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

LeBlanc goes 7.2 strong as UMass advances in Beanpot

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian
Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

The recipe for success in baseball is starting pitching – deep starting pitching.

With only a handful of viable options at the top of the staff for the Massachusetts baseball team, that means more spots are up for grabs, and freshman Conor LeBlanc is starting to make his case to join the group full-time.

Behind 7.2 innings from LeBlanc, UMass (10-10, 5-1 Atlantic 10) defeated Northeastern, 4-1, in the first round of the Beanpot tournament last night at LeLacheur Park in Lowell.

The Minutemen face Harvard next Wednesday for the Beanpot Championship. The start time is still to be announced.

The 6-foot-4 freshman earned his second victory of the season (2-0) in the effort, allowing just one run on three hits, while fanning two batters and walking four.

Totaling just eight hits in the ball game, both starters were effective. Huskies (12-15) starter Matt Cook battled through seven innings, allowing four runs (three earned) off three hits and five walks, while also fanning four.

UMass was aggressive on the base paths early on. After sophomore Rob McLam drew a walk in the second, he attempted to steal second, but was gunned down by NU’s Jon Leroux to keep the game scoreless.

The Huskies struck first in the top of the second. After drawing a walk to open up in the inning, Leroux eventually came around to score from first on an RBI-double by Jason Vosler, giving the Huskies a 1-0 lead.

The Minutemen responded right back in the bottom half of the inning. Senior Tom Conley opened things up with a walk, advanced to second on a single by Adam Picard and eventually came around to score on a fielder’s choice, tying the game at 1-1.

LeBlanc ran into trouble in the third after putting the first two batters on. The freshman induced a fly out to center and then got John Puttress to ground into an inning-ending double play to get out of jam.

After nailing a runner down in the inning before, Conley got aggressive on the base paths himself, stealing second after drawing a one-out walk in the fourth. Campero followed by blasting a two-run homer to give UMass a 3-1 lead through four innings.

LeBlanc retired nine straight batters after the second inning before walking Aaron Barbosa in the sixth. He would escape the sixth, pitched a scoreless seventh and got two outs in the eighth before getting the hook by coach Mike Stone.

LeBlanc has been fantastic in his rookie campaign, allowing just three earned runs in his two starts this spring for the Minutemen.

Sophomore Ryan Lubreski pitched the Minutemen out of the eighth and gave the ball to senior Leif Sorenson in the ninth, who would shut the door for his fourth save this season.

UMass would increase its lead to 4-1 in the bottom half of the frame when junior Anthony Serino drew a one-out walk, stole second and came around to score on Picard’s RBI-single to center.

Picard (2-for-4) was the only player to record a multi-hit game for UMass, while Picard, Campero (1-for-3) and Begin (0-for-3) all drove in runs.

The Minutemen return to action Friday when they open a three-game set on the road against Saint Joseph’s. First pitch is slated for 3 p.m.

Scott Cournoyer can be reached at s[email protected] or followed on Twitter @MDC_Cournoyer.


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