In a game that UMass Lowell (6-14, 1-4 in AE) head coach Ken Harring said, “was one we had to have,” the River Hawks received some clutch at-bats late in the game from guys, that if this team is doing anything this spring, will need to get. Sophomore Jimmy Sullivan’s one of those guys. In the eighth inning, he delivered when his team needed it most. His RBI single to right field snapped a 3-3 tie and gave the River Hawks their first conference win of the spring, 4-3 over Binghamton (4-14. 1-4 in AE).
Much like Friday’s home opener, game two of this series on Saturday afternoon started out as a pitcher’s duel between Ryan Towle of Lowell and Gabe Driscoll of the Bearcats. UMass Lowell would score single runs in both the second and fifth innings to take the lead. In the second, RF Jacob Humphrey’s (3-3, 2R, 1 RBI) RBI single to center field scored Sullivan who walked with one out. In the fifth, 3rd baseman Robert Gallagher (2-4, 2 RBI) ripped a double to the left-center field gap to score Humphrey to give the River Hawks a 2-0 lead. On the hill, Towle was dominant through five innings. He allowed only one hit and two baserunners. Afterward, Harring said of Towle, “he has command of three pitches.” That command would start to escape him in the middle innings as Binghamton scratched their way back into the game. In the sixth, the Bearcats got back-to-back singles from their number nine hitter Christian Perez and Cavan Tully (2-4, 1R). Both men were sacrificed up one base and Perez would score on an RBI groundout to third by Connor Aoki (1-3, 2 RBI). In the seventh, the Bearcats tied the game at 2-2 on an RBI single to center field by Isiah Corey that scored Andrew Tan (2-4, 1R) who led the inning off with a single to center and then was sacrificed to second. With the game now tied, this one was going to be decided by each team’s bullpens.
UMass Lowell took the lead back in the bottom of the seventh against relief pitcher John Lumpinski (0-6). With one down, Humphrey singled off the glove of the second baseman into short center field and was advanced to second by a sac bunt. Then, he scored on a base hit to left by Gallagher to make it 3-2 Lowell. After seven strong innings from Towle (7 IP, five hits, two ER, six SO, two BB) Brendan Williams (1-1) was called out of the River Hawks pen to keep the lead in the eighth inning. Instead, he allowed the game to be tied once again. Tully led off the inning with a single to RF. After a failed bunt attempt, he stole second base and scored on a base hit to center by Aoki to tie the game at 3-3. In the bottom of the eighth, the River Hawks untied the game. A two-out rally was started by Ryan Proto who doubled off the wall in left field. The next batter, Sullivan found a hole between first and second and ground a Lumpinski pitch into right field. Proto barreled around third and dove headfirst to the plate with the go-ahead run. 4-3 River Hawks.
Coach Harring made an interesting decision to pitch the ninth. Joshua Becker, who is scheduled to start Sunday’s finale, came out of the Lowell bullpen and shut the door on Binghamton. He did allow a single to start the inning by Andrew Tan who was advanced to second by a sac bunt. With the tying run at second and only one out, Becker got the next two hitters as PH Owen Parliament flew out to LF, then Becker (save #1) finished the game in style by striking out Correy to end the game and give the River Hawks a much needed 4-3 win.
After the game, Harring said, “We needed to go all in to win this game.” With a bullpen that for now is by committee, it will be all hands on deck for the weekend conference series. Then it’s figuring out how to manage the mid-week games. With that said, Becker gets the ball to start the series finale on Sunday then the team will go from there. First pitch is set for noon. Williams gets the win. Becker the save. Lumpinski took the defeat.
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