ORONO – There isn’t much room for error during conference play and the University of Maine simply made too many mistakes Friday evening.
Hartford took advantage of three errors, five wild pitches and three hit batters, scoring six times on only six hits while taking a 6-3 America East baseball victory over the Black Bears at Mahaney Diamond.
“We’ve got to play clean,” said UMaine coach Steve Trimper. “We gave them three runs, bottom line. We’re in a conference ballgame. We can’t give runs away in Game 1 [of a series].
The Hawks (15-24, 7-6 AE) halted a six-game losing streak, while UMaine (16-22, 4-9 AE) dropped its fourth straight contest and slipped to three games out of fourth place and the final playoff spot.
“We need to take one game at a time still. We keep saying it, but we’ve really go to go after them [Saturday],” said UMaine junior Billy Cather, who singled three times.
Hartford sidearm specialist Weston Szymanski (3-4) took advantage of good location and changes of speed while keeping the Bears off-balance. The righthander blanked the Bears over the final six innings, striking out seven of the last 17 batters he faced.
He finished with 10 strikeouts and one walk, throwing 115 pitches.
“It’s huge. We needed a win,” said Szymanski, who relies on savvy rather than velocity and flashiness.
“I need to locate, just like any pitcher, really,” he explained. “If you’re not throwing hard, like me, you’ve got to keep the ball at the knees and on the corners.”
Things didn’t go nearly as well for UMaine freshman Kevin Scanlan. The lefty (2-4) allowed only six hits in six innings, but kept throwing his breaking pitch in the dirt.
Scanlan uncharacteristically uncorked four wild pitches in the sixth inning as Hartford broke a 3-3 tie and went ahead to stay.
Cather, a lefthanded hitting center fielder, was among the few Bears who hit Szymanski.
“I’d love to face him all year,” Cather said. “He’s tough [on righthanders]. He had a great game against us last year. It’s kind of unbelievable throwing a complete game like that.”
UMaine again failed to come through in key offensive situations. The Bears went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
“The guy [Szymanski] did a good job of getting his changeup away,” Trimper said. “We just couldn’t get that big hit. It’s the same thing that’s been going on and we’re running out of [time].”
Ben Sobocinski doubled and singled to pace the Hawks.
Hartford proved opportunistic in the sixth. Scanlan struck out leadoff batter Andy Drexel before Brady Stouffer swung at a pitch in the dirt for the third strike but reached when the ball got away.
Stouffer moved to second on a passed ball by Joe Mercurio, then Adam Grap fisted a single to left to provide the eventual winning run. Simon Kudernatsch followed with a ground single to right and consecutive wild pitches pushed another run across.
Two pitches later, another pitch in the dirt resulted in the third run.
“We didn’t do a good job behind the plate as far as playing sound baseball and we weren’t throwing the right pitches in the right spots,” Trimper said. “We can’t give up wild pitches and passed balls.”
The Bears didn’t make much noise after that, even as senior righty Will Carroll of Boothbay held the Hawks with three innings of scoreless relief.
They wasted Curt Smith’s leadoff double in the sixth, then couldn’t capitalize after Cather’s leadoff single and Myckie Lugbauer’s two-out double in the eighth.
UMaine jumped ahead 1-0 in the first on Cather’s leadoff single, two wild pitches and Smith’s sacrifice fly.
Hartford tied it in the second on two hit batsmen and two throwing errors, including one by Scanlan on a potential double-play comebacker to the mound.
The Bears tallied twice in the second on Mark Ostrander’s leadoff double and a one-out, RBI single to right-center by Mercurio.
The Hawks tied it in the third on Bill Perry’s single, a double by Walker and Mike Amendola’s sacrifice fly.
HAWKS 6, BLACK BEARS 3
Hartford (15-24) Maine (16-22-1)
Player AB R H BI Player AB R H BI
Bowser, rf 5 0 0 0 Cather, cf 4 1 0
Sobocinski, ss 5 1 2 0 Lukas, 3b 3 0
Perry, 3b 4 1 1 0 Smith, 1b 3 0 1
Walker, 1b 3 0 1 0 Lugbauer, dh 4 0 0
Amendola, c 3 0 0 1 Ostrander, rf 4 1 0
Drexel, lf 3 1 0 0 Patane, ss 3 1 0
Stouffer, cf 3 1 0 0 McAvoy, lf 4 0 0
Grap, dh 2 1 1 1 Mercurio, c 4 0 1
Wilmot, pr 0 0 0 0 Menendez, 2b 3 0 0
Kudernatsch, 2b 4 1 1 0
Totals 32 6 6 2 Totals 32 3 8 2
Hartford 011 013 000 – 6
Maine 120 000 000 – 3
E-Sobocinski (14); Lukas 2 (9), Scanlan (2); LOB-Hartford 7; Maine 5; 2B-Sobocinski, Walker; Smith, Lugbauer, Ostrander; DP-Hartford 1; Maine 2; S-Stouffer; Lukas; SF-Amendola; Smith; SB-Sobocinski (13), Wilmot (2)
Hartford IP H R ER BB SO
Szymanski (W, 3-4) 9 8 3 1 1 10
Home IP H R ER BB SO
Scanlan (L, 2-4) 6 6 6 5 1 6
Carroll 3 0 0 0 2 3
HBP-Drexel, Grap, Perry (by Scanlan); WP-Szymanski; Scanlan 5; PB-Amendola; Mercurio; T-2:22; ATT-276