UMaine’s Balentina stymies Fairfield

Posted March 04, 2009, at 10:43 p.m.

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — Don’t be surprised if University of Maine baseball coach Steve Trimper tries to talk sophomore lefthander Jonathan Balentina’s parents (Rafaelito and Deborah Balentina-Riviere) into attending more of their son’s games.

With his parents on hand after traveling from Curacao, Balentina tossed a six-hit masterpiece to lead the Black Bears to a 3-0 victory over Fairfield on Wednesday afternoon.

“That was fun. They always tell me what to do on the phone but they never get to see me play,” said the 6-foot-3 Balentina, who limited the Stags to six singles while striking out seven and not walking anyone. He hit a batter.

Fairfield stranded just six baserunners.

Balentina said he got into a groove after the first two innings.

“They were jumping on my first-pitch fastball in the first two innings but I made an adjustment and started leading them off with more off-speed pitches,” explained Balentina. “I was able to throw my curve and my splitty (split-fingered fastball) for strikes. I spotted my fastball and it had good velocity on it. I also threw my changeup to keep them off-balance but I didn’t throw it as much [as my other pitches].”

Balentina credited his teammates for their defensive play behind him including two double plays “when I needed them.”

He singled out third baseman Jarrett Lukas and shortstop Tony Patane for their play.

“He had all four of his pitches working,” said Maine coach Steve Trimper. “If you can throw two pitches for strikes in college, that’s usually pretty good. If you can throw three for strikes, that’s dominant. And he added his splitty tonight. He threw 109 pitches, 78 for strikes. That’s remarkable. He didn’t pitch behind in the count much at all.”

Maine scored single runs in the second, third and fifth innings.

In the second, Ian Leisenheimer hit a leadoff single off loser Kevin Fico, moved to second on a groundout and scored on Joey Martin’s opposite-field double down the left-ield line.

In the third, Danny Menendez singled to center with one out, advanced on a groundout and scored on Leisenheimer’s opposite-field double down the right-field line.

Maine added an unearned run in the fifth on three errors.

Menendez had three singles for the 4-4 Black Bears; Leisenheimer and Martin had a double and a single apiece and Myckie Lugbauer singled twice.

Tucker Nathans had two base hits for 0-4 Fairfield.

The Bears and the Stags play again Friday at 11:30 a.m.

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