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UMass Lowell takes game one 3- 1 over UMBC

UMass Lowell pitching strikes out 16 to take game one, 3-1 over UMBC

When UMBC was last at LeLacheur Park, they were celebrating winning the America East Baseball Championship. That was accomplished last Memorial Day weekend.  Fast forward almost one year later, the Retrievers were back in Lowell to face a team that was not a part of that event.

The River Hawks were finishing up their four-year waiting period as a result of moving up from division two to division one. If Friday night was any indication, UMBC dodged what may have been a serious threat to that title.

Backed by a 16 strikeout performance by starting pitcher Henry Funaro and closer Nick Rand, the River Hawks took game one of this three-game set at home with a 3-1 victory. Not to be forgotten, the Retrievers starter Max Goron was pretty good himself. He was outpitched by the River Hawks duo and done in by one bad inning, the first.

After a leadoff walk to Colby Maiola, The River Hawks unleashed some big bats with some crushing results. The number two hitter in the lineup, Mark Tumosa smacked a two-run home run over the wall in left field. The bomb was his second of the season and the RBI were his fifth and sixth of the year.

The next batter was Russ Olive, who took a Gordon offering and deposited it almost in the same location as Tumosa’s HR. The blast was his team-leading eighth of the year to go with twenty runs batted in. He continues to swing a hot bat for the River Hawks.

That would be the extent of the UMass Lowell offense as they would only get one more hitter into scoring position. That came in the seventh, on a walk to start the inning by Cam Climo. He was sacrificed to second base and was left stranded.

This game belonged to the River Hawk pitching. Funaro was just flat out good. The freshman from Lowell threw five-innings plus one batter into the sixth. He gave up only one hit, a Dalton Stewart infield hit to shortstop in the fourth. That was the frame the Retrievers scored their run and it was unearned.  He would end his outing by throwing 115 pitchers of which 67 were for strikes. He did walk four, hit three batters and also threw two wild pitches. Afterward, his Coach Ken Harring said he had electric stuff and his secondary pitches were really good.

Funaro’s only hiccup came in the fourth when leadoff hitter Christian Torres was hit by a pitch. He advanced to second on a wild pitch and would score UMBC’s lone run when the next hitter Collin Stack hit a groundball to SS that went under the glove of freshman Joey Castellanos for his sixth error of the season. Torres would score on the play from second base to make the score 3-1 River Hawks.

It could have been worse as UMBC would get Stack to third base. Stewart tried to suicide squeeze him, but the River Hawks smelled it out and caught Stack in a rundown between third and home. They would tag him out, which was a big first out to get in the inning. Funaro got out of the jam, by striking out Joe Milkowski and A.J. Wright to end it and keep a two-run lead.

Funaro left the game after hitting Stewart to begin the sixth. Later, Harring said he should not have let him begin that inning. Nick Rand came on in relief and picked up where Funaro left off. He picked up four-inning save, his fourth of the year. Harring said he was as good as he ever been. Rand struck out seven, with no walks. He retired all twelve batters he faced including striking out the side in the seventh.

For the Retrievers, Goron’s line finished with three runs, all earned on three hits. He gave up two home runs which were the difference in the game. He walked two and fanned two. His record falls to 2-2.

Funaro’s gem improved his record to 3-4 as he continues to adjust to facing college hitters as opposed to high school batters he was dealing with at this time last spring

The River Hawks move to 13-17 overall, 4-6 in league play. UMBC drops to 11-16 and 4-3 in America East. The two teams will play a doubleheader on Saturday that begins at 11 am.

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