Baseball Hosts Holy Cross In Home Opener Tuesday
The Minutemen will take on the Crusaders at 3 p.m.
Freshman Andrew Grant will start on the mound for the Minutemen vs. Holy Cross.
March 26, 2012
AMHERST, Mass. -
The UMass baseball team begins its home schedule on Tuesday afternoon when the squad will play host to Holy Cross at 3 p.m. on Earl Lorden Field. The contest is the first of eight straight at home for the Minutemen who are currently 4-7 on the season.
RHP Andrew Grant (0-0, 14.54 ERA) vs. RHP Donny Murray (0-0, 9.53 ERA)
Scouting Holy Cross
Holy Cross is 10-9 on the year entering Tuesday's matchup with the Minutemen, coming off a pair of wins over Stony Brook, 3-1 and 5-3.
The Crusaders are paced by Chris Sintetos at the plate. Sintetos is hitting a team-best .357 (15-for-42) with a squad-leading 11 RBI to go along with seven runs scored. Alex Maldonado (.306) is also above .300 and has scored a team-high 14 runs. As a squad, Holy Cross is batting .234 on the season.
The Crusaders' pitching staff holds a 4.46 earned run average in 165.1 innings of work with 87 walks, 126 strikeouts and an opponent batting average of .246.
UMass leads the all-time series vs. Holy Cross with a record of 38-28-1. Last year the Crusaders took the meeting in Worcester by the score of 14-4.
Reaching A Milestone
Head coach Mike Stone is in his 25th season at the helm for UMass and picked up the 600th win as coach of the Minutemen on Mar. 23 as UMass rallied late from a 4-1 deficit at Fordham to take the squads' Atlantic 10 opener, 5-4. He currently holds a record of 601-532-3 (.530).
In his career, which spans 30 seasons (five at Vermont), Stone is 655-622-5 (.513)
McLam Emerging As Offensive Threat
Rob McLam is having a breakout season as a sophomore, currently leading the team with a .407 average with 11 hits in 27 at bats through 10 games. He has a double, five RBI and four stolen bases to his credit, as well.
As a freshman in 23 at bats, McLam had seven hits, one double and three RBI. He equaled his RBI total from last season in one game this year, at Hartford on Mar. 13. Against the Hawks, he drove in the tying and winning runs in the eighth inning and finished the afternoon 3-for-3 with three RBI and two stolen bases.
Conley A Mainstay For Minutemen Behind The Plate
Senior catcher Tom Conley is in his fourth year as a starter behind the plate for the Minutemen having played a possible 144 out of 157 games over four seasons at UMass, logging 138 starts.
Conley is the top returning hitter from the 2011 squad, posting a .299 average with 44 runs scored, 30 RBI, seven doubles, one triple and two home runs last season.
Primarily hitting fifth in the lineup as a junior, Conley struck out just 12 times in 147 at bats. He ranked second on the team in multi-hit games (13), third on the team in multi-RBI games (8), third in batting average and fourth in RBI.
Defensively, Conley threw out 24 runners on the base paths, which ranked him third in the Atlantic 10, while picking off two, as well. Opponents are just 9-for-18 in stolen base attempts against him this season.
A .294 career hitter, Conley begins his senior campaign with 139 hits, 79 runs scored and 70 RBI. He was an Atlantic 10 All-Rookie selection in 2009.
Popielarczyk Earns Pair Of Honors
Senior Joe Popielarczyk was named the Atlantic 10 Pitcher of the Week and co-UMass Athlete of the Week on Mar. 26. Both honors were the first for the Florence, Mass., native and first for a member of the Minutemen this season.
Popielarczyk went 2-0 in his pair of starts last week, pitching in a combined 8-0 shutout at Old Dominion and throwing his first career complete game in UMass' 3-1 Atlantic 10 series-clinching game three victory at Fordham this past Sunday.
Over the two outings, Popielarczyk threw a total of 14.1 innings, including 13.1 consecutive shutout frames, and allowed just one earned run for a 0.63 earned run average on the week. He struck out 14 and walked nine, while none of the nine hits allowed were for extra bases.
Against the Monarchs on Mar. 19, Popielarczyk worked 5.1 innings and let up only two hits. He followed up in his start at Fordham on Mar. 25 by striking out a career-high 10 batters and holding the Rams to three hits through the first eight innings of the contest.
Through three starts on the year, Popielarczyk holds a 0.92 ERA, limiting opponents to a .224 average and two runs in 19.2 innings of work with 12 walks and 16 strikeouts.
Several returning Minutemen ended the 2011 season with active hitting streaks including junior Anthony Serino, who extended his six-game streak from last year to eight by hitting safely in the first two games of 2012 before going 0-for-3 in the series finale at UCF. The eight-game streak is a new career best for the outfielder.
Senior Tom Conley has now reached base in 12 straight after ending 2011 by reaching safely in the final two games.
Sophomore Rob McLam has reached base in eight straight contests, while sophomore Nick Sanford and junior Rich Graef currently have active five-game hitting streaks, tying redshirt freshman Adam Picard for the longest by a Minuteman this season.
Core Of Sophomores
Among UMass' returnees from the 2011 squad are 10 sophomores, including seven position players who saw time in the field as freshman. Those seven collectively played in 171 games with 109 starts and had a total of 407 at bats. Three--Dylan Begin, Josh Messier and Nick Sanford--started 20 or more games. Begin went 26-for-100 with 13 RBI and 12 runs scored with five doubles and one home run in 29 games with 26 starts.
Also not included in those 10 are two more players who missed time in 2011 due to injury. Redshirt sophomore Ryan Cusick returns looking to build off a freshman campaign in 2010 in which he started 34 games and hit .297 (44-for-148) with 34 runs scored en-route to an Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team selection. Redshirt freshman Adam Picard was off to a promising start before suffering a season-ending injury in 2011, logging six hits, with three doubles, in 21 at bats over seven games.
Picking Up Where They Left Off
Both coming back off of injuries, redshirt freshman Adam Picard and redshirt sophomore Ryan Cusick have gotten off to solid starts to 2012. The pair has accounted for eight of UMass' 14 extra base hits on the season, Cusick with a team-high five doubles and Picard with two doubles and a home run.
Cusick capped off the weekend at UCF by going 2-for-3 in game three and swiped three bags, one shy of the program single game record for stolen bases, and followed up by going 3-for-3 once again at Hartford. As a freshman in 2010 he totaled eight stolen bases in 35 games and has already equaled that in 11 games, currently 8-for-9 on the season. Cusick currently leads the squad with 11 runs scored on the year.
Reaping the benefits of having a young pitching staff in 2011, UMass returns 285 of its 411.1 innings from last season, including seven who started on the mound.
Among those back for 2011 is senior Glen Misho. Misho led the Minutemen in wins (5), starts (12), innings pitched (82.2) and strikeouts (42).
Junior Dennis Torres started eight games in his first collegiate season, throwing a total of 46.0 innings and striking out 31. He is back in the starting rotation this year.
UMass' bullpen ace is senior Leif Sorenson who led the Minutemen with a 3.08 earned run average last season. Sorenson, who came to UMass as a sophomore after Vermont discontinued its baseball program, is the program's all-time saves leader (14) and holds the No. 4 and No. 5 marks on the single season saves list at UMass, including a career-best six in a team-high 21 appearances in 2011. Off to a great start to his senior campaign, Sorenson has allowed just one run through six appearances, a total of 11.1 innings, and is holding opposing hitters to a .220 average. He has fanned nine batters, while walking just two, including the first five he faced at Old Dominion on Mar. 19 for a new career high. He currently has three saves on the year, already half of his total from last season.
The Minutemen have also bolstered the pitching staff with the addition of six freshman arms.
Freshman Jeff Cavanaro recorded his first collegiate hit on Mar. 9 at UCF, a pinch hit single. He started his first collegiate game on Mar. 11 vs. the Knights.
Freshmen pitchers Tim Cassidy, Andrew Grant, and Dan Stoops all made their first appearances of their careers with the Minutemen in the UCF series, as well.
Conor LeBlanc made the first appearance of his career at Hartford on Mar. 13 and retired both batters he faced.
Tim Stoops threw 1.2 hitless innings in his collegiate debut at Old Dominion on Mar. 17 and struck out three. He has not allowed a hit thus far in two appearances and has fanned five.
Ron Wallace earned his first career victory at Hartford on Mar. 13.
Adam Picard hit his first career home run at Hartford on Mar. 13.
Cassidy made his first collegiate start at Monmouth on Mar. 21.
Paul Yanakopulos appeared in his first career game as a defensive replacement on Mar. 24 at Fordham.
On their Atlantic 10 bye weekend, the Minutemen will play host to Albany this Saturday and Sunday, Mar. 31 and Apr. 1., beginning with a doubleheader on Saturday that is slated to start at noon on Earl Lorden Field.
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