ORONO – The University of Maine baseball team cut practice a few minutes short Wednesday when they heard cheering emanating from adjacent Kessock Field.
The Black Bear softball team was amidst a nine-run rally and the baseball team cheered on their counterparts. Perhaps the magic carried over.
Curt Smith belted a two-run home run to cap a nine-run, seventh-inning uprising Friday that carried UMaine to a 10-8 America East baseball victory over Stony Brook at Mahaney Diamond.
“The guys just never quit,” said UMaine coach Steve Trimper. “They know how important each and every game is for conference (play).”
The Bears (16-18-1, 4-5 AE) overcame an 8-1 deficit with a determined comeback that should catapult them into today’s 1 p.m. doubleheader against the Seawolves (21-16, 8-5 AE).
Despite struggling in key offensive situations and leaving runners on base, UMaine remained patient before finally breaking loose in the seventh.
“We didn’t get that big, two-out hit early in the game; they did,” Trimper said. “Six of their runs were scored with two outs. We persevered and had one big inning.”
Freshman righthander Kyle Benoit came out of the bullpen and struck out five in two hitless innings, securing the win for senior Will Carroll (1-3), who faced only two hitters but recorded the final out of the seventh.
Benoit, who had struggled of late in a starting role, appeared comfortable coming in with the Bears leading by two runs and the game on the line.
“I am made for that,” Benoit said. “Starting’s tough, because I’m an all-out guy. I can’t save anything.”
UMaine came alive in the seventh. Danny Menendez led with a single through the middle and Smith worked a walk, which spelled the end for Stony Brook starter Tom Koehler, who uncharacteristically walked seven.
Myckie Lugbauer greeted reliever Matt Harloff by lashing a two-run double to right-center and he eventually scored on a wild pitch. Harloff was lifted after walking Tony Patane with one out.
Jarrett Lukas of Old Town fisted a single to left off reliever Devin Will, who walked Brewer’s Kevin McAvoy to load the bases. A wild pitch produced another run and put runners at second and third for Billy Cather, who lined a two-run single to center field to cut the deficit to 8-7. He took second on an errant relay throw to the plate.
UMaine entered the inning having gone 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position in the contest, but quickly refocused.
“We were preaching intensity all week,” Cather said. “Once we got those hits the momentum started carrying our way and we just took over.”
With Jordan Purington in to pitch, the Bears tied it on Menendez’s infield single that then got past the shortstop. That brought up Curt Smith, who jacked a two-run home run, his 10th of the season, to left, bringing his teammates streaming out of the dugout.
“They tried to come fastball in all game,” Smith said. “I was just looking for the fastball inside and he threw me the first pitch inside and I put a good swing on it.”
Benoit seized upon the emotion and intensity of the big inning when he took the mound.
“It was a good feeling,” said Benoit, who was thinking, “‘get me the ball.’ The team deserves it. We’ve been practicing hard and we got a good result (Friday).”
Cather paced the Bears with two singles and three RBIs, including a run-scoring single in the second inning. Menendez and Joe Mercurio each posted two singles.
Brian Witkowski belted a three-run homer in the fourth inning and added two singles to lead Stony Brook. Michael Stephan stroked a two-run home run in the third and also singled. Jeremy Nowak doubled and singled with an RBI.
The Seawolves broke a 1-1 tie in the third after two were out on an error and Stephan’s homer off the light pole in right-center.
SBU extended the lead with a four-run, two-out rally in the fourth against Bears starter Joel Thorney. Witkowski’s low, opposite-field, three-run homer to left to give Stony Brook a 7-1 cushion.
Stony Brook jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning on Nowak’s hard RBI single. UMaine equalized in the second inning when McAvoy drew a two-out walk, moved up on Mercurio’s single and scored on Cather’s infield single and a throwing error.
BLACK BEARS 10, SEAWOLVES 8
Stony Brook (21-16) Maine (16-18)
Player AB R H BI Player AB R H BI
Witkowski, cf 5 2 3 3 Cather, cf 5 3
Marshall, ss 4 1 0 0 Menendez, 2b 4 2 0
Stephan, dh 4 1 2 2 Smith, 1b 3 2 2
Nowak, rf 5 1 2 1 Lugbauer, dh 3 1 2
Dyer, 1b 5 0 1 1 Martin, lf 3 0 0
Mazzurco, lf 3 0 0 0 Jackson, lf 2 0 0
Rebecca, 2b 3 1 1 0 Hasenfus, lf 0 0 0
Marino, 3b 3 1 1 0 Patane, ss 3 1 0
Thode, ph 1 0 0 0 Lukas, 3b 4 1 0
Echevarria, c 4 1 1 1 McAvoy, rf 3 0
Mercurio, c 3 0 2 0
Totals 37 8 11 8 Totals 33 10 12 7
Stony Brook 102 400 100 – 8
Maine 010 000 90x – 10
E-Marshall 2 (15), Dyer (6); Patane (10), Lukas (6); LOB-Stony Brook 9; Maine 10; DB-Stony Brook 1, Maine 3; 2B-Witkowski, Nowak, Echevarria; Lugbauer; HR-Witkowski (5), Stephan (9); Smith (10); S-Lukas
Stony Brook IP H R ER BB SO
Koehler 6 6 3 2 7 5
Harloff 1/3 1 2 2 1 0
Will 1/3 2 3 3 1 1
Purington (L, 3-1) 1 1/3 3 2 2 1 1
Maine IP H R ER BB SO
Thorney 5 2/3 9 7 5 2 2
Balentina 1 2 1 1 0 1
Carroll (W, 1-3) 1/3 0 0 0 1 0
Benoit (S, 1) 2 0 0 0 2 5
HBP-Mazzurco (by Thorney), Rebecca (by Balentina); WP-Harloff, Will; PB-Echevarria; T-3:10; ATT-480