Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Big sixth inning propels UMass baseball past Albany

Minutemen ride strong offensive performance by Kessinger to victory

Thomas Haines

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ALBANY, NY — With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, the Massachusetts baseball team led SUNY Albany by a score of 8-6. The Great Danes (9-8, 1-2 America East), however, had runners on first and third base with junior Matt Codispoti at the plate.

As UMass sophomore Carter Knapek got set, junior Tyler Collins—the runner on first base—broke toward second. Knapek caught on to the move and threw the ball to his shortstop, Ryan Lever, who was covering second base. Chasing Collins as he raced back to first, Lever tagged the junior as he dove into the first base bag.

Collins was called out, but the runner from third, redshirt senior Connor Powers scored before the out was recorded, making it an 8-7 final.

“It’s good to get a win first and foremost so we have to do a better job with our middle relief,” UMass coach Matt Reynolds said. “One of our takeaways was we have to get all 27 outs in every game. Just because you have a big inning and go up 7-1, doesn’t mean you’re going to cruise to the victory. We have to keep the gas on and try to score as much as we possibly can, I think we just kind of backed down a little bit.”

Coming into the top of the sixth inning, the Minutemen (8-6, 1-2 Atlantic 10) were tied with the Great Danes at two runs apiece.

After junior Logan Greene doubled to left field, driving in sophomore Marcus Fry giving UMass a 3-2 lead, the Minutemen followed with two consecutive bunt singles. Frank DiOrio delivered the second, which scored Greene making it 4-2.

With runners now on first and second, Lever worked a walk while sophomore Nolan Kessinger cleared the bases with a triple that snuck just under the glove of first basemen Ryan Hernandez.

“I told Cooper [Mrowka] that if Lever didn’t knock in those runs that I was going to,” Kessinger said. “I just waited to put a good swing on the ball and hadn’t really all day and I found a hole down the line.”

Kessinger would finish 2-for-3, with three RBIs, but reached base each time he was at-bat. The sophomore reached on a fielder’s choice in his first at-bat, walked his second and was hit by a pitch in his third.

“He’s Nolan,” Reynolds said. “He grinds like crazy and I always have supreme confidence when he’s up there. No situation’s too big for him, he’s just going to do what he does and he’s going to compete like crazy. He does it all the time and I wasn’t surprised.”

UMass first got on the board in the fifth inning when Mrowka—0-2 at that point—poked a single through the left side scoring Eddy Hart and Ryan Lever.

“I was just trying to put the ball in play and hit it hard somewhere,” Mrowka said. “Something good happened and thankfully I was able to do that.”

Freshman Anthony Videtto got the start for the Minutemen and lasted 2.0 innings allowing two runs (both earned) and two hits. Videtto also walked two, but would finish with zero strikeouts. He finished without a decision.

Videtto’s classmate Sean Harney got the win—his first on the season—and through three innings of no-hit, no-run ball, he walked three and struck out two.

“Could be a little better, it’s a work in progress,” Reynolds said. “We have to get more out of them…Sean Harney was a step in the right direction. I thought that was a great performance by him because he’s somebody who has a high ceiling.

“He throws the ball very hard, he’s got a good breaking ball. He had had some disappointing outings so it was nice to see there and hopefully gain some confidence from that,” Reynolds continued.

The Minutemen’s next game will be their home opener as they take on St. Bonaventure at Earl Lorden Field. First pitch is scheduled for Friday at 3 p.m.

Zander Manning can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @ZMSportsReport.

 

 

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