AMHERST, Mass. – The George Mason baseball team ended the 2016 season with a 4-2 loss at the University of Massachusetts, with the Minutemen completing a three-game sweep, Saturday afternoon at Earl Lorden Field.
UMass (18-27, 11-13 A-10) took the lead in the bottom of the third against Mason starter Brian Marconi. After retiring the first two batters of the inning, Marconi walked junior Mike Hart before senior John Jennings hit his ninth home run of the season, a two-run blast over the left field wall to put the Minutemen in front 2-0. It was just the fifth home run that Marconi allowed this season in 15 appearances.
Mason (19-35, 7-17 A-10) cut the lead in half in the top of the fourth against UMass starter Brandon Walsh, who had retired the first nine Patriots batters of the game. Sophomore Michael Smith led off the inning with his seventh double of the season and with one out advanced to third base on a wild pitch. Senior Kent Blackstone then grounded out, with Smith coasting across the plate to make the score 2-1.
The Minutemen padded the lead in the home half of the sixth, scoring two runs on two singles, a double and an error by the Patriots to increase the advantage to 4-1.
The Patriots wouldn't go away quietly. In the ninth, Blackstone led off with a walk and sophomore Garett Driscoll was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second with no outs. After the Minutemen made the call to the bullpen for a pitching change, freshman Ryan Tassone came through with a RBI single to left field, with Blackstone racing home to cut the lead to 4-2. UMass reliever Kevin Lacy found a way out of the two-on, no-out jam with a strikeout and a game-ending double play.
Walsh (5-1) allowed two runs on four hits over 8.0 innings and tied a career high with 12 strikeouts in the victory for UMass.
Marconi (1-5) allowed four runs, three earned, on six hits in 6.0 innings and suffered the loss. He struck out six and walked two. Freshman Zach Mort allowed one hit in two innings of work in relief.
Tassone went 1-for-4 and drove in his 18th run of the season. Smith also went 1-for-4 and scored his 30th run of the season. Freshman Alejandro Aponte was 1-for-3 and Driscoll finished 2-for-3 on the day. Blackstone drove in his team-leading 32nd run and scored his team-leading 31st run of the season.
Mason finished the season 19-35 overall and 7-17 in Atlantic 10 Conference action. The Patriots were 14-16 at Spuhler Field and 5-18 on the road.