UMass Nine sweep Saint Joseph’s

By David Brinch, Collegian Staff

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The Massachusetts baseball team finally did what teams have done to it all season.

Rallying back from a six-run deficit, junior outfielder Mike Donato hit a walk-off, two-run home run in the bottom of the 10th inning Sunday afternoon, propelling the Minutemen to an 11-9 victory over Saint Joseph’s and the team’s first three-game series sweep this season.

‘We’ve been on the other end of that quite a few times, which isn’t good, and it was great to see the table turn in our direction,’ said UMass coach Mike Stone, who has seen his team lose 10 one-run games.

UMass (14-19, 7-8 A-10) is in the midst of a four-game winning streak, after falling to Northeastern in the championship game of the Beanpot Tournament on April 13.

With the score tied in the bottom of the 10th, junior center fielder Brian Baudinet struck out swinging before senior designated hitter Jim Macdonald reached on an error by SJU shortstop Joe Cook.

Donato made the Hawks pay, jumping on a pitch from SJU pitcher Ryan Kemp and drove it over the left field wall, ending the game and completing the weekend sweep.

‘It’s always positive when you feel good about what you are doing on the field and your efforts. We’re seeing the results,’ Stone said.

The Minutemen pounded Hawks starter A.J. Holland early, scoring three runs in the first inning.

But reliever Matt Barnathan silenced the UMass bats, giving up two hits in 6-1/3 innings of work, while allowing St. Joe’s to score the next nine runs of the game.

Clutch hitting in the eighth and ninth innings forced extra innings, which would eventually go the Minutemen’s way.

Sophomore infielder Matt Gedman hit a three-run home run followed by a solo shot by sophomore infielder Kyle Multner before Macdonald drove in Austin Weymouth with a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the eighth.

Matt Gedman singled in pinch runner Peter Copa in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game.

In the series opener on Friday afternoon, senior left-hander Mitchell Clegg pitched his first career shutout, hurling a complete game ‘- the first one complete-game shutout by a UMass pitcher since 2005.

Clegg allowed six hits, walked two batters and stuck out seven en route to Stone’s 600th career victory.

‘Mitchell has really turned things around. He has always had the talent to be a good pitcher but he has really committed himself this year and has seen results,’ Stone said.

As for the individual accolade that Stone received in winning the game, the coach of 27 years didn’t see it as a big deal.

‘That’s not really that important as far as I’m concerned,’ Stone said. ‘What was important was that we went out and won the first game of the series, and that we swept.’

A strong defensive performance backed Clegg’s gem on Friday.

In the bottom of the ninth with a runner on for St. Joe’s, senior infielder Sam Boone made a diving stop, robbing a multi-base hit from David Valesente, recording the first out of the inning for UMass.

With two outs and the tying run at the plate, senior infielder Adam Tempesta moved to his right, scooped the ball and threw to first for the game’s final out.

Macdonald hit his fourth home run of the season, as the Minutemen have hit 13 homers in the past four contests ‘- all of which have been victories.

‘You don’t practice hitting home runs, you practice taking quality swings and that’s what we are trying to do ‘- and it has a lot to do with their success,’ Stone said.

UMass got another complete-game win on Saturday. Sophomore Nick Serino went the distance, winning his third game of the season.

The southpaw got plenty of run support, as all nine UMass starters registered a hit in the game. With Mike Gedman went 3-for-4 with four RBIs and a run scored, while Boone went 3-for-5 with two runs scored.

‘It’s been a difficult start to the season with a lot of distractions to deal with, and then some tough losses and they’ve hun
g in there to their credit,’ Stone said.

David Brinch can be reached at [email protected]