Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass baseball eyes more consistent approach

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(Makoto Yabusaki/Daily Collegian)

(Makoto Yabusaki/Daily Collegian)

In baseball, series wins are the lifeblood of a team’s success. But in that regard in 2016, the Massachusetts baseball team hasn’t had much of a pulse.

The Minutemen have only won one series so far, a two-game sweep of Maine in Florida in mid-March. In every other series, they’ve lost all of their games or only won a single game in a three-game series.

This weekend was no different as UMass (6-13, 2-4 Atlantic 10 Conference) took the first game from St. Bonaventure 3-2, but lost the final two matchups by scores of 5-3 and 7-3 respectively.

Minutemen coach Mike Stone spoke with urgency when discussing the need to string together wins.

“It’s really important to start getting into a groove,” Stone said. “It’s really important to just play, too. In baseball, you can’t get into that groove and stay sharp by not playing. Hopefully we can get back on track with a couple of good games this week.”

UMass will try to do just that with a pair of non-conference games this week against Central Connecticut (13-16, 6-6 Northeast Conference) Tuesday in Amherst and a Beanpot first round matchup with Boston College (16-11, 5-8 Atlantic Coast Conference) Wednesday at Chestnut Hill.

Freshman Casey Aubin will get the call on Tuesday to pitch for UMass. Aubin is 1-2 on the season with a 6.00 ERA in three starts and five appearances.

“We need him to get us deep into the game tomorrow,” Stone said. “That’s really what you’re asking for from pitchers, to just give you chance to win late in the ball game.”

The Minutemen will need their bats to come to life if they expect any success this week, as they were held to three runs in each of this past weekend’s matchups with the Bonnies.

“We were ahead in every game; we just didn’t extend the lead,” Stone said. “That’s been a big issue for us. We just can’t seem to get the key hits when we really need them.”

Outfielder Mike Hart has been one of the guys on the team that has produced offensively. He leads the team with a .338 average and is third on the team with 22 hits. Despite his success, he realizes the team has not come through in key moments.

“Winning games is something we really need to do, but to do that we need to be able to produce,” Hart said. “We’ve really struggled to drive people in with two outs. We’re not hitting at the same time. We’ve got to connect people to make things work.”

Beanpot opener

On Wednesday, UMass will make up their first round Beanpot tournament contest against the Eagles that was originally scheduled for last Wednesday.

Stone said Wednesday’s starting pitcher will depend on the result of Tuesday’s game against the Blue Devils.

The last time the two teams met on March 30, BC beat UMass 11-5 in Amherst.

Hart doesn’t believe the tournament means any more than any other game, but recognizes the excitement it brings the players.

“The tournament is all about bragging rights,” Hart said. “Playing in the same area, we know a lot of the guys on the other teams, so it’s always the goal to win this tournament and the first round is always the hardest to win, so we will need to be ready for that on Wednesday.”

“When you’re playing in a tournament or for a tournament championship, the level of importance is raised,” Stone added. “We’re hoping to get into a groove and play well and if we do that, I like our chances.”

UMass’s game against Central Connecticut starts at 3 p.m. Tuesday in Amherst and the Wednesday game against the Eagles is slotted for 3 p.m. start in Chestnut Hill.

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

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