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Retrievers baseball grounds UMass Lowell River Hawks, take weekend series

Coming into this season, the Retrievers baseball team had the University of Massachusetts Lowell River Hawks’ number. The Retrievers swept the season series last year, decidedly outscoring the River Hawks 31-18 in the six meetings. When the two teams squared off again last weekend, the Retrievers produced similar results, taking two out of three from their conference foes.

The opener, the first game of a day/night doubleheader, did not foreshadow what would be a fruitful weekend for the Retrievers (13-17, 7-5 in America East Conference), with the River Hawks (20-16, 8-6in AEC) outhitting them en route to a 6-2 victory. After a clean first inning, UMass Lowell struck first when junior left fielder Colby Maiola stroked a solo homer over the centerfield wall.

Freshman designated hitter Cam Climo doubled two batters later and scored on a misplayed fly ball off the bat of freshman infielder John Polichetti to extend the lead to two. A half inning later, the Retrievers answered back when sophomore left fielder Raven Beeman sliced an 0-1 pitch past the outstretched glove of sophomore right fielder Russ Olive to tie the game.

UMass Lowell found their home run swing again in the top of the fourth inning. This time, Climo delivered the two-run blow, giving the River Hawks a 4-2 lead. A Maiola opposite field double and a Steve Passatempo solo homer in the top of the seventh put the game out of reach.

The Retrievers looked a lot better on the mound and at the plate in the next two games, winning both contests 5-2. The Retrievers offense played more like the group that scored at least four runs in 11 of their last 16 games.

“We’ve just been preaching ‘get a good pitch, put a good swing on it, try to get through the baseball and create some line drives and when we do that we can be a pretty good offensive ballclub’,” Retrievers head coach Bob Mumma said. “One through nine have a good chance to have a big day any given day.”

The Retrievers also received strong efforts from their starters, junior Matt Chanin and freshman Michell Wilson. Chanin hurled a complete game in Friday night’s shortened seven inning game, allowing two earned runs on three hits, walking one and striking out four. The junior came into Friday’s game with a 5.23 ERA.

“I was getting a lot of weak contact, throwing a lot of strikes and the defense played great,” Chanin said. “Staying downhill mixing speeds, [the strategy] was really successful.”

Wilson followed up on Sunday with an equally stellar performance, surrendering two runs (one earned) on five hits while fanning four in five innings of work. He entered play Sunday with a 6.94 ERA.

In the nightcap of Friday’s doubleheader, the Retrievers sprinted out to a 2-1 lead thanks to a River Hawks error on a dropped fly ball by UMass Lowell sophomore center fielder Michael Young and an RBI double by UMBC freshman third baseman Christian Torres. Maiola’s second long ball of the series tied the game in the top of the fourth. Later, the boys in gold broke the tie in the bottom of the sixth without a ton of hard contact.

Junior catcher Zack Bright blooped a pinch hit single to right field, moving Beeman, who led off with a single, to third. The next batter, senior center fielder Andrew Casali, dribbled a swinging bunt that River Hawks junior reliever Luke Tomczyk misplayed, driving in Beeman and giving UMBC the lead for good.

On Sunday, the Retrievers overcame an early two run deficit with four consecutive hits leading to three runs and the only lead change of the afternoon. Casali led the mini-hit parade with a bloop single to center field. Junior first baseman Jamie Switalski capped off the run by tripling off of the left centerfield fence which brought home sophomore second baseman AJ Wright and senior catcher Hunter Dolshun, giving the Retrievers the lead for good.

The Retrievers head out on the road for the next three weeks. They will not have to travel far, as they first head to Shirley Povich Field in Rockville to play the Georgetown University Hoyas on the April 25 before facing the University of Albany for a three game set.