May 27, 2020

USM, St. Joe’s gain regional berths

Saint Joseph’s College and the University of Southern Maine are only about seven miles apart.

This spring, there has been a lot of outstanding baseball played within a very small radius in the Standish-Gorham area.

The USM Huskies and the Saint Joseph Monks will take their considerable skills to Cape Cod this week to compete in the NCAA Division III New England Region Tournament.

Coach Ed Flaherty’s Huskies (32-12) are seeded fourth in the eight-team, double-elimination event at Whitehouse Field. USM received an at-large berth after finishing as the runner-up in the Little East Conference Tournament.

USM plays No. 5 Western New England College (32-8) Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.

Coach Will Sanborn’s Monks (28-16), the No. 6 seed, earned an automatic berth in the 54-team NCAA tournament by virtue of winning the championship in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference.

Saint Joseph’s faces No. 3 Keene State (33-9), the LEC champion, in Wednesday’s 4:30 p.m. contest.

The Monks and Huskies could not meet each other until Friday’s third round. They split on the regular season, with Saint Joseph’s winning 7-6 on April 17 and USM taking a 6-4 victory on April 30.

The rest of the New England Regional field includes No. 1 Trinity (37-0), No. 2 Wheaton (32-8), No. 7 Worcester State (23-16) and No. 8 Castleton State (20-10).

Southern Maine has been a fixture in NCAA postseason play during Flaherty’s tenure. The Huskies are making their 17th regional appearance overall, but their first since 2006.

USM has a 48-32 all-time record in NCAA tournament play and has played in the Division III World Series six times, winning national championships in 1991 and ’97.

The Huskies’ catalysts include shortstop Chris Burleson of Portland (.424 batting average, 9 home runs, 47 runs batted in, 17 stolen bases), left fielder Anthony D’Alfonso of Westbrook (.394, 13 HRs, 55 RBIs) and center fielder Ryan Pike of Saco (.365, 8 HRs, 26 RBIs, 9 SBs). They boast a .346 team batting average.

USM’s pitching staff is led by starters Tim Therrian of New Portland (4-2 record, 3.95 earned run average, 26 strikeouts) and Mark Schmidt of Gorham (5-0, 4.44, 36), along with relievers Andrew deBethune of St. Albans (4-0, 4.25, 21) and Nick Hahn (4-0, 4.35, 33).

The Huskies have won 21 of their last 27 games, but have dropped two in a row.

The Monks are in the NCAA tournament for the third straight season. They also have been productive at the plate, posting a .328 team batting average. Heading up the assault are shortstop Luke Enman (.392, 7 HRs, 41 RBIs, 11 SBs), first baseman Ben Grant-Roy of Biddeford (.376, 7 HRs, 41 RBIs), and outfielders Wade Oliver of Owls Head (.353, 4 HRs, 30 RBIs) and Ian Lee of Hampden (.349, 3 HRs, 32 RBIs).

Saint Joseph’s pitching staff features starters Mason Roberge (6-2, 4.07, 23) and Pat Moran of Winterport (4-4, 3.38, 42) and Andrew Keirstead of Westbrook, and reliever Chris Dion (2-0, 4.18, 15).

The Monks also have gone 21-6 in their last 27 games and have won their last two.


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