UMass Baseball goes into weekend on a major skid

By Tyler Fiedler

(Christina Yacono/Daily Collegian)
(Christina Yacono/Daily Collegian)

After finally reaching the .500 mark at 11-11 on April 15, the Massachusetts baseball team has free fallen to a record of 11-22 after Wednesday’s loss to Quinnipiac. The 11-game losing streak is the Minutemen’s longest of the season.

The road ahead of UMass does not get any easier as they take on the tough Richmond Spiders team in Atlantic 10 action. The Spiders enter the weekend at Earl Lorden Field with a record of 21-17, including a 10-5 mark in the A-10. Richmond, however, is in a slump of its own, as the Spiders are losers of six of their last eight games.

But the Minutemen are in an even worse decline. During UMass’s 11-game losing streak, opponents have scored a total of 91 runs. On the other hand, the Minutemen have scored a measly 24 runs in those games, while being shut out in four of them.

UMass coach Mike Stone has not been pleased with his teams play and he showed his frustration after the Minutemen’s 10th straight loss.

“We need to play better, period,” Stone said. “As a team we haven’t done enough. We have run into some good teams but lost games we should have won.”

The Minutemen’s combined earned run average has sky rocketed to 6.23, while opponents have a 2.96 ERA. With UMass’ struggles on both sides of the ball, it’s been tough to win games. But with the pitching giving up so many runs so early in games, it is even harder for the Minutemen offense to get anything going.

UMass has given up more than eight runs in five of the 10 games. They gave up 13 runs twice, getting knocked around 18-5 and 15-1 against Florida Gulf Coast.

Now, they are faced with the tough task of managing the Spiders big hitters. Richmond has four regulars hitting over .300 with three of them hitting over .350. The team is hitting a combined .284. In comparison, the Minutemen are hitting .241 as a team.

Ryan Moloney, Conor LeBlanc and Brandon Walsh are slated to start this weekend against these powerful hitters. Stone spoke about what they need to do to get UMass back on a winning tack.

“They need to execute pitches,” Stone said. “If they do that, it can give us a chance to hopefully win.”

Matt Dacey is having a great season for the Spiders, hitting .301 with a team-high 12 home runs. As a team, the Minutemen have only hit five homers.

It has been a real struggle for UMass but it is not all on the pitching. The offense has been just as lackluster. It will not get easier for them either, however, as Richmond comes in with one of the best pitching staffs in the Atlantic 10. The Spiders combined 4.39 ERA is a little overblown; their top three starters all have ERAs under three.

Ryan Cook leads the staff with a 6-2 record in 10 starts. He has posted a 2.77 ERA in those starts.

“We are going to have to make adjustments,” Stone said. “Our hitters have to shorten swings and make sure they are getting good pitches to hit.”

Stone is still looking for his team to give effort and commitment despite their 11-game losing streak.

“We need to win the effort battle (to end the streak),” Stone said. “I want to see effort and commitment (the rest of the season).”

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