UMass Wins A-10 Tournament Opener, 5-4
May 20, 2009
DAYTON, Ohio - Sophomore Peter Copa belted a homer in the sixth and later scored what would be the deciding run of the game in the bottom of the eighth, helping the UMass baseball team to a 5-4 win over Fordham on Wednesday afternoon in Atlantic 10 Tournament action at Fifth Third Field. The victory marked the seventh straight for the Minutemen (26-24), the team's longest winning streak since 2003, while the Rams drop to 22-31 following the loss. UMass advances in the tournament bracket to play No. 1 seed Dayton at noon tomorrow.
The Minutemen got on the board in the bottom of the first as seniors Sam Boone and Adam Tempesta opened up with-back-to-back singles, junior Brian Baudinet advanced the runners with a sacrifice bunt and senior Jim Macdonald plated Boone with an RBI groundout.
Fordham tied the score at 1-1 with a run in the top of the third as John Kahn led off with a single to shallow center, moved to second on a wild pitch, stole third and scored on an RBI single through the left side by Brian Kownacki.
Then in the top of the fifth, the Rams took the lead after three straight singles. Kownacki sent a base knock up the middle and, two batters later, Chris Walker snuck another ball through the infield to pick up the RBI. No more runs would come across, however, as Bobby DiNardo, who had the second hit in the frame, was thrown out at home after attempting to score on a botched pickoff throw at first.
After a Fordham runner was gunned down at the plate for a second consecutive inning, the Minutemen climbed back on top with two out in the sixth. Freshman Tom Conley put a single through the right side and the next batter, Copa, homered for a second consecutive game, sending a ball to the seats in left to give UMass a 3-2 lead.
The Rams managed level the score in its next at bat as Alex Kenny dropped a leadoff triple into the right field corner and scored Kownacki's second RBI single of the afternoon.
UMass answered by taking a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the seventh. Baudinet ripped a one-out double down the left field line and Macdonald knocked him in with a single to shallow center. The Minutemen tacked on an important insurance run in the eighth as Copa drew a leadoff walk on four pitches and Tempesta brought him home with a two-out single to right.
A single by Stephen McSherry and a walk to Kownacki set up a two-out RBI single by Walker to bring Fordham to within a run in the top of the ninth. However, that would be all for the Rams as junior Bryan Leigh induced a ground ball off the bat of Angelo Ponte to end the game and record his third save of the season.
Leigh worked 1.1 innings and gave up one run on two hits with one walk and two strikeouts in relief of UMass starter senior Mitchell Clegg. Clegg, who moved to 7-1 with the victory, threw 7.2 innings and held Fordham to three runs on 10 hits with three walks and seven strikeouts. J.P. Mack took the loss (6-3) for Fordham, letting up four runs on eight hits in 6.1 innings on the mound with two walks and one strikeout.
Tempesta paced the offensive effort for the Minutemen as he finished 3-for-5 with an RBI. Conley (2-for-3), Baudinet (2-for-4) and Boone (2-for-5) all had multiple-hit games, as well. Macdonald drove in his 50th and 51st runs of the season, good for the eighth-highest total in UMass history, while Copa recorded two RBI and scored twice.
For the Rams, Kownacki batted 3-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored and Walker went 2-for-4 and drove in a pair.