UMass baseball uses small ball, capitalizes on UConn mistakes in victory

By Tyler Fiedler

Shannon Broderick/Daily Collegian
Shannon Broderick/Daily Collegian

The Massachusetts baseball team won a back-and-forth battle thanks to two wild throws from Connecticut pitcher Andrew Zapata and timely small ball in a 5-4 victory on Tuesday.

UMass found itself with an early 2-0 lead in the second inning. A walk by Adam Picard led things off for the Minutemen and he advanced to third on a Brandon Walsh single and throwing error by UConn right fielder Blake Davey.

The mistakes by the Huskies gave the Minutemen a prime opportunity for quick, early runs. They capitalized on their chance as Mike Geannelis and Dylan Morris hit back-to-back RBI singles.

“We had our chances again this game, and thankfully were able to take advantage of some of their mistakes,” UMass coach Mike Stone said. “It was nice to see our guys take advantage (of their errors).”

Stone has preached small ball all year to the Minutemen. In a game UMass needed to win to keep pace in the Atlantic 10, it played to its strengths perfectly in the fourth inning.

After pitcher Ryan Moloney gave up three runs in the third, the Minutemen battled back doing what they do best: playing small ball.

“(Small ball) has been our motto all season,” Stone said. “It’s how we are going to win games and today we executed our plan.”

A Morris single and a Vinny Scifo walk started off the fourth inning, and Kyle Adie followed suit with a perfectly executed sacrifice bunt. From there, UMass simply took what UConn offered them.

Zapata errantly threw to second base after fielding the bunt  and both Minuteman baserunners scored as his throw sailed into center field. Third baseman Nik Campero laid down a sacrifice bunt later in the inning to advance runners as well.

“I was really happy with our execution on bunts,” Stone said. “(The bunts) really helped us and created scoring opportunities.”

Errors and miscues once again haunted UConn later in the inning after Zapata intentionally walked Dylan Begin to load the bases. Newly inserted Huskies reliever Callahan Brown uncorked a wild pitch on the ensuing at-bat allowing Adie, who was on third base, to score.

“They made mistakes and we made them pay,” Stone said. “We did what we had to do with their mistakes.”

The two perfect bunts resulted in three UMass runs.

The Minutemen were also aided by UConn’s struggling defense.  The Huskies added two costly errors in addition to the wild pitch. All of the errors resulted in runs.

UMass has won two straight to stay two back in the Atlantic 10 race for sixth place and a spot in the Atlantic 10 tournament.

“We need to keep winning and doing what we have been doing,” Stone said. “Our execution has to be good every game.”

Tyler Fielder can be reached at [email protected]