With six Atlantic 10 games remaining, the Minutemen are tied for fifth with the Flyers in the conference standings.
Redshirt sophomore Ryan Cusick.
May 9, 2012
AMHERST, Mass. -
The UMass baseball team will travel to Dayton, Ohio, for its final road series of the regular season as the squad will be in action against the Flyers this Thursday, Friday and Saturday. With six games remaining in the Atlantic 10 schedule, the Minutemen (19-17, 11-7 A-10) are currently tied with Dayton for fifth in the conference standings.
Game 1 (Thursday, 3 PM): RHP Dennis Torres (3-3, 2.73 ERA) vs. RHP Mike Hauschild (6-2, 4.53 ERA)
Game 2 (Friday, 1 PM): RHP Glen Misho (1-5, 5.98 ERA) vs. RHP Tim Bury (6-2, 3.12 ERA)
Dayton heads into its weekend series hosting UMass with a record of 22-27 overall and are tied with the Minutemen in the Atlantic 10 standings with a record of 11-7. The Flyers are 5-5 over their past 10 games and are 9-9 at home this season. As a team, Dayton ranks first in the A-10 with a .298 batting average and has stolen a conference-best 141 bases over 49 games.
The A-10 leader in hits (72), runs scored (54), and total bases (114), Bobby Glover paces the Flyers with a .346 batting average and has 33 RBI to his credit. C.J. Gillman (.332) is the conference leader in RBI with 53. Five regular starters for Dayton are batting .306 or better.
Dayton's pitching staff holds a 5.27 earned run average collectively through 435.1 innings pitched and an opponent batting average of .300. The Flyers staff has fanned 308, while walking 173.
UMass is 14-12 all-time vs. Dayton, including a 8-4 record on the road. The Flyers took the series against the Minutemen last season in Amherst, 2-1.
Offense Comes Alive
In the series-clinching 12-0 win over Saint Louis on Apr. 22, UMass not only posted its second shutout of the year, but also set a new season high in runs scored and hits with 17. The Minutemen pounded out seven doubles in the victory over the Billikens.
Through 18 conference games, UMass is fifth in the Atlantic 10 with a .278 team batting average.
Individually in conference play, junior Anthony Serino is fifth in the A-10 with a .373 batting average (28-for-75). Junior Rich Graef (.349) is 10th.
Tom Conley has recorded 11 of his 20 RBI on the season over the past 10 games. He drove in a team-high four over three games vs. Richmond last weekend.
In his first at bat since Apr. 14 after exiting game two at Saint Joseph's with an injury, sophomore Rob McLam lined a double to the fence in left in a pinch hit appearance last Friday vs. Richmond. He started the next two games of the series and hit safely in both, totaling three RBI and two runs scored, finishing the weekend 4-for-8 at the plate vs. the Spiders.
Sophomore Dylan Begin has reached base in 16 straight games and holds the longest active hitting streak in the Atlantic 10, currently at 12 games. Begin has four doubles and his first home run of the season over the past 10 games. He enters the weekend tied for second in A-10 play with eight doubles.
Ryan Cusick and Kyle Adie have each scored 10 runs over the past 10 games. Cusick was a home run shy of hitting for the cycle in the series finale vs. Richmond and scored five in three games vs. the Spiders.
As a team, the Minutemen have hit three of their six home runs on the year in the past 10 games.
The Minutemen have collectively stolen 50 bases for the first time since 2008, now with 56 on the season to rank fifth in the Atlantic 10. UMass is 56-for-78 on the basepaths this year.
As a team, UMass ranks 30th in all of Division I in stolen bases per-game (1.56). Over the past 10 games, the Minutemen are 16-for-22 on the basepaths, compared to their opponents' 6-for-8.
Leading the way, redshirt sophomore Ryan Cusick is currently 20-for-24 on the season on the basepaths, fourth in the A-10 in steals. He entered the week 17th in the nation in stolen bases per-game.
With his 20th of the season, Cusick became the first UMass player to swipe 20 bags since Shaun Skefington stole 26 in 2000, currently 9th in program history for a single season.
Cusick capped off the opening 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 surpassed that just 12 games into 2012.
Sophomore Kyle Adie is 11-for-11 in stolen bases on the year, 7-for-7 in the past 10 games.
UMass Captures Sixth Beanpot Title
On the back of an 8-0 start and 11 strikeouts by freshman left-hander Conor LeBlanc, the UMass baseball team claimed its sixth Beanpot Championship with an 8-7 win over Harvard at LeLacheur Park on Apr. 18.
The Minutemen took home the title for the first time since 2008, having also previously won the championship in 1996, 1997, 1998 and 2000.
LeBlanc was stellar in his start, improving to 3-0 on the season with the win. He worked into the seventh, throwing six shutout innings, and struck out 11, while walking just one and scattering nine hits with three runs allowed. The 11 Ks matched the highest total by a UMass pitcher ever in a Beanpot game as Scott Barnsby fanned 11 against Northeastern in 1996.
LeBlanc's 11 Ks are the most by a UMass freshman in at least 20 years. He was named Co-UMass Athlete of the Week on Monday, Apr. 23, for his efforts.
Redshirt freshman Adam Picard paced the Minutemen offensively with a 3-for-5 day at the plate, including his second home run of the season and a double. He drove in four and scored three, factoring in all but two of the squads eight runs on the day.
Off To A Great Start
UMass is currently fifth in the Atlantic 10 standings with a record of 11-7 through six weeks of conference play.
UMass record of 8-4 mark at the halfway point of the A-10 schedule matched the team's best 12-game start since 2003 when the team began A-10 play at 8-4 and finished 14-7 in the conference.
Following series wins over Fordham and La Salle, the Minutemen were 5-1, marking the best six-game start to a conference slate since the 1998 season when the squad began 6-0. The Minutemen went 27-12 overall that year, including a 15-3 mark in A-10 play.
With nine A-10 games remaining, UMass surpassed its 2011 total for conference victories (8). The squad has also surpassed last year's overall win total (17). The Minutemen's last 20-win season came in 2009.
Bring Out The Brooms
UMass' series sweep of La Salle, Apr. 5-7, marked the first time the Minutemen had won all three games of an A-10 series since going 3-0 vs. Duquesne in May 2009.
It was also the first time UMass had swept the Explorers since 2000.
Keeping It Close
Out of UMass' 36 games thus far, 18 have been decided by one run with UMass holding an 11-7 record in those contests. After beginning the year 1-4 in one-run games, the Minutemen are 10-3 since, including a 9-1 mark in the past 10.
The Minutemen are 14-2 when leading after six, 13-2 when leading after seven and 14-1 when leading after eight. UMass is out-scoring its opponents 12-4 in the ninth inning.
More Than One Way To Score Runs
UMass has relied on productive outs, sacrifices and walks to drive in a large portion its runs this season. Out of the Minutemen's 136 RBI on the season 50 of those did not come on base hits.
The Minutemen entered the week seventh in the nation in sacrifices, led by Rich Graef who is 35th nationally in sacrifice bunts per-game.
Junior Rich Graef played a huge role in both of UMass' back-to-back walk off wins against La Salle. The outfielder scored the tying run with the Minutemen down to their last out to force extra innings and then drove in the winning run with a walk off RBI single in the 10th to give UMass a 5-4 win over the Explorers. The very next game with the score tied at 1-1, Graef singled in the ninth and stole second, resulting in a pair of errors that allowed him to score the winning run.
UMass Pitching Among A-10's Best
Pitching has been the Minutemen's biggest strength thus far this season. The staff earned run average of 3.77 ranks third among all Atlantic 10 teams. In conference play, UMass holds 3.33 ERA through 167.2 innings with just 58 walks to 115 strikeouts.
UMass' .266 opponent batting average is fifth in the conference.
Leading the way, senior Joe Popielarczyk boasts an A-10-best 1.28 ERA in 63.1 innings pitched, which is good for fourth in the nation. He has allowed just six extra base hits (all doubles), with opponents hitting .216 against him. In conference play, Popielarczyk holds a 1.17 ERA over 46.0 innings and has allowed only four extra base hit with 37 strikeouts to 14 walks. He was recently one of 51 named to the Pitcher of the Year Watch List by the College Baseball Hall of Fame.
Junior Dennis Torres also ranks in the top-10 in the conference, sixth with a 2.73 ERA in 66.0 innings of work. With 40 strikeouts on the year, his strikeouts-to-walks ratio is 2.4-to-1.
UMass' weekend rotation (Torres, Glen Misho and Popielarczyk) is collectively averaging just under 7.0 innings per-start.
Freshman Conor LeBlanc, who has made five mid-week starts, is 4-1 with a 3.41 ERA through 34.1 innings and holds an opponent batting average of .268.
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 616-542-3 (.532).
In his career, which spans 30 seasons (five at Vermont), Stone is 670-632-5 (.515).
The Minutemen recorded the 1,500th win in program history on May 2, 2012 vs. Northeastern. The all-time record is 1,502-1,395-19 since 1877.
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 169 out of a possible 182 games over four seasons at UMass, logging 162 starts. He has started all but one game this year and is currently tied for fifth in program history for games played, six shy of third.
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.
Thus far in 2012, opponents are just 30-for-49 in stolen base attempts against him this season. Conley leads the Atlantic 10 in runners caught stealing with 19.
A .292 career hitter, Conley has 163 hits, 93 runs scored and 86 RBI in three-plus seasons with the Minutemen. He was an Atlantic 10 All-Rookie selection in 2009.
Conley is tied for seventh in the UMass record book for career walks with 83. With 23 thus far in 35 games, he is one shy of his career high.
Popielarczyk Earns Pair Of Weekly 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 in the previous 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.
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.
LeBlanc Recognized By Atlantic 10
Freshman left-hander Conor LeBlanc was tabbed the Co-Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week on Apr. 16. LeBlanc is the second Minuteman to be honored by the A-10 this season and is the first to earn a Rookie of the Week nod since Ryan Cusick did so twice in 2010.
In what was just his second career start, LeBlanc tossed 7.2 innings and scattered three hits, pitching UMass past Northeastern, 4-1, to advance to the Beanpot Championship game vs. Harvard. LeBlanc allowed just one run, while walking four and striking out two.
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 reached base in 21 straight after ending 2011 by reaching safely in the final two games before seeing his streak come to an end at Saint Joseph's on Apr. 13.
Sophomore Rob McLam reached base in 13 straight contests before his streak was snapped in the La Salle series and junior Rich Graef's reached base streak reached 12 before coming to an end against Northeastern on Apr. 10.
Sophomore Dylan Begin has now reached base in 16 straight games and holds the longest active hitting streak in the Atlantic 10, currently at 12 games. Classmate Kyle Adie also posted a 12-game hitting streak this season.
Other active streaks include: Nick Sanford's nine-game reached base streak and Serino's five-game hitting streak.
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 been contributing for the Minutemen in 2012. The pair has accounted for 21 of UMass' 51 extra base hits on the season, Cusick with a team-high 10 doubles and three triples and Picard with four doubles and three of UMass' six home runs. Cusick is second in the Atlantic 10 for triples, currently.
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 (20) and holds three marks on the single season saves list at UMass, including a career-best nine in 2012 for a new program single season record. Thus far in 2012, he has fanned 26 batters, including the first five he faced at Old Dominion on Mar. 19 for a new career high. Sorenson collected two of UMass' three wins in the La Salle series and has made 19 appearances on the season.
Sorenson also earned a win in game one at Saint Louis and is now 3-2 in Atlantic 10 play with four saves and a 2.65 ERA over 17.0 innings with five walks and 15 strikeouts.
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.
Conor LeBlanc made the first appearance of his career at Hartford on Mar. 13 and retired both batters he faced. He picked up his first collegiate win on Apr. 6, tossing 1.1 innings of hitless relief against La Salle.
Tim Stoops threw 1.2 hitless innings in his collegiate debut at Old Dominion on Mar. 17 and struck out three. He collected his first career victory vs. Northeastern on May 2.
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. He earned his first career start on Apr. 18 in the Beanpot Championship game. On Apr. 20 at Saint Louis, Yanakopulos drove in the first two runs of his career and had his first two hits, going 2-for-3 with two RBI and a run scored.
Cavanaro and sophomore Brian Fracasso both collected their first career RBIs on Apr. 2 vs. Connecticut. Fracasso appeared in his first collegiate game on Apr. 1 vs. UAlbany.
Cavanaro scored the first run of his career, the walk-off game winner in a 5-4 come-from-behind win over La Salle on Apr. 6.
Sophomore Nik Campero hit his first collegiate home run on Apr. 10 in the Beanpot Semifinal vs. Northeastern. He had his first career triple the following week in the Beanpot Championship game vs. Harvard on Apr. 18.
Sophomore Alex Tuneski hit his first career home run on Apr. 25 vs. Maine and had a career day, reaching base in all five trips to the plate, going 3-for-3 with two walks.
Freshman Bryan Dionicio played in his first collegiate game on Apr. 29 vs. Temple.
UMass will close out the regular season with four home games, beginning with Siena on May 15 at 3 p.m. on Earl Lorden Field.