Minutemen prepare to face UConn despite wicked weather

By David Martin

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian
Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

Though the rain is certainly not ideal for making plays on the diamond, the Massachusetts baseball team looks to do more than just weather the storm as they prepare to take on Connecticut at J.O. Christian Field on Wednesday afternoon.

The Minutemen (8-11, 2-1 Atlantic 10) were originally supposed to take on the Huskies (14-10-1) in a home-and-home split over Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons. However, as a result of Tuesday’s unfavorable weather, the game in Storrs, Conn. will be moved to this Wed. afternoon, while the game played at Earl Lorden Field will take place later this month on Monday, April 14.

With weather conditions aside, UMass coach Mike Stone is confident that his team will perform to its capabilities after the first pitch.

“The rain does not affect us here, and I really do not consider it an issue,” said Stone. “We just want to approach every game like it is the most important game, and if we focus on that, we can really win a ballgame.”

It is that kind of attitude that has propelled the Maroon and White to earn a 7-3 record in their past 10 games, a mark that certainly gives them strength against a UConn team that has a little bit of its own momentum to work with.

The Huskies are coming fresh off the heels of a weekend series sweep of St. John’s last weekend. The sweep has solidified the notion that UConn will be a serious contender throughout the season, as the Huskies now rank No. 29 in College Baseball Newspaper’s top-30 poll.

However, despite their success, Stone feels that nothing the competition can say brings need for panic on the field of play.

“They will definitely be one of the better teams we have played [so far], but we are not going to be intimidated,” said Stone. “The shape of this game is really going to be determined by how the pitchers perform. They certainly have a good staff, but so do we, and I know that every one of our starters give us a very good chance to win right from the start [of the game].

“But, it is one of those things where it is a midweek game, and a lot of times you are not sure what you will see from the other team,” continued Stone. “They could be resting their big starters in anticipation for the weekend series, or they could put out the best they got for you to face. You just do not know how it will go until game time.”

Stone isn’t concerned about a lack of effort or production from the Minutemen in the field or at the plate.

Senior Matt Gedman has been leading the way so far this year for the Minutemen in most offensive categories. Gedman leads the team in batting average (.466), slugging percentage (.671), on base percentage (.494), hits (34), RBIs (16) and total bases (49) in 17 total games this season, all of which he has started.

Of the Minutemen who have started at least 10 games or more this season, five of them have fielding percentages of at least .950 or better. Senior outfielder Kyle Multner and sophomore outfielders Rich Graef and Anthony Serino highlight the group with error-free ball so far this season.

When those stats are coupled with the fact that every ballplayer goes out onto the field with “energetic and focused mindsets,” Stone feels that each game has the makings of ending up as another tally in the win column.

“I want us to play well, because if we play well, we have a very good chance of winning day-in and day-out,” said Stone. “It is really as simple as that.”

David Martin can be reached at [email protected].