Minutemen lose back-to-back games

By Scott Cournoyer

After rattling off five wins in a row, including the first two games of its Atlantic 10 opening series against George Washington last weekend, the Massachusetts baseball team has cooled off a bit, losing back-to-back games now after being defeated by Holy Cross, 14-4, on Tuesday.

Starting pitching, which has been a significant component of the team’s recent formula of success over the last couple of weeks after UMass (6-10, 2-1 A-10) started the season 1-8, was nowhere to be found on the mound for the Minutemen against the Crusaders (11-10-1).

The Maroon and White threw freshman Ryan Lubreski out on the mound for his first start of the year. The New Jersey-native did not go nearly as far into the game compared to his last start, lasting 2.2 innings, surrendering four earned runs off seven hits and two walks.

The pressure was on early for the newcomer, as Holy Cross tallied three consecutive hits to open the bottom of the first inning, which eventually translated into two runs to give the Crusaders the early lead.

After Lubreski, reliever junior Joe Popielarczyk gave up five runs (two earned) on five hits over 2.1 innings of work, sophomore Aaron Zaleznik had his shot to come out of the bullpen for his first appearance since recording an inning of work against Navy on March 14. Zaleznik did not fair well as he gave up five runs on two hits and four walks. Two of the runs in the bottom of the seventh were surrendered when the junior issued three walks, as well as two wild pitches.

Junior Ben Hart, the veteran returning pitcher for UMass, and freshman Aaron Plunkett combined for the Minutemen’s final two innings of work, allowing one hit between the two of them, striking out a total of four in the process.

Although it was brief, it was an impressive inning of work for the freshman Plunkett. The Essex Junction, Vt. native struck out two in his second appearance on the mound for UMass this season, his other coming against the University of Maryland-Baltimore Country back on March 20.

The Minutemen’s offense didn’t exactly light up the scoreboard as they have in recent games, an uncharacteristic outcome for a squad who averaged 7.5 runs per game over its last six contests, going into Tuesday.

The two earned runs for UMass came off the bats of senior Peter Copa and freshman Kyle Adie.

Despite leaving six additional men on base, Copa proved to be the meat of the order, going 2-for-4 with a run batted in and one scored.

Adie, who continues to impress at a young age with his discipline in the box and characteristic speed, went 1-for-3 with an RBI and a walk.

Slotting in as the designated hitter, senior Matt Gedman doubled in the contest and later came around to score. Senior co-captain Kyle Multner and sophomore Anthony Serino also recorded hits for the Maroon and White.

The Minutemen will return to action Thursday as the travel to Connecticut to take on Hartford in a makeup game from March 23.

Scott Cournoyer can be reached at [email protected]