SANFORD – The University of Southern Maine had been in a bit of a funk, losing four of its previous five games while playing a grueling schedule.
The Huskies received a much-needed emotional boost Wednesday night.
Southern Maine piled up 15 hits against seven pitchers on its way to a 13-7 baseball victory over Division I University of Maine at historic Goodall Park.
“It was awesome that we won this game,” said Sanford native Ryan Bourque, who paced the Huskies with a double, two singles and two RBIs. “Just because we’re Division III, it shows everybody in the state that it doesn’t matter whether you’re a Division I school or not, you can still play baseball.”
Coach Ed Flaherty’s USM squad (23-11) is a perennial Division III regional power and national contender out of the Little East Conference. The Huskies, who have played 15 games in the last 14 days, needed a lift.
“We’ve been slumping,” said Flaherty, a 1976 UMaine grad. “The spirits are kind of down in the dumps and we weren’t playing with energy. I think this gives us a little boost of energy. It tells us again that we have a pretty good team.”
USM has won the last two meetings between the two programs, having posted a 6-2 victory in 1999.
Coach Steve Trimper’s UMaine team (14-25), which also has stumbled a bit recently, lost for the fourth time in its last five contests.
Senior co-captain Joel Barrett of Brewer said the Bears can’t read too much into the loss, especially with Vermont headed for Orono this weekend.
“They’re highly respected. We never came in here thinking this was going to be an easy game,” Barrett said.
“We have Vermont this weekend and we really need to bounce back, get our heads on straight,” he added.
UMaine had virtually no bench because of a recent spate of injuries. With starter Billy Cather, regular Mark Ostrander and backup Bobby Brown all unavailable in the outfield, the Bears had only nine position players.
That almost became problematic in the fourth inning, when right fielder Kevin Jackson and second baseman Danny Menendez collided trying to catch a fly ball. Both were shaken up, but remained in the game.
“When that little collision came at second base, we were a little bit worried,” Trimper said.
With both teams gearing up for league series later in the week, the coaches used Wednesday as an opportunity to get pitchers some work. Each team utilized seven pitchers and USM’s staff fared better.
“We needed to get guys innings,” Trimper said. “We’re short-staffed right now.”
USM took advantage of some lackluster pitching by UMaine. Kevin McAvoy of Brewer (0-3) struggled while Mike Powers of Portland and Ryan Forrest also ran into problems, surrendering eight hits and 10 runs (seven earned) between them.
“It’s the same old story, if you don’t pitch down (in the strike zone), it doesn’t matter who you’re playing,” Trimper said. “We just didn’t pitch well as the game went on.”
Barrett and McAvoy each doubled and singled while Matt McGraw added two singles to pace UMaine, which committed four errors. Myckie Lugbauer lined a two-run home run.
Reliever Evan Gray (2-0) picked up the win for the Huskies, while Tim Therrian worked two hitless innings and Mark Schmidt held the Bears hitless for 1 2/3.
USM took the lead for good in the bottom of the fifth, then put it out of reach in the seventh. Leading 7-5, the Huskies took advantage of two errors to mount a six-run rally.
USM scratched out five hits, including a two-run single by former George Stevens Academy standout Collin Henry.