Lack of offense plagues UMass baseball in game two of doubleheader with Fordham

By Kyle DaLuz

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

Sweeping an opponent is never an easy task in the always competitive Atlantic 10. The Massachusetts baseball team found that out the hard way Saturday afternoon, falling 5-0 in game two of the doubleheader with Fordham at Earl Lorden Field.

After scoring eight runs apiece in the first two games with the Rams (23-23, 9-6 A-10), UMass (13-20, 6-9 A-10) squandered just three hits against Fordham’s Joseph Serrapica. The opposing right hander was dominant – tossing eight shutout innings, walking just one and striking out 10 on 95 pitches.

“(Serrapica) seemed to have our number at the plate,” Minutemen coach Mike Stone said. “We weren’t able to get anything going. We made some errors early that didn’t help.”

“The guy was 92-93 (miles per hour) and he shut us down,” Stone added. “Not much you can do about that.”

Brandon Walsh put together another quality start on the mound for UMass. Coming off a complete-game, two-run, 12-strikeout performance in an 8-2 victory over La Salle last Sunday, the North Andover native scattered four earned runs on seven hits in 7 1/3 innings, while striking out seven. The Rams added single runs in the first, second and seventh innings with Walsh on the hill.

“I thought he was throwing the ball well,” Stone said of his starter. “He wasn’t as sharp as last week. I thought he went deep in a lot of counts more than he did last week. We made three errors, that doesn’t help.”

“I felt alright – I definitely felt like I had some good stuff,” Walsh added. “They were putting some good swings on the balls I left up in the zone and they capitalized with guys on base.”

Since returning to the rotation from a lengthy suspension at the start of the season, Walsh has been a reliable and effective back end starter for the Minutemen. The senior right hander won his first two starts, has an earned run average of 3.86 in 25.2 innings and ranks fourth on the team in strikeouts with 28, behind only the other starters who have pitched since the start the of the season.

“Pounding the zone is big (to being effective),” Walsh said of his play. “Having John Jennings behind the plate is awesome, too. He’s blocking everything and he’s great back there. The defense – obviously – they’re playing well just making the plays behind me. It’s easy to go out and throw strikes and compete when you’ve got guys behind you making plays and giving it what they have.”

Jennings had multiple instances where he had to stop play and stretch out cramps, as the long 18 inning day seemed to start catching up with him.

Pitcher Evan Mackintosh came in and allowed a two-run home run to Fordham third baseman Luke Stampfl in the eighth inning to all but put a UMass rally out of reach.

Minutemen win wild game one

UMass took game one of the doubleheader Saturday afternoon, breaking a 7-7 tie in the bottom of the ninth after a Reiss Knehr pitch escaped to the backstop to score Mike Geannelis from third base, ensuring a second consecutive weekend series victory.

“It’s always nice when you win at the end of the game,” Stone said. “I thought we did a great job of answering and coming back. Comeback wins are always fun and enjoyable. It’s just rewarding because you hang in there and the guys played all weekend.”

The Minutemen took a 3-2 lead in the third inning on a Jennings three-run homer, his team-leading eighth blast of the season.

UMass took advantage of a wild pitch in the seventh inning to tie the game at seven as Ryan Lever crossed the plate and took advantage of the miscue.

Geannelis scored a pitching victory along with the winning run – tossing 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief for the Minutemen, allowing just one hit.

“I thought our guys really played their butts off all weekend,” Stone said. “They competed real well. On the mound, everybody out there gave us a great effort. We did a lot offensively. (Coming back to win the second game) was great. It was a good weekend for us.”

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