September 24, 2019

Bears escape when Hawks strike out Cox erases bases-loaded jam

ORONO – University of Maine baseball coach Steve Trimper tries to keep freshman Jimmy Cox relaxed by telling him to imagine he’s pitching against Old Town High School.

The task was much more daunting Monday night, but the former Bangor High righthander responded.

Cox came on in the ninth inning with the bases loaded and the potential tying run on base and struck out three straight batters, helping UMaine secure a 7-4 America East baseball victory over Hartford at cool Mahaney Diamond.

“It’s a little bit nerve-wracking, but you don’t let yourself hear anything that’s coming from the bench or the crowd,” said Cox, who earned a save. “I was just trying to keep my composure out there.”

The Black Bears (18-23-1, 6-10 AE) kept their postseason hopes alive with an emotional win on “Senior Night.”

“I will never forget this game, especially because it’s my last home game,” said senior Curt Smith, who doubled and singled with an RBI. “You saw how Jimmy Cox pitched; he loved it.”

Cox came on after Kyle Benoit and Will Carroll each walked a batter and hit a man, opening the door for Hartford (16-26, 8-8 AE).

Even with the hyped-up Hawks yelling and trying to distract Cox, he withstood the pressure. Utilizing a sharp-breaking slider, he needed only 11 pitches (one fastball) to strike out Bill Perry, Matt Walker and Mike Amendola.

“I was so pumped up to be throwing right there,” Cox said. “Those sliders were working for me. I was hitting the spots with them.”

“He did a tremendous job,” Trimper said.

The gamed marked the return of ace righty Joe Miller (4-2), who had been sidelined for three weeks with mononucleosis. The sophomore spaced six hits in seven innings, striking out seven and walking two, before tiring.

“Not being able to pitch, that’s the only thing that’s been tough. I haven’t felt sick or anything,” Miller said. “It [stinks] not being able to play.”

Junior Billy Cather knocked in two runs for UMaine with a sacrifice fly and an RBI single, while senior Mark Ostrander stroked a solo home run.

Simon Kudernasch paced Hartford with a solo homer and a single.

“It’s a big win, we needed it,” said Trimper, who hopes the feeling will carry over to this weekend’s series at Vermont. “We know what we’ve got to do.”

The Bears staked Miller to a three-run lead, scoring four times in the third against loser Zack Tarner (0-3). The Hawks committed a costly error and threw three wild pitches in the inning.

Joe Mercurio reached on a dropped fly ball, Danny Menendez dropped down a bunt single and Cather lined a sacrifice fly to center field. Tony Patane roped a single to center, then Smith grounded an RBI single to left.

Tarner walked Myckie Lugbauer to load the bases and was lifted in favor of Marc Toomey, who threw wild pitches that resulted in two more runs.

UMaine scored the eventual winning run in the fourth when Menendez walked, took second on a wild pitch and scored on Cather’s single through the middle.

The Bears added two big runs in the seventh when Smith doubled, stole third and scored on Lugbauer’s sac fly. Pinch hitter Ostrander then delivered, drilling a homer to left-center.

“It ended up being a little bit of momentum for us,” said Ostrander, who had been told to get loose but thought he was being inserted in the field rather than as a pinch hitter. He didn’t even have time to put on his batting gloves.

“I didn’t think we’d need it [the homer] after Joe’s performance, but we got in a little bit of trouble and it was good to have it,” he said.

Hartford cut the deficit to 5-2 in the fifth on Kudernatsch’s solo homer and made it 5-3 in the seventh on Brady Stouffer’s two-out RBI double to center.


Hartford (16-26) Maine (18-23)

Player AB R H BI Player AB R H BI

Bowser, rf 3 0 1 1 Cather, cf 3 0 2

Sobocinski, ss 2 0 0 1 Patane, ss 4 0

Perry, 3b 4 0 1 0 Smith, 1b 4 2 1

Walker, 1b 5 0 0 0 Lugbauer, dh 2 0 1

Amendola, c 5 0 0 0 Martin, lf 2 0 0

Drexel, lf 2 1 0 0 Ostrander, ph 1 1 1

Grap, dh 4 0 0 0 Lukas, 3b 3 0 0

Kudernatsch, 2b 3 3 2 1 McAvoy, rf 4 0

Stouffer, cf 3 0 2 1 Mercurio, c 4 1 0

Menendez, 2b 2 2 1 0

Totals 31 4 6 4 Totals 29 7 7 5

Hartford 001 010 101 – 4

Maine 004 100 20x – 7

E-Sobocinski, Drexel; LOB-Hartford 10, Maine 6; 2B-Perry, Stouffer; Smith; HR-Kudernatsch (1); Ostrander (4); S-Sobocinski; SF-Cather, Lugbauer; SB-Bowser, Smith

Hartford IP H R ER BB SO

Tarner (L, 0-3) 2 1/3 4 4 2 3 1

Toomey 4 2 2 2 2 3

DiConzo 1/3 1 1 1 0 0

Perry 1 1/3 0 0 0 1 0


Miller (W, 4-2) 7 6 3 3 2 7

Benoit 1 0 1 1 4 3

Carroll 0 0 0 0 1 0

Cox (S, 1) 1 0 0 0 0 3

HBP-Stouffer (by Benoit); Bowser (by Carroll); WP-Tarner, Toomey 2, Miller; PB-Amendola; T-2:32; ATT-165

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