It was a tough day at the ballpark for the UMass Lowell River Hawks. After the game, head coach Ken Harring said: “its tough to get swept at home”, but that’s exactly what happened. The Albany Great Danes (12-13, 4-4 in AE) took two by the scores of 5-2 in game one, and 11-3 in game two.
Pitching and timely hitting were the problems on Saturday afternoon. Albany got plenty of both and Lowell did not. Harring also said his team “is fighting it a little bit”, claiming his team is “looking for ways to win games” However, they do it, the River Hawks need to figure it out and fast before the season gets away from them for good.
Game one turned out to be a pretty good pitching duel for six innings. Between the two pitchers Dominic Savino (6.2 IP, seven hits, two earned runs, two walks, two strikeouts) for Albany, and for the River Hawks, Nick Rand ( seven IP, two hits, one unearned run, one walk, five strikeouts). Harring said of Rand, “he was good”.
The first game was set up just the way the coaching staff drew it up. Lowell had a 2-1 lead into the late innings and in the eighth, the ball was handed over to freshman Joshua Becker. He has been the River Hawks best pitcher to date.
But on this day, that was not the case. Becker would surrender four straight hits including back-to-back doubles to Patrick Lagravinese and Marc Wangenstein that would give the Great Danes the lead for good. In all, Becker (1-2) would give up four runs on five hits. Albany’s bullpen would get the job done. Savino tired a bit and left the game in the seventh with runners on first and second with two men out. Connor Takacs (3-0) was called upon to get what turned out to be the key out of the first game getting Andrew Roden to ground out first baseman to pitcher to end the threat and the inning. Closer, Joe Kruszka went the final two innings of one-hit baseball with four strikeouts to record his fifth save of the season. Albany wins game one 5-2.
Game two was a different story. The River Hawks (6-23, 3-5 in league) sent Sal Fusco (1-3) to the hill in hopes of gaining a split of the day. Fusco gave up a solo home run to Lagravinese (his first of the year) in the first with two outs in the inning over the wall in right. In the third, Fusco ran into trouble he could not get out of. He allowed five runs on four hits. The key blows were a sac fly to right by Wangenstein and a two-run double to right by Josh Loeffler. The Great Danes had a 5-0 lead thru three plus innings of the seven inning game two.
The River Hawks did get two of those run back in their half of the fourth aganist Ray Weber (3-2). RBI base hits by Cam Climo and Roden got Lowell back into the ball game down 5-2. Albany busted it open with a four-spot on just two hits vs River Hawk relief pitcher Matt Aronson. Two of those runs would be unearned thanks to a throwing error by Lowell third baseman Joey Castellanos. The Great Danes bullpen again did the job. This time it was Hunter Torres with three innings of one-hit ball, with three punch outs to get his first save of the year. Albany added two more in the seventh off David Hoar to make the final score 11-3 Albany.
Shortstop Nick Kondo had a flawless day in the field for Albany going five-for-nine at the plate with three runs batted in from the leadoff spot. The Great Danes go for the series sweep on Sunday at noon.