UMass mounts late five-run eighth inning rally to stun Siena 6-5

By Tyler Fiedler

Junior Brandon Walsh  is ready to make a home run. (Courtesy of UMass Athletics)
Junior Brandon Walsh is ready to make a home run. (Courtesy of UMass Athletics)

The Massachusetts baseball team came back in dramatic fashion Tuesday afternoon, scoring five runs in the eighth inning to stave off Siena 6-5.

The late comeback was sparked by a string of Minutemen (6-10, 5-4 Atlantic 10) hits and base runners. Junior Brandon Walsh hit a two-out double driving in Adam Picard and Paul Yanakopulos to give UMass a 6-5 lead it would not relinquish.

“It was a good win coming from behind like that,” UMass coach Mike Stone said. “We needed to come from behind and we executed late and closed it out.”

With two outs and a runner on second, Picard smoked a single to right field driving in Rob McLam to keep the rally alive. After a Matt Bare walk and Yanakopulos pinch run, the stage was set for Walsh to make some noise.

Walsh has struggled thus far into the season hitting .222 in six games, but this was his biggest opportunity to date and he delivered in the clutch sparking UMass to the win.

“Walsh and Picard really came through for us today,” Stone said. “It was good to see them get it done and I am happy they were able to execute.”

The combination of Kevin Hassett and Mike Geannelis out of the bullpen held the Saints (6-16, 3-3 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) to zeroes in the last three innings. It was Geannelis’ first appearance of the season after sitting out the start due to injury. Stone was happy with the way he came out and held Siena in check.

“It was good to see (Geannelis) out there pitching for the first time this season,” Stone said. “I was happy with the way he pitched and thought he did a good job for his first game back.”

Kyle Adie started the scoring for the Minutemen, leading the game off with a triple. Vinny Scifo hit a sacrifice fly to drive him in and give UMass an early 1-0 lead. That lead would not last very long as Tim Cassidy, who was making his first start of the year, gave one right back to the Saints in the first inning. Leadoff hitter Dan Swain reached on an error by third baseman Jon Avallone and would then go on to steal second and third before being driven in on a sacrifice fly by Justin Esquerra.

Cassidy then settled into a grove, throwing three scoreless innings before giving up a run in the fifth on a single to right. Cassidy ran into trouble in the sixth, giving up three runs. He started leaving pitches up in the zone, surrendering two home runs to Siena as the Saints extended their lead to 5-1.

“(Cassidy) pitched well until the fifth,” Stone said. “He was really cruising but he got in trouble when he left balls up and they hit them out.”

Avallone would make up for his early error by leading off the Minutemen rally in the eighth. Adie reached on an error by right fielder Fred Smart and a single by McLam opened the scoring for UMass.

“It was another strong day for Kyle,” Stone said. “He seems really comfortable at the plate and has been a very good offensive player for us.”

Stone was impressed with the fight and resilience of his team after being down 5-1 late in the game.

“The guys barred down and were able to take advantage of pitches,” Stone said. “The key is staying positive and today was a good example of not giving up, it was good to see.”

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