ORONO, Maine — Sacred Heart University spoiled the christening of revamped Mahaney Diamond on Saturday afternoon, sweeping a baseball doubleheader from the University of Maine.
The Pioneers took the nine-inning first game 4-1 and won the seven-inning nightcap 7-4 on a cold but sunny day that marked what are believed to be UMaine’s earliest home games in program history. The contests were the Black Bears’ first on the new FieldTurf surface.
The same teams will play a noon doubleheader Sunday.
Lefthanded starters Matt Fitton and Jared Balbach survived frequent threats by the Black Bears, who lost for the third straight game, while leading the way for 7-7 Sacred Heart of Fairfield, Conn.
In the opener, Fitton gave UMaine (10-9) fits while pitching a four-hit gem on a chilly (34-degree) afternoon.
The 6-foot-8 sophomore kept UMaine batters off-balance with a good selection of fastballs and curveballs. Fitton (2-1) struck out only two and walked four, but worked his way out of a handful of jams.
“Hitting, pitching, defense; everything was working real well for us [Saturday],” said Fitton, who enjoyed playing under a scenario unprecedented at UMaine.
“It was really neat,” he said. “We saw the field, it was amazing. Everything was set up nicely and it was also nice scenery to have five or six feet of snow around the edges of everything.”
The Bears went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
UMaine sophomore lefty Kevin Scanlan (1-2) had difficulty finding a groove early. He allowed six hits and four runs and walked four batters in the first four innings, but gave up only two hits after that.
Jeff Heppner hit a two-run double and a single among the Pioneers’ eight hits. Tyler Santos singled twice.
Justin Leisenheimer paced UMaine with a double and a single. Jarrett Lukas of Old Town posted a run-scoring double.
In the second game, Balbach (3-1) afforded the Bears three runs in five innings, working around nine hits and five walks.
Paul Schmidt stroked a two-run triple in the second inning and Mike Olszyk had a single and two RBIs for Sacred Heart.
Ian Leisenheimer led the Bears with two run-producing singles. Lukas doubled and singled with an RBI and Myckie Lugbauer added two singles and an RBI behind freshman starter Keith Bilodeau (1-3).