UMass baseball blanks Central Connecticut State for fourth consecutive win

By Victor Pusateri

Rob McLam celebrates a run with Paul Yanakopulos in their game against Harvard.  (Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)
Rob McLam celebrates a run with Paul Yanakopulos in their game against Harvard.
(Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)

The Massachusetts baseball team remained hot, winning its fourth straight game on Tuesday as it cruised to a 6-0 win over Central Connecticut State University.

In his fourth start of the season – and best one by far – junior Tim Cassidy pitched a complete-game shutout allowing just four hits, while striking out three and walking one batter. Cassidy earned his first win of the season and improved his record to 1-1 on the year.

Cassidy entered the day with an ERA of 7.84, but by the end of the day it had dropped to 4.19.

“Cassidy pitched great,” UMass coach Mike Stone said. “He was aggressive in the (strike) zone. We played very solid defense behind him. Once he got in a groove he was really aggressive and really located his pitches.”

The Minutemen (10-11, 7-5 Atlantic 10) didn’t skip a beat on offense even with a slight change to the lineup, as Bryce Maher started Tuesday at second and batted leadoff, pushing Kyle Adie down to the No. 2 spot in the batting order.

Maher got the Minutemen on the board in the third inning with a two-run single off  Blue Devil pitcher Michael Pastore to give them a 2-0 lead.

Maher finished 3-for-5 from the plate with three RBIs and a run scored, accounting for two-thirds of the UMass offense. Maher drove in his third run of the game in the seventh with another RBI single that would send Vinny Scifo home, giving the Minutemen a 4-0 lead. They would score two more runs that inning as Maher came around to score and Rob McLam scored on an infield single by Adam Picard.

On the season, Maher is batting .333, the second best average on the team, and his three-RBI game increases his total to seven.

“He’s been swinging the bat really well this season,” Stone said. “He had another nice day at the plate today.”

Over these last four games, different players have stepped up at the plate for UMass, whether it be Maher, Picard Monday with a key three-run home run or Scifo with timely two-out hitting over the weekend, which has pleased Stone.

“It’s real important that we don’t rely on the same people to get the job done,” Stone said. “It’s nice to see a couple of guys come through when we need them to, that’s what I want to see.”

Scifo stayed hot as he went 2-for-4 at the plate, and third baseman Paul Yanakopulos went 2-for-3 and drove home a run in the top of the fourth which gave UMass a 3-0 lead.

During their four-game winning streak, the Minutemen have seen improvements in all aspects of the game – pitching, hitting and defense, something Stone has taken notice of.

“We’ve played real good baseball today, yesterday, over the weekend,” Stone said. “It has just been execution. We’ve been executing a lot better and it’s led to better play.”

Hartford visits town

UMass will have a quick turnaround as it takes on Hartford Wednesday, marking its sixth game in five days.

With a fifth straight win tomorrow, the Minutemen would be .500 for the first time this season.

However Stone isng they have not been since the star. Rather he cares more about how his team is playing and everything else will come into place.

“You obviously want to get to above .500, it’s a standard in all of sports,” Stone said. “But I’m just concerned with playing good baseball and the record will take care of itself if we do just that.”

Victor Pusateri can be reached at [email protected]