June 27, 2019
COLLEGE BASEBALL

Sharper pitching gives Bears 3 wins Smith’s 8 RBIs, Barrett HR keys

ORONO – Friday night, the University of Maine baseball team appeared to be teetering on the brink of collapse.

Rather than succumb to the frustration of a difficult season, the Black Bears instead demonstrated tremendous resolve.

Alejandro Balsinde spread out 10 hits while going the distance Sunday afternoon, capping an outstanding weekend of pitching as UMaine capped its series with America East rival Vermont with an 8-1 victory at breezy Mahaney Diamond.

Coach Steve Trimper’s Bears (17-26, 8-8 AE), who swept Saturday’s doubleheader 5-0 and 10-1, put themselves right back in the thick of the postseason race. UMaine occupies fourth place, one game ahead of Albany (7-9) and a half-game behind Vermont (19-22, 8-7 AE).

“It’s huge for us not only in the conference standings but for our momentum and our personality as a team,” said senior co-captain Joel Barrett of Brewer. “We’re coming together.”

After coming up short Friday night during a ninth-inning rally that included a controversial umpiring call and two ejections, UMaine got refocused.

“I think [Friday] night sparked us a little bit,” Trimper said. “We had a big talk [Saturday] morning about how there’s a huge difference between being intense and tense. I think the kids responded extremely well.”

Starting pitching was the foundation of UMaine’s success. Balsinde, Brad Hertzler, and Greg Norton combined to allow two runs in 23 innings.

Black Bear pitchers stymied the Catamounts, holding them scoreless in 25 of the last 27 innings of the series.

“All of our starters pitched well and that’s what we needed,” said Curt Smith, who was a combined 7-for-11 with eight RBIs Saturday and Sunday. “If they pitch well, we’ll win games for them.”

On Sunday, Balsinde (2-4), a sophomore righthander, was in control. He gave up seven singles, striking out six and walking one, throwing 134 pitches.

“I was just trying to give our team a quality start; not allowing a lot of runs and trying to go deep into the game,” said the Miami native, who featured a nice changeup.

Even though the Catamounts had a base runner in every inning, he contained them.

“He changes speeds and he keeps the ball down,” Trimper said. “That’s why he has success.”

Barrett made sure UMaine’s momentum from Saturday carried into Sunday. With Smith aboard after a one-out single in the fourth inning, he lined an energizing two-run home run to left, breaking a scoreless tie.

Vermont scratched out an unearned run in the fifth, but the Bears capitalized on two errors during a six-run sixth that gave Balsinde a cushion.

Danny Menendez’s two-run single keyed the rally that chased lefty Justin Albert (3-3).

“We’re in a situation where we can’t lose any games and I think all the guys know that, so we came out and played hard and we won again,” Smith said.

Barrett added a single while Smith and Tavis Hasenfus of Winthrop added two singles each for the Bears.

Bryan Rembisz and Kyle Massie posted two singles each for the visitors.

In Saturday’s opener, Hertzler (3-4) was too much for the Catamounts and helped get UMaine back on track.

After allowing a leadoff double to Will Huntington, the junior lefthander afforded UVM only a Rembisz single in the sixth. Hertzler struck out eight and walked one.

He bounced back after giving up five straight two-out hits in a loss at Albany a week earlier.

“I felt in pretty good control and the defense helped me out a lot,” said Hertzler, who utilized an effective cut fastball.

“I knew if I just went out there and threw strikes and got pop flies, ground balls, everybody was going to grab them,” he added. “Everybody was pumped up today.”

Kevin Jackson’s RBI double and a Barrett sacrifice fly fueled a three-run fifth against loser Brandon Miles (1-5). Matt McGraw, Smith, and Jackson each had two hits.

In Game 2 Saturday, Norton (5-3) picked up where Hertzler left off. The senior righty from South Portland three-hit UVM for six innings, striking out three and walking two, and received plenty of offensive support.

“I had kind of the upper hand already because Hertzler pitched such a great game, so they were kind of down,” Norton said of the Cats. “I just tried to spot the fastball early and then work off of that.”

With leadoff hitter Billy Cather sidelined by a bruised foot, McGraw was the Bears’ offensive catalyst. He singled twice, walked twice, stole two bases, and scored four runs. He finished the day 4-for-6 with five runs scored and five steals.

“He really set the tone,” Trimper said.

McGraw started well in the first when he singled, stole second, moved up on a groundout, and scored UMaine’s first run on a sacrifice fly by Smith.

Smith also stroked an RBI double in the second inning, a three-run homer in the fourth, and an RBI single in the fifth.

The Bears scored three runs each in the second, fourth, and fifth to give Norton plenty of breathing room.

“We played like a different team,” McGraw said of the Bears’ Saturday turnaround. “Every time we got a chance [to score] we did it, and that fueled another opportunity and we did it again.”

Kevin McAvoy of Brewer singled three times for UMaine. Kyle Henry’s solo homer in the sixth was the key hit for UVM.

BLACK BEARS 8, CATAMOUNTS 1

(Sunday’s Game)

Vermont (19-22) Maine (17-26)

Player AB R H BI Player AB R H BI

Huntington, cf 4 0 0 0 McGraw, c 4 1

Rembisz, 2b 4 0 2 1 Jackson, lf 5 0 0

Chapman, ss 4 0 1 0 Smith, 3b 4 2 1

Henry, 1b 4 0 0 0 Barrett, 1b 3 2 2

Massie, 3b 4 0 2 0 Lugbauer, dh 4 1 0

Paquette, rf 4 0 1 0 McAvoy, rf 3 1 1

Heppner, dh 3 0 1 0 B. Hackett, ss 3 1 0

Shattie, ph 1 0 0 0 Menendez, 2b 3 0 2

Nolet, c 4 0 1 0 Hasenfus, cf 4 1 0

Gallipani, lf 4 1 2 0

Totals 36 1 10 1 Totals 33 8 9 7

Vermont 000 010 000 – 1

Maine 000 206 00x – 8

E-Rembisz (4), Chapman (19); McGraw (2), Hasenfus (2); LOB-Vermont 9, Maine 7; HR-Barrett (5); DP-Albert-Henry; SB-Rembisz (9), Massie (11), Gallipani 2 (6)

Vermont IP H R ER BB SO

Albert (L, 3-3) 5 1/3 4 5 2 4 3

Bayer 0 0 2 0 1 0

Thompson 2 2/3 5 1 0 1 3

Maine IP H R ER BB SO

Balsinde (W, 2-4) 9 10 1 0 1 6

Bayer faced two batters in the sixth

WP-Albert; T-2:29; ATT-315

BLACK BEARS 5, CATAMOUNTS 0

(Saturday’s First Game)

Vermont (19-20) Maine (15-26)

Player AB R H BI Player AB R H BI

Huntington, cf 3 0 1 0 McGraw, c 3 0

Rembisz, 2b 3 0 1 0 Jackson, lf 4 1 1

Chapman, ss 3 0 0 0 Smith, 3b 4 1 1

Heppner, dh 3 0 0 0 Barrett, 1b 2 0 1

Massie, 3b 3 0 0 0 Lugbauer, dh 4 1 0

Paquette, rf 3 0 0 0 McAvoy, rf 3 0 0

Henry, 1b 2 0 0 0 B. Hackett, ss 2 0 0

Tufts, ph 1 0 0 0 Menendez, 2b 1 0 1

Nolet, c 1 0 0 0 Hasenfus, cf 3 0 1

Gallipani, lf 2 0 0 0

Totals 24 0 2 0 Totals 26 5 11 5

Vermont 000 000 0 – 0

Maine 000 131 x – 5

LOB-Vermont 4, Maine 10; 2B-Huntington; Jackson; DP-Menendez-Barrett; SF-Barrett; SB-Nolet (2); McGraw 3 (15)

Vermont IP H R ER BB SO

Miles (L, 1-5) 4 8 4 4 2 3

Rakus 2/3 1 0 0 1 0

Matsusick 1 1/3 2 1 1 1 3

Maine IP H R ER BB SO

Hertzler (W, 3-4) 7 2 0 0 1 8

HBP-McAvoy (by Miles); B. Hackett (by Rakus); WP-Matsusick; Hertzler; PB-McGraw 2; T-1:57; ATT-379

BLACK BEARS 10, CATAMOUNTS 1

(Saturday’s Second Game)

Vermont (19-21) Maine (16-26)

Player AB R H BI Player AB R H BI

Huntington, cf 3 0 1 0 McGraw, lf 2 0

Rembisz, 2b 3 0 1 0 Jackson, rf 3 2 1

Chapman, ss 3 0 0 0 Smith, 3b 3 1 6

Henry, p 3 1 1 1 Barrett, 1b 1 0 1

Massie, 3b 3 0 0 0 Lugbauer, dh 4 0 0

Paquette, 1b 3 0 0 0 McAvoy, dh 4 1 0

Heppner, c 3 0 0 0 B. Hackett, ss 4 0 0

Matsusick, rf 1 0 0 0 Menendez, 2b 4 1

Gallipani, lf 1 0 0 0 Hasenfus, cf 3 0

Tufts, ph 1 0 0 0

Totals 24 1 3 1 Totals 28 10 12 9

Vermont 000 001 0 – 1

Maine 120 330 x – 10

E-Chapman (18), Heppner (2); LOB-Vermont 5, Maine 7; 2B-Rembisz; Smith; HR-Henry (4); Smith (5); S-Jackson; SF-Smith, Barrett; SB-Matsusick (3); McGraw 2 (17), Jackson (6)

Vermont IP H R ER BB SO

Henry (L, 4-6) 4 1/3 11 10 8 4 1

Rakus 1 2/3 1 0 0 0 1

Maine IP H R ER BB SO

Norton (W, 5-3) 6 3 1 1 2 3

Carroll 1 0 0 0 1 1

WP-Henry; PB-Heppner; Lugbauer; T-2:02; ATT-379


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