NEWARK, Del. – Delaware got the key hits, UMass Lowell did not, Sunday as the Blue Hens swept a pair of games from the River Hawks, 11-4 and 4-3 in 10 innings at Bob Hannah Stadium in Newark, Delaware.
UMass Lowell is now 4-6, Delaware, a CAA member, stands at 4-5.
“We’re a young team and we knew we’d have some days like this,” said UMass Lowell Baseball Head Coach Ken Harring. “It’s frustrating, but failure is an opportunity to learn and we try to take something positive out of every game. I was encouraged by the pitching and I was encouraged by some of the at-bats our young hitters had. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and we’re going to push forward and learn.”
The River Hawk lineup in each of the games featured five freshmen. The inexperience may have shown, but the talent showed through as well.
“We’re getting there,” said Harring. “We’re still learning about ourselves; we’re working to figure out who we are. We have to take care of the details to avoid big problems. We have to execute better.”
Pitching is as much as ninety-percent of a baseball game and in the first game of the twin bill River Hawk pitching struggled and the Blue Hen offense flourished. The home team banged out 15 hits as everybody in the starting lineup had at least one. The final was 11-4.
After UMass Lowell took an early 2-0 lead the visitors watched as Delaware responded with three runs in the second, one in the third and after the River Hawks chipped away with a run in the top of the fourth added six more in the bottom half of the inning, 10-3. Each team would add another run before the game was done, but the decision was no longer in doubt.
Starter grad student Collin Duffley (Manchester, N.H.) got just seven outs before exiting. The right-hander was roughed up for four runs on five hits. He also walked five and hit a batter. He was charged with the loss dropping his record to 1-2.
Reliever senior Connor Metelski (Wall Township, N.J.) lasted only an inning and it did not go well. He surrendered six runs, five earned, on five hits. It was his first appearance of the season and he seemed to find his comfort zone.
The trio of freshman Garret Roberts (Stratham, N.H.), sophomore Blaise Sclafani (Souderton, Penn.) and grad student Jeffrey Peterson (Windham, N.H.) worked the final 2.2 innings allowing just one run.
Four River Hawks had multi-hit games. Sophomore Gerry Siracusa (Kinnelon, N.J.), junior Joey Castellanos (Nutley, N.J.) and freshmen Jiohel Lantigua (Spring Hill, Florida) and Nick Marola (Scotia, N.Y.) each had two hits. Lantigua homered and Marola doubled twice. Siracusa, Castellanos, and Lantigua drove in runs. Sophomore Robert Gallagher (Mullica Hill, N.J.) also had an RBI single.
Both teams left ten men on base.
UMass Lowell jumped out to an early lead in the nightcap, but could not hold on as Delaware battled back.
The River Hawks got on the board in the second inning. A one-out walk and a freshman Ryan Proto (Centerville, Mass.) double set the stage. Nick Marola’s flyball to right brought the runner in from third.
UMass Lowell manufactured two runs in the fourth inning without the benefit of a base hit. A combination of walks (three), hit batters (two), stolen bases (two) and an infield out produced the runs. 3-0, but it was not enough.
Starter sophomore Matt Draper (Lowell, Mass.) gave the River Hawks exactly what they needed. A strong gritty start. He threw strikes and let hitters get themselves out. He retired the first six in a row and then set down three more after a leadoff double in the third inning.
“He had a good fastball, slider and changeup working,” said Harring. “He has a funk in his delivery that works to keep hitters off balance.”
The right-hander ran into some trouble in the middle innings but effectively worked out of it allowing a pair of runs on a single and a passed ball in the fourth. Delaware tied the game in the fifth on an unearned run. Draper gutted his way through the sixth inning, retiring the side after the first two batters got on.
“He was a bright light out there,” according to Harring. “He made big pitches at important points in big situations.”
Draper’s day was done after six strong innings. He allowed just one earned run while striking out three.
Junior Trevor Thompson (Eastvale, Calif.) followed Draper to the mound and threw two hitless innings.
He was one of a series of middle relievers who have pitched effectively for UMass Lowell in the first three weekends of baseball.
“We’ve got a good bullpen, a lot of arms and it’s getting stronger,” said Harring. “We’ve got some good depth.”
Delaware won the game in the tenth. A one-out single, a couple of passed balls and a single to right field produced the run and ended the day.
Sophomore Joshua Becker (Burlington, Mass.) took the loss, his first of the season. The right-hander went one and a third innings and struck out three.
The challenge will not get easier next weekend. UMass Lowell will travel to Baton Rouge, Louisiana for the three-game series with the number 11 in the nation Tigers of LSU at Alex Box Stadium. LSU, with a 7-5 record, has two midweek games before the River Hawks come to town.
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