UMass Rallies, Walks Off With 5-4 Win Over La Salle

Freshman Conor LeBlanc worked 1.1 hitless innings of relief against Explorers for his first career win.

Freshman Conor LeBlanc worked 1.1 hitless innings of relief against Explorers for his first career win.

April 6, 2012

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AMHERST, Mass. - Junior Rich Graef bounced a one-out single up the middle to send in the game-winning run in the bottom of the 10th as the UMass baseball team walked off with a 5-4 win over La Salle on Friday afternoon at Earl Lorden Field. The Minutemen, who clinched the series victory over the Explorers (15-15, 3-5 A-10), rallied from a 4-2 deficit heading into the ninth and are now 4-1 in Atlantic 10 play and 8-10 overall.

UMass took an early 1-0 lead after pushing across a run in the bottom of the first. Redshirt sophomore Ryan Cusick led off with a single up the middle, went to second on a sacrifice, stole third and scored on an RBI ground out by junior Anthony Serino.

The Minutemen later increased the margin to 2-0 after scoring in the fourth. Serino began the frame with a single up the middle, stole second, advanced to third on a ground ball and came in on a sacrifice fly by redshirt freshman Adam Picard.

La Salle managed to tie the score in the sixth, however, after capitalizing on a pair of UMass miscues. An error allowed the first batter of the inning, Zack Feierstein to reach base. Then, with one away, Adam Kammler dropped a single into right that was mishandled by Picard, allowing both runners to move to second and third. Feierstein crossed the plate on an RBI groundout by Marc Schoch and Kammler came home on a single to left by Joe Bennie. UMass starter Glen Misho escaped further trouble by thwarting a double steal attempt with Bennie being thrown out at the plate.

The Explorers pulled in front the following inning, though. After walks were issued to George Smith, Jr. and Brendan Norton, Misho fanned Feierstein for the second out of the frame, but the next batter Marshall Garcia came up with a two-run double to right that gave La Salle a 4-2 advantage.

In the bottom of the ninth sophomore Nick Sanford began the Minutemen rally by dropping a double just inside the right field line. Graef was hit by a pitch and Cusick reached on an error while laying down a sacrifice bunt to load the bases with no outs. Cusick scored UMass' third run on an fielder's choice ground ball hit by sophomore Rob McLam. Then, with the Explorers failing to turn a double play on grounder by Serino, Graef crossed the plate to tie the score at 4-4.

After La Salle went down in order in the top of the 10th, sophomore Nik Campero led off UMass' half with a single down the right field line. Freshman Jeff Cavanaro pinch ran for Campero and was sacrificed over to second by sophomore Dylan Begin. Sanford legged out an infield single that moved the runner to third that set up Graef's game-winning hit.

Freshman Conor LeBlanc tossed 1.1 scoreless innings out of the bullpen for the Minutemen to log his first collegiate victory (1-0). He faced the minimum over that span and struck out one.

Pat Christensen took the loss (3-2) for the Explorers after allowing three runs, two earned, on four hits with one walk and two strikeouts in three innings on the hill.

Serino, Campero and Sanford all went 3-for-5 on the afternoon as UMass totaled a season-high 14 hits. Serino drove in a pair and scored once. Jon Gyles (3-for-4) and Kammler (2-for-3) combined for five of La Salle's seven hits.

The series between the Minutemen and the Explorers concludes with game three tomorrow at noon on Earl Lorden Field.



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