Seven-run first inning gives UMass baseball a 11-4 win over UMass Lowell

Cole Hebble goes 3-5 at the plate

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Shilpa Sweth / Daily Collegian

By Kayla Gregoire, Collegian Staff

The Massachusetts baseball team needed a win after coming off a tough loss against Boston College in the Beanpot championship. It was able to accomplish that Wednesday afternoon in an 11-4 win over UMass Lowell.

“It’s always great to see them bounce back and offensively stay the course because we’ve been doing a great job,” UMass head coach Matt Reynolds said. “I think the biggest thing today was how well we played defensively and how [our pitchers] responded on the mound.”

The Minutemen (15-10-1, 5-1 Atlantic 10) capitalized on River Hawks (12-18, 5-7 American East Conference) starting pitcher, Brendan Williams, not commanding the strike zone. In the first inning alone, UMass recorded seven runs on multiple walks and five hits.

The inning started with Cole Hebble hitting a leadoff single to center field. After that, Mike Gervasi and Drew DeMartino worked walks to load the bases up for Will MacLean. MacLean also walked to send Hebble home for a 1-1 tie game. The Minutemen continued to pressure Williams with a double from Jacob Sloss that sent two runners home and a base-clearing single from Steve Luttazi.

Zach Rodgers replaced Williams after Luttazi’s single. Rodgers had some trouble with the UMass lineup as well, allowing a Michael Rounds double and Hebble single. Rodgers was able to close out the inning, but not before the Minutemen had a 7-1 lead.

“It puts the other team in a situation where they have to play for a big inning, which is hard to do,” Reynolds said of UMass’ first inning success. “You can’t sacrifice, and you have to be more careful on the running game. There’s a lot of things about the offense that you have to modify when you’re down multiple runs early in the game. That’s been huge for us this year, hopefully we can keep it up.”

UMass’ greatest need for improvement is its pitching. But on Wednesday the Minutemen showed command to keep Lowell to four runs. Scott LeSieur pitched five innings, his season high. LeSieur had his best outing of the season, throwing 94 pitches, allowing three runs on seven hits. Jared Henry also came in for his second appearance of the season, pitching three innings and allowing one run on two hits.

Hebble led the way for UMass, going 3-5 at the plate and leading two Minutemen home. Hebble continues to be a bright spot for UMass this season, leading the team with an over .400 batting average.

The River Hawks tried to chip away at the Minutemen, putting up two runs in the fourth inning and one run in the first and sixth inning, but it was not enough to catch up. The closest Lowell got to rallying against UMass was the fourth inning, but the Minutemen defense stopped the chance of getting more than two runs in an inning. With the bases loaded and zero outs, the Lowell batter hit into a double play, holding the Riverhawks from scoring multiple runs.

With a River Hawk on third base, a Lowell batter hit what looked like a single to left field, but Rounds made a diving catch to prevent the chance of the River Hawks adding runs to the board. Pitcher Zach Given was behind the plate Wednesday afternoon in his second start at catcher, but did enough to impress Reynolds.

“We made a couple of defensive plays today that were really key,” Reynolds said. “[Rounds] catching that ball, that was a difficult catch, ball was sinking a bit. Turned a couple of double plays, which were huge. Given did an excellent job back there, I think this is his second start of the year and certainty you can count how many he’s had at college, and he went back there and did an awesome job for us behind the dish.”

The Minutemen travel to Rhode Island for a three-game series on Friday, April 15. First pitch is at 3 p.m.

Kayla Gregoire can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Kaygregoire.