ALBANY, N.Y. – Ryan Gugel’s sixth homer of the season, a solo blast in the third inning, produced what proved to be the winning run as Albany’s Great Danes outlasted Maine 7-5 to finish off a sweep of their America East doubleheader Friday.
Gugel also delivered an important insurance run with an eighth-inning single in sending Maine to its third straight conference loss.
Albany rallied for three sixth-inning runs off reliever Alejandro Balsinde to win the opener 3-2.
Albany improved to 19-24 overall, 11-7 in America East, while Maine fell to 26-17, 9-5 in conference play. The teams play another doubleheader at 1 p.m. Saturday.
“They were two well-played baseball games by both teams but, unfortunately, we didn’t get a win,” said Maine coach Steve Trimper. “We had some outstanding at-bats. We smoked the ball but they made four diving catches and we didn’t get the breaks.”
The Black Bears were without ace freshman righty Pat Quinn (6-0, 1.42 earned-run average), who has been suspended indefinitely by Trimper for a violation of team rules.
In the nightcap, Albany erased a 4-2 deficit with three second-inning runs off loser Matt Jebb, who allowed nine hits and six runs in 3ª innings.
Jebb has allowed 35 hits and 19 earned runs over his last four starts encompassing 27¤ innings.
Mike Tirri, Pete Eichner and Ralph Keppler hit consecutive doubles off Jebb before Gary Pitcheralle singled home Keppler.
Gugel homered to right in the third to extend the lead to 6-4 and, in the eighth he singled off reliever Kevin Scanlan to drive home Pitcheralle, who had doubled.
Albany jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning on Dave West’s two-run single.
But the Black Bears scored four times in the top of the second as Danny Menendez belted a two-run double and Billy Cather and Ian Leisenheimer followed with RBI singles.
But starter and winner Josh Willmott didn’t allow another run until Jeff Kaier replaced him in the sixth. Kaier, Dave Noble and Sean Gregory tossed four innings of three-hit, one-run ball and Gregory picked up his sixth save.
The Black Bears stranded 14 baserunners.
“We had 15 quality outs,” said Trimper referring to well-hit balls that were handled by the Great Danes.
Gugel, Pitcheralle and Donovan had two hits apiece for the Great Danes. Gugel and West each drove in two runs.
Menendez had a double and two singles for Maine and knocked in two runs. Leisenheimer, Joey Martin, Joe Mercurio and Tony Patane had two hits apiece with Mercurio and Patane each hitting a double.
Scanlan hurled 4¤ innings of two-hit, one-run ball for Maine with three strikeouts and no walks.
“Scanlan had been struggling immensely but he pitched the game of his life today,” said Trimper.
In the second game, Jonathan Balentina pitched five innings of four-hit, shutout baseball only to have his forearm tighten up, according to Trimper.
Jim Banks began the decisive sixth-inning rally off Balsinde with a base hit and Sean Donovan walked. Pitcheralle sacrificed them along and, after Balsinde intentionally walked Brendan Rowland, Gugel singled home Banks and West followed with a two-run single.
Maine scored a run in the top of the seventh but left the bases loaded when Gregory struck out Martin and induced Menendez to line out to right.
“The right fielder [Rowland] made a nice shoestring catch. Those are the breaks,” said Trimper.
Rowland had two hits for Albany and Dave Kubiak, who entered the game with a 2-7 record and a 6.89 ERA, hurled 6¤ innings of five-hit, two-run ball to notch the win. He struck out six and walked two.
Martin had two singles for Maine.