Dukes Drop Slugfest at UMass, 20-16

Normally, scoring 16 runs after being held to seven in the previous two games would be good enough for a win. But not this Saturday afternoon in Amherst, Mass. as the Minutemen took Duquesne, 20-16, at Earl Lorden Field in the Dukes' final game of the season.

Massachusetts swept the three-game series with Duquesne and guaranteed themselves a spot in nest week's Atlantic 10 Conference Baseball Championship Tournament.

    UMass entered today's game tied with Fordham in fifth place with 15-11 A-10 records. The Rams host Temple in tonight's final game starting at 7:00 p.m. in the Bronx, N.Y.

The teams combined for 10 home runs, six by the Red and Blue. UMass averaged 15 runs in these trio of contests, almost doubling DU's output of 7.67 rpg. Duquesne finishes the season with a 14-41 overall record. The Dukes were tied with La Salle prior to today's games but end up finishing alone in 14th (7-19) as the Explorers won their finale over Richmmond, 5-4, with four runs in their final two at-bats which erased a 4-1 deficit.

    More on league standings, etc., later.

Offensive stars, yes we have offensive stars. Senior Brian Bernardo drove in three runs and classmate Bill Torre and sophomore Andrew Heck each drove in two. All hit homers as did seniors Mike Carroll and Derek Fallecker and junior Mark Tracy who closes the season with a team-best total of 14 round-trippers.

Fallecker and freshman Rick Devereaux each went 3-for-6. Tracy and seniors Anthony Manley and Carroll got two hits apiece.

Heck (2-3) took over on the mound for the Dukes' second reliever, senior Danny Brown, with two outs in the fourth. Heck, DU's final pitcher of the day, gave up eight runs, six earned, and was charged with the loss.

For the season, 56 runs scored in Heck's 53 1/2 innings but just over half (30 ER - 53.6%) were earned. Going into this final series, the Dukes had committed 108 errors which accounted for close to 1/5 of the runs DU allowed this season (19.5).

Brown's appearance, against three batters without getting an out, was his team-best and A-10 top five, 26th. The senior entered the game at the top in the league having finished 22 games. He pitched the eighth, UNass's last at-bat, in yesterday's second game for number 23.

    We'll take a closer look at the numbers when the final stats are in.

Massachusetts took a 6-0 lead, includingd Corey Volpicelli's three run homer, after one. Tracy opened the second with HR no. 14 and Bernardo slammed a 3-RBI home run to left center. UMass added one in the bottom of that frame to make the score 7-4.

Duquesne went on top for the first time in the third after belting in eight runs, six of those via homers by Heck (2), Torre (2), Carroll and Fallecker. The Red & Blue were up 12-7.

Two UMass homers in the bottom of the inning made it 12-9 and another pair of runs in the fourth got ths host team one score away, 12-11.

Duquesne added two unearned runs in the fifth for a little breathing room, 14-11. Unfortunately, the Minutemen answered again in thier turn at the plate, scoring five to return the lead, for good, to UM, 16-14. Four more in the Maroon & White's final three at-bats put hthe score at 20-14.

Duquesne rallied in the nimth, scoring a pair of runs off Mike Gedman, who got DU's final batter to ground out.

The win went to relief pitcher Mitchell Eilenberg (3=4), who came in the third after the Dukes had already scored eight, faced just one batter to close that DU rally and kept Duquesne's bats less boisterous through the seventh.

Mike Donato and Volpicelli each got four hits, and along with Peter Copa, had four RBI apiece.

The win got UM over .500 overall, 25-24, and 16-11 in the A-10.

There's always next season for the fans and the players except for the team's eight seniors who have last season in their memory banks too. A 26-29 record, 16-10 in the A-10 and a trip the 2008 A-10 playoffs where they finished 2-2, losing to eventual runnerup Xavier.

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