Harasta Plays Hero With Walk-Off Dinger In UMass Lowell Split Twinbill
ALBANY, N.Y. – Trailing 7-0 in Saturday’s home-opener at Varsity Field, the University at Albany baseball team used a furious rally, including Craig Lepre’s seventh-inning grand slam and Evan Harasta’s walk-off three-run home run to swipe an 8-7 victory over the visiting UMass Lowell River Hawks. UML (9-9, 3-1) took game two, 11-4, splitting the America East Conference doubleheader.
UAlbany (5-16, 3-5) totaled a season-high 14 hits in the victory led by senior Brian Bullard’s 3-for-5 performance, while scoring two runs. Lepre went 2-for-5 with a game-high four RBI, followed by Harasta’s 2-for-5 performance with three runs batted in. Also logging multiple hits, Alex Lushkevich went 2-for-4 with a run scored and Richard Bacon went 2-for-2 at the plate with an RBI.
On the mound, sophomore Ryan Stinar (1-2) earned the win, facing two batters in the ninth and recorded two strikeouts. Starter Matt Gallup went three and a third frames, allowing seven runs (six earned), eight hits, and struck out three. Sophomore southpaw Sam DeCelle had a stellar showing out of the pen, throwing five shutout innings of middle relief, and held the River Hawks to just two scattered hits, while recording four strikeouts.
UMass Lowell jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead, scoring three runs in the first and three more runs in the second, totaling seven hits in the first two frames. The River Hawks added another run in the fourth when Ian Strom reached on a hit by pitch, stole second, and scored on a Danny Mendick’s single through the left side.
However, that would be UML’s final run of the contest, as DeCelle and Stinar allowed just one batter past first base the rest of the way.
The Great Danes posted their first run in the bottom of the sixth when Lushkevich singled up the middle with one out, moved to second on Charlie Peltz’s walk, and crossed the plate on Bacon’s RBI single to left.
In the seventh, UAlbany took advantage of starter Shane Beauchemin’s rising pitch count and loaded the bases with one out on D.J. Hoagboon’s single through the right side, Bullard’s double off the centerfield wall, and Josh Nethaway’s walk. After a call to the bullpen, Lepre belted a grand slam over the right field fence off reliever Garrett Cole, making the score 7-5. The Danes loaded the bases again with two outs, as Peltz singled through the left side and Bacon and Kingston were both plunked, but Cole got out of the jam with a groundout to second.
With the game on the line in the bottom of the ninth, Kingston ripped a one-out single down the left field line and Bullard drew a two-out walk. Playing hero, Harasta turned on closer Geoff DeGroot’s pitch, and crushed a game-winning, walk-off three-run home run over the left field wall.
DeGroot (0-1) took the loss, allowing three runs, and two hits in two-thirds of the ninth. Beauchemin threw six and a third innings and left the game in position for the win, allowing four runs, eight hits, and struck out three.
UMass Lowell took a 2-0 lead in the second inning, stringing together Mottola’s single, Kelly Rooney’s double, and Strom’s two-run scoring double.
However, UAlbany got one run back in the bottom of the frame, as Nethaway doubled to left and scored on Lushkevich’s RBI groundout to second base.
The squad’s traded single runs in the fourth with Peltz picking up the RBI on a groundout for the Danes, but the River Hawks broke open the game in the fifth with a five-run inning.
UMass Lowell batted around the order and forced UAlbany to throw four different arms in the inning. The River Hawks totaled three singles and drew four walks in the frame, making the score 8-2.
The Great Danes answered with run in the bottom half of the fifth on Hoagboon’s one-out solo home run over the right-centerfield fence. But, the River Hawks responded with three more runs in the sixth, using three singles and a throwing error for an 11-3 lead.
UAlbany looked to rally in their final at-bats in the bottom of the seventh, but managed just one run after pinch hitter Jeff VonMoser and Harasta drew back-to-back walks off reliever Nick Boutoures and Lepre brought one in on a groundout to second.
Starter Brendan Ryan (0-2) took the loss for UAlbany, allowing three runs, seven hits, and struck out three in four innings of work. Freshman J.T. Genovese threw well out of the pen, allowing three runs (two earned), three hits, and struck out one in the final two and two-thirds.
Mike Calzetta (2-1) earned the win, throwing five innings, and allowed three runs and seven hits.
Hoagboon (2-for-4), Harasta (2-for-3), and Nethaway (2-for-4) each logged multiple hits in the nightcap.
Sunday’s series rubbermatch between UAlbany and UMass Lowell will begin at 1:00 p.m.