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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Consistency on the Diamond for UMass Boston Baseball

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UMass Boston Beacons at the plate. Photo courtesy of UMass Athletics.

Fourteen games into the 2007 season, the UMass Boston baseball team has quietly ebbed to a 9-5 overall record, their best start to a season since, well, as far back as the archived records go. Or, at least 1997.

When losing seasons haunt a team for the better part of a decade, one would assume that there would be plenty of publicity and fanfare regarding the team’s newfound resurgence. This is not quite the case when it comes to the UMass Boston baseball team, which doesn’t get to play its home games at home, or even in Boston. When they do have a “home game,” it is at Yetten Field in Waltham, about 20 minutes north of the city.

“We have a lot of very dedicated parents who will travel no matter where we end up,” head coach Brendan Eygabroat said. “If we had something on or close to campus, I think that would certainly increase the amount of students that show up for games.”

The Beacons have watched their win total grow this season by having a well-balanced and consistent approach. Since arriving back from Arizona where UMass Boston started their season, the Beacons have compiled a 4-1 record behind solid pitching, good fielding and timely hitting.

“We have started to hit the ball much better and that’s what was kind of slowing us down before,” Eygabroat explained. “If we continue to hit well, we have strong enough pitching and defense to win a lot of ball games. We are playing good solid baseball right now and that can always change but for the time being we’re clicking on all cylinders.”

Eygabroat also praised the tenacity that his team has been playing with. “We’re not a big power hitting team so we need to get people on base to run our offense, which is bunting, stealing, hitting and running and putting pressure on the defense, which we have been doing well,” he said.

With reigning Little East Conference Pitcher of the Year Nick Conway anchoring the pitching staff and freshman Mike Andriano exceeding expectations, the Beacons have their foot on the proverbial gas pedal heading into the rest of their season.

Conway’s success should be of no surprise to anyone who has watched the UMass Boston baseball team for the past couple of years. The surprise of this season so far has been that of freshman phenom Mike Andriano, who, with a little luck could easily be 4-0 this season. “Having someone come in and show poise and composure like that [as a freshman] on the mound is something that you don’t see everyday,” praised Eygabroat.

Andriano has held opposing batters to a stymie .208 batting average spanning 26 innings while allowing only 20 hits. His record stands at 3-1 with a 2.08 ERA, putting him behind only Conway and newfound stopper Tom Michael on the team.

Michael transferred to UMass Boston from New River Community College, a school at which he set records for strikeouts and ERA. He now occupies the role of “stopper,” on the team.

“You can call him whatever you want,” Eygabroat said. “He’s the guy we’re going to in a pinch late in the game. He really gives us energy at the end of games, which is what you want to have. He throws hard and has a good curve ball which he uses effectively.”

In 9 2/3 innings this season, Michael has held his opponents to a .237 batting average while keeping a sub-2 ERA (1.86). Stopper, closer, whatever. Michael has solidified the back end of the Beacon’s bullpen and made life more comfortable for Conway, Andriano and the rest of the UMass Boston pitching staff.

One of the intangibles that separate bad teams from good teams and good teams from great teams is chemistry, and not the chemistry you got a C- in last semester. Chemistry and comradery are two things that can make or break a team, and Eyganbroat sees both in his team.

“I would say it’s probably our strength,” he said. “Everyone really gets along. Everyone understands that, as a coaching staff we’re trying to put the nine best players out there to help us win on that given day. [Our] guys have responded and are supporting each other and hoping that everyone succeeds whenever they’re out there.”

The UMass Boston baseball team is the only varsity sport that does not have its own home field on campus. When asked about any plans for one, Eygabroat responded that “there [have] been ongoing discussion between Boston College High School (which is adjacent to the campus) and UMass Boston about doing some joint renovations at B.C. High’s varsity field to bring it up to college standards. Where that is going I don’t know, but there is continuing talk as of right now.”

When asked about a start date for the transformation, Eygabroat said, “We were aiming for something to start this summer but I’m not sure if that’s realistic or not.”

Home field or no home field, the Beacons are shining brighter than at anytime in the past decade.

About the Contributor
Ryan Thomas served as the sports editor for The Mass Media the following years: 2007-2008; 2008-2009