There is nothing more typically New England than baseball being played in late February with frigid cold temperatures and snow still covering the ground. Fittingly, the Massachusetts baseball team starts off the 2019 season with a three-day series in New England, traveling to Central Connecticut State for the season opener on Friday.
For UMass, playing in the cold is like second nature. With the temperatures dipping down from the mid 20’s to the low single digits, and snow still on the ground, it’s been difficult for the Minutemen to find time outside to practice. For coach Matt Reynolds, there is no concern heading into this weekend about the preparation level.
“I think that we’ve done absolutely everything that we can do to take advantage of opportunities that we have,” said Reynolds. “We really need to establish a culture that we’re going to bring a consistent level of effort every single game.”
On Friday, Reynolds will be giving the ball to senior Justin Lasko, who is pitching his final opening day for UMass.
Lasko went 5-4 last year with a 2.52 earned-run average, and a team-leading three complete games. It was a successful season for Lasko, who built onto it with a summer in the Cape League notching his first career all-star selection for the West division.
For Lasko, it’s important for the Minutemen to start the season off right.
“We’ve been working these last few months, working on all the right things,” said Lasko. “Getting off on the right foot is going to give us that feeling of success, and what we’ve been doing has been paying off.”
CCSU has a few players who are a threat to hit the deep ball. In 2018, the Blue Devils had five players hit for three or more home runs and had a total of 22 home runs which was nearly twice as many home runs UMass hit last year.
The Blue Devils bring balanced hitting, while their pitching is mixed with some guys ranging from plus five ERAs to mid three.
Having only played the Blue Devils once last year, beating them 4-2, the Minuteman are confident heading into the series that they will come out successful. Junior Eddy Hart, an infielder for UMass, feels prepared heading into the weekend series.
“Coach has done a good job getting us prepared overall as a team, and what to expect and not to expect,” said Hart.
Reynolds knows offensive has been a weak point for the team, but he feels good with offensive guys like senior Logan Greene and fellow outfielder Nolan Kessinger, leading the top of the order for the Minuteman. Kessinger is coming off a successful season last year, batting .285 and finishing with 47 hits. Greene batted .263 last year and was fifth on the team with 17 runs batted in.
The first game of three-game series is on Friday with first pitch at 1:30 p.m. at Balf-Savin Field.
Frederick Hanna can be reached at [email protected]