Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass prepares for first round of Beanpot tournament as they take on Boston College Wednesday

By Adam Aucoin

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Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

The last time the Massachusetts baseball team and Boston College met in a Beanpot tournament game, it was the Eagles who shut out the Minutemen 2-0 in a pitchers’ duel at legendary Fenway Park last season.

This year, UMass (5-11, 1-2 Atlantic 10) and BC (14-10, 3-7 Atlantic Coast Conference) will play in the first round of the tournament at Earl Lorden Field Wednesday.

This will be the second contest between the two teams this season, as the Eagles took the first game 11-5 on March 30 in Amherst.

Minutemen coach Mike Stone believes the familiarity of their opponent will help his team, but isn’t putting too much stock into that going in to the game.

“We’ll definitely know more of what to expect of their hitters and we’ll probably see a different pitcher from them,” Stone said. “Every game is different though and they’re a good ball club, so we’ll need to be ready to go.”

UMass will need strong play on both sides of the field if it plans to pull an upset over a Power 5 conference opponent on Wednesday.

The Minutemen have struggled to pitch consistently throughout the season. Pitchers will give a quality start in one game and struggle to get out of the second inning in others. This has been on full display in the last three games. In games against Davidson and Northeastern, UMass pitching gave up three runs in total. In their last game against BC, they gave up 11 runs as a staff.

“Pitching is really how a lot these games are dictated, so it is very important we remain strong on that end,” Stone said.

Minutemen pitching will be very important due to the strong nature of the Eagles’ batting order. Redshirt senior Tim Cassidy will be given the task of slowing down the BC hitters.

The Eagles have three players hitting at or over the .300 mark on the season, led by senior Joe Cronin, who is batting .356 with three home runs and 22 RBIs on the season. Michael Strem and Logan Hoggarth have provided BC a strong offensive spark as well batting .304 and .300, respectively.

“We need someone to give us an opportunity to win on the mound and we believe (Tim) is the guy who can do that for us,” Stone said. “The first round of the Beanpot is really important and we want to get out to a good start, so we need him to give us some quality innings and get us deep into the ballgame.”

UMass has a similarly strong offense with four players batting at or over .300, led by Dylan Morris batting .364. After those four, there is a significant drop-off in their lineup. The next highest average after those four is third baseman Jon Avallone, who is batting .263. This has led to some struggles scoring when the Minutemen really need key hits with runners in scoring position.

“As a former hitter, you can’t really look for any better time to hit than with runners on base,” Stone said. “It’s just about getting comfortable in those situations and executing.”

Getting that offense going consistently will not be easy on Wednesday, as the Eagles come in sporting a strong 3.34 ERA as a team, good for fourth in the ACC.

Tuesday game postponed

On Tuesday afternoon, the Minutemen got some all-too-familiar news as their game with Siena was postponed due to a rare April snowstorm in Amherst.

The postponement on Tuesday marks the fifth time a UMass game has been either postponed or cancelled this season, as well as the third straight postponed or cancelled game for the Minutemen.

Stone recognizes that the conditions have not been ideal, but his team has dealt with the weather the only way they can.

“There’s not much we can do about it. We can’t control the weather,” Stone said. “It’s happened before, we just need to stay sharp and continue to work to improve. You can’t dwell on it. You can only do the best you can.”

UMass has practiced in Boyden Gymnasium when the conditions outside haven’t been up to par.

“Obviously, it’s not ideal and it’s not the same as being out on the grass, but we need to do whatever we can to remain ready,” Stone said.

Wednesday’s matchup with BC is set to begin at 3 p.m. at Lorden Field. The winner of that game will take on the winner of Harvard/Northeastern on April 20th.

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

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