UMass baseball falls 8-0 to VCU in series finale

By Ross Gienieczko

(Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)
(Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)

After starting the rubber match of their three-game series with three scoreless innings, the Massachusetts baseball team allowed Virginia Commonwealth to score two runs in the fourth inning and four more in the fifth, and the Rams pulled away to take the series finale 8-0 at The Diamond in Richmond Sunday afternoon.

UMass (4-7, 4-2 Atlantic 10) was limited to just three hits in the game. It ended a weekend of struggles at the plate for the Minutemen, who scored just six runs in three games and hit .212 as a team.

“We certainly faced a better team and betting pitching than we did last week,” coach Mike Stone said Sunday night.

In last week’s series, the Minutemen swept Dayton and scored 26 runs in three games. But thanks to a strong VCU pitching staff, UMass was lifeless offensively in its second weekend of Atlantic 10 play.

Heath Dwyer improved to 4-1 on the year Sunday, striking out 10 and scattering three hits and one walk over seven innings. Garrett Pearson and Matt Lees each pitched a scoreless inning of relief, and the Minutemen struck out 15 times against Rams pitching in the series finale.

Andrew Grant made his third start of the season for UMass and came out strong. Through three innings, Grant had allowed just two hits and struck out four batters.

But the wheels came off when the VCU (15-11, 2-1 A-10) lineup came around for the second time. Two-out hits from Jimmy Kerrigan and Brett Hileman gave the Rams a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth.

VCU did even greater damage in the fifth inning. Darian Carpenter came to the plate with one out and the bases loaded. He cleared them all with a grand slam.

“He got a little deep in the count and left some balls over the plate,” Stone said of Grant. “They were able to square him up with runners in scoring position.”

Grant finished the fifth inning and recorded one out in the sixth, but was replaced by junior Brandon Walsh. It was the worst outing of the year for Grant thus far. He went seven innings in each of his first two starts and struck out 10 against the Flyers last weekend.

Bryce Maher, Dylan Morris and Vinny Scifo each singled for the Minutemen Sunday, the only hits for the team.

UMass takes game two of series

After suffering a 16-3 beating Friday night in the series opener against the Rams, UMass rallied for a 3-2 win Saturday night, their only win of the series.

Sophomore starter Ryan Moloney went eight innings, striking out six and allowing just one earned run to pick up his second win of the season.

“He was throwing strikes, getting ahead in the count and keeping the ball down,” Stone said. “He had some good movement on his two-seamer and his off-speed pitches as well.”

Moloney improved to 2-1 on the season with a 2.70 earned run average thanks to Saturday’s performance. After his freshman year was cut short due to injury, the right-hander has established a spot in the starting rotation and leads the team in innings pitched (20) and wins (two).

Down 1-0 in the top of the eighth inning, UMass had its No. 9 hitter Vinny Scifo at the plate with two outs and nobody on base. But Scifo worked a walk, bringing up Bryce Maher and the top of the order. Back-to-back singles by Maher and centerfielder Kyle Adie drove Scifo in, and brought redshirt senior Rob McLam to bat with runners on base. He doubled and drove in two more runs to put the Minutemen up 3-1.

Junior Evan Mackintosh picked up his first save of the season in efficient fashion. He needed just 10 pitches to complete a one-two-three ninth inning and preserve the Minutemen’s fourth win of the year.

UMass’s 16-3 defeat Friday night could have set the tone for the rest of the series. But Stone was impressed with the way his team responded just hours after their worst defeat of the season.

“We got blown out Friday night, and then to bounce back and play tough the next game… it was a real plus for us,” Stone said.

The Minutemen will return to action Wednesday with a matchup against in-state rival Boston College.

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