Coming off a season-opening sweep at Delaware State, the University of Maine baseball team has embarked on its annual spring break trip.
The 4-0 Black Bears are scheduled to play a stretch of 12 games in 16 days, spanning three time zones and three states, starting with a three-game series at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.
Coach Steve Trimper’s team faces the Rebels tonight at 9:30.
“We are going to play a grueling schedule here,” Trimper said, “not only travel-wise, but we’re playing some good ballclubs.”
UMaine looks to continue the kind of hitting that racked up 50 hits, 46 runs and a .376 team batting average at Delaware State. Setting the tone were senior Curt Smith, sophomore Myckie Lugbauer and junior Kevin McAvoy of Brewer.
Smith went 11-for-14 (.786) with four home runs, nine RBIs and 10 runs scored. He was on base 16 times in 19 plate appearances and was intentionally walked three times.
Lugbauer (.571) provided a homer and eight RBIs, while McAvoy (.455) knocked in five runs and hit three doubles.
“Obviously offense was a bright spot,” Trimper said. “We’re going to hit.”
The Bears also demonstrated an ability to hit in the clutch and received contributions throughout the lineup. Their two-out, seventh-inning rally to overcome a two-run deficit and win Sunday’s opener showed the team’s resilience and resolve.
“It’s nice to see a team do that, and I hope that’s indicative of the year. They had a don’t-quit attitude,” Trimper said.
Among the newcomers who made immediate contributions were infielder Jarrett Lukas of Old Town and outfielders Joey Martin of Portland and Matt Howard, along with shortstop Tony Patane and catcher Joe Mercurio.
UMaine started to get a feel for its pitching staff, which will be further developed on the trip. Highly touted freshman lefthander Kevin Scanlan makes his first appearance tonight.
Junior righty Alejandro Balsinde allowed only four hits and two earned runs in 6 1/3 innings in his initial start. Sophomore transfers Joe Miller and Justin Latta, along with freshman Matt Jebb, also had solid performances.
The only real area of concern from the first weekend was defense as UMaine committed 10 errors, all of them throwing the ball.
Trimper on the mend
UMaine is already dealing with a key injury early in the 2008 season – to Trimper.
The Bears’ third-year coach has been slowed considerably after injuring his left knee during a recent ski outing at Sugarloaf/USA in Carrabassett Valley with members of his coaching staff.
Trimper tore his anterior cruciate ligament, meniscus and bursa sac. The injury has been tough on such an active, high-energy person and it has left him unable to perform some coaching tasks, such as hitting fungoes and throwing batting practice.
Trimper is wearing a brace to stabilize the knee. Despite his reduced mobility, he coached third base at Delaware State and will continue to do so.
“I found out that doubleheaders are a little tough,” he admitted. “I think I’ll be fine for the rest of these nines (nine-inning games) coming up.”
Trimper realizes there are some risks associated with coaching third base and not being able to move around well.
“I have five screamers (line drives) on Saturday go by my head,” he said. “I wasn’t moving (to get out of the way), I just turned my back.”
Facing surgery, Trimper doesn’t want to deal with the recuperation and rehabilitation process while he’s trying to coach.
“I’m going to suck it up. I’ll wait until the end of the season [to have surgery],” he said.
UMaine football players honored
Nine members of the 2007 University of Maine football team have been selected for the inaugural Colonial Athletic Association All-Academic Team.
Seniors Shawn Demaray of Livermore Falls and John Wormuth were among those recognized by the league. To be eligible, a player must be a starter or important reserve and have a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or better on a 4.0 scale for the duration of his academic career.
Other UMaine players honored were juniors Jonathan Pirruccello of Turner, Ryan Canary, Jonathan Calderon and Kash Kiefer, sophomore Mike Brusko and redshirt freshmen Jermaine Henderson and Derrick Harris.