October 15, 2019
COLLEGE BASEBALL

Bears secure playoff berth UMaine plays two today

ORONO – It has been a challenging season for the University of Maine baseball team, bit that didn’t keep the Black Bears from achieving one of their key goals Sunday afternoon.

After waiting 24 hours for Mahaney Diamond to dry out a bit, UMaine punched its ticket to this week’s America East Championship with a 5-4 victory over Binghamton in the opener of their conference doubleheader.

“That’s what you play all year for, to get into the postseason,” said Bangor’s Brian Hackett, who collected four hits. “From there, anything can happen whether you’re [seeded] 1 or 4.”

League-leading Binghamton came back and won the nightcap 5-3 in eight innings, setting up today’s noon doubleheader to close out the regular season.

“We did our job and that was to get into the tournament,” said Black Bears senior tri-captain Joel Barrett of Brewer. “Three weeks ago, we really didn’t have that sense of security, I guess, so right now we’re feeling pretty good, even with that [Game 2] loss.”

Regardless of today’s outcome, UMaine (21-28, 12-10 AE) and Binghamton (25-17, 16-5 AE) will meet in a Thursday first-round tournament game at Farmingdale State (N.Y.). It now is only a question of seeding.

Two victories will put coach Steve Trimper’s Bears third and Binghamton second, while anything less leaves the Bears in fourth place. The Bearcats can clinch the AE regular-season title with one win today.

“We got it done,” Trimper said. “The nice thing is, we saw their starters, we saw their closer, we saw everything, and most likely we’re going to be playing these guys on Thursday.”

UMaine got work for its top three starters and two other key pitchers Sunday, while Binghamton utilized each of its four best starters and its closer.

In the first game, Barrett and Curt Smith slammed momentum-building home runs and three pitchers combined to scatter 10 hits in the victory.

Nolan Boike returned to the mound after missing six weeks with a groin strain and was solid. The junior lefthander allowed seven hits and four runs in 4 2/3 innings.

“It was definitely great to be out on the mound again in a game situation,” Boike said. “I was getting ahead of batters, which I feel good about.”

UMaine’s bullpen responded as Mike Powers of Portland (1-3) allowed three hits in 2 1/3 innings, then regular starter Brad Hertzler worked two scoreless innings to earn his first save.

“Mike Powers did a good job picking me up and Brad shut it down,” Boike said.

UMaine bounced back in the bottom of the fifth after Binghamton scored four times to take a 4-2 lead in the top of the inning.

Billy Cather led off with a double that resulted from a brutal lateral bounce past first baseman Brendon Hitchcock. Curt Smith then crushed a 1-0 offering from reliever Murphy Smith (0-2) for a towering home run off the flag pole in left-center to make it 4-4.

The Bears scored the eventual winning run in the sixth when Matt McGraw pulled a leadoff double down the left-field line, moved up on a groundout and scored on a wild pitch.

“Curt had a huge home run when we went down 4-2,” Boike said. “Everyone picked each other up.”

Barrett staked UMaine to a 1-0 lead in the second after Zach Groch buzzed the first pitch past his head. Barrett jacked the next offering over the fence in left.

“Joel set the tone in the second inning there when he hit a home run, especially off their better pitchers,” Trimper said.

UMaine made it 2-0 in the third on Myckie Lugbauer’s RBI fielder’s choice, but the Bearcats took the lead with a four-run fifth that included Joe Charron’s leadoff homer and Kile Klee’s two-out, two-run shot that chased Boike.

In Game 2, the hosts erased a 3-0 deficit in the sixth, but lost in extra innings.

Binghamton rallied with two out against Ryan Forrest (3-2). Ken Jacobi, who had homered in the second inning, lined a double to left and advanced on a wild pitch. Henry Dunn walked and stole second.

Both scored when Justin Smucker’s hot smash to Smith at third base took nasty hop and skipped away.

The Bears were held in check for five innings by Bearcats starters Scott Diamond and Mike Van Gorder, then erased a 3-0 deficit in the sixth.

Cather worked a one-out walk, Smith fisted a single to center and, one out later, Kevin McAvoy reached on a swinging-bunt single toward third. Mark Ostrander lined an RBI single to center, chasing Van Gorder.

Hackett and Menendez each beat out run-scoring infield singles against Bearcats closer and winner Khalid Afify (5-1).

Smith and Hackett posted two singles each for UMaine.

BLACK BEARS 5, BEARCATS 4

(First Game)

Binghamton (24-17) Maine (21-27)

Player AB R H BI Player AB R H BI

Smucker, ss 5 0 0 0 McGraw, lf 4 2 0

Klee, dh 5 1 3 2 Cather, cf 5 1 0

Hitchcock, 1b 2 1 1 0 Smith, 3b 4 2

Simek, 2b 4 0 2 1 Barrett, 1b 2 1 1

Monaco, rf 3 0 0 0 Lugbauer, c 4 0 1

Haughie, c 4 0 0 0 McAvoy, rf 4 0 0

Charron, lf 4 1 2 1 Jackson, dh 2 0 0

James, 3b 4 1 2 0 Hackett, ss 4 0 0

Dunn, cf 3 0 0 0 Menendez, 2b 4 0 0

Totals 34 4 10 4 Totals 33 5 11 4

Binghamton 000 040 000 – 4

Maine 011 021 00x – 5

E-Smucker (10), James (3); Powers (2); LOB-Binghamton 7; Maine 9; 2B-Simek; McGraw, Cather; HR-Klee (3), Charron (6); Smith (7), Barrett (7); SB-Hitchcock (5), Simek (11), Charron (5); McGraw (19), Smith (8)

Binghamton IP H R ER BB SO

Groh 2 2 1 1 1 3

Dennis 2 4 3 3 3 1

Smith (L, 0-2) 3 1 1 1 1 0

Lane 1 2 0 0 0 0

Maine IP H R ER BB SO

Boike 4 2/3 7 4 4 2 3

Powers (W, 1-3) 2 1/3 2 0 0 1 3

Hertzler (S, 1) 2 1 0 0 0 3

WP-Smith 3; Boike; T-2:44

BEARCATS 5, BLACK BEARS 3

(Second Game, 8 innings)

Binghamton (25-17) Maine (21-28)

Player AB R H BI Player AB R H BI

Smucker, ss 5 1 1 0 McGraw, c 4 0 0

James, lf 5 0 2 1 Cather, cf 3 1 0

Hitchcock, 1b 3 0 1 2 Smith, 3b 4 0

Simek, 2b 3 1 2 1 Barrett, 1b 3 0 0

Klee, 3b 4 0 1 0 McAvoy, rf 4 1 0

Charron, rf 1 0 0 0 Ostrander, dh 4 0 1

Monaco, rf 2 0 1 0 Hackett, ss 3 0 1

Haughie, c 4 0 0 0 Menendez, 2b 3 0 1

Jacobi, dh 4 2 3 1 Hasenfus, lf 2 0 0

Dunn, cf 3 1 0 0 Lugbauer, ph 1 0 0

Jackson, lf 0 0 0 0

Totals 34 5 11 5 Totals 31 3 9 3

Binghamton 010 110 02 – 5

Maine 000 003 00 – 3

LOB-Binghamton 9; Maine 7; 2B-Smucker, James, Jacobi; HR-Simek (4), Jacobi (1); DP-Klee-Hitchcock; SB-Smucker (3), Simek (12), Dunn (5)

Binghamton IP H R ER BB SO

Diamond 3 2 0 0 2 3

Van Gorder 2 2/3 3 3 3 1 2

Afify (W, 5-1) 1 1/3 4 0 0 0 0

Lane (S, 1) 1 0 0 0 0 0

Maine IP H R ER BB SO

Norton 4 5 2 2 1 3

Balsinde 3 4 1 1 2 2

Forrest (L, 3-2) 1 1 2 0 1 2

WP-Forrest; T-2:23; ATT-310


Have feedback? Want to know more? Send us ideas for follow-up stories.

comments for this post are closed

You may also like