UMass sweeps doubleheader against Rhode Island thanks to comeback in game No. 2

The Minutewomen fight back to win 12-11 in Game 2 on Tuesday

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Collegian File Photo

By Lulu Kesin, Collegian Staff

After a dominant performance in the first of two matchups against the Rams (2-12, 0-2 Atlantic 10), the light that the Minutewomen had in game one looked to be dimming in the second game. But a strong finish from UMass (4-7, 2-4 A-10) — 11 runs in the final two innings — propelled UMass to the win, and an undefeated doubleheader.

To start the day, the sky was blue, the sun was shining and the cheerful screams from the Minutewomen echoed as senior Hannah Bunker crossed home plate after hitting her first career homerun. The cheerful tone and energetic atmosphere that filled Sortino Field remained for the rest of the game.

When Bunker’s homerun put the Minutewomen up 2-1, Rhode Island was not able to match the offensive dominance that UMass brought to the field. The Rams had a chance on one occasion after a leadoff walk but could not convert.

Caroline Deem, who coach Kristi Stefanoni praised after her team’s win against Bryant, continued to find success at bat on Tuesday. In UMass’ half of the fourth, Deem picked up the RBI single to put the Minutewomen up 6-1. Jules Shields followed up with a two-RBI single up the middle to add two more to UMass’ lead. Kendra Allen had herself a hit to send Emily Whelan home, further extending the Minutewomen lead to 9-1.

A total team effort by UMass fielded success as seven different Minutewomen recorded a hit while six different batters drove in runs. Minutewomen pitcher Jessie DiPasquale had seven strikeouts and allowed just two hits in five innings of work, earning herself her third win of the season, improving to 4-6.

“We did all the things we needed to do in order to score enough runs to get us out of the game early,” Stefanoni said.

As sweet as it was for Stefanoni’s team to come out strong and finish the game in only five innings, the fight she saw from the Minutewomen in game two was much more important.

After a hot start for the Minutewomen, the latter half of the doubleheader started in the opposite direction.

The Rams snagged the first run of the game, but then it appeared a pitcher’s duel would be on full display.

For the first three innings, both teams were uncomfortable and unable to capitalize on runners on base until a bunt from Bunker in UMass’ half of the fourth put the Minutewomen on the board.

Unlike the matinee game, URI had the hot fifth inning and put up a big performance.

The bottom of the fifth was a full Rhode Island showing, snagging four hits, and extending the lead to 6-1.

Sophomore Abby Lamson brought the Minutewomen back to life to cut URI’s lead to three. From there, Stefanoni’s message to her team was that no single hero needed to step up, instead just a matter of passing the bat. She felt that her team heard her message loud and clear.

Allen’s base clearing triple had the game tied up in the top of the sixth, putting UMass in the exact position they wanted to be. The Minutewomen lead was then secured after Amy Smith put one in play to bring Allen home, and a hit from Caroline Videtto sent Smith home, making it 8-6.

“You could tell they refused to give up and refused to lose,” Stefanoni said. “I was so proud of the way they came back in that inning…it was great.”

The Rams knocked in three more runs to go up 9-8 heading into the top of the seventh, giving UMass no other choice than to answer back.

The Caroline duo stepped up for the Minutewomen, fueling the fire that created a crucial 12-9 lead. Videtto had her second triple of the game following the hit from Deem that tied the game. Videtto was 4-for-4 in game two and finished with 4 RBI.

The pressure was turned to DiPasquale heading into the bottom of the seventh, but the sophomore pitcher maintained control and secured the win even after the Rams snuck across two runs.

“Today’s two games, mostly game two, took a lot of guts and I think that we showed that today,” Stefanoni said.

UMass travels to face Saint Joseph’s this weekend with games on Friday, a doubleheader Saturday and a 12 p.m. game to end the weekend on Sunday.

Lulu Kesin can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @Lulukesin.