BOSTON – The Massachusetts baseball team’s bid for a second-straight Beanpot title fell short Monday night, as the Minutemen were defeated 6-3 by Northeastern in the championship game at Fenway Park.
UMass (10-25) had hoped to follow in the footsteps of the 2012 squad, which defeated Harvard in the championship game, but its quest for a sixth Beanpot title came up short. The Minutemen are now 5-7 against Northeastern (24-17) in Beanpot play.
Northeastern took the lead for good after it got to UMass starting pitcher Aaron Plunkett (0-4) for four runs in the fourth inning.
Plunkett was frazzled early in the inning when Northeastern’s cleanup hitter Rob Fonseca hit a solo home run that landed just to the right of the left-field foul pole.
“You can kind of say it’s part of the experience,” Plunkett said of the home run he gave up in the fourth. “I mean, pitching at Fenway and giving a home run up at Fenway, I guess not many people can say that.”
Following a walk to Michael Foster and a base hit by John Puttress, respectively, Pete Castoldi roped a single off of the Green Monster to tie the game at two.
“We just had one bad inning, the one where they had the four runs and at that point we were just trying to catch up,” Minuteman coach Mike Stone said. “I thought Aaron (Plunkett) pitched well initially and just had that one bad inning, we had some clutch hitting early in the ballgame.”
The Huskies continued to score runs in the fourth on a sacrifice fly by Sean Lyons and a wild pitch by Plunkett, which allowed Castoldi to score, giving the Huskies a two-run lead.
The second time Plunkett faced Northeastern’s lineup, it seemed as if the team picked up on his pitches after seeing his stuff once already.
“They kind of picked up on what I was going to throw,” Plunkett said. “We had a game plan throughout the week and the second and third time through I kind of lost the game plan a little bit and they picked up on it.”
Huskies starter Isaac Lippert (4-1) lasted just three innings after surrendering two early runs.
“I thought it was a well-played game by both ball clubs and I thought we came out ready to play and scored the two runs going up 2-0,” Stone said.
Northeastern relief pitcher Matt Cook (2-0) earned the victory after throwing four innings of scoreless baseball in the middle innings of the game.
The Huskies tacked on two more runs in the game, coming on RBI groundouts by Puttress in the bottom of the sixth inning and Connor Lyons in the bottom of the eighth inning.
McLam was the clear catalyst for the Minutemen on Monday night. As the designated hitter, he went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and a walk. The junior is the hottest hitter for UMass as of late and has eight hits in his last 17 at-bats.
When asked about his performance at the plate as of late, McLam attributed his success to swinging freely when he gets his pitch.
“I tried to see good pitches the whole day. Usually that’s what I do each at-bat, just get my pitch, if not I just let it go,” he said. “Today it seemed like I got my pitch a lot of the time and it ended up working out for me.”
Sophomore Michael Foster came on for a two-inning save in the eighth inning for Northeastern and shut the door on the Minutemen.
“Everyone played well the whole game,” McLam said. “Just that one inning killed us when they scored all those runs.”
Chris Corso can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @MDC_Corso.