Sometimes the best-laid plans do not always work out. On Sunday afternoon at LeLacheur Park, the UMass Lowell River Hawks (11-17, 5-7 in AE) were six outs away from a series sweep of UMBC (13-17, 5-7 in AE). Instead, as coach Ken Harring said afterward, “the wheels came off.” He was referring to the eighth inning and his bullpen giving up a four-run lead. It would prove to be the beginning of the end for the River Hawks as they could not rebound from it. UMBC avoided the sweep and took the finale of the series 9-6 in ten innings.
Give the Retrievers credit as they hung in there when it looked like the River Hawks were about to finish this series off in style. To suggest that coach Harring was disappointed would be an understatement as the post-game interview shows. He knows his team let one get away that should have ended up in the win column. He is hopeful that this becomes a learning experience for the new guys on this team. Time will tell if he is right. For now, this one will sting until they get back out on the field on Tuesday night.
River Hawks starting pitcher, Joshua Becker, was good through six innings. His line of seven hits, two earned runs, one walk, and seven strikeouts would suggest that. He did give up the game’s first run in the very first inning. Myles Nicholson (3-for-5, 2RS, 3 RBI) led off the game by tripling to right field. He would score on an RBI groundout by Ian Diaz and UMBC had a 1-0 lead. That lead lasted until the bottom of the second when UMass Lowell tied the game. Brandon Fish (3-for-4, 2RS, 2 RBI) was hit by a pitch against Retrievers starter Keegan Leffler. He advanced to second on a single to right by Ryan Proto, then scored on a double-play ball by Fritz Genther (1-for-3, 1RS, 2 RBI) and the game was tied at 1-1. In the fourth, UMBC took the lead back at 2-1 on an RBI base hit to center by Nicholson, now with 16 multi-hit games. The hit scored Jayden Shertel (4-for-5, 3RS,1 RBI) to give UMBC a 2-1 advantage. The four-hit game from Shertel is his second of the season. The River Hawks responded with two runs of their own in the bottom of the frame. A one-out double to right field by Genther scored Fish, who had a single, all the way from first to tie the game at 2-2. Genther scored the go-ahead run on an RBI double just inside the left-field chalk by Roddy Hernandez, 3-2 Lowell.
Becker, after escaping a bases-loaded jam in the second by getting Nicholson to fly out to center, sailed through the fifth and sixth innings. Sal Fusco did the same in the seventh. Their mates tacked on three more runs in the fifth against the Retrievers bullpen to take a 6-2 lead going to the eighth. That’s where it all came unglued for Lowell. Freshman, Hayden Duke, was brought on to get an inning of work with a four-run lead. He never made it through the frame. After getting the first hitter on a ground out, Duke then hit Luke Johnson. He would throw a wild pitch to advance Johnson to second, then another one to send Johnson to third. He scored when Proto tried to throw him out and instead threw it into left field, 6-3 Lowell. Christian Taylor then grounded out to SS for the second out of the inning. Duke then walked pinch-hitter Christian Easley and then balked him to second base. He walked the next pinch-hitter Zack Dzarnowski. Shertel singled to right to score Easley to make it a 6-4 game. Duke was lifted (0,2 IP, 1H, 4 ER, 2BB,1 HBP, 1BK) and Matt Draper was summoned in. The first man Draper faced was Nicholson who cleared the bases with a double to left-center that scored both runners and tied the game 6-6.
Retrievers head coach Liam Bowen was having better success with his bullpen. Evan Selmer went two and gave up the sixth River Hawks run. Joe Pucek pitched a scoreless seventh. Shane Gorman (1-1) was then brought on to pitch the eighth and would be the right man for the job. He would throw three shutout and hitless innings with a strikeout to give his team a chance to win in extra innings. In the tenth, with Draper still on the hill, UMBC did just that. Shertel started things with a base hit to center, his fourth hit of the game. Nicholson was then HBP and Drew Roberts was asked to bunt and got the bonus. His bunt down the third-base line was fielded by Gallagher who then threw the ball wide of first. Shertel crossed home plate with the go-ahead run, 7-6 UMBC. Draper was replaced by Michael Quigley who gave up a sac-fly to center off the bat of Diaz, 8-6 UMBC. Then Retrievers catcher Tony Krueger singled up the middle to score Roberts to make it a 9-6 game. Gorman took care of the bottom of the tenth by retiring the side to give UMBC a 9-6 win to take with them on the long bus ride back to Maryland. Draper takes the loss and he is now 0-3.
Coach Harring hopes this loss is just a “blip on the screen.” He thought his team was not ready to finish the series. With an off-day on Monday, I think the team will be ready for Tuesday night when they host Merrimack at LeLacheur Park.
My postgame interview with coach Harring
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