Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass bats come alive in Saint Louis

By Taylor C. Snow

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Rehan Talet

On Sunday afternoon, the Massachusetts baseball team took its second win of a three-game series, defeating Saint Louis in a 12-0, 17-hit blowout.

The Minutemen (14-14, 8-4 Atlantic 10) struck big early against Damian Rivera and SLU (26-13, 8-7 A-10), who did not record an out in a disastrous starting effort.

Rivera only threw 14 pitches, but the SLU coaching staff made the decision to pull him after he gave up three doubles and four runs to start the game.

UMass scored six times in the top of the first, highlighted by an RBI double off the bat of catcher Tom Conley.

The Minutemen had four others with two RBIs on the afternoon, including second basemen Ryan Cusick, who had four hits in six plate appearances.

On the mound for UMass was Joe Popielarczyk (4-0), who improved his earned run average to 1.12. He threw 6.2 shutout innings, striking out seven while tossing 126 pitches.

The Minutemen scored once in the second and third innings, and then scored again in the fifth on a Dylan Begin bomb – his first home run of the season – as UMass took a commanding 9-0 lead.

Begin doubled in another run in the ninth, and the Minutemen took the series as they continue to make a commanding statement in the A-10.
Misho goes distance in loss

Despite early scoring from the UMass lineup and a complete game effort from Glen Misho, the Minutemen were unable to take Game 2 of the series against the Billikens.

Starter Clay Smith (5-2), who has the lowest ERA on SLU (2.24), faced his first and only jam in the third inning, when he gave up two runs on three hits.

After a first pitch pop-out by Rich Graef, Cusick beat out a ground ball to second base for an infield single.
Kyle Adie then slapped a double into center, which enabled Cusick to score all the way from first. Adie then scored the second and last run of the day for UMass when Anthony Serino blooped a single to center.

The Billikens then got to Misho, thanks to two doubles off the bats of Jerry Mancuso and Mike Levine.

Mancuso belted the first pitch he saw to right center, and Levine followed three batters later with a two-out, two-bagger to the left-center field gap, which drove in Mancuso for the Billikens’ first run.

In the fourth, the Billikens had a bases-loaded opportunity, but only scored once in a potentially disastrous inning.

Misho started off the inning hitting Steve Fernandez on a 3-2 pitch. After striking out Grant Nelson, he allowed a single and hit another batter to load the bases with one out.

The tying run came by way of a sacrifice fly, which was followed by a walk and a fielder’s choice to get Misho out of the sticky bases-loaded situation.

SLU then scored in its third consecutive inning after three singles, as the Billikens took a 3-2 lead that would hold for the remainder of the game.
Yanakopulos records 1st hit in win

In a back-and-forth thriller, the Minutemen took the first game of the weekend series with a 6-5 victory.

Freshman Paul Yanakopulos started his second collegiate game, and recorded his first hit and RBI as a Minuteman.

In the top of the second, the second baseman knocked a 1-0 pitch to left field which started off the scoring for UMass, as Nik Campero scored from third.

The Billikens took the lead in the bottom half of the inning, scoring twice off of Dennis Torres on three hits.

After two quick outs in the fourth, the Minutemen recorded four singles in a row, which included another one from Yanakopulos.

UMass scored three times in the inning, which knocked Billikens starter James Norwood out of the game and gave the Minutemen a 4-2 lead.

That score stuck until the seventh, but Torres ran into trouble when he allowed the first five men of the inning to reach base.

The Billikens reached on four singles and a walk, which amounted to two more runs as they tied the score.

Torres was lucky to escape, as he had the bases loaded with no outs, but he came through, and forced three straight fly ball outs and didn’t allow the Billikens to take the lead.

UMass immediately regained the lead in its next series of at-bats, when Begin doubled down the left field line to start off the eighth. After advancing to third on a throwing error on a subsequent sacrifice bunt by Serino, Yanakopulos hit a sacrifice fly for his second RBI on the day, which gave the Minutemen a 5-4 lead.

Leif Sorenson replaced Torres in the bottom of the eighth for a save opportunity, but he was unable to hold SLU, as he loaded the bases with no outs, and gave up the tying run on a ground out, which scored pinch runner Danny Brennan.

In the ninth, UMass played clutch ball, as it has done so many times this season.

Serino led off the inning with a single and three batters later, Campero lined a single to left for what would be the game-winner.

Sorenson found his zone in the bottom of the ninth and had a 1-2-3 inning, which secured the victory.

Taylor Snow can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @MDC_Snow.

 

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