UMass baseball battles cold temperatures in its return to Earl Lorden Field

By Tyler Fiedler

Spring is finally here and the UMass baseball team’s first home game is around the corner, but snow and cold temperatures could still be on the horizon. The freezing and snowy winter is continuing to affect baseball in the northeast.

The Minutemen have played 16 games so far, all away from Earl Lorden Field. It has been a less than ideal start to the Minutemen’s season as they have struggled to a 3-13 record – 2-7 on the road, and 1-6 on neutral grounds.

“I think we have had our chances to win some games but couldn’t come away with wins,” UMass coach Mike Stone said, later adding,  “It’s always tough being away from home but we do this every season so there is no excuse.”

UMass has traveled down to North Carolina, Florida and Maryland to play in baseball-friendly climates. However, when they come home to Massachusetts the weather will be less than ideal. Snow, though not much, is still on the ground and has yet to show signs of stopping.

“The weather in Massachusetts is not Florida but we will have to deal with it,” Stone said. “It will be good to get back to Earl Lorden Field.”

There are threats that the current cold spell could carry into April. Teams in the Northeast normally play their first month of games in more baseball-friendly climates. However, it is now late March with those teams coming back home, and snow is still on the ground thanks to such an unpredictable winter.

“I don’t think anyone predicted a winter like this that dragged into spring,” Stone said.

With the cold weather still in Massachusetts the players and coaches “are just going to have to fight through it,” Stone said.

The Minutemen played in more favorable weather conditions down south earlier this season.  However, UMass will be looking forward to playing 18 of its last 33 games at home after so much travel in the first month of the season.

“I think we are all excited to be back and play some home games,” Stone said. “No team feels that it is ideal to begin the season with 16 games away from home, it is tough and takes a toll on everybody.”

Calling on the underclassmen

Coming into this season, the Minutemen had 11 returning sophomores along with 10 freshmen joining the team. They’re already being asked to make major contributions.

“We feel we have a lot of good young players and some veteran leadership,”

Stone said. “The underclassmen are asked to do a lot for this team, overcoming injuries and filling in for departing seniors from last year.”

While the end result hasn’t been good in terms of wins and losses, Stone said, “We feel they will gain a lot of experience and help us get better down the road.”

Freshman Mike Geannelis has made the biggest impression so far this season, batting .324 with 11 hits and four runs batted in in 34 career plate appearances.

But UMass has certainly struggled with its young team so far, especially having to play its first 16 games on the road. Stone, however, is confident the Minutemen will turn it around.

“We have been in a lot of games but haven’t been able to come through with wins,” Stone said.

 Tyler Fielder can be reached at [email protected]