Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass baseball drops home opener to Holy Cross Tuesday at Earl Lorden Field

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(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/ Daily Collegian)

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/ Daily Collegian)

With the wind howling and temperatures in the mid-forties, it was clear that early spring baseball was back in Amherst.

Coming off a 10-run performance this past Sunday against Maine, hope was high that the Massachusetts baseball team would continue that offensive momentum into Tuesday when they were set to take on Holy Cross for its home opener at Earl Lorden Field.

Through three innings, it looked like exactly that was going to happen with UMass (3-8) up 3-1 over the Crusaders (6-12) after a John Jennings double. Although, that was the last run the Minutemen got as they went on to lose 6-3.

UMass coach Mike Stone was happy with how his team played early, but recognized that they faltered late.

“We came out and had a lot of energy going and a real good pregame,” Stone said. “The first game we were playing pretty well, but it just got away from us.”

Stone pointed to the 13 strikeouts Minutemen batters had in the game to being a major reason why they came out with the loss Tuesday.

Designated hitter Hunter Carey, who went 2-4 at the plate and was the only UMass player with a multi-hit game, echoed similar points to his coach about the offense.

“The first guy we faced was throwing pretty slow and the next two guys threw a lot faster, so a lot of guys struggled to adjust to that,” Carey said. “Hitting is pretty contagious and later in the game we were struggling to get just one hit in an inning and you’re not going to get runs if you’re making runs on the first at bat.”

The Minutemen struggled offensively and a big part of their struggles centered on strong pitching by Holy Cross.

After starter Zach Fox went 5.1 giving three runs and striking out six, the Crusaders bullpen combined to give up a total of two hits in 3.2 innings of relief, combining for seven of Holy Cross’ 13 strikeouts.

Tuesday’s game was freshman pitcher Casey Aubin’s first collegiate start at home. For Aubin, it was a big moment to take the mound at Earl Lorden Field.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to pitch at the college level, so it’s always good to get that out of the way. We had a good fan base. I just wish we did better as a team,” Aubin said.

Aubin went 4.2 innings, giving up four runs and six hits in his outing. He picked up the loss, bringing his record to 0-2.

The Durham, N.H native was hoping to see better results from himself in his first start in Amherst.

“I need to do better. The team got a lead for me and they did a good job giving me some run support,” Aubin said. “I need to do a better job locking down and getting the last out of the inning.”

“He wasn’t as sharp as I thought he was going to be,” Stone added. “Some days pitchers battle that and getting into the fifth with a lead, he did a pretty good job of that. He just struggled with his command and unfortunately in fifth he just wasn’t able to finish the inning.”

After a successful weekend where UMass picked up two quality wins over Maine, the Minutemen now find themselves in the same spot they did entering last weekend, coming off a loss.

As they enter conference play this upcoming weekend with series with Davidson, Stone is looking for the team to revert to how they played last weekend.

“We need to play like we did last weekend against Maine. We did a real good job creating a lot of offense and making things happen on offense and defense.” Stone said. “We certainly need to do a lot more offensively than we did today.”

Carey believes it will be incredibly important for UMass to hammer out these offensive struggles and put a complete game together if they are going to be successful as the season progresses.

“So far we’ve struggled being able to pitch well and hit well during the same game,” Carey said. “That’s the main thing we have to work on and bring both aspects to the game.”

UMass begins its three-game weekend series with the Wildcats on Friday with first pitch set for 6 p.m. Saturday’s doubleheader has start times of 2 and 5 p.m., respectively.

Adam Aucoin can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @aaucoin34.

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