Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass baseball hosts Siena in one-game set

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Freshman outfielder Dylan Morris rounds third base during Saturday's game against Dayton at Earl Lorden Field. (James Jesson/Daily Collegian)

Freshman outfielder Dylan Morris rounds third base during Saturday’s game against Dayton at Earl Lorden Field. (James Jesson/Daily Collegian)

Fresh off a walk-off victory Sunday afternoon against Dayton, the Massachusetts baseball won’t have to wait until the weekend to try and put together a winning streak. Instead UMass will jump right back into the action on Tuesday when it hosts Siena for a one-game set.

The Minutemen (4-19) will send junior right-hander Andrew Grant to the mound to face the Saints. Grant has pitched 13.2 innings this year with a 7.90 earned run average, but his performance is trending upwards. His last five outings include three scoreless relief appearances, and his most recent performance was a quality start against Hartford. Although he took the loss, Grant threw six innings while allowing just three runs on four hits.

Senior pitcher Aaron Plunket fires off the ball during Saturday's game against Dayton at Earl Lorden Field. (James Jesson/Daily Collegian)

Senior pitcher Aaron Plunket fires off the ball during Saturday’s game against Dayton at Earl Lorden Field. (James Jesson/Daily Collegian)

Grant will face a Siena (5-23) team that is losers of five straight and six of seven overall. Vincent Citro is leading the Saints heading into the matchup, batting .327 with 37 hits on the year, both team highs. In fact, Siena boasts four players hitting .290 or better with 27 hits or more.

But a struggling pitching staff is what has held the Saints down. The team earned run average currently sits at 7.43.

UMass is led by breakout freshman Mike Geannelis, who leads the team with a .297 batting average. Geannelis also leads the team in slugging and on base percentage.

UMass coach Mike Stone praised the unexpected contribution the freshman has made.

“He’s swinging the bat well.” Stone said. “He’s got good pop and is already a very mature hitter.”

Despite an important conference showdown looming this weekend against Saint Louis, Stone has the Minutemen focused for showdown against Siena.

“We’ve got all hands on deck,” he said, “and we’re taking it one game at a time. We have to be ready to go attitude wise.”

An area that UMass will have to improve on against Siena is its play in the first inning of games. The Minutemen have been outscored by a total of 17-6 in the first frame and it’s a problem that Stone can’t quite put his finger on.

“We’ve been trying to pitch well, field well and put together good at bats early,” he said. “For whatever reason, it just hasn’t happened.”

Tuesday’s game is scheduled for a first pitch at 3 p.m. at Earl Lorden Field.

Senior thirdbaseman Nick Campero fields the ball during Saturday's game against Dayton at Earl Lorden Field. (James Jesson/Daily Collegian)

Senior thirdbaseman Nick Campero fields the ball during Saturday’s game against Dayton at Earl Lorden Field. (James Jesson/Daily Collegian)

Beanpot ahead

Tuesday’s game against Siena isn’t the only one-game set for the Minutemen this week.

They’ll host Northeastern (13-15) on Wednesday in a preview of this year’s first-round matchup in the baseball Beanpot at 3 p.m. at Earl Lorden Field. The Huskies were swept this past weekend in a road trip to Delaware, losing all three games of the series.

Northeastern topped UMass in last year’s Beanpot championship game, winning 6-3 and Wednesday’s game will represent a matchup of the past two Beanpot champions, as the Minutemen won the 2012 championship.

Ross Gienieczko can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @RossCollegian.

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