By Staff Writer Thomas Griffin.
There’s been slow goings for the Corsair men’s baseball team in the middle of April, exchanging wins and losses with Endicott’s Gulls and Castleton’s Spartans over a relatively quiet week.
Starting the week with an out-of-conference matchup against the Gulls, and later facing off with the Spartans in a Little-East Conference doubleheader, all three games were noteworthy for being low-scoring events chock full of ace pitching and gradual singles.
The matchup against Endicott started about as optimistically as possible – the Corsairs held a very early lead. UMassD Junior Mike Knell started out firing on all cylinders, and his RBI double put the Corsairs on the board early with a single run.
Unfortunately, this would be the only scoring that the Corsairs would do for the entire evening.
Following Knell’s strong start, the UMassD offense would grind to a halt after the first inning. The batting core was still rattling off hits, but they never quite turned into runs. The newly developing three-game hitting streak of Pat Vartanian wasn’t even enough to score another run or extend the Corsair lead.
The Gulls took a quick 2-1 lead in the bottom of the second following Knell’s run, but under interesting circumstances – Endicott batters didn’t manage a single hit throughout the inning. Several walks, including one hit batter, filled the bases, and a framing error nearly emptied them, with two runs scoring on the botched pitch. Endicott had the lead, and UMassD’s fading scoring efforts wouldn’t return it for the rest of the game.
What followed was seven innings of slow, single-induced comatose by Endicott that lulled whatever comeback desires the Corsairs may have had. Throughout the remaining slog, the Gulls never relinquished the lead. Eventually, the game crawled to a 6-1 loss for UMassD, a crushing defeat despite not carrying any in-conference weight.
The later doubleheader, however, did have conference importance in the Little-East. Both middle-of-the-pack squads, the Corsairs and Castleton Spartans were in position to leapfrog each-other with a sweep. While the lashing against Endicott could be shrugged off easily, these would be the games of the week that mattered.
The first of the two games proceeded slowly, without a double, triple, or homer through nine innings from either team. UMassD started the slog with a Mitch Baker RBI in the second inning to get themselves on the board, but once again went stagnant with the lead for the remainder of the game after the first run.
Three unearned runs in the bottom of the second and third soon gave the lead right back to Castleton’s Spartans, providing a 3-1 score that would hold until the end of the contest.
The second game proved to be more telling of the Corsairs’ abilities as a team, winning in a convincing shutdown fashion.
Tucker Hetherman’s standout performance on the mound proved integral to the Corsairs’ series-tying victory, featuring eight strikeouts and granting only two total hits to start the game. With the bullpen allowing only one run in nine innings of play, Mitch Baker and Nate Tellier were free to rack up three runs, the former contributing a double and the latter scoring twice on both a sac fly and a dinger, contributing to the win.
In a week’s stretch of games, the Corsair baseball team lost two of three. While they’re still sub-.500 on the season as a unit, it’s not by much. They’ve grown out of their blowout-enduring days of old and have moved on to genuinely contending. While they’re talented, they’re also inconsistent, having as equal chances to excel and disappoint as their record would suggest. Time will tell if they can buck the trend.