The Massachusetts baseball team dropped all three games this weekend on the road at Navy by scores of 10-0, 4-2 and 17-5.
The Minutemen (1-5) have been off to a very slow start, and the Midshipmen (9-1) captured that opportunity and made the most of it.
Navy had a batting average of .351 over the weekend while UMass sported a .221 batting average, as the Midshipmen outscored the Minutemen 31-7 in the three games.
“We got out-executed in every facet of the game,” UMass coach Matt Reynolds said. “Offensively we really didn’t get anything going until about the middle of game three, which was garbage time. Overall it was very disappointing, we just got to get back to basics and be able to do the basic things well.”
Unlike last weekend, starting pitching was one of the biggest reasons that the weekend went so poorly for UMass. Junior Sean Harney pitched five innings in the first game, in which he let up five runs on five hits, as well as walking five batters and only striking out two.
Ben Shields pitched four innings in the second game, allowing four runs on five hits along with four strikeouts on 85 pitches. In the final game of the weekend, sophomore Jack Steele allowed eight runs with only one out in the second inning, allowing seven hits and two walks with one strikeout in 53 pitches.
“We had a lot of trouble controlling the baseball on the mound,” Reynolds said. “We got pretty shaky starts from all three guys in varying degrees.”
Overall, relief pitching wasn’t much of an improvement from last week, allowing 13 runs in 10.2 innings, along with 16 hits and 12 walks. Even though most of the relief pitching was a negative, one player who was a positive was sophomore Jack Pawloski, who had an 11-pitch inning in game three, striking out all three batters and allowing only one hit.
“We know he’s capable of that,” Reynolds said. “If he can command the ball, he’s outstanding, he proved that last year. It was one of the few positives that he was in the zone and that his curveball was very sharp, and he got good results. Hopefully everybody can follow suit.”
Junior slugger Anthony Videtto was unable to get it going on offense in the first two games, totaling zero hits and three strikeouts in six at bats, before he finished the weekend series off going three-for-five in game three with two runs batted in. Without Videtto’s bat presence, UMass had only two runs in the first two games combined, with a team batting average of .140 (8-for-57). Those two runs came from a two-run shot by senior right fielder Nolan Kessinger.
One adjustment that the Minutemen made from last weekend’s series against Delaware State to this weekend against Navy was sliding freshman center fielder Ryan Coleman from the leadoff spot all the way down to ninth. The move was successful, as Coleman went from hitting .273 (3-11) when leading off to .500 (4-8) when hitting last, and even totaling three hits in the third game this weekend. This brings his season batting average to .368. Coleman has also recorded a hit in every single game but one this season.
“He really competes and grinds, he wants to win and he plays hard,” Reynolds said. “I think it’s come a long way so far as he hit the ball really well today. He’s one of those guys that we need to continually get better and better. He’s been good so far and we need him to continue to do that.”
Next weekend UMass will head down to Georgia, where they will face a top-five team in the country in the Bulldogs.
Joseph Aliberti can be reached via email at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @JosephAliberti.