ORONO, Maine — After winning seven of its first eight America East games, the University of Maine baseball team wasn’t thrilled after splitting a four-game league series with Vermont over the weekend at Mahaney Diamond.
Freshman Pat Quinn fashioned a one-hitter in Sunday’s opener, leading the Black Bears to a 5-1 victory and a split of Sunday’s doubleheader. The Catamounts won the finale 6-3.
On Saturday, UMaine posted an 11-8 win in Game 1 before Vermont took a 5-4 decision in the second game.
Coach Steve Trimper’s Bears (26-15, 9-3 AE) slipped into second place behind Binghamton (19-15, 8-2 AE) with the split.
“When you split, it’s not what you want to do, but it’s not all that bad,” said UMaine senior Kevin McAvoy of Brewer. “The guys played hard. It was just the little things that we’ve got to do to capitalize and then win the series.”
There was a palpable increase in intensity as UMaine battled longtime rival Vermont (12-25, 5-7 AE), whose program is scheduled for elimination at the end of the season.
“They have a quality ballclub and even though they’re not going to be around next year, they’re still going out there trying to win ballgames like we are,” said UMaine junior captain Myckie Lugbauer.
In Sunday’s first game, Quinn shut down the Catamounts with a one-hitter.
The tall righthander (6-0) struck out four and walked two, featuring a lively fastball and a spinning slider.
The effort was a stark contrast to Quinn’s uncharacteristically wild (seven walks) performance against Maryland Baltimore County a week earlier when he gave up only two hits in 5ª innings.
“Last week I was trying to hit the two inches of black on the outside of the plate and it really didn’t work out for me,” said Quinn, who was more aggressive against the Catamounts.
“I had my breaking ball first pitch for strikes, which helped me out,” he said. “The harder I throw [my slider], the more it breaks.”
UMaine scored all the runs it would need in the second inning. Lugbauer reached on an error by shortstop Matt Duffy and was safe at second on Kyle Stilphen’s fielder’s choice.
Jarrett Lukas of Old Town followed with a sharp RBI single through the middle and, one out later, Joey Martin of Portland spanked a run-producing single to center field.
Lukas also lined a solo homer and a double for the Bears. Martin added an RBI single and a double and Billy Cather singled twice.
Corey Moylan’s fourth-inning single was Vermont’s hit.
In Sunday’s second game, senior righty Keith Rakus (4-3) spaced six hits through eight innings and kept UMaine batters off-balance throughout.
UMaine was 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
“I was a little disappointed that we didn’t hit that guy,” Trimper said. We didn’t get the big hit.”
Vermont scored the eventual winning run in the fourth off loser Matt Jebb (6-2). Ethan Paquette and Dave Soltis hit one-out singles and moved up on a groundout. Paquette scored on a balk.
The Catamounts added two insurance runs in the eighth on Justin Milo’s two-run single.
The Bears’ hopes evaporated in the eighth when Lugbauer singled, but was erased on a McAvoy grounder. It turned into a double play when the base umpire ruled Lugbauer’s takeout slide was illegal.
Trimper was ejected after vehemently arguing the call.
“I think our team has a pretty sharp mindset where if things don’t go well, we kind of forget about it and move on,” Lukas said. “We’ve got games Tuesday [Thomas] and Wednesday [Holy Cross] to prepare for the weekend.”
McAvoy homered and singled for UMaine. UVM‘s Duffy homered with two singles.
In Saturday’s opener, Justin Leisenheimer’s two-run homer fueled a nine-run, sixth-inning that put UMaine on top.
The Bears piled up seven hits in the inning to erase a four-run deficit. Leisenheimer jumpstarted the uprising with a three-run homer to dead-center against Joe Serafin (2-6).
“That pitch right there, I was looking for a fastball first pitch and I put a good swing on it,” Leisenheimer said.
Cather lashed a two-run double and Ian Leisenheimer ripped a two-run single in the inning.
“I really don’t think there’s a lineup in America East that can compare to ours,” Justin Leisenheimer said.
The Catamounts had scored three times in the fifth to take a 6-2 lead, chasing starter Jon Balentina. Kevin Scanlan (3-3) allowed two runs in the final 2¤ innings to earn the win.
In Game 2, freshman Soltis homered with one out in the ninth to lift Vermont.
Soltis’ shot to left-center rewarded gritty Catamounts starter Justin Albert (4-5). The senior lefthander worked out of frequent trouble, spreading out 11 hits. He threw 149 pitches.
“Especially in a close game like this, where I knew I was feeling good, there was no way I was coming out,” said Albert, who struck out 11, walked two and hit a batter, stranding 12 UMaine runners on base.
The Bears went 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position, including failing to score after loading the bases with nobody out in the fourth inning.
“We didn’t get a run in there. That really swung momentum the other way,” Trimper said.
Milo had lined a two-run shot to right off Bears starter A.J. Bazdanes in the eighth to give UVM a short-lived 4-2 lead.
UMaine rallied for two runs in the eighth on back-to-back home runs by McAvoy and Justin Leisenheimer.