September 16, 2019

Bears settle for split as room for error narrows

ORONO – The University of Maine baseball team needs victories to keep its America East postseason hopes alive.

The Black Bears couldn’t make any progress in that regard Sunday as the finale of their four-game series against Hartford was postponed because of wet field conditions at Mahaney Diamond.

The teams are scheduled to play tonight at 7.

In Saturday’s doubleheader, Hartford won the first game 8-4 and UMaine took the nightcap 6-1.

“We’re in a situation where every game matters a lot,” UMaine coach Steve Trimper said after Alejandro Balsinde pitched the Bears to victory in Game 2 Saturday afternoon.

UMaine (17-23-1, 5-10 AE) still sits in seventh place, three games behind fourth-place Hartford (16-25, 8-7 AE) for the final playoff berth.

“We know what we’ve got to do and we need this game,” Trimper said.

The Bears plan to honor seniors Curt Smith, Mark Ostrander, Will Carroll of Boothbay and Nolan Boike prior to Monday’s contest.

While the infield was tarped during Saturday night’s rain, the outfield was unable to shed the water. It was still soft after heavy rains early last week.

The UMaine grounds crew worked to remove some of the water and applied drying agent in soggy spots, but when it began raining Sunday afternoon, officials decided to call it.

“We can’t control the weather and we gave a valiant effort,” Trimper said. “[Hartford coach Jeff Calcaterra] was concerned about the footing out there.”

Playing at 7 p.m. will enable UMaine to avoid conflicts with final exams and afford the field more time to dry out.

In Saturday’s second game, Balsinde (2-5) was tenacious on the mound, pitching an efficient five-hitter.

The junior righthander, who was lifted after one poor inning in his previous start against Stony Brook, bounced back with an inspired effort.

“I pitched to win and we won, so it worked,” Balsinde said of his aggressive approach.

“When you lose five in a row in the conference, you’ve got to find a way to win somehow,” he said. “If we keep losing, we’re done, so we can’t lose any more.”

Balsinde struck out five and walked one, throwing 93 pitches, 64 for strikes. He used a fastball, slider and changeup but featured the fastball.

“A.J. needed that, because he didn’t pitch well last weekend. He stepped up and led us like a veteran,” Trimper said. “Against Stony Brook he just didn’t have it and what ended up happening was that he built off of that. He used it as a positive motivator.”

Sophomore Tony Patane said the Bears regrouped in the locker room between games and diffused the tension that has been building.

“We met up and we just pretty much went over everything and what we have in store for us in the future,” he said.

UMaine extended a 1-0 lead with a four-run second inning that included three consecutive RBI hits off lefthander Pete Moraski (3-3).

With runners at first and third and two out, Patane scorched a low liner to left that skipped past Andy Drexel and rolled to the fence, resulting in a two-run triple.

Curt Smith pounded a run-scoring single to center, then Myckie Lugbauer followed by launching a high, RBI triple to deep center field.

“We had some big hits with runners on scoring position. It felt really good to get those runners in,” said Patane, who added a single in the game.

Kevin McAvoy of Brewer stroked a solo home run and a single for the Bears, while Lugbauer also hit a sacrifice fly.

Bill Perry posted two singles for the Hawks.

In Saturday’s first game, Hartford starter Chris Greiner overcame early struggles and shut out UMaine over the last five innings.

Greiner (6-1) afforded the Bears only two baserunners after the second inning. He finished with five strikeouts and three walks.

UMaine initially overcame a shaky start by freshman Matt Jebb (2-4), who surrendered four first-inning runs and didn’t have command of his pitches. The Bears scored twice in the first and second innings to tie the contest 4-4 but fizzled offensively after that.

Cather hit a solo home run and a single to pace the Bears, while Lukas singled twice. Drexel singled twice with two RBIs and Brady Stouffer doubled and singled for the Hawks.

Hartford scored the eventual winning run in the fourth. Adam Bowser opened with a solid single off the bag at third. He advanced on a wild pitch and a sacrifice bunt, scoring on Adam Grap’s hard single to left.

The Hawks made it 6-4 in the fifth after two were out as Jebb issued a walk and hit a batter. Drexel greeted reliever Kyle Benoit with an RBI single to center field.

Hartford added two insurance runs in the sixth.



(Saturday’s First Game)

Hartford Maine

Player AB R H BI Player AB R H BI

Sobocinski, ss 3 0 0 1 Cather, cf 4 1

Kudernatsch, 2b 3 2 1 0 Jackson, dh 3 0

Perry, 3b 4 1 0 0 Smith, 1b 3 0 1

Walker, 1b 3 1 1 1 Lugbauer, c 3 0 0

Amendola, c 3 2 1 1 Lukas, 3b 3 0 0

Bowser, rf 2 1 1 1 Patane, ss 2 0 1

Drexel, lf 2 0 2 2 Martin, lf 2 0 0

Grap, dh 3 0 1 1 McAvoy, rf 2 0 0

Wilmot, pr 0 0 0 0 Ostrander, rf 1 0 0

Stouffer, cf 3 1 2 0 Menendez, 2b 3 1 0

Totals 26 8 9 7 Totals 26 4 7 3

Hartford 400 112 0 – 8

Maine 220 000 0 – 4

E-Kudernatsch (11); Patane (11); LOB-Hartford 7, Maine 4; 2B-Walker, Amendola, Stouffer; Menendez; HR-Cather (3); DP-Hartford 1, Maine 1; S-Drexel; SF-Sobocinski, Bowser

Hartford IP H R ER BB SO

Greiner (W, 6-1) 7 7 4 3 3 5


Jebb (L, 2-4) 4 2/3 6 6 4 3 3

Benoit 2 1/3 3 2 2 2 0

HBP-Bowser (by Jebb), Grap (by Benoit); PB-Lugbauer 2; T-2:03


(Saturday’s Second Game)

Hartford (16-25) Maine (17-23-1)

Player AB R H BI Player AB R H BI

Sobocinski, ss 4 0 0 0 Cather, cf 4 0

Kudernatsch, 2b 3 1 1 0 Patane, ss 3 2

Perry, 3b 3 0 2 0 Smith, 1b 2 1 1

Walker, 1b 3 0 1 0 Lugbauer, dh 2 0 2

Amendola, c 2 0 0 1 Lukas, 3b 3 0 0

Bowser, rf 2 0 1 0 Ostrander, rf 2 0 0

Drexel, lf 3 0 0 0 Mercurio, c 3 0 0

Grap, dh 3 0 0 0 McAvoy, lf 3 2 1

Stouffer, cf 3 0 0 0 Menendez, 2b 3 0 0

Totals 26 1 5 1 Totals 25 6 8 6

Hartford 000 100 0 – 1

Maine 141 000 x – 6

E-Balsinde (3); LOB-Hartford 6, Maine 5; 3B-Patane, Lugbauer; HR-McAvoy (2); SF-Amendola; Lugbauer

Hartford IP H R ER BB SO

Moraski (L, 3-3) 2 7 5 5 0 1

Rogers 4 1 1 1 2 3


Balsinde (W, 2-5) 7 5 1 1 1 5

HBP-Smith (by Moraski); T-1:35; ATT-337

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