UMass baseball pitching struggles early as it loses to Boston College Wednesday afternoon

By Adam Aucoin

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Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

After back-to-back wins in which it gave up two runs or less, pitching was expected to be the facet of the game the Massachusetts baseball team could count on when it took on Boston College at Earl Lorden Field Wednesday.

But in baseball, games don’t always go as you would expect, and Wednesday’s contest was a clear example of that as UMass struggled on the mound early and eventually fell to the Eagles 11-5 in its second game with an in-state rival in as many days.

Redshirt sophomore pitcher Ryan Venditti was tasked with slowing down the BC (14-9, 3-6 Atlantic Coast Conference) bats and from the start he didn’t have his best stuff. Venditti would last only 1.1 innings giving up five earned runs and six hits. He gave up two home runs in his outing, the first to designated hitter Stephen Sauter in the first inning, and the second to left fielder Michael Strem in the second inning.

Minutemen (5-11, 1-2 Atlantic 10) coach Mike Stone was not impressed with the performance his starter gave him on the mound.

“He didn’t really have any success today, which is unfortunate because in the past he has been a guy we count on,” Stone said. “He didn’t give us the chance to win the ball game and in the end that’s what it comes down to.”

Venditti was cognizant of the fact that he struggled mightily on the mound.

“I was getting behind in the counts and leaving the ball up in the zone,” Venditti said. “You can’t really come back from that when you are making those mistakes.”

After Venditti was relieved with one out in the second, UMass saw strong pitching out of their bullpen. Despite giving up six runs as a bullpen, they provided stability in a key time of the game where the Minutemen were in danger of fading away for good.

“It’s kind of tough when you’re starter doesn’t get beyond the second inning. At that point, you are scrambling,” Stone said about his bullpen. “(Connor Donahue) came in after not pitching much at all and was able to get us out of a tough jam, so that was good to see.”

Geannelis makes season debut

UMass has seen many pitchers contribute throughout the first 16 games of the season, but one pitcher that has been auspiciously missing over that span was Mike Geannelis.

Until Wednesday.

Geannelis came into Wednesday’s game with one out in the third inning and provided the Minutemen with 2.2 innings of relief, giving up two runs and striking out six.

Stone gave an explanation for Geannelis’ early season absence to reporters after the game, stating that he was ineligible for the first 15 games of the season due to a team-related infraction.

As for how he performed on the field, Stone was quite impressed with the junior’s effort, but realizes that it will take awhile until he is back to normal.

“I thought he was very sharp until he ran out of gas,” Stone said. “In the past, he’s been one of our better players. It’s quite obvious that we have to be careful with him though and his number of pitches because he hasn’t pitched at all this season.”

“It felt good to get back out there and compete,” Geannelis said. “Obviously it was a tough game and it was a hitter’s day for sure, but it was great to get back out there.”

Geannelis and Venditti understand the need for the pitching staff to pick up their play as they start to get into the heart of the season.

“We all know we didn’t get the job done. That was pretty clear,” Geannelis said. “Every outing, every day is a learning experience and that’s baseball and you always have another day to get better.”

“We feel confident that we can come back from this,” Venditti added. “We know that we are better staff than was on display today, but we know we can bounce back and we’ll be alright.”

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