UMass baseball gets swept in home opening series against VCU following 11-1 defeat

Alec Norton hit the ball during the game against VCU on Sunday. Jong Man Kim/Daily Collegian)

Alec Norton hit the ball during the game against VCU on Sunday. Jong Man Kim/Daily Collegian)

By Amin Touri

A disappointing weekend for the Massachusetts baseball team ended on a low note on Sunday, as the Minutemen took an 11-1 drubbing against Virginia Commonwealth.

Playing on home soil for the first time all season, UMass (6-17, 2-4 Atlantic 10) could only score once all weekend, following an 8-0 Friday loss with a 2-0 defeat on Saturday before Sunday’s rout.

“Well obviously it wasn’t good,” said UMass coach Mike Stone. “It wasn’t the way we wanted to finish the series, we thought we were gonna shake it off and have a good effort today. Early in the game things went the wrong way for us and we didn’t recover.”

The Minutemen struggled offensively as they had all weekend, only managing to push across one run. VCU (19-13, 8-1 A-10) sophomore Michael Dailey kept the UMass bats quiet, allowing just two hits and racking up 10 strikeouts in six innings on the hill.

“It was a tough game,” said UMass sophomore Cooper Mrowka. “Got down early, but it’s one of those things you’ve gotta flush and get onto the next one. Second conference weekend, didn’t go the way we wanted to, but a lot of games left.”

Outfielders Brett Evangelista and Nolan Kessinger each went 2-4 for the Minutemen, but Dailey tore through the UMass lineup with a variety of off-speed and breaking pitches with very little resistance.

“[Dailey] was throwing a heavy dose of sliders and changeups,” said Mrowka, “not many fastballs, keeping us off-balance and out in front. It was effective for him, so he did a pretty good job against us with that.”

Senior Mike Geannelis got the ball to start for the Minutemen, and the Rams tagged him early and often. Logan Farrar opened the scoring with a solo homer to right-center, before Darian Carpenter launched a two-run blast to put VCU up 3-0 in the top of the first inning.

In his next at-bat, Carpenter took Geannelis deep again, this time a three-run shot to make it 6-0 in the third. By the time Stone went to his bullpen, Geannelis had already given up eleven runs, nine of them earned.

“It was a tough one for sure,” said Geannelis. “They did a good job, I was getting ahead of guys, just not finishing batters, made some mistakes, and they took advantage. [Carpenter] definitely took advantage.”

Sophomore Connor Donahue threw three shutout innings in relief for UMass, but the damage had already been done.

“Not much [positive],” Stone said. “Not much other than the fact that Connor Donahue gave us some good innings, Scott Hovey pitched pretty well, got out of a jam at the end. Offensively we didn’t do anything. Honestly, other than the fact that Connor Donahue pitched well, that’s it.”

The Minutemen very nearly got some consolation on the game’s final pitch, but Rams outfielder Haiden Lamb scaled the wall in left to rob Andrew Noonan of a two-run home run. It was a fitting end to a forgettable weekend for the UMass offense.

As a team, the Minutemen went 10-88 at the plate this weekend, hitting .114.

“I think they’re pressing too much,” Stone says, “they’re thinking about their batting averages and other things that are distracting and it’s not helping them. We faced some good pitching all weekend, no question about that, but I think we’re better than we showed this weekend as hitters, offensively just didn’t get anything going.”

UMass now shifts its attention to a pair of non-conference games, at Central Connecticut on Tuesday and at home against UMass Lowell on Wednesday, before resuming conference play with a three-game series against Saint Louis this weekend.

Amin Touri can be reached at [email protected]