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 sweeps three-game series against Saint Joseph’s

Minutemen complete first sweep of season
Devin Lippman
Jack Peters tags the runner out at Earl Lorden Field on 4/27/24.

The Massachusetts baseball team completed its first series sweep of the season, as it defeated Saint Joseph’s in three games. The Minutemen (18-22, 8-7 Atlantic-10) hit clutch walk-off’s in games two and three of the series over the Hawks (17-22, 6-9 A-10) and now find themselves with a winning record in the A-10.

Game one was highlighted by Carter Hanson, who had five RBIs for the game including a three-run home run in the sixth inning which gave the Minutemen a 4-3 lead. Then with bases loaded in the seventh, Hanson drove in two runners with a single down the right field line, giving the Minutemen a 6-4 lead. The Minutemen never looked back, winning the game 8-5.

“[I was] just going up with an approach,” Hanson said. “Expecting pitches in places where I can do damage, and not missing those ones.”

Game two of the series didn’t start as a slugfest, with no scores in the first four and a half innings. In the top of the fifth, with bases loaded and only one out for the Hawks, the Minutemen completed a vital double play that prevented any runs. Michael Toth tagged out the runner at home plate after getting a toss from Justin Masteralexis, who then threw to Marc Willi, getting the runner at first.

After the impressive double play, Toth came right back in the bottom half of the inning and hammered one over the right field fence after a double by Braden Sullivan, giving the Minutemen a 2-0 lead. From there it was a back-and-forth affair with each team scoring runs in the next two and a half innings. Andrew Middleton came in after three runs were given up to the Hawks in top of the eighth, allowing no hits in the last 1.2 innings.

With the game tied heading into the bottom of the ninth, Saint Joseph’s pitching struggles stood out. After back-to-back walks given up to Kevin Skagerlind and Austin Burgess, Matt Travisano was hit by a pitch leading to the bases loaded and no outs. Hanson again came in clutch with the game winning RBI after a sac-fly to centerfield and a 7-6 victory for the Minutemen.

Skagerlind started off game three strong with a solo home run in the fourth. A dominant fifth inning for the Minutemen led to six runs and a 7-1 lead going into the sixth inning. Toth hit a three-run bomb which kick started the scoring for the inning, then Hanson and Burgess clocked in two and one RBI respectfully. The Minutemen headed into the eighth inning with a 9-4 lead, but the Hawks came storming back with a five-run inning of their own tying the game 9-9.

Heading into the bottom of the ninth with a tie ball game, the Minutemen again needed a walk-off performance to prevent extra innings and end the game. It was Mike Gervasi who delivered this time, as he hit a solo home run in the bottom of the ninth, securing the 10-9 win on Sunday. Gervasi accounted for the final three RBIs on the day, propelling the team to their fourth straight win overall.

“We’ve been right there all year, we’ve had three or four games that could have led to us winning the series so that was big for us finally putting the pieces together,” Gervasi said. “This team is capable of doing that every weekend”.

The theme for the weekend was clutch performances, as all three games headed into the final innings with close scores. Head coach Matt Reynolds and the team’s belief never wavered throughout the games even when it was close, knowing that the team would deliver in the end.

“We did a really good job just getting out of that eighth and you just kind of had a feeling that they were going to be able to do it again,” Reynolds said. “They really needed to take the lead in that eighth, once we got through that I felt good that something was going to happen to us, and [Gervasi] delivered.”

The pitching for the series was up and down but did include some good outings. Masteralexis in game two gave up only four hits, and Leif Bigelow closed out game one and three, pitching a scoreless ninth inning in both.

“Generally speaking, we pitched it pretty well,” Reynolds said. “[Masteralexis] was awesome [Saturday], Renn [Lints] was very competitive, Robbie [O’Connor] didn’t have his best stuff [Sunday] but he grinded and got out of some jams.”

Sullivan returned for this weekend’s series after being out with an injury; health will be key for the team to make a playoff push into the A-10 tournament.

“We’ve been really banged up the last three weeks and we’re starting to come out of that a little bit,” Reynolds said. “[Sullivan] played two games this weekend. I’m hoping to get [Jack] Beverly back next weekend, [Nolan] Tichy’s on the mend and should be back next weekend.”

The Minutemen look to use the momentum from their four-game win streak and keep it going as they face Quinnipiac on Wednesday, May 1. The team then have a three game weekend series against St. Bonaventure at home.

“We’ve excelled really through a period where we’ve been very hurt,” Reynold said. “Every game counts the same, so this is in the books, and we [got to] get ready for Quinnipiac and St. Bonaventure.”

Irwin Mburu can be reached at [email protected].

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