By Staff Writer Thomas Griffin.
The UMassD Baseball team has experienced its own share of highs and lows on the season, and losing two of three out-of-conference competitions in dramatic fashion puts this on full display.
The week’s action started against Tufts, and it started early. Producing nothing in the top of the first, the Corsairs allowed six runs to end the inning, most of which granted in the form of RBI doubles and other consistent base hits. Tufts’ scoring efforts in the first inning would be impossible for UMassD to surmount, and the former would then go on to hold the lead to a 9-4 final score.
The blowout loss would come to UMassD in spite of impressive batting efforts from the Corsairs.
Mike Knell and Nick Andrews both managed single-run dingers on the evening. Meanwhile, Tucker Hetherman’s base hit in the top of the third scored an RBI and instigated a series of fielding errors from Tufts’ infielders, which scored an additional run, albeit unearned. However, these heroics simply weren’t enough to outlast Tufts’ consistency at the plate.
The Corsairs would later bounce back in the second match of the week against Western New England. Letting their explosive hitting core work their magic, UMassD batters opened the game to two back-to-back single-run homers in the first inning alone, courtesy of JR DiSarcina and Mike Knell. Tucker Hetherman contributed once again to Corsair scoring efforts with two RBIs on the day, along with Jack Harrington, who added one additional RBI.
One major hiccup in the bottom of the fifth marred an otherwise perfect game for the Corsairs, where a fielding error near the shortstop allowed two runs to score, and posed another runner on third. The next batter would sac fly, sending the third runner home as well. Western New England scored three runs in the fifth, but wouldn’t find productivity for the rest of the game. The match ended at a 6-3 score in the Corsairs favor.
The third and final game of the week, slated against Johnson & Wales, was a barnburner that saved up all of its chaos for the bottom of the final inning. Through eight innings, the Corsairs looked to be in control of the game.
In a 3-RBI day for Jack Harrington, 2-RBIs from both Pat Vartanian and Nate Tellier, additional scoring base hits from Chris Wood, Mike Knell, Mitch Baker and Jon Candiales, and an extra dinger on top from Tellier, UMassD was leading by a potentially insurmountable 12-6 leading into the bottom of the ninth.
The start of this last half-inning was when the Corsairs lost control of an otherwise dominated game. With the bases loaded, UMassD walked in an RBI, cutting their lead to 5 runs. The next batter up singled, sending another runner home and refilling the bases. 12-8. The next batter popped a sac fly to score another run. 12-9. Johnson & Wales walked their next runner to first, reloading the bases a third time and preparing their cleanup hitter for the impossible.
Grand Slam. The next batter up hit a dinger – with bases loaded – while down by just three runs – in the last inning of the game. Despite trailing by six after changing hands halfway through the ninth, Johnson & Wales took advantage of the collapsing Corsairs and won in the clutch with a walk-off grand slam homer.
If it’s any saving grace, this contest was out of conference, and has no impact on the Corsairs’ postseason hopes. But losses as painful as this leave wounds that take more than licking to heal.