Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass baseball notebook: Minutemen go 5-1 over spring break

Minutemen sweep Bucknell, defeat CCSU among others over break

Collegian File Photo

Collegian File Photo

By Zander Manning, Collegian Staff

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Ten games into the 2017 season, the Massachusetts baseball team had four wins.

The 2018 season, however, has been quite different. In fact, through UMass’ first ten games, its record is a reverse of last season at 6-4.

“We’re happy with it. We’re definitely happy with the results,” UMass coach Matt Reynolds said. “If you can have a great learning experience and collect [wins], that’s all you can ask for as a coach.” 

UMass takes three in a row from Bucknell 

After topping Central Connecticut State at the start of spring break, it was a quick turnaround for the Minutemen who flew to Kissimmee, Florida, to take on Bucknell (4-14, 1-3 Patriot League), taking three in a row from the Bison.

In the top of the ninth of Wednesday’s game, the Minutemen led the Bison 11-7, but thanks to a four-run top of the ninth for Bucknell, the score was tied at 11-11.

Sophomore catcher Connor Smith, however, came to the rescue with a walk-off double in the bottom half, plating fellow sophomore Marcus Fry from second base.

“To be honest, those Bucknell games could have gone either way,” Reynolds said. “We didn’t particularly play great, although we got the offense going. The bats really came alive and we started to see some good things there. We didn’t particularly play well, we didn’t pitch well or play defense well, we just kind of gutted them out, which was good to see.”

On Tuesday, it was another late comeback. This time, however, UMass came into the bottom of the ninth trailing 8-6.

The Minutemen pulled within one on an RBI single by sophomore Nolan Kessinger, scoring freshman Luke Oliphant from third base. After junior Cooper Mrowka walked to load the bases, junior Logan Greene pinch-hit for junior Alec Norton and reached on an infield single to first base, scoring Fry from third and tying the game at eight apiece.

Sophomore Justen Voghel followed with a sacrifice fly that scored Kessinger from third and put the Minutemen ahead 9-8.

Junior Casey Aubin stranded two baserunners in the top of the ninth, and UMass came out on top 9-8.

In Monday’s game, the Minutemen trailed the Bison 9-7 coming into the bottom of the ninth, but after Kessinger scored on a wild pitch and Mrowka scored on a sacrifice fly by senior Brett Evangelista, the game was tied at 10-10.

Smith ended things with a walk-off single up the middle to score Norton from third and gave the Minutemen the victory.

The streak ends at five

UMass made it five wins in a row, defeating Bradley (11-5) 6-2 on Friday thanks to a strong pitching performance by Justin Lasko, who went six innings allowing no runs on four hits with five strikeouts and three walks.

“I think we’ve thrown the ball fairly well,” Reynolds said. “I think that was a gutsy performance [for Lasko] against a really good team offensively in Bradley, and he did not have his best stuff. That was one of the worst we’ve seen him in terms of having all his pitches, but he’s a competitor and he just gritted through it.

“He didn’t have his changeup going at all, so I think we’ve seen a couple of outings from guys like that because they’re grinding through without their best stuff,” Reynold’s said.

The Minutemen fell Saturday to the Braves 6-3 to end the streak at five.

A look ahead

Now the Minutemen begin to focus on the games that matter: their A-10 conference games. As Tuesday’s matchup with Holy Cross was cancelled due to poor field conditions, UMass will begin A-10 play against Richmond in a road three-game weekend set this weekend.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 3 p.m. at Pitt Field.

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

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