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Ryan Moloney pitching with confidence for UMass baseball

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Ryan Moloney (Courtesy of UMass Athletics)

Ryan Moloney (Courtesy of UMass Athletics)

It’s not uncommon for players to have seasons in which they don’t live up to their expectations – which is exactly what happened a season ago for Massachusetts baseball pitcher Ryan Moloney.

Moloney went 0-7 and posted a 6.64 ERA in his first year with the Minutemen in 2014, a difficult start for a talented pitcher. Adjusting from high school to college baseball proved to be Moloney’s biggest challenge.

However, it was not just Moloney who struggled for the Minutemen. It was a long, tumultuous season for UMass, which finished 15-31, good for ninth place in the Atlantic 10.

According to Minutemen coach Mike Stone, Moloney’s struggles came from a loss of confidence after losing games early in the season.

“He has a lot of confidence this season and really recovered from last year,” Stone said. “He lost his confidence last year but he is a real competitor and has bounced back this season.”

A long offseason of work and training has gotten Moloney back on the right track in his sophomore season. In three starts this year, Moloney has posted a 2-1 record with a 2.70 ERA, while also performing well in crucial situations.

In two games in conference play, Moloney is 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA. He also has 13 strikeouts in 14.2 innings.

“(Moloney) has pitched very well and improved over last year,” Stone said. “It has been every outing, he’s giving quality starts.”

The young guy in the Minutemen’s rotation led by senior captains Conor LeBlanc and Andrew Grant, Moloney has proven himself as a reliable starter each and every game.

“It is good to have three to four good starters with LeBlanc, Moloney and Grant and even (Brandon) Walsh” Stone said. “It feels good and gives our team confidence having them every start.”

Still only a sophomore, there is room for the right-hander to further develop. Stone believes that Moloney hasn’t reached his full potential yet and will continue to improve.

“He still has a chance to continue to learn and adjust and be really good,” Stone said. “I believe he can even continue to pitch beyond UMass.”

There is still a long season ahead for the Minutemen (4-7, 4-2 A-10) but they will need Moloney to continue his strong pitching in order for them to stay competitive.

Improved control from a year ago and a higher strikeout rate is giving Moloney a chance to succeed early in the season. In the three games he has pitched this year, Moloney is averaging 4.66 strikeouts per game. He struck out a career-high seven against Dayton on March 21.

Last season, Moloney averaged 2.3 strikeouts in his seven starts.

“He has progressed well like we expected,” Stone said. “The command of his fastball has improved, making his breaking balls even better.”

Standing at 4-7, Moloney owns half of the Minutemen’s wins.

“Every outing (Moloney) has pitched well,” Stone said. “We feel good giving him the ball right now.”

Moloney continues to improve in each start, with his best performance coming last Saturday against a very tough Virginia Commonwealth team. He held the Rams to two runs over eight innings of work.

“We are extremely happy with the way he has pitched so far,” Stone said. “We’re happy to have him and hope he continues to stay confident and succeed.”

Tyler Fiedler can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @Tyler_Fiedler.

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