Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Evan Mackintosh gravitates to closer role for UMass baseball

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/ Daily Collegian)
(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/ Daily Collegian)

Baseball has always been a game littered with dominant closers. Names like Mariano Rivera, Trevor Hoffman and Lee Smith come to mind when thinking about pitchers that fit the mold.

The Massachusetts baseball team may not have a future hall of famer like those on its roster, but the Minutemen’s closer Evan Mackintosh has definitely made his presence known.

UMass’ issue this season is that it hasn’t always had the opportunity to use him like it did Tuesday.

Mackintosh has closed for UMass (8-17, 2-7 Atlantic 10) this season and his performance lived up to expectations. In nine appearances this season, Mackintosh has five saves with a 1.17 earned run average. He’s gone above just being the ninth inning guy as well, pitching 15.1 innings thus far in 2016.

Tuesday afternoon’s 9-5 win over Connecticut (19-16, 5-3 American Athletic Conference) was another example of how well Mackintosh has pitched, coming in a tough situation with a runner on second, leading by one run in the eighth inning. After forcing No. 3 hitter Bobby Melley to ground out to end the scare, he came through and pitched another scoreless inning to pick up the save.

Minutemen coach Mike Stone was impressed again with Mackintosh’s pitching.

“He’s been in that role this season and we have confidence in him,” Stone said. “He’s our best guy at the end of the game when we’re in need of a win situation.”

“Coming in as a closer, it’s important to get ahead and throw strikes and use your defense, so I think I did a good job of that today,” Mackintosh added.

The Whitinsville native relishes the role of being the last line of defense for UMass at the end of games.

“I embrace the adrenaline rush that comes with that role on this team,” Mackintosh said. “It’s a fun position to be in. You just need to keep up with your arm care and make sure your arm is ready to go each day because you never know when you’ll be called upon.”

Mackintosh has only appeared in nine of UMass’ 25 games this season.

“I wish we could have him out there more often,” Stone said. “It would have been nice to have him out there during this weekend, but unfortunately we weren’t in a position where he could come into those games.”

After three seasons where his ERA has been 4.96 or higher, the improvement has been clear for Mackintosh this season while taking on a prominent role in the Minutemen’s bullpen.

Mackintosh deflected the credit from his work to the people around him when talking about his success.

“My coaches have been really big for my improvement this season,” Mackintosh said. “My teammates have done a great job around me making me look good out on the mound and (John) Jennings has called some great games, so I can’t say enough about their impact on me this season.”

UConn has always been one of the Minutemen’s biggest rivals and Stone was happy to see his team pull out the win.

“UMass-UConn rivalry is always a big game, so anytime we are able to get the win against them is a good day.”

Next up on the schedule, UMass will face Harvard in the consolation game of the Beanpot tournament Wednesday afternoon, which will take place at the New England Baseball Complex in Northborough.

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

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    Nonni..poppopApr 20, 2016 at 6:08 pm

    Go Evan so proud of you and your success look forward to watching a game??