ORONO – It has been a frustrating season for the University of Maine baseball team and the trend continued Friday.
The Black Bears rallied for two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning, but left the potential tying run in scoring position as Vermont clung to a 4-3 America East victory at Mahaney Diamond.
Diminutive righthander Bryan Rembisz baffled UMaine batters for eight innings, then survived a furious comeback amidst some on-field controversy as the Catamounts (19-19, 8-4 AE) won the series opener.
“If that doesn’t motivate you to come back and give absolutely everything you have left in the tank, then nothing will,” said UMaine senior captain Matt McGraw, the subject of a controversial call in the ninth.
The two teams meet today for a 1 p.m. doubleheader and play a single game Sunday at 1 p.m.
Rembisz (5-1) spread out 10 hits while going the distance and wound up throwing a whopping 170 pitches.
“I don’t even know how many I threw,” said the 5-foot-8 Rembisz, who struck out 13 and walked four and kept the Bears’ hitters off-balance with a soft curveball and a sneaky fastball.
“I didn’t throw last week, so I was fresh,” he said. “When you get out there, the adrenaline just kicks in.”
Rembisz also collected three singles and scored twice to spearhead UVM’s 11-hit attack. He struck out every UMaine batter except Myckie Lugbauer.
“He pitches quick and he sort of came at us with a lot of curveballs first and he spotted them up,” McGraw said.
Trailing 4-1, the Bears (14-26, 5-8 AE) came to life. Danny Menendez grounded a single to center field, then freshman Tavis Hasenfus of Winthrop laid down a nifty bunt single.
McGraw bunted the next pitch in front of home plate. It was initially called foul, but after an inquiry by Vermont coach Bill Currier and subsequent discussions amongst the three-man umpiring crew, it was ruled the ball had hit McGraw in fair territory, resulting in an out.
“They said it hit me about a step up the line,” said McGraw, who explained the ball hit him in the batter’s box. “That’s obviously when it did hit me because of the way the ball bounced.”
UMaine coach Steve Trimper vehemently argued the call and was ejected. He declined comment after the game.
Kevin Jackson punched a single to left, loading the bases. Curt Smith followed with a sharp single to right that scored two runs, but Jackson was cut down trying to take third.
The freshman also was ejected after voicing his displeasure with the call.
Cleanup hitter Joel Barrett of Brewer worked a walk, but Rembisz got Lugbauer to pop out to shortstop to end it.
Jim Chapman singled three times (RBI) for Vermont while Jeff Heppner tripled and singled. Kyle Massie singled twice.
Hasenfus doubled and singled with an RBI for UMaine while Menendez and Jackson contributed two singles each. The Bears went 3-for-17 with runners in scoring position.
“We had a few opportunities to score and we’ve been doing a very poor job moving runners around,” McGraw said.
Sophomore lefty Jose Mendoza had his best outing of the season, scattering 11 hits (10 singles) over 7 2/3 innings. The Bears turned four double plays behind him.
“Jose did a great job,” McGraw said. “He made a few corrections from his last outing and the guy’s got some good stuff.”
UVM tallied the eventual winning run in the fifth. Rembisz and Chapman singled, then moved up on a sacrifice bunt. Massie delivered a two-run, ground-ball single to left.
CATAMOUNTS 4, BLACK BEARS 3
Vermont (19-19) Maine (14-26)
Player AB R H BI Player AB R H BI
Huntington, cf 4 0 0 0 McGraw, lf 4 0
Rembisz, p 3 2 3 0 Jackson, rf 5 0 0
Chapman, ss 4 1 3 1 Smith, 3b 4 0 2
Paquette, rf 3 0 1 0 Barrett, 1b 4 0 0
Massie, 3b 4 1 2 2 Lugbauer, c 4 0 0
Henry, 1b 3 0 0 0 McAvoy, dh 4 0 0
Heppner, c 4 0 2 1 Hackett, ss 3 0 0
Gallipani, lf 3 0 0 0 Menendez, 2b 4 0
Currier, 2b 4 0 0 0 Hasenfus, cf 4 1 1
Totals 32 4 11 4 Totals 36 3 10 3
Vermont 001 120 000 – 4
Maine 010 000 002 – 3
E-Massie (8), Heppner (1), Gallipani (2); Smith (19), Mendoza (1); LOB-Vermont 7; Maine 11; 2B-Lugbauer, Hasenfus; 3B-Heppner; DP-Smith-Menendez-Barrett, Hackett-Menendez-Barrett 2, Hackett-Barrett; S-Paquette, Henry; SB-Jackson (5), Smith (5)
Vermont IP H R ER BB SO
Rembisz (W, 5-1) 9 10 3 2 4 13
Maine IP H R ER BB SO
Mendoza (L, 1-4) 7 2/3 11 4 3 3 1
Powers 1 1/3 0 0 0 1 2
PB-Heppner; Lugbauer; T-2:50; ATT-258