Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass baseball wins one of four games in first series of 2024

Minutemen kick off the season with a new-look squad
Kayla Wong
Daily Collegian (2023)

The Massachusetts baseball team opened the 2024 season winning one of four games in its opening series against Bucknell. The Minutemen (1-3) won the fourth game and stayed within striking distance in each loss, utilizing a crop of new and familiar faces against the Bison (4-3).

One of the most familiar faces on the roster is captain catcher and designated hitter Mike Gervasi, who made his presence known at the beginning and end of the weekend. The graduate student got his fourth season starting for UMass underway with a home run on his first and last at-bats of the series, the second being his first career grand slam.

Justin Masteralexis headlined the new players’ contributions over the course of the series, getting his first start on the mound as a redshirt freshman in game four. The lefty threw 4.1 innings, struck out seven batters and allowed two earned runs in the outing, all while earning the first collegiate victory of his career.

“We were going into game four TBD as far as who the starter was going to be,” head coach Matt Reynolds said. “[Masteralexis] got in for his first weekend appearance and goes out and was really, completely dominant … He was the best arm we threw out there this weekend.”

The fourth game of the weekend came as the second game of a doubleheader on Sunday. The Minutemen won 8-6, in big part thanks to the duo of Gervasi and Masteralexis.

Another player who made an impact throughout each game of the series was captain centerfielder Kevin Skagerlind. The senior tallied four hits and an RBI while using his speed on the bases to swipe three bags.

“This is the best version I’ve ever seen of [Skagerlind],” Reynolds said. “His bat speed is up, he’s able to drive the baseball and he’s a terror on the bases … If he stays healthy, he could steal 40 bases. He just does a lot for us.”

Carter Hanson and Nolan Tichy brought some offensive production from the corner outfield spots throughout the weekend as well, with Hanson ending the weekend with six hits, including a home run and two doubles to go along with five RBIs. Tichy started slow, but finished with four hits, including a double and a home run.

With 10 pitchers and 16 position players being utilized over the course of the weekend for UMass, the depth throughout the roster was shown in full effect.

“I think we’re a couple deep at each position,” Reynolds said. “Obviously, we’ve got some front-line guys that can’t quite be replaced, but we can bridge gaps and we can mix and mash some guys.”

“Last year, we had a couple of key injuries, and we didn’t have the ability to kind of weather those storms. Now we’ve got some guys that can step in and do a really nice job when you have those bumps and bruises.”

Defense was another bright spot for the Minutemen in week one of the season, with Reynolds making it a point of emphasis throughout the fall. UMass had a few errors in the field, but turned some tough double plays to the delight of its head coach.

“We are going to field it better in the infield [this season],” Reynolds said. “… That was a huge problem for us last year and I think we’re going to be much better.”

The Minutemen face off against possibly their toughest opponent of the entire season coming up with a weekend series against the No. 14 Virginia Cavaliers. First pitch of the weekend at Disharoon Park in Charlottesville will be on Friday, March 1 at 3 p.m

“If we can come away from [the Virginia series] playing against some of the best competition in the country and compete with them … that’ll be a positive for us,” Reynolds said. “… That’s why we put it on the schedule, we like to have one of those [tough series] to test ourselves a little bit.”

Mike Maynard can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @mikecmaynard.

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