly, who had one of the best games you’ll ever see: 6-for-6, three home runs, six RBI, two doubles, a triple and a walk.

UMass starter Bryan Leigh allowed seven runs (four earned) in 3 1/3 innings, but it was reliever Charlie Benson (nine runs in 1 2/3 innings) who took the majority of the damage.

Charlotte led 9-0 after the top of the fourth inning. UMass answered with five runs in the bottom of the inning (all unearned), but the 49ers scored six runs in both the sixth and ninth innings to completely pull away. Nine different players for Charlotte had at least two hits, including five with three or more.

“That is a very good offensive team; they capitalized on all the mistakes our pitchers made this weekend,” Garrity said after Sunday’s game. “It was tough to stop them; once they got going it was like a hit parade. But we got better pitching and found a way to stop them [Sunday].”

On Friday UMass starter Mitchell Clegg was roughed up early, allowing seven runs in the first two innings. He finished with 10 runs allowed (eight earned) in 4 1/3 innings. Charlotte starter Joe Yermal went all nine innings for the complete game.

Much like they did on Saturday, nine different 49ers had at least two hits on Friday.

UMass returns to action for a non-conference game against Central Connecticut State today at home. The Minutemen are 20-7 in the career series, including an 11-7 victory last season.

Game notes

Charlotte finished the series with 50 runs, 65 hits and 96 total baserunners in 27 innings.