Inexperience prevails for UMass as it loses 11-2 against Northeastern

Three of 16 total hitters were underclassmen

By Jory Aliberti, Assistant Sports Editor

Similar to many other collegiate sports programs, the Massachusetts men’s baseball team has not had a smooth road to its season-opening game. UMass suffered with no fall baseball, not much practice and training leading up to the season, along with the two-week pause that was issued in February by the University when a spike in COVID-19 cases occurred on campus.

“We’re evaluating, we’re teaching, we’re trying to figure out who we’re going to get in the lineup,” said Minutemen (0-1) head coach Matt Reynolds. “All of it is happening at the same time, and guys are trying to learn each other’s names.”

UMass was only able to produce three hits on the offensive side of the diamond, all of which came in the final two innings of the game. The most notable of the three hits was a home run from freshman pinch-hitter Max LeBlanc, who hit a solo shot in the top of the 8th inning.

Sophomore Kevin Dow was the starter for the Minutemen in the opener, pitching just two innings before allowing four hits and two runs — one earned. Dow managed to retire five batters before being relieved.

The Huskies (2-2) hit .351 against UMass and starting pitcher Wyatt Scotti threw four shutout innings, striking out five and allowing one hit. Northeastern came into this game shortly after a 1-2 weekend against the 17th ranked team in the country in Wake Forest.

UMass felt the loss of some of its best players from last year’s team in Anthony Videtto, Sean Harney, Nolan Kessinger and Jordan Erbe.

Videtto led the Minutemen in nearly every hitting category as a redshirt junior last year but decided to leave UMass to pursue a career in sports medicine. Harney was the primary starting pitcher in 2020’s reduced season and has since transferred to Kentucky. Kessinger was an outfielder but has now graduated and Erbe was a promising young freshman infielder as the only Minuteman to have double-digit hits through the nine games played other than Videtto.

With these losses, UMass has had to fill the voids with five transfers and 11 incoming freshmen.

Eddy Hart is one of the very few upperclassmen that returned to the roster in 2021. Hart served as a captain last year but saw limited time due to injury.

“He’s got a tough job,” Reynolds said of Hart’s leadership role. “He’s certainly not the only leader on the team. We need to find leadership elsewhere on the team, it can’t be one guy’s responsibility to be the leader for a bunch of newcomers but he’s certainly a huge piece to it.”

“We’ve got inexperience abound. On the mound, behind the plate, every position essentially except for second base and when [Colin] Shapiro comes back.”

Shapiro missed every game in the 2020 season due to injury and was also out against the Huskies on Wednesday afternoon. This is after a 2019 season that saw him lead the Minutemen in batting average, on base percentage, runs and stolen bases. Shapiro also earned NEIBA All-Star honors in his redshirt freshman season. He is likely to see time at both left field and designated hitter according to Reynolds.

After a shortened 1-8 season in 2020 for UMass, the season opener didn’t show promise for things to come. With so many new faces to go along with the fact that this team has not had much time to connect as a unit, the growing pains showed in the loss came with good reason.

Joey Aliberti can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @JosephAliberti1.