Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass baseball drops eighth straight

UMass can’t capitalize on Cooper’s strong first start, lose 4-1 to UMass Lowell

By Thomas Haines, Collegian Staff

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The Massachusetts baseball team struggled at the plate again on Wednesday, managing just five hits and one run in a 4-1 defeat to UMass Lowell.

UMass (9-14, 2-7 Atlantic 10) struggled to string together hits and only once had multiple runners on base. The lone run for the Minutemen came in the sixth inning on a bases-loaded walk.

“We did not hit enough to win today,” coach Matt Reynolds said. “That was it. That was everything. We pitched well enough to win. We played defense fair enough. But when you’re not hitting enough offensively, and guys are pressing at the plate, it’s difficult. So we just flat out did not get enough out of our offense today.”

Despite frequently facing hitter’s counts early on in the game, UMass failed to capitalize, leaving eight runners on base. Most of those came with the Minutemen trailing late in the game, as UMass had just two baserunners in the first four innings. The Minutemen’s one offensive threat came in the sixth, when it loaded the bases with one out but only plated a single run.

“We’re trying to break out of a little offensive funk right now,” Reynolds said. “We had a couple guys who got into hitter’s counts, 2-0, and got a fastball right down Broadway and just missed it. “

After four scoreless innings for both sides, UMass Lowell struck first in the top of the fifth. Freshman starter Sam Cooper, in his first collegiate start, got two quick outs for the Minutemen before a slow chopper to the right side turned into an infield hit for River Hawks’ number nine hitter, Ben Prada.

“Quick one-two outs, then a little squibber down to first base that was in no-man’s land, a little hard to get to,” Cooper said. “I’ve been out of the pen, one or two innings, so I was getting a little tired. Changeup over the plate, kid hit it well. Sat back over the plate and hit a triple. Then I was supposed to spot a fastball with the next guy, and I left it over the middle of the plate, and they capitalized.”

Colby Maiola’s RBI triple opened the scoring for the River Hawks, who tagged Cooper for another run before scoring two off of UMass reliever Casey Aubin in the sixth. That proved to be all the scoring they would need, as the Minutemen struggled at the plate all afternoon.

“Two runs feel like 10 runs right now,” Reynolds said. “That was really the difference in the game.”

Cooper left with two outs in the fifth and took the loss. He was charged with five hits and two runs on the day but struck out three and didn’t allow a walk.

“I feel like I gave us a good chance,” Cooper said. “It’s baseball. Things happen.”

Things have not been breaking well for UMass of late, as the Minutemen continued their swoon to fall five games below .500. On the field, the stress of the losing streak is beginning to show.

“I think guys are pressing right now,” Reynolds said. “We’re struggling a little bit, and guys are trying to do a little too much. It’s tough to hit when you’ve gone a couple games when you’re losing and we’re not getting what we need offensively.”

Cooper said that the strain of losing was taking a toll on the team.

“You can definitely tell a difference with the guys and the vibe,” Cooper said. “I think the dugout’s a big part of it. But I get the feeling after this game that everyone’s fed up with it, and I think this weekend things are going to turn around.”

UMass will get another chance to break the losing streak at home on Friday, the first of a three-game series against Rhode Island.

Thomas Haines can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @thainessports.

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