UMass beats Boston College to advance to Baseball Beanpot final

UMass pitching staff shuts down BC bats

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UMass beats Boston College to advance to Baseball Beanpot final

Jon Asgeirsson/Collegian

Jon Asgeirsson/Collegian

Jon Asgeirsson/Collegian

Jon Asgeirsson/Collegian

By Noah Bortle, Collegian Staff

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With its 6-2 win over Boston College on Tuesday, the Massachusetts baseball team advances to the Baseball Beanpot final to be held at Fenway Park in two weeks.

UMass’ (6-15, 1-5 A-10) pitching paved the way to the Minutemen’s first championship game appearance since 2015.

“It’s great,” said head coach Matt Reynolds. “I can’t say enough good things about it. I’m proud of the guys today.”

Four UMass pitchers navigated through the Eagles’ (14-14, 5-7 ACC) lineup, led by freshman Jack Steele and Brad Collins. The pair threw 6.2 innings combined of shutout baseball, allowing only two hits.

A three-run fifth inning put the Minutemen in front – a lead they would not give back. Two of the three fifth-inning runs came on a seeing-eye single through the right side of the infield by Ryan Lever.

The shortstop finished 1-for-4 on the day with a walk as well as his two fifth-inning RBIs.

“That’s a pride game for us,” Lever said. “Representing Massachusetts like that. We wanted to say we were playing in the Beanpot championship, and that’s what we did.”

The bottom of the eighth inning saw the Eagles load the bases and threaten to cut into what was a 5-2 lead. Junior Casey Aubin came on to work out of the jam with two outs and successfully induced a groundball to escape the inning unscathed.

Aubin was tasked with a four-out save and was up to the challenge, retiring four of the five batters he faced, lowering his season ERA to 0.90.

“We had some awesome pitching today,” Reynolds said. “Its nice to see the guys getting some rewards for starting to play baseball the right way.”

Simon Nathans/Collegian

Despite the UMass pitchers’ successes, the staff did not miss many bats, only striking out five Eagles batters.

“The defense behind me was amazing today,” Collins said. “I was staying low in the zone, and they were just beating the ball into the ground.”

The Minutemen gave themselves an early lead thanks to a safety squeeze bunt by Eddy Hart in the third inning, and they plated another run in the top of the third thanks to a wild pitch.

Hart finished Tuesday’s game going 3-for-4 with a walk and two runs scored. On top of his production at the plate, Hart also recorded seven assists and three putouts in the field including making the play to get UMass out of the eighth inning.

BC managed to score two fourth-inning runs off Kevin Dow to tie the game.

Eagles starter Travis Lane lasted four innings, giving up two runs, though only one was earned. Lane struggled to find the strike zone, walking five UMass hitters.

The Minutemen added some ninth-inning insurance, plating one run on one hit and a passed ball.

The win Tuesday afternoon marks back-to-back wins for UMass. The brief win streak comes on the heels of 12 straight defeats in March.

“We were really scuffling for a while there,” Reynolds said. “Guys started feeling better about themselves, got some more confidence. It was great.”

The Baseball Beanpot final is set for April 17 against the winner of Harvard-Northeastern.

“Its always good to put my state on my chest,” Collins said. “Its like that every game, but to go out and play well, it means a little bit extra.”

The Minutemen take the field next on Friday for the opening of a weekend series against conference foe Saint Louis at 3 p.m.

Noah Bortle can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @noah_bortle.