UMass tops Holy Cross in 8th inning

By Steve Levine

It is often said that successful baseball teams require solid pitching, clean defense and clutch hitting.

The latter of the three held true yesterday, when junior Matt Gedman’s two-out, eighth inning home run lifted the Massachusetts baseball team to a 12-10 victory over Holy Cross. With the win, the Minutemen (13-22, 9-9 Atlantic 10) have won five of their last six games while the Crusaders fall to 23-23.

Down by two with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning, the Minutemen, who were playing catch-up early on, had one of their best hitters up to try and take the lead. Gedman relished the opportunity – hitting the ball over the fence and bushes in right field.

“He told me afterwards he was looking for a breaking ball but saw a fastball and took a quick, quality swing,” UMass coach Mike Stone said. “When [Gedman] makes solid contact, he’s always got a chance to hit the ball out of the park.”

The eighth-inning rally started when freshman Ryan Cusick was hit by a pitch. Junior Eric Fredette followed by drawing a walk – setting up  Gedman’s at-bat.

“It ended up being a great comeback,” Stone said. “We kept battling offensively even though it was a struggle defensively and on the mound.”

Starting the game for the Minutemen was sophomore Robert Machado, gave up six runs in three innings. Sophomore Ben Hart came on in relief of Machado and did not fare much better, allowing three runs in 3.1 innings.

With the game tied at nineafter seven innings, sophomore reliever Glen Misho effectively shut down the Crusaders, registering the win by throwing 2.2 innings, allowing one run and striking out three.

“Misho hadn’t pitched in a while but he came out and pitched better than he had been which was great,” Stone said. “He was effective down in the zone, showed good velocity with his fastball, and his split-finger was really tough to hit.”

Misho finished the game by throwing an impressive 1-2-3 ninth inning.

“He was stronger and more aggressive in the ninth inning with the lead,” Stone said. “It was nice to see him close it out like that.”

UMass’ runs came from the heart of the order, with Gedman, senior Brian Baudinet, and junior Peter Copa each registering three runs batted in.

The Minutemen return to action today at 3 p.m. when they host Northeastern for the final game of their nine-game home stand. UMass went 6-2 over that stretch and hope to continue its winning ways against the non-conference Huskies (9-23).

Stone does not want to take any team lightly at this point in the season as he will expect a good effort again from his team.

“We certainly can’t categorize them as a weak team because we try to take advantage of every ballgame we play,” Stone said.

With the season currently on the home-stretch and UMass a game out of playoff contention, every game has critical importance.

Steve Levine can be reached at [email protected]