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 gets first series win of 2024 against Seton Hall

Minutemen outscore Pirates 18-10 over the weekend
Maria Uminski

The Massachusetts baseball team defeated Seton Hall in two of three games over the weekend. With game two being moved to a doubleheader on Sunday, the Minutemen (7-12) put together a strong showing to bounce back after their loss Friday to close out the series against the Pirates (14-10), taking both seven-inning contests.

Pitching has been a sore spot to start the 2024 campaign for the Minutemen, as the staff currently sports a dismal 6.98 ERA. Sunday’s doubleheader brought the most impressive performance on the mound to this point in the season for UMass however, with Robbie O’Connor having a breakout start on the bump.

The redshirt freshman got into his fifth collegiate contest in game three of the series, delivering a seven-inning complete game while only allowing one earned run. He allowed just one walk on 83 pitches while striking out two batters en route to his first career win, an 11-1 final.

“[O’Connor] had all three pitches going, he was able to spot up, he was able to throw his fastball inside,” head coach Matt Reynolds said. “… He slammed the door in the seventh and was great all day.”

The rest of the pitching staff also had success for most of the weekend for the Minutemen. After surrendering seven runs in the first four innings of game one, the arms allowed just three runs over the final 19 innings.

Renn Lints and Leif Bigelow were in charge of game two of the series, with Lints getting the start and pitching four innings, allowing just two runs. Bigelow handled the rest of the contest, throwing three scoreless innings to finish it out and earn himself the win. The offense tacked on five runs to make the final score 5-2 in game two.

“For [Lints] to give us what he gave us, knowing he was only going to throw about 65 pitches or so to be ready for Friday, was just really outstanding,” Reynolds said. “They just competed all day and spotted up. [Bigelow] was outstanding, gave us three to close it down. I can’t say enough, it was great to see.”

Even though the pitching had a strong series, it still needed some help from its offense to put some runs on the board. A large majority of that assistance came from Mike Gervasi, who continued his powerful start to the season.

The captain came into the series with four home runs on the year and nearly smashed just as many in the doubleheader on Sunday. With three homers across the 14 innings, the graduate student made sure to leave his mark against Seton Hall.

“[Gervasi’s] really grown and he’s getting better every year and I’m really happy for him,” Reynolds said. “He suffered an injury and was kind of in-and-out to start the year and now he’s really come on and he’s red-hot right now and was a huge part of the weekend here.”

Game one of the weekend didn’t go according to plan for the Minutemen when they dropped the opener on Friday 7-2. With a day off on Saturday due to the rain, the team reset themselves to gear up for the final two games of the series.

“We came in on Friday and we were swinging a little bit wildly and chasing out of the zone,” Reynolds said. “We got refocused [Saturday], and we had an opportunity to hit in the cages when it was raining the whole day… the confidence really came after the top of the fifth in game one, and then we didn’t look back after that.”

Coming off a series where they were swept by the Citadel, the Minutemen have gotten themselves back on track with this series win coming on the back of two midweek wins. Getting closer to the home opener on April 12, UMass will look to keep its momentum as it prepares for its first game in Amherst.

“In the past, I think that sometimes we’ve let things spiral when things aren’t going our way,” Reynolds said. “This team has a great resiliency and can just bounce right back, and I think that they know if we just execute properly, we can compete with anybody.”

Coming up next is a midweek contest against UAlbany on Tuesday, March 26 at 3 p.m. With Easter weekend coming up, the next series will begin on Thursday, meaning the pitchers will be used on shorter rest than usual. The big performances to limit bullpen usage against the Pirates were huge in giving the rest of the arms some much-needed rest.

“Seton Hall really put it to us on Friday,” Reynolds said. “We just did a great job of really coming back, striking first and just playing really, really solid baseball.”

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

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