ORONO, ME. – The opening game of the 2022 America East Championship did not disappoint as the UMass Lowell River Hawks baseball team (26-28, 16-15 AE) moved into the winner’s bracket with a thrilling 7-6 walk-off win over UMBC on Wednesday afternoon.
“Great baseball game today. We made some mistakes but were able to overcome them in the end,” said head coach Ken Harring. “Our bullpen was great and [Brandon] Fish was due. He had put good swings on the baseball all day. Our defense was incredible all game. Now, we have to come back and do it all over again.”
Sophomores Fritz Genther (Kingston, N.Y.), Jimmy Sullivan (East Hampton, Conn.), and Roddy Hernandez (Jersey City, N.J.) each tallied two hits in the win. Sullivan added two RBIs while Hernandez recorded one RBI and scored one run. Freshman Brandon Fish (Londonderry, N.H.) hit a walk-off double for his lone of the day.
On the mound, senior Joshua Becker (Burlington, Mass.) earned the start and threw 5.0 innings and struck out two. Sophomore Brendan Williams (Auburn, N.Y.) threw 2.2 innings and allowed three hits. Senior Matt Draper (Lowell, Mass.) earned the win and improved to 3-5 on the year. The senior threw 1.1 innings, allowing just one hit, and struck out three.
The Retrievers opened the scoring in the first on a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded to score one. With runners still on first and second, Becker forced a fly out to retire the side as UMBC led 1-0 early. Senior Robert Gallagher (Mullica Hill, N.J.) hit a solo home run on the first pitch of the bottom half of the inning to tie the game. UMass Lowell found an offensive rhythm with back-to-back singles from Fritz Genther and senior Gerry Siracusa (Kinnelon, N.J.) to put two runners on. Jimmy Sullivan hit an RBI double to right-center to score Siracusa and give the River Hawks a 2-1 lead.
UMass Lowell’s defense was sharp early on, turning a 4-6-3 double play ended the second inning. Roddy Hernandez made a great bare-handed throw to first in the third inning to keep UMBC off the bases. The River Hawks couldn’t add to the lead but held the one-run advantage through three innings. UMBC got back in the game with a two-out triple in the fourth. A single to center brought the runner in and tied the game 2-2.
The Retrievers took a 4-2 lead on a two-out, two-run home run to right field by Luke Trythall in the top of the fifth inning. Matt Ryan followed with a double center before Becker struck out Christian Easley to end the inning. Gerry Siracusa’s sacrifice fly with the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth made it a 4-3 game through five.
Brendan Williams took over in the sixth and the defense behind him turned another great double play. The Retrievers continued to hit well with two outs as Roberts doubled to left-center to put a runner in scoring position before a flyout ended the inning. The River Hawks worked into a bases-loaded situation with no outs before Roddy Hernandez singled to score one to tie the game and keep the bases loaded. A double play ended the inning, but the River Hawks tied the score.
The River Hawks broke the deadlock in the seventh inning after junior Ryan Proto (Centerville, Mass.) doubled down the left-field line to score Siracusa. Jimmy Sullivan followed with a single to center to bring in Proto and give UMass Lowell a 6-4 lead. UMBC responded in the eighth, scoring twice with two outs once again to tie the game. Matt Draper entered the game with two out and a runner on first. The senior struck out Logan Doran to end the inning with the game tied at six.
In the top of the ninth, Robert Gallagher made an incredible catch in right field as the senior ran into the outfield wall to make the final out of the inning, keeping the game tied. Fritz Genther’s leadoff walk put a runner on for the River Hawks. Siracusa reached first while Genther was thrown out on a fielder’s choice as Brandon Fish stepped up to the plate. The freshman doubled down the right-field line and scored Siracusa from first, giving UMass Lowell a 7-6 walk-off win over the Retrievers to move into the winner’s bracket.
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