Minutemen capture Beanpot Championship

By Eli Rosenswaike, Collegian Staff

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Michael Phillis/Collegian

BOSTON – Fenway Park has quite a history. Massachusetts pitcher Mike Dicato came just three outs away from adding to it last night in the Beanpot Championship game against rival Boston College. Entering the bottom of the ninth inning with a 4-0 lead, Dicato walked to the mound trying to capture UMass’s first Beanpot Championship since 2000. Further adding to the pressure, he was three outs away from the first UMass no-hitter in 11 years. Following two walks to start the ninth, Dicato lost the no-hit bid when Tony Sanchez’s bloop single escaped the reach of three fielders converging in right-center field. But more importantly for UMass, it escaped Fenway with the victory, 4-3, as reliever Mitchell Eilenberg shut down BC’s late rally to prevent the comeback. “I owe him dinner tonight,” Dicato said of Eilenberg after the game. “He did a great job finishing the game.”

Eilenberg preserved the win when Sam Shaughnessy was caught looking at strike three with the tying run at second base and the potential winning run at first. But it was Dicato’s stellar performance that everyone wanted to talk about.

“He had command of all of his pitches, he was mixing it up on certain counts and he was throwing all of his pitches for strikes,” catcher Bryan Garrity said. “He was battling out there and getting the job done for us.”

“I had control of all of my pitches; I was confident, just in the zone,” Dicato said. “It means everything to me; I grew up just a few miles from here. It’s just awesome to enjoy this championship with my teammates.”

Not only was Dicato a big reason UMass (11-14, 4-8 Atlantic 10) captured the title, but his stellar performance in the first round of the tournament against Harvard helped propel UMass to the championship game for the first time since 2001. Dicato pitched 6 2/3 shutout innings against the Crimson, striking out six in the 3-0 win. Dicato was aided last night by three quick runs in the first inning off of BC starter Kevin Moran. UMass had three hits in the inning, drew a walk and benefited from a throwing error by the third baseman on a bunt attempt. “We just tried to put as much pressure on them as possible,” UMass coach Mike Stone said. “They started a freshman and he was a bit nervous. He didn’t throw too many strikes and we were able to capitalize on that.” After Moran exited in the second inning, reliever Ted Ratliff shut the Minutemen down over the next 5 2/3 innings. UMass added an insurance run in the ninth inning – which proved to be the winning run – when Kyle Multner lined a single to right, scoring Andrew Black, who led off the inning with an infield single and was moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Andy Tuetken. Perhaps feeling a bit fatigued, Dicato walked both Barry Butera and Michael Belflore to lead off the bottom of the ninth. Sanchez appeared to be struck by the first pitch on the arm, but the umpire called him back, saying the ball hit the bat for a foul ball.

Dicato’s next offering was sent into shallow right-center field, but neither Adam Tempesta at second base or outfielders Brian Baudinet or Mike Donato could come up with it.

Following the single, Eric Campbell hit a run-scoring fielder’s choice, making the game 4-1. Mickey Wiswall then lined a single, bringing the Eagles one run closer at 4-2. Dicato was lifted in favor of Eilenberg, as Dicato walked off to a huge ovation. Eilenberg hit Garret Smith on the very first pitch, loading the bases with one out. Eilenberg then ran the count 3-0 to John Spatola, but battled back and got the out on a sacrifice fly to center, which brought the score to 4-3. Eilenberg ended the game when Shaughnessy looked at the third strike on the outside corner. “Mitchell [entered] in a very tough spot with the championship on the line and he got his outs,” Garrity said. “That’s what you need from a guy coming out of the pen – to battle and compete, and that’s exactly what he did.” Scott Barnsby is still the last Minuteman to throw a no-hitter. That came on April 22, 1997 against Northeastern – at Fenway Park. Eli Rosenswaike can be reached at [email protected]