Baseball Splits Doubleheader With NJIT

Redshirt sophomore Adam Picard had three hits and two RBI against NJIT on Saturday.

Redshirt sophomore Adam Picard had three hits and two RBI against NJIT on Saturday.

March 30, 2013

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AMHERST, Mass. - The UMass baseball team played a pair of one-run ballgames in its doubleheader split with NJIT on Saturday at Earl Lorden Field. In game one, the Minutemen blanked the Highlanders, 1-0, to claim the weekend series before falling 7-6 in 11 innings in game two. Following the split, UMass is now 3-13 on the season and NJIT sits at 7-14.

The Minutemen scored the lone run of game one in their first turn at bat. Redshirt junior Ryan Cusick led off with an infield single, stole second, was sacrificed over to third by senior Rich Graef and came home on a wild pitch.

The Highlanders had just two runners reach third base in the contest, Nick Rabasco, who drew a leadoff walk in the fourth, and Ed Charlton, who opened up the top of the sixth with a double down the left field line. Charlton's double was the first of two hits for NJIT, the only other coming in the seventh, a two-out single by Nick Stern.

Andrew Grant tossed seven shutout innings and collected his first win (1-3) of the season. He let up two hits, walked six and struck out three. Senior Ron Wallace closed out the game to earn a save in his first appearance of the year and retired all six batters he faced over two innings of work. Mark Leiter Jr. took the loss (3-4) for the Highlanders. He threw all eight innings and allowed one run on four hits with four walks and seven strikeouts.

UMass opened game two in similar fashion as Cusick drew a leadoff walk and scored the first run of the contest after stealing a base and moving up to third on a NJIT miscue. Graef plated Cusick with a single to left and later came home for the squad's second run of the frame on a sacrifice fly by redshirt sophomore Adam Picard.

The Highlanders tied the score in the top of the third, though, bringing in two runs on three hits. Charlton and Matt Weckerle started the frame with a single to left and a hit by pitch and later came home on a fielder's choice ground ball and an infield single by Stern, respectively.

NJIT then took the lead, 3-2, in the top of the fifth when Mike Rampone reached on an error and scored on an RBI single by Nick Swim.

The Minutemen answered in the bottom half of the frame to knot the score at three. Graef reached on an error with one away, moved up on a single and a ground ball and came home on a two-out single through the left side by Picard.

The Highlanders climbed back on top in their next turn at bat, 5-3, capitalizing on a trio of UMass errors in the top of the sixth. Tyler Kapp dropped a leadoff single into left center and eventually scored on an RBI single by Wecker. Charlton, who drew a one-out walk, crossed the plate when Stephan Halibej reached on an error.

UMass used a two-out rally in the bottom of the eighth to take a 6-5 lead. With two away and Picard on second after beginning the inning with a single up the middle, freshman John Jennings and junior Nick Sanford drew walks to extend the inning for Cusick. Cusick ripped a two-run single through the left side to tie the score at five and Graef gave the Minutemen a one-run advantage with his RBI single to right.

However NJIT responded by turning a leadoff infield single by Swim into the tying run in the top of the ninth. Swim came in to score the squad's sixth run on a fielder's choice ground ball.

Then in the top of the 11th, the Highlanders produced what would prove to be deciding run. Scott Brosman ripped a leadoff double into the gap in left center, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and Andrew Benjamin brought him home with a sacrifice fly.

Wallace worked three innings of relief and suffered the loss (0-1) for UMass as he let up one run on four hits, walked one and struck out two. Ian Bentley collected the win (1-1) on the hill for NJIT. He tossed 3.1 scoreless innings and allowed only one hit, while striking out three.

Picard (3-for-7) and Graef (3-for-9) led the Minutemen at the plate over the two games, finishing the day with two RBI apiece and combining for three of the squad's seven runs. Cusick went 2-for-8 at the plate in the doubleheader, walked twice, drove in two, scored twice and stole three bases.

Swim and Brosman paced the Highlanders at the plate in game two, going 3-for-6 and 3-for-5, respectively.

UMass will be back in action on Monday, Apr. 1, when the squad will travel to Siena for a 3 p.m. contest.



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