UMass sweeps weekend series against Fordham 

Prior to the weekend, the team hadn’t swept a conference opponent since 2016

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Shilpa Sweth / Daily Collegian

By James DiLuca and Kayla Gregoire

The Massachusetts baseball team swept Fordham in its weekend series, marking the first time it has swept a conference opponent since the 2016 season.

The Minutemen (14-9-1, 5-1 Atlantic 10) have now won 14 of their 24 games this season, surpassing their win total from last year of 13 through 43 games.

“It’s a combination of some of the guys that we’ve added … but just as importantly some improvements from the guys we did have,” head coach Matt Reynolds said of his team’s success.

“We have been able to have success with our starters but have some pitching depth and some positional depth. We have had to weather the little storms such as injuries here and there, but I can’t say enough about the guys and what they have done.”

UMass sits in third place in the A-10 with a 5-1 record against conference opponents this season.

Kevin Dow earned the win for the Minutemen on Friday, pitching through a full eight innings, but was taken out in the ninth. Dow allowed four runs on 12 hits, walking one batter and striking out four. Cole Koeppel faced the last Rams (6-22, 1-5 A-10) player and got him out, giving UMass an 8-5 win.

“[Dow] was really good,” Reynold said. “I knew that type of outing was in him and we haven’t seen that level of confidence in a while and I felt like it might have been coming. So, it was really good to see him go out there and dominate, he was excellent for us. To be able to get the first one without having to go to key pieces in the bullpen was really huge.”

Kevin Skagerlind led the way for the Minutemen bats on Friday, going 3-4 from the dish with a pair of RBIs. Cole Hebble, the reigning A-10 Offensive Player of the Week, added two hits and an RBI in Friday’s contest. The shortstop continued his hot streak from the plate batting .384 against the Rams in the weekend series.

In the doubleheader on Sunday, the pitching struggled throughout the two games, keeping the score close. Fordham chipped away at the Minutemen’s bullpen, earning runs through mostly walks and singles. Tyler Dalton pitched through six innings in the first game of the doubleheader, allowing four runs on five hits.

The UMass offense scored most of its runs in a single inning in the series. On Friday, the Minutemen sent eight players home in the fourth, but failed to score in any other inning. The inning started off with Kevin Skagerlind working a walk, then Mike Gervasi hitting a two-run home run to open the scoring.

“It turned out to be everything,” Reynold said of the fourth inning. “We really, one through nine, smelled blood in the water a little bit and made sure to put on good at-bats collectively.”

In the second game of the double header on Sunday, the Minutemen capitalized on Rams starting pitcher Cory Wall’s tough start. Wall walked most of UMass’ lineup, allowing many Minutemen to walk in runs. The Minutemen also capitalized on a defensive error from Fordham and turned what was supposed to be a routine out to first base into the Minutemen scoring two runs. UMass scored six runs in the first inning alone.

In the ninth inning, the Rams had an opportunity to steal the game away from the Minutemen. Cian Sahler opened up the frame for Fordham with a single into center field. Jake Guercio then laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Sahler to second base. After Zach Clevenger struck out C.J. Vazquez, the reliever lost control of a pitch and beaned Jack Harnisch, the ensuing batter. Clevenger shook off the mishap and forced Andy Semo to hit a weak grounder that did not go past the pitcher’s mound. Catcher Dylan Judd cleanly fielded the ball and got the easy final out for UMass.

UMass will head to the Beanpot on Tuesday, April 12 to take on Boston College. First pitch is set for 4 p.m. in Brighton.

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