Despite losing streak, two sophomores shining for UMass baseball

Harney, Videtto bright spots for struggling Minutemen

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(Jon Asgeirsson/Daily Collegian)

By Evan Marinofsky, Collegian Staff

Morale is far from high around the Massachusetts baseball team.

Losers of 10 straight, UMass (4-13, 0-3 A-10) as a team hasn’t gotten off to the start they’d hoped for. They sit with the second-lowest run total in the Atlantic 10 at 66, and their team ERA hovers in the high sixes.

However, two bright spots have emerged from the team’s group of second year players: right-handed pitcher Sean Harney and pitcher-turned-first baseman Anthony Videtto.

Harney impressed last season when he came onto the scene as a freshman with an earned run average of 3.46 over 12 appearances and 54 2/3 innings pitched.

“I surprised myself last year with what I did,” Harney said. “That gave me confidence going into this year.”

This season has seen him lead all UMass starters in ERA at 2.84. His innings pitched (25 1/3) and strikeouts (19) both rank second among Minutemen starters. He’s gone at least 5 2/3 innings in all four of his starts this season, his best outing coming against Central Connecticut State when he went six innings, allowing no runs and striking out 10.

Even though it’s early and the success is there, head coach Matt Reynolds still believes there’s a lot more to Harney’s game that’s yet to come.

“I think that there’s more to come with him if he’s sharp more often, instead of one out of every three to four pitches that are an anomaly and a big miss,” Reynolds said. “If we can get that down to that ratio a bit more on the positive side, I think that you’ll see a really dominant arm. But credit to him — without being sharp every single pitch, he still seems to get the results and keeps us in big games.”

Reynolds also pointed to Harney’s results not matching up to the initial appearance on the mound.

“He’s kind of an anomaly where it seems like more often than not you feel like he’s not at his best,” Reynolds said, “and then you look up at the scoreboard and he’s given up one run over six innings and has eight strikeouts and that’s just who he is. It’s weird, which is a positive for us.”

When it comes to sustaining these results, Harney’s mindset is simple.

“You just have your job that you have to do,” said the Natick, Mass. native. “You go out there and you compete and hope to give your team a chance to win, and that’s all I have to do every single week and eventually everything will come together.”

Then there’s Videtto.

Videtto came into the program slated to be a formidable part of the pitching staff back in 2016. He missed his first year when he was sidelined after Tommy John surgery, which caused him to redshirt his freshman year. Thing didn’t get much easier in his first year playing with the team in 2018 when a fractured elbow cut his season short.

It also cut short his hopes of being a full-time pitcher for the Minutemen.

“Dealing with arm injuries that I’ve dealt with in the past I just decided that the main key for me is playing and being healthy and being on the field,” Videtto said. “Coach Reynolds and I decided that what’s best for the team is me being on the field and contributing on offense and keeping my arm healthy so that I can play every day rather than just a few starts here and there and then possibly getting hurt again.”

The move has more than paid off, as Videtto has fully taken over the first basemen duties with Cooper Mrowka injured for the season.

His biggest impact has been felt at the plate.

Videtto leads the Minutemen in batting average (.306) and on-base plus slugging (.790). He’s been the four-hole hitter since the beginning of the season and has fully gained the trust of Reynolds and the rest of the coaching staff.

Ironically enough, no one’s really that surprised by his success.

“Yes, we kind of did [expect it],” Reynolds said. “Not coming into the fall but after we saw him and saw what he did over the winter. We’re working with him and we knew he was going to play a prominent role for us and probably be in the lineup every day.”

Over the offseason, Videtto consistently tweaked his swing and worked on his mechanics.

“I think the main thing for me was just looking at videos of my swing from last year to this year,” said the Kingston, Mass. native. “Based on some mechanics with a coach I worked with in the offseason, he just gave me good pointers. Just putting those things together and then practicing them over and over again.”

The Minutemen look to get back on track this weekend when they travel to Dayton, Ohio for a three-game set against Dayton. First pitch is slated for 3 p.m. on Friday.

Evan Marinofsky can be reached at [email protected], and followed on Twitter @emarinofsky.