A critical portion of the season has arrived for the UMass Lowell (7-23, 4-5 in AE) baseball team. A five-game losing streak needed to be stopped and so head coach Ken Harring did two things. First, after losing a twin-bill to the Albany Great Danes (12-14, 4-5 in AE) on Saturday, Harring challenged his team to be better. Second, he made some lineup changes that paid off in a big way on Sunday afternoon. Those adjustments were made at the top of the order. He inserted freshman infielder Robert Gallagher who came into the game hitting just .167, as his leadoff man. All Gallagher did was go 4-5, with four runs scored, two RBI and three stolen bases. Shortstop, Oscar Menchena in the two-hole went 3-4, with two runs scored and two runs batted in. The two went a combined seven-for nine, with four RBI’s and six runs scored. The River Hawks will take that every time out as they salvaged game three of the series with the Great Danes by the score of 11-8 at LeLacheur Park.
Starting pitching would not be the theme for the day as neither starter made it through three innings. Albany took a two nothing lead in the first off of River Hawks RHP Henry Funaro. Three walks, a hit batter, and a single would plate the two runs. The River Hawks came right back in their half of the first against Great Danes pitcher John Clayton (1.1 IP, five hits, six earned runs, two walks, two SO). Clayton would load the bases on a single by Gallagher and back to back walks to Menchena and Michael Young. After getting Cam Climo to strike out, senior first baseman, Steve Passatempo, who his coach said “has been slumping of late” ripped a triple off the wall in straightaway center field some 400 feet from home plate. It would clear the bases and give Lowell a 3-2 lead.
Lowell would add three in both the second and third innings which included a leadoff home run to right field by Andrew Roden, his first career long ball. But, the offensive production would not keep Funaro, two innings, two hits, five earned runs, six walks, and one SO in the game, long enough to get the win. Albany took advantage of his wildness to load the sacks again in the third. Three walks to the first three hitters Funaro faced got him into trouble, and as is the case in baseball, if you walk hitters they usually score. Singles by Brad Malm and Dolan Ocasal off Kendall Pomeroy made it a 9-5 River Hawks lead after three innings of play.
The game did settle down in the middle innings thanks to some very good relief work from Albany relief pitcher Kenny McLean. He entered the ball game in the fourth and kept the River Hawks off the scoreboard until he tired in the eighth. The zeroes he put up helped his team to try to get back into the game which they did. The Great Danes got to within one by plating two runs in the seventh of the fourth pitcher of the day used by Lowell R-FR Devin Gates. Gates loaded the sacks full of Great Danes runners on consecutive singles by Matt Codispoti (2-for-3, run scored) and Nick Kondo (2-for-4, 2-runs scored), a sac fly from Patrick Lagravinese brought one home, then a single to center field off the bat of Marc Wangenstein (2-for-5, one run scored, one RBI) plated the second. It was now a one-run game at 9-8.
The River Hawks gave themselves some insurance in the bottom of the eighth. Third baseman Joey Castellanos led the inning off by tripling to right field. He would be pinch ran for by Mark Tumosa. Gallagher came through with his fourth hit and second run batted in with a single to left off of Joe Kruszka, the fourth pitcher of the day by Albany. Gallagher would later score on a sac fly to right by Young, 11-8 Lowell.
Joshua Becker, who struggled in game one on Saturday, was called upon to close out this game for the River Hawks. Becker did just that, facing four batters and retiring all four to earn his third save of the season. It got his team back into the win column 11-8 over Albany.
Gerry Siracusa, who his coach says “once he learns how to throw strike one will be very effective”, pitched two shutouts innings to get the win and is now 1-1. Clayton took the loss he is now 2-2. The star of this game for Lowell was Gallagher. His patience at the plate and his ability to make loud outs is what Harring like best. With Marchena comfortably in the two spot, the River Hawks may have settled on how this line up will look for the rest of the season. Harring has already said when his team heads to Hanover NH. on Tuesday to face Dartmouth, Gallagher will be in the line up vs the Big Green.
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