UMass baseball splits doubleheader against Saint Louis

Minutemen walk off in first game, fall in second

By Ethan Nash, Collegian Staff

It was a tale of two games for the Massachusetts baseball team on Saturday afternoon.

The Minutemen (7-16, 2-6 Atlantic 10) split a double header with Saint Louis, taking the first game 7-6 and losing the second 9-4.

“Game one was obviously a huge one for us,” coach Matt Reynolds said. “We just gutted it out and that was an exciting win for us.”

The highlight of game one for the Minutemen came in the bottom of the ninth. Redshirt freshman Collin Shapiro came up to the plate with two outs, runners on second and third, and a one-run deficit. The left-handed hitting Shapiro pulled the ball through the right side of the infield and both runners came in to score to give UMass the victory. Shapiro ended the first game 4-for-4 with two walks.

“Obviously, I had had a pretty good day before [the walk off],” said Shapiro. “I really wasn’t expecting anything good to hit but I knew if I was going to get anything good, it would be the first pitch. I had never hit a walk off before so that was cool.

“I got past first and coach Royer started yelling at me and congratulating me and I froze. I saw everyone running at me and I didn’t know what to do. I got kind of scared. It was pretty cool though.”

Senior righty Justin Lasko got the start for the Minutemen in game one. He went six innings, giving up two earned runs, seven hits and striking out seven.

“It was pretty good for the most part,” Lasko said. “Had a couple of bad pitches here and there. Other than that, I thought I did pretty solid through and through.”

In the second game, freshman pitcher Jack Steele struggled to get the ball over the plate. He went 3 2/3 IP with five walks and three hit batsmen.

“In game two, the story was that we made too many mistakes,” Reynolds said. “Too many free passes, too many free bases given away. We walked eight and we hit another [five], so it’s tough to win doing that. We held them to six hits, but you can get nine runs on six hits when we make some errors.”

The bright spot on offense for the Minutemen came in the bottom of the fifth, courtesy of a Luke Oliphant bases clearing double. The double cut the deficit to one at the time, but the Minutemen weren’t able to close the gap.

Saint Louis broke game two open in the top of the ninth. A wild pitch from freshman reliever Jack Pawloski gave the Billikens a 7-4 lead before a two-RBI double from Saint Louis senior Shane Benes made it 9-4.

Despite the loss in game two, Reynolds believes the Minutemen have developed a sense of confidence.

“I think we have a lot more confidence in ourselves now than in the midst of that losing streak,” said Reynolds. “We just have to play cleaner baseball.”

UMass will wrap up the three-game series with Saint Louis tomorrow afternoon. First pitch is scheduled for 12 p.m.

Ethan Nash can be reached at [email protected] and followed on twitter @ethan_nash15.