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

UMass baseball splits Saturday doubleheader with La Salle

(Erica Lowenkron/Daily Collegian)

Sometimes a new week can be like turning a page into better fortunes. For Massachusetts baseball coach Mike Stone and the rest of the Minutemen, that sentiment has panned out to be true.

After losing three games at the hands of Saint Joseph’s last weekend by a combined score of 26-9, UMass (10-18, 3-8 Atlantic 10) has won three of its last four, and split the unforeseen Saturday doubleheader with A-10 foe La Salle. The Minutemen faltered in the full nine-inning affair 5-3 to the Explorers (11-29, 3-8 A-10) after leading by a run in the eighth inning.

“We had a great effort all day long today,” Stone said. “Tim Cassidy battled today. Kevin Hassett was really good, and (Evan Mackintosh) was tough. (The loss) wasn’t because of lack of effort. We competed like hell, just didn’t win the ball game. One thing we didn’t do – we didn’t extend. We had opportunities to extend the lead and we didn’t do that.”

Trailing 2-1 in the sixth inning, the Minutemen got RBI singles from Jon Avallone and Ryan Lever in consecutive at-bats to take the lead. Avallone had a solid day at the plate, finding open grass on two occasions and recording a loud fly-out to left field that brought Joe Monzo back to the warning track to make the catch. In the field, the third baseman took a base hit away from Justin Jacko in the fourth inning – making a diving stop on a ground ball that looked destined to find its way through the infield, only to be corralled by Avallone’s glove and hauled across the diamond in time to record the out.

“He’s starting to play with more confidence,” Stone said. “When you do that you make plays and get hits. Even against (left-handed pitching) he’s tough.”

“Coach (Stone) always says play with confidence, so that’s what I try to do everyday,” Avallone added. “I felt (the confidence) a little bit extra today. Just happy to get the job done.”

After Avallone’s at-bat, Lever grounded his pitch from Jorge Jimenez into centerfield to score Hunter Carey. The freshman second basemen had two hits and an RBI in both contests Saturday, and proved to Stone that he is worthy of being the permanent second basemen for UMass.

“He’s stepped up,” Stone said. “We use a number of second basemen. We told them two weeks ago that we were going to alternate and whoever emerges is going to be the guy, and he has. He’s played great this weekend. He’s our guy going forward. He played well all day today – defensively and offensively too.”

Tim Cassidy started the contest and put together a quality start, going six innings while permitting just two runs on four hits and striking out four. Kevin Hassett allowed the tying and go-ahead runs in the eighth inning, while Evan Mackintosh allowed an earned run in his 1 1/3 innings of work.

Mike Hart, alongside Avallone and Lever, tallied two hits en route to improving his batting average to .321.

Minutemen win suspended game one

With the bases loaded and one out, trailing 3-0 Friday afternoon, the skies opened up to suspend play for UMass and La Salle.

When play resumed Saturday the Minutemen tallied eight unanswered runs en route to their 8-3 win, thanks in large part to both John Jennings (three hits, two RBI) and Hunter Carey (four hits).

“It was a great win to come back down three,” Stone said. “We took advantage of a bases loaded situation early. (We) had eight unanswered runs. I thought it was a real good ball game. Justin Lasko pitched great, as did all the guys who pitched today.”

Lasko pitched five innings allowing just three base runners (two hits, walk) after relieving Ryan Moloney, who pitched four innings Friday before play was suspended.

Like game two, Avallone and Lever each tallied two of UMass’ 16 hits. More time and preparation has led to recent offensive success, according to the third baseman.

“I know for me and a bunch of hitters, we’ve been taking some extra swings and just hearing what they have to say (has helped),” he said. “(We’re) really just trying to stay focused at the plate.”

Brandon Walsh will be called upon for Sunday’s series finale and rubber match at Earl Lorden Field for the Minutemen after being forced to burn through all three of the weekend starters.

“We’re in good shape (with Walsh),” Stone said. “We feel good about that.”

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 12 p.m.

Kyle DaLuz can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Kyle_DaLuz.

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