September 24, 2019

Norton helps Bears fight off elimination UM defeats Stony Brook, stays alive

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. – Greg Norton is among the winningest pitchers in University of Maine history.

The senior righthander from South Portland demonstrated why Friday afternoon, and his teammates provided the kind of run support befitting a pitcher of Norton’s status.

Norton pitched seven strong innings and was backed by a 17-hit attack as the Black Bears remained alive in the America East Baseball Championship with a 13-8 victory over host Stony Brook at Farmingdale State College.

“You knew he was going to come out dealing today,” said sophomore Billy Cather, who singled four times and scored four runs. “He’s a winner, so that’s what he did.”

Coach Steve Trimper’s fourth-seeded Bears (22-30) advance to today’s 12:05 p.m. elimination contest against the loser of Friday night’s game between No. 1 Binghamton (27-17) and No. 3 Albany (27-27).

Sophomore righty Alejandro Balsinde (3-4) gets the start today for UMaine. A win sends the Bears into the 3:35 game, while a loss ends their season.

“[Thursday] was pretty disappointing and you never want to be in the losers’ bracket in a four-team tournament, but it’s one of those things that we needed this today and I think we’re on the right track for [Saturday],” said Joel Barrett of Brewer, who belted a three-run home run and three singles with six RBIs.

Norton, a 6-foot-3, 215-pounder, set one school career record and tied another Friday. He made his 50th start, the most ever at UMaine, and tied the mark for wins with his 27th. That equals the standard set by Bill Swift and Mike D’Andrea.

“I’ve had a lot of fun,” said Norton, who also ranks third at UMaine in innings pitched (298 1/3) and sixth in career strikeouts (218). “It is kind of nice to see two South Portland guys up there in wins.”

Norton (7-3) struck out eight, walked one and hit a batter before tiring in the eighth inning after throwing 103 pitches on a hot, sunny afternoon. He exhibited a lively fastball and a sharp slider as UMaine built a 13-2 advantage.

“It’s a little too hot for me, but it’s good,” Norton said. “It kind of snuck up on me at the end there. I got kind of de-energized, but my teammates picked me up and we got the win.”

By the time No. 2 seed Stony Brook (31-24) got to Norton during a six-run eighth, the Bears had already provided a comfortable cushion. The Seawolves had swept the regular-season series on Long Island.

Curt Smith collected a triple, two singles and two RBIs for UMaine, which played errorless defense. Myckie Lugbauer knocked in three runs with two singles and Brian Hackett of Bangor singled twice.

The Bears overwhelmed AE Pitcher of the Year Gary Novakowski (5-2), who surrendered 10 hits and six runs in four-plus innings. UMaine seized the momentum in the first inning on a one-out single by Cather, Smith’s RBI triple and Lugbauer’s two-out, run-scoring single.

“Getting those few key runs in the beginning of the game was just huge for us,” Barrett said. “In the losers’ bracket, it doesn’t take too many runs to get the other team kind of in a little funk.”

The Bears took advantage of a disciplined batting approach that placed the emphasis on hitting the ball to the opposite field.

“He’s got a very good changeup, so our approach was going up there looking changeup,” Trimper said. “That means you’ve got to be looking away [to the opposite field]. That’s what we did.”

Will Carroll struggled in relief of Norton, giving up three straight hits, but Ryan Forrest recorded the final five outs, allowing only one hit.

Leading 3-0, the Bears put it out of reach with three runs in the fifth, fourth in the sixth and three more in the seventh. Key blows included Lugbauer’s two-run single in the fifth, Barrett’s three-run shot in the sixth and a two-run single by Barrett in the seventh.

“We just got on top and then we didn’t stop. That was what we needed right there,” Cather said. “We started to hit, which is great.”

The two-time defending America East champs believe they can bounce all the way back.

“I told the guys, we’re the only team here that’s got the experience of doing this,” Trimper said. “We’re to go back, rest, and try to win a doubleheader [Saturday].”


Stony Brook (31-24) Maine (22-30)

Player AB R H BI Player AB R H BI

Witkowski, cf 5 1 1 0 McGraw, lf 4 0

Sipp, 2b 5 1 2 0 Cather, cf 4 4 0

Stephan, dh 5 1 2 1 Smith, 3b 5 3 2

Leonard, rf 5 2 2 3 Barrett, 1b 5 2 6

Echevarria, c 5 1 1 0 Lugbauer, 1b 5 3

Cruz, 3b 4 1 1 0 Ostrander, rf 5 1 0

Mazzurco, lf 3 1 1 1 McAvoy, dh 5 0 0

Dyer, 1b 4 0 1 2 Hackett, ss 5 1 0

Fier, ss 4 0 2 1 Menendez, 2b 4 1 1

Totals 40 8 13 8 Totals 42 13 17 12

Stony Brook 000 002 060 – 8

Maine 200 134 30x – 13

E-Sipp (11), Fier (17); LOB-Stony Brook 7; Maine 7; 2B-Stephan 2, Dyer; 3B-Smith; HR-Leonard (8); Barrett (8)

Stony Brook IP H R ER BB SO

Novakowski (L, 5-2) 4 10 6 5 0 4

Lyons 1 1/3 5 4 4 0 1

Brown 1 2/3 2 3 0 1 2

Jung 1 0 0 0 0 1


Norton (W, 7-3) 7 1/3 9 7 7 1 8

Carroll 0 3 1 1 0 0

Forrest 1 2/3 1 0 0 0 0

Carroll faced 3 batters in the fifth inning.

HBP-Mazzurco (by Norton); Cather (by Brown); BK-Norton; T-3:05

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