Heading into Tuesday’s game, Siena’s Dan Paolini needed one home run to become the Saints all-time leader in that category.
The Massachusetts baseball team probably wishes he would have picked a different time to make that record his own.
With the score all tied up in the sixth inning, the junior second basemen hit a grand slam to help put the Saints up, 8-4. Siena (11-21) would tack on one more run in the eighth, securing themselves a 9-4 victory over the Minutemen (9-15, 3-3 Atlantic 10), who have now lost four of their last five games.
After UMass came up empty after a leadoff walk in the top half of the first, Siena wasted no time at all, plating a run on a sacrifice fly by Larry Balkwill, giving them a 1-0 lead.
The second inning proved not much different, as UMass left two men on base and Siena plated two more runs, this time on a two-RBI single by Vincent Citro.
The third inning showcased a different game between the two squads. After Anthony Serino reached base for the second time in the game, Eric Fredette walked. Matt Gedman, who upon entering the game was leading the A-10 in batting average at .444, tripled to right field, bringing both Serino and Fredette home. Tom Conley then brought Gedman in on a sacrifice fly, tying the game up at three.
Siena came right back to take the lead in the third after Paolini scored on a two-out single to right field by Ken Kirshner. This knocked out UMass starting pitcher Aaron Plunkett, who was replaced by Ben Hart. Hart recorded the final out of the inning on the first batter he faced.
After a scoreless fourth, UMass answered with another run of its own in the fifth. Serino got things going once again on a single to right field, and moved over to second off of a sacrifice bunt from Fredette. Serino then advanced to third base on a passed ball.
After Gedman walked, Siena made a pitching change, pulling starter Jake Werdesheim for C.J. Sohl. Peter Copa then knocked Serino in with an RBI single to center field. Conley ended the threat, and the inning, after striking out swinging.
The score would remain tied after Siena and UMass didn’t score in their next at-bats. The bottom of the sixth inning went in another direction, though; as Siena broke the game open on one swing of the bat.
After Andrew Sawyer led off with a walk, he was forced out at second base on a sacrifice bunt attempt by Tyler Bell. John Rooney then reached after being hit by a pitch. A single by Citro advanced both Rooney and Bell into scoring position. That’s when Paolini came to the plate and hit a grand slam to left field to give the Saints an 8-4 advantage.
“Obviously it was the difference in the game. [We] had opportunities before that but didn’t cash in,” said Stone.
UMass didn’t respond, going scoreless the next three innings.
Taking the loss for the Minutemen was Hart, who pitched four innings, giving up four runs on the same amount of hits while striking out and walking three. Getting the win for the Saints was Sohl, who went 2.2 innings, allowing no runs on three hits while striking out three and walking one.
Up next for the Minutemen is a home game against Boston College on Wednesday at 3 p.m.
Eric Mansfield can be reached at [email protected]