Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UM swept in series vs. Musketeers over weekend

Michael Wood/Collegian
Michael Wood/Collegian

For the first time this season, the Massachusetts baseball team was swept in a weekend series by an Atlantic 10 opponent, as it took on Xavier at home on Earl Lorden Field.

The Minutemen (12-21, 5-7 A-10) were unable to generate much of anything offensively in Sunday afternoon’s game, losing by a final of 7-0. The Musketeers (21-18, 6-6 A-10) pitching staff only surrendered four hits and three walks on the day, marking their best outing on the weekend.

The Maroon and White found themselves behind early, with starting pitcher Dennis Torres giving up two runs off of three hits to start the first inning. Torres would continue to face difficulty against the Musketeer offense, lasting only 4.2 innings while giving up eight hits and six runs, of which four were earned. Charlie Benson came in to pitch relief, scattering eight hits over the remaining 4.1 innings, giving up just one run. With the loss, Torres fell to 2-3 on the season.

On the opposite end, freshman Vinny Nittoli kept the UMass offense at bay, allowing only four hits and one walk over six innings, while striking out four. Nittoli would improve his record to 5-1 with the win.

The Minutemen’s best chance to score came in the sixth inning, during which Nittoli started the inning with a four-pitch walk to sophomore Anthony Serino and followed with a single to center field by senior Eric Fredette. Serino would advance to third on a double play, but would be stranded there, as Nittoli earned a groundball out off the bat of senior Peter Copa.

In response to Saturday’s inclement weather, the weekend schedule was altered to allow for a double header on Friday afternoon. The two games would prove to play out very differently in terms of offensive production for UMass.

In the first game, the Minutemen jumped out to a 5-1 lead going into the fifth inning off of RBIs by senior Matt Gedman, junior Tom Conley, and senior Kyle Multner. After loading the bases with three consecutive one-out singles in the top of the fifth, however, Ben Thomas would rip his first pitch of the at-bat to deep center field, driving in three on a double. He would later score before the inning ended, tying the game up at five runs apiece.

The Maroon and White would not score again until the bottom of the seventh, an inning in which they drove in two runs off of Musketeer errors. Xavier would answer right back with two runs of their own in the top of the eighth, again tying the score, though this time at 7-7.

It would not be until the top of the 10th inning that the game’s final run would cross the plate as UMass’ closer, junior Leif Sorenson, would give up the run off of a single to Mark Elwell. Elwell would drive in Brian Bruening, who led the inning off with a single and was advanced to third on a sacrifice. The Minutemen would then strand runners on first and third to end the bottom of the 10th on a foul out by Copa.

The second game of the afternoon, a 9-2 UMass loss, would actually prove to be a pitcher’s duel until the top of the fourth inning, following a questionable call at the plate.

With one out and runners on first and second, with UMass leading 1-0 at the time, Bruenning bunted a fair ball that was fielded by Conley. The play would have likely resulted in a 2-5-3 double play, but home plate umpire Gerry Bilodeau saw the bunt as foul and ruled the play dead. Bruenning would later double and drive in two runs, the start of a four-run top fourth inning for the Musketeers.

Xavier would later score five more runs in the top of the sixth, and would only yield the Minutemen one more run in the bottom of the seventh. The Musketeer pitching staff held UMass to just two runs off of eight hits, while the Minutemen staff spotted them for nine runs off of 15 hits.

In response to the double-header loss, UMass coach Mike Stone recognized the patience shown by the Musketeer staff, and the frustration of his own ball club.

“They made some good judgments in both games,” said Stone. “Their pitching did a good job at frustrating our hitters, and that led to a lack of concentration in some of our at-bats. We had opportunities, as did they, and some worked while others did not. Their hitters were just able to capitalize better than we could.”

David Martin can be reached at [email protected].

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