Strong UMass pitching helps defeat Holy Cross 6-2

Scott LeSieur’s six in first career start

UMass baseball played the alumni on Saturday.  (Shannon Broderick/Daily Collegian)

UMass baseball played the alumni on Saturday. (Shannon Broderick/Daily Collegian)

By Joey Aliberti , Assistant Sports Editor

Sophomore Scott LeSieur got the starting nod for the Massachusetts baseball team Wednesday night, allowing one earned run in 3.2 innings pitched to go along with six strikeouts.

Fellow sophomore Kevin Dow was LeSieur’s relief, allowing two hits and no runs in 2.1 innings, striking out four of his 10 total batters faced.

A base hit was the result of LeSieur’s first batter of his first career start. He followed that up by striking out four of his next eight batters before being subbed out by Dow in the middle of the fourth.

“He hasn’t been stretched out that far yet this year,” Minutemen head coach Matt Reynolds said when talking about LeSieur. “He got to a point where we wanted to get him out, not let his pitch count to get too high, he did a really nice job.”

“[Dow] didn’t have the best start to the year so it was great to see him have a little bit of success,” Reynolds said. “He’s capable of helping us out a ton.”

The combination of Spencer Bergeron, Tucker Whitman and Matt Aronson closed out the game by striking out five of 12 batters and allowing one run, to give UMass (7-5) the 6-2 victory over Holy Cross (0-5, 0-3 Patriot League).

The Minutemen have now seen eight different pitchers start through 12 games this season, meaning only three have seen multiple starts. Sophomore Jack Steele has three, while junior Ben Shields and freshman Max LeBlanc have only seen two.

An extremely young bullpen that Reynolds thinks highly of, along with minor injuries throughout the early season, have served as the primary reasons as to why the starts have been widespread.

“We are learning as we go here,” Reynolds said. “We’re trying to get some guys some opportunities and figure out what roles are going to be filled how. And in the end, it’s going to be something that helps us down the road, because we’re going to learn a lot about ourselves and we’re going to get some experience that’s spread out amongst the staff. I think that’s going to pay dividends once we get further and further into the season.”

Even with a pitching rotation that lacks experience, UMass still has the second-best batting average allowed in the entire Atlantic 10 (.235). The Minutemen are also tied in the A-10 with the third-lowest earned run average (4.35). Since the opening game of the year – which was an 11-2 loss to Northeastern – UMass has allowed an average of 3.6 runs per game.

“We didn’t expect to play until that weekend, so we were a little bit rushed and all of the sudden we were in there and we were facing a good Northeastern team,” Reynolds said of the season-opener. “…We have a confidence level in more guys amongst the staff, which is why you’re seeing more guys go out there, it’s not random. We’ve got a pretty deep pitching staff this year.”

Pitching will have to continue to surge on the upward trend, as the Minutemen will visit Northeastern yet again for a three-game weekend series starting Friday.

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