UMass looking for first win of the season

By Tyler Fiedler

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(Collegian File Photo)

(Collegian File Photo)

The Massachusetts baseball team will look to rebound after losing the first three games of the season when they face Army.

UMass (0-3) is a combined 0-6 against the Black Knights the past two seasons being outscored 41-11 in those games.

“We didn’t do so well both years (against Army),” junior Dylan Morris said. “This year we really want to go out there and play our best so we can get a couple of wins against them.”

This year’s Army team is not off to the start they wanted either. They lost their first three games of the season before rattling off two straight wins, which was followed by another skid when the Black Knights (3-8) lost five of six games.

The West Point offense is hardly to blame for the slow start. Through its first 11 games, Army has six players hitting over .300. Sophomore John McCarthy and senior Justin Reece lead the charge, with McCarthy leading the team in batting average (.360), home runs (two), and runs batted in (14).

Reece leads the team in with 13 hits to go with his .351 batting average. The Minutemen pitching staff will need to mix things up and execute pitches to slow down the high powered Black Knight offense.

“We have confidence in our pitching staff,” coach Mike Stone said. “They just need to go out, execute pitches and hit spots.”

Stone did recognize his staff’s troubles over the weekend but thinks it is more about getting comfortable.

“It’s an adjustment factor,” Stone said. “They know they need to be a little better. They just need to keep hitters off balance.”

Ryan Moloney, Tim Cassidy and Justin Lasko will start for UMass. Moloney pitched very well in the season opener for the Minutemen, surrendering two runs, one earned in seven innings against Charleston Southern.

However, Cassidy and Lasko did not perform up to their expectations. Cassidy went three and two thirds innings, giving up three runs while Lasko got rocked for seven runs in two innings of work in the Sunday loss.

“The pitchers just need to stay within themselves,” Morris said. “We have talented enough pitchers to shut down any lineup, in my opinion.”

Through their first three games, the Minutemen have struggled offensively. They scored just three runs in their first two games combined, and while UMass started hitting a little more in its third game – scoring eight runs in a loss against Charleston Southern – but the pitching and defense ultimately gave up too many runs.

“The second game Saturday, I think we had a lot better at-bats and we saw the ball a lot better,” Morris said. “It takes reps to get settled in and I think the second game we started showing good signs and obviously Sunday the bats came alive. Hopefully we can put the pitching together with the bats in the same game so we can put together a couple W’s.”

Something that may help UMass secure its first win of the season is having the chance to practice outside. Stone acknowledged that the team usually needs more time to get prepared but being outside will help speed up the adjustment period.

“We will get outside (Tuesday), Wednesday and Thursday and have some good practices,” Stone said. “The more we can get outside the more it will give us a chance to compete to win the game.”

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