UMass baseball gets first win of season

By Tyler Fiedler

Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian
Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian

The Massachusetts baseball team got its first win of the season on Saturday after suffering seven straight losses to begin the year.

UMass (1-8) blanked North Carolina A&T (6-7) 15-0 behind a strong offensive surge. The Minutemen dropped the second half of their Saturday doubleheader 13-3 and came up short in their final game of the trip to the weekend host Davidson (7-6).

In the final game of the weekend on Sunday, UMass rallied for six runs in the ninth inning, stranding a runner at third to fall short to lose 9-8 against the Wildcats.

The Minutemen battled back from a 9-2 deficit in the final inning, starting off with a single to right by Nick Sanford. Paul Yanakopulos later plated him on a two-run single and John Jennings followed that up with a double to left scoring Kyle Adie to close to gap to 9-5. Seniors Dylan Begin and Nik Campero drove in the next three runs on a single and double.

But the Wildcats escaped without any further damage when Matt Saeta came into the game and closed it out, popping up Sanford to end the game, leaving runners on the corner.

UMass coach Mike Stone was happy with the way his team responded to the big deficit.

“We showed very good character but unfortunately fell short,” he said. “I really felt that Walsh’s bullet was going to fall but the kid made a great diving play out there and that really saved the game.”

Davidson jumped out to an early lead, scoring in the first inning. The Wildcats later piled on the scoring, plating runs in the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings. Senior Aaron Plunkett (0-2) started on the mound for the Minutemen allowing four runs on six hits with three walks and seven strikeouts in five innings.

UMass scored twice in the seventh behind a Yanakopulos two-run single. The Wildcats responded, adding two more in the eighth to push the lead to 9-2.

Big Inning Hurts the Minutemen

In the second half of their double-header Saturday the Minutemen fell 13-3 to the Wildcats. After scoring 15 runs in the first game of the double-header, UMass had no answers for Davidson.

Sanford broke up Danny Mooney’s no-hit bid in the sixth with a double down the left field line and later scored on a two-out single by Yanakopulos to give UMass a 1-0 lead.

That lead did not last long as the Wildcats responded with 11 runs on six hits, all with two outs.

DJ Jauss struggled for the Minutemen surrendering six runs without recording an out. Stone then went to Evan Mackintosh who gave up five runs in 2/3 innings work.

Freshman Ryan Moloney (0-3) started for UMass and took the loss. After five scoreless innings, the Davidson got to Moloney by scoring two runs in the sixth. Moloney went 5 2/3 innings giving up two runs on four hits with two walks and three strikeouts.

“Moloney pitched very well, but became tired and that’s when the game got away from us,” Stone said.

UMass offense explodes in first win

The Minutemen’s offense came alive against the Aggies in the first game of a double-header on Saturday, connecting for 19 hits, including four home runs, the team’s highest output since 2011.

A three-run home run from senior Dylan Begin put UMass on the board in the first and it didn’t look back. It scored once more in the first before putting NC A&T away for good.

“Begin had a breakout game, he was locked in all the way and it became contagious throughout the lineup,” Stone said.

Junior Conor LeBlanc threw eight shutout innings and earned his first win of the season (1-2), scattering five hits and one walk, while striking out two in his eight innings of work. Andrew Grant preserved LeBlanc’s shutout with a scoreless ninth inning.

“Conor LeBlanc was dominant. It was good to see him put everything together,” Stone said.

Six UMass players had multi-hit games led by Begin’s 4-for-5, 5 RBI showing. Junior Kyle Addie and sophomore Brandon Walsh both hit their first career collegiate home runs and finished the day 3-for-6 and 3-for-4, respectively.

Nik Campero increased the advantage to 7-0 with a three run home run of his own. The scoring was completed with a four-run eighth.

The Minutemen are back in action this weekend when they head to Tampa, Fl. to take on Army in a three-game series.

Tyler Fiedler can be reached at [email protected]