VESTAL, N.Y. – The No. 5 UMass Lowell River Hawks baseball team (19-33, 11-13 AE) took down the No. 4 Bryant Bulldogs (26-23, 12-12 AE) 6-0 in the opening round of the America East Championship at the Bearcats Sports Complex on Wednesday afternoon.
Graduate student Joshua Becker (Burlington, Mass.) threw a complete game with eight strikeouts and allowed just three hits to earn the win. Sophomore Jacob Humphrey (Standish, Maine) had three hits, including two solo home runs to lead the offense. Senior Ryan Proto (Centerville, Mass.) tallied two hits and two RBIs on the day while junior Roddy Hernandez (Jersey City, N.J.) recorded one hit and one RBI and drew one walk.
“Incredible game. Josh Becker and Jacob Humphrey put the team on their backs today,” said head coach Ken Harring. “Becker throws a three-hit shutout in an elimination game and Humphrey got us going early with that long home run. Getting that two-out RBI from Proto to get the second run in was huge for us as well.”
Jacob Humphrey got the offense going in the first at-bat with a leadoff home run to right field, putting the River Hawks in front early. Graduate student Robert Gallagher (Mullica Hill, N.J.) stole second before Ryan Proto’s RBI single to right scored the graduate student to give UMass Lowell a 2-0 lead. Joshua Becker started strong and retired the side in order in the bottom of the first with one strikeout.
Roddy Hernandez hit a two-out RBI double to right center, scoring senior Matt Tobin (Poland, N.Y.) from first to extend the lead to 3-0 in the second. Humphrey’s infield single put runners on the corners, but both were left stranded. Becker threw a 1-2-3 second with two more strikeouts to keep Bryant off the board. The veteran made quick work in the fourth, retiring the side in order once again.
The River Hawks tacked on another run in the top of the fifth behind Humphrey’s second solo home run of the day, a deep drive to right field once again, to make it a 4-0 game. Ryan Proto tallied his second RBI of the day with a base hit to right to score Genther to stretch the lead to five. Becker continued to dominate on the mound, giving up no runs or hits through five frames.
UMass Lowell could not add to the lead in the sixth or seventh, but Becker was dialed in to keep Bryant off the board. The veteran held the Bulldogs to just three hits and struck out six through seven innings to keep the shutout. The eighth inning was much like the previous innings, as Becker struck out two hitters in a 1-2-3 frame to send the game into the ninth.
Senior Trey Brown (Rochester, N.Y.) scored on a wild pitch in the top of the ninth to six the River Hawks a 6-0 cushion heading into the game’s final three outs. Sophomore Alex Luccini (Hopedale, Mass.) made a nice grab on the warning track before an unassisted putout from Matt Tobin brought the Bulldogs to their final out. Brown caught a fly ball to end the game and send the River Hawks to the next round.
“It was a complete win today,” added Harring. “We waited all year to play our best ballgame of the year and to beat a really good pitcher, you need timely hitting and we got that today. Up and down the lineup we had good at-bats all day. Survive and advance, onto tomorrow.”
UMass Lowell awaits their opponent for Thursday. Matchups will be determined following the second game on Wednesday between #3 Binghamton and #6 NJIT.
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