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May 22, 2011

Bradford's Sorenson in UMass record books

UMass baseball has produced a surprising number of elite pitchers.

Jeff Reardon set major league baseball's all-time saves record. Mike Flanagan won the Cy Young. Former football recruit Ron Villone pitched in the bigs for 15 years. Matt Torra was a first-round pick in 2005.

So junior Leif Sorenson of Bradford should be proud to set the school record for career saves. Even if it is just 12.

"It was definitely a goal," said Sorenson, who has done it in just two years, as he transferred from Vermont, after the Catamounts dropped baseball. "It's not a lot so I'm trying to smash it."

Mitchell Eilenberg (2006-09) and Scott Ratliff (2002-04) shared the old mark with 10.

Sorenson has that attitude to continue to pile up the saves.

"I'm available every game, pretty much," said the righthanded sidearmer, who in one stretch pitched in three straight games. "Every time it's close, I know I'm probably getting the call. I enjoy it. It makes you stay in the game."

Minuteman coach Mike Stone looks at Sorenson as a beloved security blanket.

"We are not afraid to use him whenever in any game," Stone told The Daily Collegian. "We (need) to have him, otherwise we are not comfortable going into the game. ... We just feel good about him whenever he comes on the mound."

Sorenson, a three-year standout at Haverhill High after attending Central Catholic as a freshman, has put up all-star caliber numbers this spring.

Although the Minutemen have struggled (17-28-1 heading into yesterday's season finale at St. Bonaventure), Sorenson has been a major bright spot.

He leads the Minutemen in ERA (3.08), saves (6), appearances (21), and strikeout-to-walk ratio (30-8 in 38.0 innings).

Surprisingly given those impressive stats — not to mention a .266 opponent batting average compared to .328 for the rest of the staff — he has a 2-5 record this spring.

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